IFA Gains Ground in the Indiana State House But We Must Keep at It!

An amendment to SB 363 calling for the set aside of 10% of state forests failed to pass the State House of Representatives in March by a vote of 42 yays to 52 nays. Despite continued opposition by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), seven more representatives supported the 10% set-aside than in 2018!

Indiana's state forests.

All House Democrats supported the 10% amendment except Rep. Goodin (Austin) who abstained from voting. The 12 Republicans who supported the 10% set-aside amendment include Abbott (Rome City), Baird (Greencastle), Borders (Jasonville), Cook (Cicero), May (Bedford), Negele (Attica), Nisly (Goshen), Pressel (Rolling Prairie), Saunders (Lewisville), Schaibley (Carmel), Wolkins (Warsaw), and Young (Franklin).


Follow up with your representative and let him or her know how you feel about their vote. 

Thank those who voted in favor of the amendment. Representatives Borders, Schaibley, Boy (Michigan City), Hamilton, and Pierce all deserve appreciation for speaking in favor of the Set Aside Amendment. Hamilton and Pierce deserve a special thank you for their work and leadership in offering these amendments.

Ask those who voted against the amendment (or abstained) to explain their action or lack of action. Respectfully let them know that you will hold them responsible for making the IDNR set aside at least 10 percent of our state forest to return to the old growth condition.

This vote shows legislators support for restoration of old growth forests in the state forests is growing in the State House. You helped make that happen.

If you’re not already an IFA member, consider joining today. Your membership makes our work possible.

Contact Your Legislators to Protect Indiana’s state forests!

By Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director

Updated March 22, 2019

Virtually every week, the Indiana Forest Alliance hears from concerned Hoosiers about proposed logging in their favorite areas of Indiana’s state forests. Added to this are rampant cutting of private forests, and even County-owned forests like the famed Bean Blossom overlook in Brown County enjoyed by generations of Hoosiers. The overlook was “accidentally” clear cut by a timber buyer who was given the green light by Brown County officials with little instruction to limit logging on the site. (See the news coverage of the cut.) On the heels of this cut, the time is now to take action.

Please Ask Your State Representative To Support Amendments to Protect Indiana’s State Forests!

On Monday March 25, two amendments attached to SB 363 are being considered on the floor of the Indiana House of Representatives. These amendments would:

  • Set-aside 10 percent of each state forest where no logging would be allowed in tracts of at least 500 acres where possible; and
  • Establish a commission consisting of 10 members (nine of them with voting powers) representing the general public, Democrats and Republicans, preservation groups, recreation groups, foresters, loggers, the timber industry, and the IDNR. This Commission will hold at least seven public hearings to solicit public input and develop a plan by 2021 to balance the allocation of state forest acres between logging and non-logging uses as specified in SB 610. The plan would have to be adopted into regulation by the IDNR.

The Indiana Forest Alliance strongly supports both of these amendments. The set-aside amendment would require a minimum amount of state forest land, 16,000 acres or 10%, to be set aside. More than three times the 3% now set aside, these blocks would be large enough to provide viable habitat for forest animals and wilderness recreation.

The commission amendment would finally give the public a meaningful opportunity to comment on how our state forests, which belong to all of us, should be managed. AND it would require that this management balance logging with non-logging uses. These will be requirements IN LAW, instead of merely guidelines.

Indiana's state forests.


Contact your legislator NOW.

Find your legislator name and contact information.

Tell them you want them to support amendments to:

  1. Create a 10% set-aside in Indiana’s state forests where no logging would be allowed; and
  2. Establish an independent commission to solicit public input on a plan to balance the uses of our state forests to serve the needs of Hoosiers best.

Also, tell your representatives why Indiana’s state forests are so important to you—personalize your message.

Year after year, legislators make decisions in favor of the timber industry without hearing the pleas of Hoosiers who continue to be concerned about the destruction of our limited public forests. Would you tell your representative what is happening to Indiana’s precious few wild places that you care about?

Please ask your State Representative to support these amendments.

Thank you!

Senate Bill 610 Creates Accountability for Indiana State Forests

By Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director

Senator John Ruckelshaus (R-Indianapolis), and co-author Sen. Eric Bassler (R-Washington), have introduced a watershed bill in this year’s legislative session: Senate Bill 610.  This bill establishes a state forest commission that will propose a 100-year plan for the management of Indiana state forests, with mandated public input.


Call your Indiana State Senator today at (800) 382-9467. Express your support for this bill and ask that they contact Senator Sue Glick, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and ask that this bill have a hearing.

