New plan calls for increased clearcutting, possible fee structure for state forest recreation.
Last week, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry (DOF) released a new 2015-2019 Strategic Plan. This plan provides details on the DOF’s vision for the next five years of state forest management, which includes a continuation of the current unprecedented level of commercial logging in Indiana’s state forests.
One goal set forth in the new Strategic Plan is to utilize existing and create additional methods to solicit meaningful input from Hoosiers. The DOF, however, neglected to provide the public with a single opportunity to comment on the plan before it was finalized. This is a stark contrast from the process by which previous Strategic Plans, including the 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, were developed, which included public hearings and a 30-day public comment period on a draft version. Most of the written comments submitted on that plan asked the DOF to exclude areas from timbering to develop into old-growth forests or called for less commercial logging in our state forests.
“In addition to the heavy logging and a new emphasis on clearcutting, this Plan calls for the consolidation of state forests by selling or trading off smaller separated tracts of state forests, another idea that could be pretty controversial given the limited acreage of Indiana’s state forests,” states Jeff Stant, Executive Director of the Indiana Forest Alliance.
“The irony that the Division of Forestry would promise a concerted effort to solicit public input on state forest management in a plan for which they solicited no public input cannot be understated,” adds Stant. “This is part of a pattern in which the Division of Forestry continues to ignore broad public support for a more balanced state forest management policy, one that prioritizes outdoor recreation and wild forest habitat over commercial logging.”
The Indiana Forest Alliance is encouraging Hoosiers to call Governor Pence to express your support for the establishment of Wild Areas in our state forests, as well as increased public oversight of state forest management. Governor Pence can be reached at 317.232.4567.