by Jeff Stant, Executive Director, Indiana Forest Alliance
Anyone who has read IFA’s Facebook page has seen the vigorous debate about the very purpose of our state forests, and what constitutes the best stewardship of these public lands. Here is our stance:
The state forests belong to ALL Hoosiers, not just the timber industry and neither to just the state employees that we hire to manage them. Nor does the fact that these state employees have received college degrees mean that the public should have absolutely no input into the management of their public forests. The fact that these state employees have received degrees in forestry should also not prevent the state legislature which established the state forests from taking the long view and ensuring that our state forests are managed responsibly and in the best interests of all Hoosiers. We do not dispute that good forestry makes forests more productive in producing wood for private industry and society’s benefit.
However forestry is NOT forest science. Our hardwood forests have been here for thousands of years and do not depend upon forestry to survive or be “healthy.”
A serious problem has emerged in our judgment because there are no forest scientists, only foresters, managing our state forests, and they are viewing these public forests incorrectly through the lens of industrial forestry. However our state law does not and should not require every acre of our state forests to be logged. The state forests, which comprise just 3% of the forests in our state, can never provide enough wood to sustain a healthy timber industry in Indiana.
On the other hand, they do provide opportunities for wilderness recreation and the enjoyment of wild nature that no other lands managed by the DNR provide. I hope that any legislator would concur that an inherent part of our best interests in the management of our state forests ought to include the conservation of an ample supply of our wild heritage for enjoyment by future generations of Hoosiers, as represented by the IFA’s proposed 13 Wild Areas (including the beautiful Cataract Wild Area, pictured below).
Call or write Indiana Governor Mike Pence to let him know you want him to:
1) reduce the commercial logging of our state forests to annual levels below the 3.5 million board level
2) establish State Wild Areas, setting aside state forest tracts larger than 1,000 acres from logging or road building.
Thank you! Your voice matters.