Indiana’s Forests: For The People

By: Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director 

I am Jeff Stant, Executive Director of the Indiana Forest Alliance. I thank you for holding this Hearing Senator Glick and listening to our testimony, members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

The objective of Senate Bill 420, to set aside 10 percent of each state forest, will ensure that: 1) Future generations of Hoosiers will continue to be able to enjoy the majestic old forests that have returned to our state forests; 2) habitat needed by many declining native forest dependent species is maintained in our state; and 3) we will understand what our state forests are doing naturally and what impacts are due to silviculture versus natural forest disturbances or other impacts in state forests.

Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director

One of the basic concerns voiced about SB 420 is whether it is prudent for the legislature to be telling the Division of Forestry’s trained foresters how to manage our state forests. We submit that SB 420 is not telling our foresters how to practice silviculture or stopping logging in our state forests at all. Rather, the legislature established our state forests originally for the public benefit of all and therefore has a legitimate role to play in establishing the objectives that state forests should serve. Indiana has changed dramatically since state forests were first established in 1903. As our population has grown by more than several times and open spaces have diminished, the demand for outdoor recreational opportunities has increased greatly. Just as it wrote in that enabling legislation that occasionally some thinnings and timbering from the state forests would be appropriate to produce wood for local markets, it is equally legitimate and needed today for the legislature to prescribe that some areas of the state forests be set aside from commercial logging to provide for public purposes such as wilderness camping, long-distance hiking, horseback riding and backpacking in wild nature that only the state forests provide among public lands managed by the DNR.

The attached handout shows that other eastern states have been setting aside large acreages of their state forests from logging in natural areas, wild areas, wilderness areas, ecological reference forests and control areas for many years. These set asides have been undertaken with the authority of the executive branch and through laws passed by legislatures. For example, Pennsylvania’s legislature enacted a law in 1996 (now 17 PA Code §27) that established the systems of Natural Areas and Wild Areas in its state forests and prescribed the management objectives for these areas. Maryland enacted a law that created Wildlands within its state forests in 1972. Ohio also enacted a law that year that established the Shawnee Wilderness Area in the Shawnee State Forest.

In fact, as of 2002, Indiana had set aside 40% of the state forests, some 60,000 acres, from logging, “because of special considerations including: unique natural conditions such as dedicated Nature Preserves (1,784 acres) and Old Forest Areas (5706 acres); severe topography; other environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife needs.(These words are from a Feb. 1, 2002 letter from DNR Director John Goss to IFA). In the 1990s the DOF established “Old Forest Areas” in Indiana’s state forests.   In a written Policy provided to IFA, the DOF states:

Old growth forest is a very limited habitat type in Indiana (approximately 1,500 acres) and state forests, because of their size and ownership stability, provide an opportunity to develop this habitat. Besides increasing the diversity of habitats on state forests, old forest areas will serve as control areas to compare long term undisturbed forest with disturbed forest. Another major function of old forest areas will be to provide an undisturbed area for forest interior dwelling species and to prevent the introduction of exotic species. These areas will also be important for nondestructive ecological research areas.

This Policy laid out the management guidelines that prohibited timber stand improvement and timber production, game management, and new roads in Old Forest Areas and regeneration openings within 100 feet of Old Forest Boundaries .   The Policy designated some 51 tracts, many of them adjacent, comprising 5,741 acres, as Old Forests Areas in seven state forests.  This written Policy developed by the DOF under State Forester Fisher, was discarded without any written findings, policy discussion or rationale by the DOF under State Forester Siefert that the DOF can provide to IFA.

Similarly, the DOF under State Forester Datna, established three “Back Country Areas” (BCAs) in Clark State Forest in 1976 (2,000 acres), in Jackson-Washington State Forest in 1979 (2,544 acres), and in Morgan-Monroe, and Yellowwood State Forests in 1981. A July 30, 1981 press statement stated:

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director James M. Ridenour today (July 30) designated a 2,700 acre area in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests as “Back Country,” opening up these additional lands for Hoosiers and out-of-state visitors looking for a primitive type experience in Indiana . . . Ridenour stated: “The State designation of ‘Back Country’ is similar to the Federal Wilderness Area designation, but we think our program more nearly fits the needs of Hoosiers. . . We’re extremely pleased to provide this new area for persons who enjoy the rugged, primitive areas remaining in Indiana . . . Work is underway to establish several more Back Country areas to meet the recreational needs of even more Hoosiers.”