Why does IFA support SB 610? In our judgment, this bill is a significant improvement over the status quo. Currently, there is no legal requirement for the Indiana Division of Forestry to solicit input for any of its management decisions for the state forests. This bill corrects that.

Senate Bill 610 would bring balance to the management of Indiana state forests.

While the bill does not now require any specific amount of land to be set aside from logging in the state forests, SB 610’s requirement for an independent “state forest commission” is huge. The commission would produce (with robust public input) a plan for the management of the state forests for the next 100 years that is supposed to balance the management of these forests between logging and no logging. This requirement alone is a major repudiation of the current management of our state forests–which is committing 97% of the state forests to logging regardless of any public views on the subject. The commission would include lawmakers, foresters, conservationists, scientists, sporting enthusiasts, recreational users, and timber industry representatives.

READ ON for detail on the provisions IFA supports:

The bill (read the full text on the Indiana General Assembly website) would achieve these provisions, which we support wholeheartedly:

1) Establishes a state forest commission to study the state forests and to hold seven public meetings to gather testimony from citizens living around the state forests, the public, scientists and experts in forest management, and to produce a report by October 1, 2021. This input will be accounted for in a plan of the management that should occur in the state forests for the next 100 years, and the plan must be adopted via rulemaking by the National Resources Commission. The state has never required the Division of Forestry to gather public input before to produce a plan of this scope and duration.

2) Requires that forest advocates’ interests be represented on the commission.

3) Asks the commission to determine the options that “constitute a balanced strategy allowing stakeholders to share the state forest as a whole in a way that best satisfies the needs of all” and propose a plan that accomplishes this balance. To do this, the plan will divide all state forest lands between three priority uses: a) to manage the forests as recreational areas and habitat for game and non-game wildlife; b) to manage the forests for the production of high quality lumber; and c) to manage the forests to allow unmanaged natural succession for species native to the indigenous climate zone. This approach is modeled after forest law and regulations in Wisconsin.

4) Ensures that state forest land that is assigned a primary use of logging (“producing high quality lumber”) must have secondary uses of recreation and habitat protection. State forest land that is assigned a primary use of recreation must have secondary uses of logging and habitat protection. State forest land that is assigned a primary use of habitat protection allowing natural succession without logging will not have a secondary use of logging. Thus, the bill provides a statutory basis for advocating that even if state forest land is designated for logging, that the state must also manage that land for recreation and natural habitat protection. And furthermore, that if land is designated for natural succession, the state is not allowed to log it.

5) Guarantees that the Natural Resources Commission will have to rule-make to implement the plan and its assignment of lands to the three priority uses. This guarantee will lock in these uses; the DOF will not be able to waive them later with impunity as it can now.

6) The plan from the State Forest Commission must “embody the principles” that management of the state forests must make allowances for the effects of anticipated climate change on vegetation and include provisions for the maintenance of native wildlife and vegetation.

7) The report issued by the State Forest Commission “must set forth recommendations” for appropriate procedures for wildlife inventory on all state forest lands to be logged. Currently no inventories of wildlife are required or being done on state forest lands slated to be logged.

8) The report issued by the State Forest Commission “must set forth procedures for effective citizen oversight of the plan”.

9) The report “must set forth recommendations about reasonable time periods for implementation of the plan.”

10) The report must also “include a summary of the financial and environmental benefit of forest land for its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

SB 610 won’t solve the problems in our state forests. However, the bill establishes a framework in law for solving the problems that requires a balanced management of the state forests and public input in management decisions. And it will result in management that can’t be waived later by the DOF regardless of public views as repeatedly occurs now.

Some are concerned that this bill does not have any mandated percentages of land set aside from logging. Also, some are also interpreting SB 610 to require state forests be logged, which some find unacceptable. However, this bill no more requires logging than what is required by IC 14-23-4, the statute that established the state forests. This law says that the state forests are to be managed for the benefit of all but adds that cutting and improvement thinning can occur in the state forests to market timber to local economies. For a century, this was construed fairly conservatively to allow for nearly half of the state forests to be set aside from logging.

Then a new state forester appointed in 2005 by the Daniels Administration. That forester decided to devote 97% of the state forests to logging. As long as there is no law that puts some limits on this extreme way of managing our forests, the current, extremely unbalanced management can continue.

We can and will keep trying to pass set aside legislation. However, the Ruckelshaus bill will address the core issue of the need for a balanced policy for managing our state forests. Forest advocates need to get behind SB 610.

Please take action:

These senators sit on the natural resources committee where this bill is assigned. Can you call the Indiana State Senate at (800) 382-9467 and urge them to hold a hearing.

