by Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director
A Call To Action
Jackson-Washington State Forest
THE TIME HAS COME FOR EVERY HOOSIER TO KNOW THAT OUR STATE GOVERNMENT IS CUTTING DOWN OUR STATE FORESTS TO SELL THE TREES YOU AND I OWN FOR BARELY HALF THEIR MARKET PRICE. This profound tragedy would not be occurring in Indiana if enough Hoosiers knew it was happening. State officials are robbing future Hoosier generations of the chance to see and enjoy the majestic public forests that have returned to our state forests.
U.S. Census data indicates more than 2 million people live within 20 miles of our state forests, and more than 14.5 million live within 100 miles of them. This is one in every three Hoosiers and one heck of a lot of Americans! While they only comprise 158,000 acres (barely 3% of the forests in Indiana), and are not depended upon by the timber industry (which gets over 90% of its wood from private lands), the state forests make up much of the only areas in our state and region where wilderness recreation like long distance hiking, backpacking and primitive camping can occur.
Saving those precious forests from the ax immeasurably improves our quality of life and makes good economic sense. U.S. Forest Service Budget Data indicates recreation supports nearly five times as many jobs in communities surrounding our national forests as logging, generating 205,000 jobs and contributing $13.6 billion to America’s gross domestic product each year. Local communities could benefit much more from tourism that the state is also spending money to promote if these public trees were left standing than cut down.
Yet judging from the unprecedented level of commercial logging underway in Indiana’s state forests, the people who appear to be the most unconcerned about these facts are the very managers of the state forests! At their current rate of cutting, nearly every tract within our state forests will have been extensively logged within 15 more years. Majestic stands of forests returning to their old growth conditions will be stunted and left in a perpetual state of recovery from logging or reduced to stumps entirely as the state employs more of its planned clearcutting. New gravel roads will snake down virtually every ridge and up every valley, leaving hundreds of slopes and ravines crisscrossed with skidder trails.
For the last two sessions of our Legislature, we’ve introduced bills to save the wildest parts of our state forests from this destruction, but have gotten nowhere thanks to the steadfast opposition of Governor Pence’s Department of Natural Resources and the timber industry. This has to change!
This month, the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) is launching a new campaign to tell the story of this destruction to tens of thousands of Hoosiers, and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO SPREAD THE WORD! Scofield Editorial has produced a 2 minute film that powerfully summarizes the destruction currently underway in our state forests and asks every Hoosier to get involved and save our beautiful heritage. That film is right here on our website. We’ve also launched radio and TV commercials that will show Hoosiers what they can do to stop the logging. We are employing social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hope you?ll help us make the message go viral! Most of all, be a part of the movement! Become a part of our organization, and then contact Governor Pence to demand that he stop this logging and urge everyone you know to do so as well.
IT IS TIME FOR EVERY HOOSIER TO SAY, ENOUGH! STOP CUTTING DOWN OUR PRECIOUS PUBLIC FORESTS!