While timber management was allowed in BCAs, the statement said it was to be “compatible with all other uses permitted,” and an article in the December, 1981 – January, 1982 Issue of Outdoor Indiana Magazine explained: “Timber harvesting in the Backcountry Area will be restricted to single-tree selection of mature, damaged or diseased trees on sites having slopes of less than 45°. Where possible, logging equipment will use existing fire trails for logging operations.” Clearly, as reinforced in an IDNR brochure about the Morgan Monroe BCA, the official intent for the management of these areas was to, “offer an experience of visiting a forested area looking much the same as it may have appeared a century and a half ago.” Unfortunately, the plethora of harvest plans and timber sales carried out in these BCAs since is visibly damaging their primitive character and marginalizing their old forest habitat value, particularly in the Jackson-Washington BCA. This despite the fact that the DOF has committed in audits to obtain a sustainable forestry certification since at least 2014 to manage 10 percent of the state forests including these three BCA’s in “an older forest condition”.

The DOF also committed to establish “Old Growth areas and associated 300 foot buffer zone” from the 2014 audit but has yet to delineate the locations of any such “Old Growth areas.”   Meanwhile, the DOF is conducting timber sales in the previously- designated Old Forest Areas with three in the past year alone. Under its current Strategic Plan, the DOF’s cutting cycle will log through the entire state forest system, which includes all acreage outside of the current 4.5% designated as nature preserves or developed recreation areas, within 20 years which is actually less than 15 years from today, given that the DOF achieved its current cutting rate more than 5 years ago.

Simply put, we are asking the Legislature, to establish an overall policy that would make the DOF set aside a reasonable amount of our state forests to return to the “old growth” condition pursuant to what the DOF’s sustainable forestry certification has asked for the past 5 years in Section 6.3.a.1 which states

The forest owner or manager maintains, enhances, and/or restores under-represented successional stages in the FMU (Forest Management Unit) that would naturally occur on the types of sites found on the FMU.   Where old growth of different community types that would naturally occur on the forest are under-represented in the landscape relative to natural conditions, a portion of the forest is managed to enhance and/or restore old growth characteristics.

We are asking you to establish this policy by enacting SB 420, the Old Forest Bill, to conserve these old forests that have returned to our state forests today for everyone’s continued enjoyment rather than leaving the next six generations of Hoosiers only with our memory of what these forests were like.

Thank you.


The preceding was testimony given by Indiana Forest Alliance Executive Director Jeff Stant to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee during the hearing for Senate Bill 420 on Monday, February 13, 2017.

Please contact your state senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 420. If you believe in the protection of Indiana’s forests, join us for a rally at the Statehouse on Monday, February 20, 2017.

An Aversion to Nature’s Nouns

By: Marion T. Jackson, Ph.D. 

Today, most humans seem to avoid emotional involvement with the people, places, and things of our life support system. We have become separated, by our own decisions and actions, from the wild creatures, the untamed haunts, the objects of nature that nurtured us as a species through the millennia of human evolution. Now, like ions shot from the sun, we flit between the opposing polarities of acquiring money, then expending it for instant gratification. No longer physically nor emotionally attached to a place, nor attuned to nature’s rhythms, and nature’s inhabitants, we drift in the twilight zone of an economic netherworld.

Detachment from our support base obviates any responsibility for its care. Stewardship requires emotional commitment, requires that we love what we steward. Increasingly we exercise control over the material world, without knowing what we are controlling, accelerating the exploitation of nature, thereby decreasing true stewardship.

Inside of Indiana’s state forests

The more we control the natural world, the less we able to express or receive true feelings of stewardship concerning Nature. Control breeds insensitivity to that which is controlled. Insensitivity fosters further separation from wildness and increased alienation from our environmental setting, along with wider divergence among human relationships. Greater separation requires greater control because being less knowledgeable of wildness, and less attuned to it, the new unknown thereby becomes ever more frightening, requiring greater insensitivity, more profound unknowing, resulting in our need to control. The feedback is positive and accelerating, now approaching the speed of light.

