SB 420: A Voice of Support

It’s imperative that we keep these forests intact and continuing because they are among the oldest communities of organisms present in Indiana.

By Marion T. Jackson, Ph.D.

I am Marion Jackson and I currently reside in Terre Haute, Indiana and am a retired professor of ecology at Indiana State University where I was on faculty for the better part of 50 years. During that time I taught courses in forest ecology, plant ecology & taxonomy, and all of the related sciences that have to do with the biology of nature.

Since I’ve been retired, I have not been as active as I was before, but have been part of several long term studies that have been ongoing for fifty years or more in old-growth forests in the state of Indiana. It’s imperative that we keep these forests in tact and continuing because they are among the oldest communities of organisms present in Indiana. During the past several years I was the author of two books. Indiana University Press came out with The Natural Heritage of Indiana about ten or twelve years ago. I was the author of many of the chapters in this and also was the editor of the entire volume. This details the value of natural lands, particularly natural forests in the state, and the necessity of protecting them because of the diversity of life that is present in all of these remnants in what was originally the Indiana vegetation. More recently I put together 101 Trees of Indiana which is a field guide heavily illustrated with color photographs that helps people who have an interest in trees to identify them and appreciate them for their natural value and what they contribute to the state of Indiana. I’ve been retired now for several years.

I’m not as active in the outdoors as I once was. I don’t get around as fast as I once did. But, I have a tremendous interest in the original forests and their value and I hope that they can be protected. Being an ecologist I feel that 10% or even 20% of the original forest is not nearly enough. I think it should be greater than that and we should do everything we can to maintain these forests. This is what Indiana was originally. We need to have this for future generations to see what was here, what is still here, and to protect the remnants into perpetuity in the future. I would urge you to pass the bill protecting the remnants of the old-growth forests and provide ways in which we can keep them in tact insofar as possible. I do realize that we’re going to have development, landscapes, and so fourth in Indiana. But, the more of the original forests that we can protect, the better off we will be. I would urge you to pass this bill (Senate Bill 420).

The preceding was testimony of Dr. Marion T. Jackson given during the Indiana Senate Natural Resource’s Committee hearing for Senate Bill 420 on Monday, February 13, 2017.

Dr. Jackson has studied Indiana’s forest ecosystem for his entire academic career. He earned his degree in Plant Ecology at Purdue University in 1964 under Dr. A. A. Lindsey, one of the world’s leading forest ecologists. He joined the faculty of the Department of Life Sciences at Indiana State University that same year where he taught until his retirement in 2002. While there, he taught and worked with a number of undergraduate and graduate students and published a large number of papers, book chapters, and books, many in forest ecology. Some of his major contributions were as author and editor of The Natural Heritage of Indiana, published in association with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Academy of Science. He also published 101 Trees of Indiana, was associate editor of Habitats and Ecological Communities of Indiana: Pre-settlement to Present, and the Editor of the Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science for several years. While on sabbatical, Dr. Jackson served for a year as program ecologist for the Indiana Natural Heritage Protection Program with the Division of Nature Preserves, in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and as Acting Director of The Nature Conservancy of Indiana in 1978/79, during the sabbatical of TNC’s first Indiana Director.

Please contact your state senator and ask him or her to support Senate Bill 420.

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