By Rae Schnapp, Ph.D.
My name is Rae Schnapp. I have a Ph.D. from Purdue University. My thesis work was on plant cellular responses to environmental stresses. I am a Wabash Riverkeeper and the Conservation Director at the Indiana Forest Alliance.
I would like to take a few minutes to explain why we are asking you to support Senate Bill 420.
Indiana has about 158,000 acres of state forest land. Up until 2002 DNR had set aside 5,700 acres of designated Old Forest Area to be protected from logging. We had a list compartment and tracts that were protected from logging so we knew exactly where they were. But then DNR changed their minds. They no longer recognize those Old Forest areas and some of those tracts have now been logged.
But, DNR has committed to set aside 10% of our State Forests in an Older Forest Condition. This is in their Strategic Plan and it is in the documents that they submit for Sustainable Forest Certification. In these certification documents, DNR has represented that the Older Forest Areas will include Nature Preserves & Back Country areas. But one thing we know is that there is logging in our Back Country areas, so we don’t really know which areas are set aside from logging.
I prepared a graphic to provide a visual about why we are asking for 10% Old Forests. The first chart represents the entire land base of roughly 23 million acres in Indiana. Only about 20% of that is forested land, and about 3% of our forested land is devoted to our State Forest system. I’ve expanded that small sliver into larger pie showing the whole State Forest system and the small sliver that is currently no-logging zones, including Nature Preserves and the control units at the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment. The graphic shows the slice of 10% that we are asking to be set aside from timber harvesting. The bottom line is that we are asking for a modest portion of a small sliver. The vast majority of Indiana’s timber comes from the private lands so we think that this request will have minimal impact on the timber industry.
Some native Indiana tree species can live for several hundred years. We ask you to support Senate Bill 420 so that the citizens of Indiana can have some certainty that a small portion of our State Forests will be set aside from logging in perpetuity so that future generations can enjoy older growth forests.
The preceding was testimony given by Dr. Rae Schnapp to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday, February 13, 2017, during the hearing on Senate Bill 420.