By no longer listening to, nor loving the land, nature’s spirit is being banished from the Earth, hence from ourselves. If Earth’s spirit now exists at all, it floats in the plasma of universe, separated from life, beyond our grasp, especially when needed most. The abiding faith in the nature which gave us our strength and a measure of peace, once obtained Antaeus-like from the earth surrounding us, from its cycles and its seasons from the wild places in which we once lived and moved, from fellow creatures that journeyed with us on our living voyage now no longer fills our lives, our minds, or our vocabularies. Not knowing or understanding what we once had, and have now largely lost, nature’s nouns, as part of our speech, have necessarily been lost in proportion to our control of the wild places and wild things that produced the names, justified them, and perpetuated them. By destroying what remains of Indiana’s old forests, we will also destroy what was once Indiana.

Thoreau was right. In wildness is the preservation of the World.


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 to support Senate Bill 420

How Much Forest Do Other States Set Aside from Logging?

By: Rae Schnapp, Ph.D. 

Our neighboring states are protecting their old forest areas. Why can’t Indiana? Senate Bill 420 would set aside a small portion, 10%, of Indiana’s state forestland to be off limits to logging. Here’s an inside look as to how public forests are being managed outside of Indiana.

Pennsylvania: 

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry has designated 231,516 acres—just over 10% of PA’s 2.3 million acres of state forestas either “Natural Areas” or “Wild Areas.” Natural Areas are areas that have been “set aside to provide locations for scientific observation of natural systems, to protect examples of typical unique plant and animal communities, and to protect outstanding examples of natural interest and beauty.” Meanwhile, “management of wild areas will be aimed at preserving the wild or undeveloped character of the area” for the public to “see, use and enjoy for such activities as hiking, hunting, and fishing.” The Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the creation of these Natural Areas and Wild Areas and prescribed their management objective in 17 PA Code § 27 in 1996. An additional 22% of state forest acreage is in designated “Limited Resource” zones, where commercial logging is prohibited due to severe topography and other factors. Further, the Pennsylvania State Forest Resource Management Plan sets the goal to “maintain a minimum of 20% of state forestlands as potential or existing old-growth areas.” 

 

Wisconsin: 

Of the 436,153 acres of state forests managed by the Wisconsin DNR – Division of Forestry, 61,353 acres (14.1%) are excluded from commercial timber harvests through various designations. Among these designated areas are “ecological reference areas,” which, according to the Wisconsin DNR’s 2010 State Lands – Passive Management Report, “provide base line data that helps assess the long term impacts of active forest management.” This same report calls for a broader definition of forest sustainability than the basic “growth exceeds removals” equation, one that takes into account “biodiversity, wildlife, water quality, aesthetics…soil nutrients and stability, and other attributes of value.” This report concludes that, in a state where the proportion of timber supply from state forests is comparable to Indiana (4% in Wisconsin vs. 4-7% in Indiana), “the amount of land…currently excluded from harvest on State lands is insignificant when compared to the total product output. The value of having some lands protected for the ecological and social benefits is proportionally higher. Public lands bear the responsibility of providing these forest amenities more so than other ownerships.”

 

Maryland: 

In 1971, the Maryland Wildlands Act established a state system of legislatively designated areas “ to be preserved in their natural condition for present and future generations.” To date, 29 State Wildlands have been established on state land, totaling nearly 44,000 acres. Of the approximately 200,000 acres in Maryland’s state forest system, nearly 22,000 acres (11%) are currently designated as State Wildlands and off limits to timbering. An additional 9,106 acres of Wildlands have been proposed by MDNR in the state forests which would increase the acreage of Wildlands to 31,000 acres, or 15.5% of Maryland’s state forests.

 

Michigan: 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has designated 116,397 acres of state forests off limits to logging as Ecological Reference Areas (ERAs) to “serve as models of ecological reference within the state,” as well as “recreation, research, and education.” An additional 6,503 acres have been legally designated as Natural Areas, which offer “unique opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined types of recreation,” thus providing “economic opportunities for local communities.”

