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The National Cemetery Administration (NCA), part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), has plans to destroy the only old-growth forest in inner city Indianapolis to build a columbaria for our veterans. This is a wonderful project and a noble endeavor, but in the wrong location. The U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana has denied the request from Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) and plaintiffs to halt the DVA’s columbaria project at Crown Hill Cemetery’s North Forest. The case is currently being appealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
An ecological assessment was done at the site of the Crown Hill North Woods by Dr. Donald Ruch, Dr. Kemuel Badger, and John taylor in which they state: “all efforts should be made to conserve this example of Indiana’s natural heritage” Drs. Badgers and Ruch are professors of biology at Ball State University, and Taylor is the land manager there. Dr. Ruch is a former member of the Indiana Natural Resources Commission and past President of the Indiana Academy of Science. The Floristic Quality Assessment, completed by Dr. Rebecca Dolan and Kevin Tungesvick, show that the vegetation in the Crown Hill North Woods ranks comparably to that of the highest quality nature preserves in central Indiana.
As long as the Crown Hill North Forest is still standing, we will be resolute in our efforts to protect them. The Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust has offered to purchase the woods from the DVA and protect them in perpetuity as either a park or a nature preserve. “I urge our elected officials, the Veterans Administration, and Crown Hill to act on the Hare Trust’s remarkable offer” wrote former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall T. Shepard in an op-ed printed in The Indianapolis Star.
Is destroying an old-growth forest an appropriate way to honor our veterans, our children, our natural heritage? We are proposing a win-win. Our congressional leadership, these decision-makers have the authority to request that the DVA look at alternative sites for this project. There are numerous alternative sites, both at Crown Hill Cemetery and elsewhere in Indianapolis, to place this project that would not take a tree, none of which have been examined.
On March 8, 2017 Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called upon the Department of Veterans Affairs “to halt their efforts to develop the site.“
Ronald E. Walters (Interim Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs) March 22, 2017 statement
The Destruction of Crown Hill North Woods YouTube Video (by Liam Murphy, Carmen Labella & Prasad Rajamani)
Letter to VA from Senator Donnelly and Congressman Carson
3/8/17 Statement from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett
Petition to print & circulate
Veterans petition to print & circulate
Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association Letter of Support
Crown Hill Decision-Makers Contact List with Talking Points
Crown Hill North Woods Case Statement
Press release on ecological assessment of the Crown Hill North Woods
Crown Hill Neighborhood Association Letter to André Carson
Ecological Assessment of the Crown Hill North Woods by Dr. Donald Ruch, Dr. Kemuel Badger, & John Taylor
Crown Hill Forest Defense Fund
Will the Government Erase the Only Old-Growth Forest in Inner-City Indianapolis?
What Can Save a 300-Year-Old Indianapolis Forest?
Pictures of the Crown Hill Cemetery North Woods
9/8/15 FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact)
9/9/15 Environmental Assessment
IDNR Site Assessment- 3/24/2006
Veteran’s Administration Design Plan