My wife and I went for a hike last Sunday along the Knobstone Trail just north of the 40-mile marker. Virtually every tree was marked with red spray paint. I believe it’s called ”taking inventory.” There were no “Trail Closed” signs yet; however, if you pay someone to take an inventory, that is, paint virtually every tree, you are surely planning to log.
The Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s longest. Many people travel here from great distances to train for the Appalachian Trail. When this section is logged, people will not be able to “thru hike.” They will have to take a long road walk around this section, which will be closed.
When the trail reopens, it will look nothing like it does now. It will be filled with stumps, ruts and tops. In a couple of years, briars will abound. I am no forester, but I do know no one wants to hike through disturbed trails. Surely Indiana could afford to protect valuable trail corridors like these.
Just one very large tree we saw was spared paint. When trees both large and small are almost all marked you wonder if there will ever be any more trees like this giant in our state forest.
If it were just this one spot, we could say: that’s ok. If you take some time to drive around, you will see almost every State Forest has been severely impacted. The Knobstone Trail no longer starts where it once did. It now shares a muddy path with horses. Great care has to be taken to keep from getting lost. I know from experience.
Logging on horse trails in Clark State Forest, and in Deam Lake have made many not want to return. Trails across from the Pekin Saddle Club are currently closed until further notice.
It is my hope that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources might come to its senses. There is no scientific reason to increase logging by such a large amount — in fact just the opposite. That leaves only profit generation as an explanation for their actions. Not worth it when you consider the value of the natural assets of our state –recreation, tourism, what attracts people to this state.
We can act now and save what we have left. You can make a difference with these action steps. Learn about IFA’s Wild Indiana campaign here.
Todd Stewart is an outdoor enthusiast-turned-advocate. You can follow him on Twitter at @todd_philip. All images courtesy of Todd.