 

Ohio:

In 1972, nearly 8,000 contiguous acres of the Shawnee State Forest were designated by the Legislature as a Wilderness Area. This area has been set aside by statute “to allow natural forest succession and natural forest disturbances to occur without human influence” and “to provide an area that has outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation,” among other goals.

 

Illinois: 

Illinois has 18,000 acres of state forest and does not conduct hardwood timber sales on state forest land. The state does sell timber from pine plantations.

 

Connecticut: 

11,168 acres (of 167,572 acres of state forest) are designated as Old Forest Management Sites.  ‘Old forest growth’ is an important ecological component of Connecticut’s state forests, selected to grow and evolve naturally to reach advanced stages of vegetative succession and develop with minimal or no human intervention. The goal is to establish or promote areas of advanced successional stages of forest growth comprising approximately ten (10) percent of Connecticut’s state forests.


View the preceding information with citations

Please contact your state senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 420.

A Smaller Portion of a Small Pie

By: Rae Schnapp, Ph.D.

My name is Rae Schnapp. I have a PhD from Purdue University. My thesis work was on plant cellular responses to environmental stresses. I am the Wabash Riverkeeper and 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 current 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.

 

Protecting the Unknown

By: Leslie Bishop, Ph.D. 

My name is Dr. Leslie Bishop and I am a retired Professor of Biology at Earlham College. I live in Brown County and my property is on the border of Yellowwood State Forest. The Old Forest Bill (Senate Bill 420) will ensure that 10% of Indiana’s state forests can mature into old forests. Old forests are rare in Indiana. Old-growth forests provided habitat that support rare biological diversity and unique assemblages of animals, plants, and fungi that are found nowhere else but in old-growth forests. 

Large unlogged areas of interior forests provide life boats for mobile species affected by logging practices. Older growth forests provide snags and large  standing dead trees that provide habitat for many mammals, birds, and insects. When big old trees die, they leave soil pits and tip up mounds, as well as rotting logs, which create unique habitats for many species including amphibians, mammals, spiders, and insects. The large gap that results when an old tree falls, allows for sunlight to reach the forest floor and create conditions suitable for seeds to sprout and early successional plants to thrive.

Our knowledge of biological diversity is in its infancy for our Indiana forests. We know a lot about vertebrate diversity. In fact over 120 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians require our forests for feeding and successful reproduction. However, we know very little about the other 90% of all animal species such as insects, spiders, millipedes, and snails. All of these species play important roles in the ecosystem through food webs, decomposition, and healthy soil development. Last year the spider team, which I participated in at the Morgan-Monroe/ Yellowwood State Forest Ecoblitz sponsored by the Indiana Forest Alliance, discovered a new species. The spider team discovered an un-described species, never found before that is brand new to Science. We were so excited. Can you imagine, as biologists, finding a new species right here in Indiana? We usually think of this happening in a rainforest. But, it happened right here in Indiana.

In addition, in a recent published paper, we used data from multiple surveys and recorded on 72 spider species that had never before been reported in Indiana. Forty percent of those species were collected in Morgan-Monroe State Forest and rely on forest habitat. How many more will we discover if we continually survey these areas?

A hands off approach on 10% of forests will enable the development of this forest type and site conditions that were historically common, but now are rare in Indiana. Mature forest plots will provide opportunities for scientific study of natural processes of aging forests, including natural disturbances, biogeochemical cycles, soil development, and specific relationship with species. In addition, they provide a critical experimental control for assessing the consequences of active management that occurs in the larger areas of the managed forest.

In conclusion, old-growth forests that are older than 140 years are rare in Indiana. By preserving 10% (Senate Bill 420) of each state forest from logging, we are ensuring the future of this biologically rich habitat. Please support this bill.

