By: Dr. David Simcox
Good morning, I am Dr. David Simcox. I come here not as a scientist, but as a private citizen who recently joined the IFA Board of Directors because I believe that conservation should be the cornerstone for managing our State Forests.
If you were to accompany me on one of my many hikes along backwoods trails in our State Forests, you could not help but marvel at this natural setting. Imagine that we are winding along a narrow path perched on a ridge top surrounded by a stand of majestic chestnut oaks and then turning a corner and encountering a 10-15 acre clear cut. Huge piles of treetops, massive ruts, erosion, old farm roads now piled with crushed gravel, invasive plant species thriving in the sunlight. And then worse yet, you realize this clear cut was not all that recent. We see this time and time again.
Now when you hike the great trails like the Tecumseh or the Knobstone, ones that Indiana should be proud to showcase, you will likely see them horribly scarred. I know how it affects me, but I wonder how this impacts scores out-of-state visitors and their desire to return to Indiana to hike.
I also want to draw your attention to the Division of Forestry’s Strategic Plan. On page 5 the DNR acknowledges the need to preserve and conserve “… 10% of the forest in or developing older forest conditions …” While their statement certainly has some wiggle room in it, one could see their overall intent is consistent with Senate Bill 420.
However, this commitment is prefaced with a key operative phrase “work toward.” I am just afraid that by the time the Division of Forestry reaches their stated 10% goal, they will have long since logged precious sections of our older forests.
Actually the question before you is very simple. You will see that Senate Bill 420 just asks you, the Lawmakers of Indiana, to hold the DNR’s feet to fire on their state 10% conservation goal. Senator Bassler’s bill (SB 420) simply provides the specificity and teeth to do that.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify and I encourage you to pass this important bill.
The preceding testimony was presented by Dr. David Simcox to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee by on Monday, February 13, 2017, at the hearing for Senate Bill 420.