by Jason Flickner, IFA Former Conservation Director
IFA has learned that on August 8, the Indiana DNR Division of Parks & Reservoirs will conduct a timber sale and private harvest in one of the largest tracts of deep, interior forest at Hardy Lake State Recreation Area, located in Scott and Jefferson counties. Hardy Lake’s total property acreage is 2,449 acres, including the lake’s surface area of 741 acres. IDNR is proposing to sell and log 898 trees with a total estimated volume of 364,107 Doyle Board Feet (DBF). Included in the sale are 19 veneer trees (18 Northern Red Oak, 1 Black Walnut) with a volume of 13,972 DBF. Logging operations will close or re-route approximately three miles of the Outward Bound and Cemetery hiking trails. And it will occur very close to the lake itself, putting the watershed at risk.
Why is this sale happening? Hardy Lake personnel stated that the timber sale is to increase quail habitat for hunters. In addition, Hardy Lake manager Terry Davis reported to the Scottsburg Kiwanis Club late last year that 2016 is the Bi-Centennial for the State of Indiana and the Centennial for the Indiana State Parks. Each State Park will have a special project to celebrate these two milestones. The project being planned for Hardy Lake State Park is to build an educational building and parking lot for the raptors. The project will be funded by a donation of $25,000 from The Friends of Hardy Lake, by proceeds from timber sales at Hardy Lake State Park and by a grant from the State of Indiana.
A new raptor center is a noble cause. And, Friends of Hardy Lake should be congratulated for raising $25,000. But people who love Hardy Lake shouldn’t have to tolerate a destructive cut like this, especially in an area that’s already full of early successional habitat. This forest loss is a direct result of Indiana’s state government policy to force DNR, ironically and tragically, to “sustain” itself with timber sales on Indiana’s limited public land.
The mission of Indiana’s Division of State Parks and Reservoirs is to manage and interpret the unique natural, wildlife and cultural resources using the principles of multiple use and preservation, while sustaining the integrity of these resources. It’s unacceptable that DNR has failed to ever produce a Resource Management Guide for any of the tracts at Hardy Lake. We (the public) were never provided the opportunity to submit comments on a Draft Resource Management Guide.
Therefore, destruction of critical wildlife habitat (especially for rare, threatened, and endangered species), soil erosion and potential watershed impacts, and invasive species presence and control were never evaluated and documented to conclude that logging is appropriate for the health of the forest, wildlife, and Hardy Lake water quality. And sadly, this isn’t the first cut to occur in a state recreation area.
Please contact Governor Pence (he’s still our governor) and your legislators to tell them that state parks and reservoirs are not appropriate public lands for logging. Additionally, the state government should fully fund Bicentennial projects at State Parks and Reservoirs so the property does not have to sell timber and disturb its limited deep, interior forest habitat. Do you live in Scott or Jefferson counties? If so, contact Sen. James Smith (R-54) and Rep. Terry Goodin (D-66) to let them know what you think about logging at Hardy Lake.