 


The preceding testimony was presented by Dr. Leslie Bishop to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday, February 13, 2017 during the hearing for Senate Bill 420. View the video of Dr. Bishop’s testimony. View the handout, including citations, of Dr. Bishop’s testimony

Dr. Leslie Bishop is a retired professor of biology from Earlham College in Indiana where she taught for over twenty years. Her courses included Invertebrate Zoology, Insect Biology, and Biological Diversity.  In addition, she enjoyed teaching her tropical field courses: Marine Biology in the Bahamas and St. John, USVI, and Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica and Galapagos. She included many undergraduates in her research both in Puerto Rico and Dominica. Since retirement, she has been fortunate to have new opportunities. Among them teaching Wildlife Ecology in Tanzania and teaching as a Fulbright Scholar in Dominica.  Her current interest is to raise awareness about the conservation of biodiversity, and to encourage people to learn about the natural world.

Please contact your state senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 420.

Protect Indiana’s Assets

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 back woods trails in our State Forests, you could not help but marvel at this natural

“Trail Closed” on the Knobstone Trail due to logging activity.

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 tree tops, 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 show case, you will likely see them horribly scarred. I know how it effects 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. 

Please contact your legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 420.

 

A Chance to Preserve Rich Species Diversity

By: Glené Mynhardt, Ph.D. 

My name is Glené Mynhardt. I am currently a biology professor at Hanover College. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004, completed a Master’s degree in Entomology at Texas A&M University in 2006, and earned a PhD at The Ohio State University in 2012. Between 2004 and 2012, I focused all of my studies on understanding insect diversity, including the biology of economically important insects, like pecan weevil (Curculio caryae). Insects are distributed everywhere on our planet, and, despite there being more than 1 million described species known, their biology and natural history is still poorly understood.

I support Senate Bill 420’s objective to set aside at least 10 percent of our state forests from logging to mature and turn over naturally as uneven-aged, old growth forests and want to explain why. 

Glené Mynhardt, Ph.D.

I was hired by Hanover College as a Biology Professor in 2013. I have extensive knowledge of insect diversity, having worked in several states and on numerous biological survey projects. Since being hired at Hanover College, I have established one of the most comprehensive insect collections any any small liberal arts college in the state of Indiana, which represents insects from our region, and recently, from Ecoblitz events sponsored by the Indiana Forest Alliance. Insect collections are one of the only ways scientists can document both a physical and permanent record of species diversity over time, which is why this work is so important to me.

My work with the Indiana Forest Alliance begin in summer of 2014, when I expected to gain some insights into insect diversity at Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests. After the first year of the Ecoblitz in 2014, and then again after 2015, I was hoping we would have a general understanding of the species richness (number of species) to be found in these forests. We limited our collecting only to sampling insects by hand (note that the beetle specialists used traps), both during the day and at night. No traps or other collecting methods were employed at this time, but it was clear, after we spent a few days both years at these locations, that we were barely sampling any of the existing insect diversity there.

In the summer of 2016, we set up Malaise traps, designed to capture flying insects. Our goal was to better capture some of the diversity over not just a single weekend collecting event, but over the entire summer and into fall. When we brought samples back into my lab at Hanover, the sheer amount of insects was, and is, overwhelming. I had four students working with me in the lab to sort out specimens into what we propose are unique species. After 5-6 months of work in the lab, we still have very little idea of how many species we found, because of the challenge of identifying insects to species. What began as an effort to get a snapshot of the insect diversity in these areas has blossomed into a lifetime project! We have, very conservatively, collected many hundreds if not thousands of insects, all of which have to yet be identified by specialists. My expertise in beetles limits our abilities to do this quickly enough, which is why I am making the statement below.

Dr. Glené Mynhardt setting up a malaise insect trap in the Back Country Area of Morgan-Monroe/ Yellowwood State Forest. (photo credit: Jason Kolenda)

In the time that we have been identifying the specimens collected, it has become very clear that we have very limited knowledge of how many species exist in our Indiana forests. Efforts of the IFA, with help of scientists from many different institutions, have led to one conclusion: without preserving large tracts of old-growth forests, we could lose hundreds of thousands of species that rely on these forest habitats for survival. The species we are identifying are forest specialists that have been part of Indiana’s forests for hundreds of thousands of years. The survival of these species depends on intact forests, with many relying on fallen trees of varying ages of decomposition and decay. We are collecting hundreds of species of wasps, beetles, and flies, all of which are interdependent on one another for all the different stages of insect life. Not only do our native forests house these species, but never before has any group of naturalists been able to fully sample the rich diversity before.

We are facing what could be one of the most exciting ventures in understanding Indiana’s biological diversity, and we may lose it all. Across our planet, thousands of species go extinct each year, without scientists knowing anything about the biological importance of those species. We could be losing species that are important indicators of forest (and Earth’s) health, yet we don’t know much about these species in terms of their long-term reliance or impacts on these forests. Over the time that our planet has been in existence, it has taken millions of years for insects and other animals, including mammals, to evolve in the areas they not inhabit. We should be spending more time and energy to understand what we have in our own beautiful forests of Indiana, before it is too late.

In the lab, we have thousands of species that all rely on intact, deciduous forests for survival. And while we have many species, we still have limited knowledge of which impacts they have on our forests, which are slowly becoming small fragments of what they used to be. Habitat loss and fragmentation have largely resulted in the loss of biological diversity of insects. First we must understand which species are present in the first place (we do not yet have any close estimates). Second, without understanding which species are present in a given area or how much habitat space these species require, it is premature to make holistic decisions about preserve X amount of space for ALL species present in that area. As biologists we do not yet fully understand how different species are impacted by habitat loss, or how vulnerable different species are to fragmentation. Even though our forests have been around for a long time, this is the first and possibly the last chance we get to study the impacts of local species in our forests, and on each other, over time. 

The decisions we make today will have great impacts on what our children will be able to experience in the years to come. I, for one, would like generations after me to still experience the amazing diversity of life that lives in our forests. As a scientist whose mission it is to understand our living world, we need the time and support to understand what we have right here in Indiana. As humans, we can leave behind one legacy- we are the only species that has the intellectual capacity to understand the other organisms that share our planet, specifically our forests, with us. We rely on these species to maintain the forests we call home, the forests we like to frequent when we try to escape to get away from the busyness of life. Let’s try to first understand what we have before we lost it all.


The preceding testimony by Dr. Glené Mynhardt was given to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday, February 13, 2017 during the hearing for Senate Bill 420. 

Please contact your state senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 420.

A Bill For Our Children

By: Kathy Klawitter

Hello. I’m Kathy Klawitter from Orange County. I’ve recently retired after working for 40 years for the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation as a teacher and a Central Office employee. Thank you for this opportunity to express my views on Senate Bill 420.

Tree marked to be cut in Ferdinand State Forest.

I grew up in Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi. Moving to Southern Indiana and attending Indiana University then moving further South to my current homestead, I missed the big river but was taken by the wooded hills and hollers which distinguish Southern Indiana. I spent time wandering the woods and appreciate and enjoy particularly the unique beauty and subtle natural diversity only available in the forest ecology manifested in vanishing and scarce older growth forest lands.

One of the places I was privileged to have this kind of forest experience was in Ferdinand State Forest, which is a reasonable distance from where I live. Sharing this with my child and now grandchildren has been especially precious to me. Please help insure this opportunity is available to their children. We can’t insure such forestland will be available privately. Once the trees are cut, a generation or more will pass before the forest can regrow into old or older growth forest land. As eco-tourism continues to grow, this disappearing forest resource will draw people to the area. It would be particularly unfortunate to eliminate it just as it comes into its own.

The kinds of organisms which live in older contiguous blocks of forest are different from forest edge species. Multiple use of public land should include a provision for preserving older contiguous blocks of forest interior for us to continue to explore and save for our children and grandchildren. Once it’s gone it will be gone for them. The conservative thing to do is to keep some of it for us and for them.

Thank you for your consideration.


Kathy Klawitter submitted the preceding testimony to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee during the hearing on Senate Bill 420 on Monday, February 13, 2017. Klawitter was active in the fight to revise the Management Plan that restricted logging by 50% in the Hoosier National Forest. 

Please contact your state senator and request they support Senate Bill 420.

Support from the Old-Growth Forest Network

By: Joan Maloof, Ph.D. 

To those considering Senate Bill 420, which designates that at least 10% of each state forest is designated as an old forest area:

Please know that thousands of supporters of the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) strongly support the passage of this bill. OGFN is the forest national organization working specifically to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In counties capable of supporting forest growth we identify at least one forest that will be forever protected from logging and open to the public. Then we help families connect with these forests. The result will be a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature. We are called to do this work because so few old forests remain. Less than 1%! Most Indiana counties have no old forests left at all.

Yet old forests are so important because:

  • The older a forest is the better it cleans the air of pollutants.
  • The older a forest is the more storm water it can capture and purify.
  • The older a forest is the more different species will be found there, from birds to snails to ferns.
  • The older a forest is the more attractive it is for ecotourism.

We need to save examples of older forests to understand and appreciate our native ecosystem. We cannot depend on private forest owners to save these examples. Preserving a small percentage of our state lands is the perfect solution.

For the small amount of income that you will forgo from not logging that 10% you will more than recover in economic development from tourism, and possibly from the emerging carbon market.

The older a forest gets the healthier it becomes. This is the scientifically documented lesson from my recent book: Nature’s Temples: the Complex World of Old-Growth Forests. I urge you to read it if you wish to learn more about this topic.

Thank you for making the right choice for our forests and for the future generations.


Dr. Joan Maloof submitted the preceding testimony to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources committee in support of Senate Bill 420. 

Dr. Joan Maloof is a scientist, a writer, and the Founder and Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, a nonprofit organization creating a network of forests across the US that will remain forever unlogged and open to the public. Dr. Maloof studied Plant Science at the University of Delaware (BS), Environmental Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (MS), and Ecology at the University of Maryland College Park (PhD). She has published numerous research articles in journals such as: Ecology, the American Journal of Botany, Plant Species Biology, the International Journal of Environmental Studies, and Environmental Philosophy. Dr. Maloof is a Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University in Maryland. Her book, Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest, won an Honorable Mention from the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. 

Please contact your state senator and urge them to support Senate Bill 420.

 

A Forest Health Bill

By: Paul Rothrock, Ph.D.

My name is Dr. Paul Rothrock and I was a professor of biology for over 30 years at Taylor University and am currently a research professor in the Biology Department at Indiana University. I am also a past president of the Indiana Academy of Science. Among my research interests has been the development of a widely used Floristic Quality Assessment methodology for Indiana. The protocol uses plant to rank natural areas and to monitor habitat change over time. In the past few years I have had the privilege of spending time in some of our amazing state forest land in Monroe and Brown Counties.

It is inaccurate to think of Senate Bill 420 as an anti-timber bill. It certainly would be wrong to think of Senate Bill 420 as an anti-hunting bill. It is a forest health bill. It is a recognition that old-growth forests are a resource needed for the long term health and sustainability of our forest lands. The bill seeks to promote a diverse mosaic of forest types and maturities that support ecosystem health.

Some particular observations:

1.) These mature forests allow the rhythms of nature to play out. As such they serve as reference points for understanding how we are doing in managing our harvested forests. As we compare old-growth forests to harvested forests we learn of the effect of harvest on soils, plant and animal life, the rate of tree growth, and many other aspects of forest ecology. This research helps to improve forest management and the sustainable supply of wood for our economy.

2.) As I have personally observed in Morgan-Monroe State Forest, our old-growth forests provide unique habitats, sheltering species that do better in old forests than in young. One finds in an old-growth forest a greater variety of ecological niches in the form of snags, fallen branches, deep soil organic matter, and tip ups of earth that favor a different suite of species than harvested forests. The results of my floristic quality analyses indicate both a remarkable richness of species and, in particular, an abundance of conservative species. This diversity of species and the mosaic of forest types result in a complex food web and symbioses that support the more familiar commercial and recreational species.

3.) Old-growth forests serve as a source of biological restoration. These forests are sources of seed and spores that spread to nearby areas thus sustaining the health of future forest generations. These forest systems preserve plant populations that are large enough to maintain genetic diversity important for future adaption to changing conditions and disease. (I should point out that this genetic diversity includes the trees themselves whose gene pool probably has been adversely affected by poor harvest practices of the past.)

To summarize: old-growth forests are a research tool, they support the complex mosaic of nature necessary for vibrant animal populations, and they are tools for restoration and renewal. In short, SB 420 is not an anti-timber bill. Certainly it is not an anti-hunting bill. It is a forest health bill.

Thank you.


The preceding was testimony given by Dr. Paul Rothrock during the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing for Senate Bill 420 on Monday, February 13, 2017. 

Dr. Rothrock is a graduate of Rutgers, The State University, and received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Botany with emphasis in Plant Ecology and Plant Taxonomy. According to the Indiana Academy of Science, Rothrock has been recognized as one of North America’s, and especially Indiana’s, most prominent plant taxonomists and botanists with his research contributions spanning more than three decades. He has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications, including five book chapters and one book. He has described three new Midwestern species and brought species status to three others, as well as leading the development of the Floristic Quality Assessment protocol for Indiana. Rothrock was elected Indiana Academy of Science Fellow in 1992 and has also served on several Academy committees. He has been the Vice-chair and Chair of Plant Systematics and Biodiversity Section. He served as Indiana Academy of Science President in 2009. 

 

 

SB 420: A Voice of Support

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 to support Senate Bill 420

 

 

The Marred Face of the Knobstone Trail

by Todd Stewart, IFA Board Member

Last spring, at age 54, I accomplished something that I was unable to do at 22.  I successfully hiked from Deam Lake to Delaney Park on the Knobstone Trail — many would call this a thru-hike.  The Knobstone Trail is often referred to as the “Little Appalachian Trail” and widely known as a great place to train for the AT.  The Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s longest and therefore most prestigious trail.

As a horseman, I had traveled the tree-laden path of Deam Lake hundreds of times. Now as a hiker, I find myself traveling down that same path, but it is unrecognizable to me.  The joy of the path is now replaced with mud, stumps, and piles of wasted logging byproduct.  

Along the trail there are still many pristine unspoiled places where bulldozers and chainsaws have not rumbled for many years.  While hiking the trail at the height of spring flowers, I was amazed at the diversity and the beauty in areas allowed to recover from our pioneer days.  But now, less than 5% of Indiana’s treasured state forests are protected.

Wildflowers and fungi on the Knobstone (photo by Todd Stewart)

We know Indiana can do better than less than 5%.  I have been blessed to see the trails where the flowers still bloom and the trees still grow strong, but I have also seen areas not so lucky.  Many parts of the forest have already been clear-cut, leaving only an abundance of invasive briars.  I wonder if neighboring states treat their outdoor recreation opportunities with such little regard?

During my thru-hike, I was accosted by a logging operator who hurled a several-hundred-pound log across the open trail, with no regard to passing hiker’s safety.  This unsupervised logging yard was just feet away from the open trail.  This harvest was approved by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Other hikers, including a veteran, shared this same scare.

While I was hiking north on the Knobstone Trail, near the Stuart Oxley trailhead, I saw that valuable hardwood trees had been removed so that the timber could be sold.  The only trees left in this section of the trail were less valuable pine trees.  Not long after the logging, a large wind blew the unprotected left over pines to the ground.  This closed a large section of Knobstone trail.

Today there is a section of the Knobstone Trail in the Jackson Washington Forest that is closed for logging.  The DNR closed this section for the “public’s protection.”  The map redirects hikers to a road walk-around, taking the hiker around what was once was a gorgeous section of trail (see my previous blog). Hikers who take this walk-around have no way of knowing that there are several unrestrained, aggressive large dogs guarding this road walk.  

Indiana’s great diverse forests have been developing since the Ice Age without the help of chainsaws and bulldozers, and will continue to develop if we allow them to.  Indiana is replete with successional habitat.  What we need are more deep forest ecosystems.  

The unstated reason for logging is to gain revenue for a woefully underfunded DNR, and I fear a balance has been tipped.  It’s true that state forests exist timber sources AND recreation. But timber revenues currently take precedence. This is not right, and it’s diminishing the experience of our forests, and jeopardizing the safety and needs of Hoosiers.

If you’re unhappy with how our state forests are being treated, come to IFA’s pro-forest rally Monday, February 20 at the State House in Indianapolis and help show our lawmakers how many of us value trees left standing. You can also express your support for Senate Bill 420, which protects 10% of state forests from logging.

Knobstone Trail, mile 40 (photo by Todd Stewart)