Committee members are:

CHAIR, Sen. Susan Glick (R-LaGrange)
Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg)
Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon)
Sen. Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne)
Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse)
Sen. Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg)
Sen. James Tomes (R-Wadesville)
Sen. Timothy Lanane (D-Anderson)
Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis)

Switchboard for the Indiana Senate: (800) 382-9467.


Read about other forest-related legislation in the 2019 Indiana General Assembly.

Forests to Faucets: Logging in the Hoosier National Forest & the Lake Monroe Watershed

By Dave Simcox

Many forests leads to faucets — watersheds and forests are naturally interconnected. That’s why south-central Indiana residents should be concerned about a plan to harvest timber in the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) in 2019. Nearby Lake Monroe which provides many benefits to the area is the sole source of drinking water for 120,000+ local residents. The section of the HNF being considered for logging is in the hills of the South Fork of Salt Creek, a major tributary in the 423-sq. mile Lake Monroe watershed.

HNF staff have been studying and collecting data on this project area, termed Houston South, for at least three years. ?They shared their management plans in draft form last month with stakeholders, and, they have agreed to make a presentation and answer questions about it at a meeting October 25.

The entire Houston South Project would encompass 10,533 acres north of State Road 58 and south of Maumee and Houston. Approximately 4,700 acres have been identified for various timber cutting strategies.

Houston South Lake Monroe

Houston South lies in a Management Area which allows for commercial logging according to the most recent (2006) HNF forest management plan available here.

Many of the Houston South Project areas are steeply sloped, adding to the concern about these soils which are thin and possibly highly erodible. Any time there is a potential for erosion due to soil disturbance and resultant sediment flow into a lake, especially one that is a drinking water source, the benefits from activities such as timber removal need to be weighed against the risk to the greater public good.

This image of the Fork Ridge Trail, south of Buffalo Pike is an example of how Houston South currently looks. Photo by Dave Simcox.

Logging took place two years ago on approximately 60 acres nearby along Buffalo Pike which is an example of what could happen in the Houston South Project. See photos of Buffalo Pike here. More post-logging clean up of the site is promised.

You have the opportunity to learn more about this proposed plan for the HNF and get to involved. Michael Chaveas, the Supervisor of HNF, will be presenting the timber harvest plans and answering questions at a public meeting held by the Friends of Lake Monroe. The meeting will be at the Monroe County Public Library (303 E. Kirkwood Ave.) on Thursday, October 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium.

This event will also be live-streamed, so follow IFA and the Friends of Lake Monroe on Facebook to learn more.

* Special thanks to IFA & Wild Tecumseh Friends member Ann Deutch for her excellent work on the maps you see here.

A very nice hiking loop just north of Buffalo Pike, on a recent autumn day.

“I owe it to these forests…I know they are what saved me.”

By Crystal C.

My love for nature started when I was 4. My dad took me camping and fishing several times a year. He would tell me to close my eyes, listen, and slow down. I would roll my eyes and say ?whatever.? I love thinking back to all those happy moments. Now as a mother, I try to make sure I pass down to my kids what my dad taught me about nature and how important it is. Of course they roll their eyes at me (fair enough), but I know they are listening.

My deep connection with the forest started when I went through a divorce. Life as I knew it changed and I wasn’t taking it well. I became sad beyond belief. I was told I would feel better if I took medication and it did make it better, but I was numb like a zombie. One day I took a walk and sat under some trees and just breathed. I slowed down (like my dad always said) and closed my eyes and just listened. Big deal, right? For me it was, because being under those trees and hearing those beautiful sounds was euphoric.

Now I go a couple times a week and walk in one of the state forests, Yellowwood or Morgan-Monroe. I?ll hike somewhere and sit under some trees and meditate, thinking of how far I?ve come since that first time 10 years ago. I have not been on medication for 10 years and I owe it to these forests and all the trees. I know they are what saved me.

Crystal & friend backpacking in Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

I work as an Emergency Medical Technician on an ambulance, so as you can imagine it can get crazy. I deal with death and violence and heartbreak almost everyday. What do you do with all that? You surely can?t carry it with you. In this crazy chaotic world, I have a sanctuary in these trees where none of those things exist, even if it’s for only 30 minutes.

Have you ever heard of ?earthing?? You take your shoes off and stand on dirt or grass to let the energy of the earth heal you. I have been practicing this for a long time. It is actually scientifically proven that this works, so why aren?t we taught to practice it? Sitting under the trees and listening, I can feel the healing energy.

It’s hard to put into words how I feel when I?m in the forest. One of my favorite forest memories was a time when I watched the sunset and listened to the owls. The moon was full so it lit the outline of trees and the fireflies looked like glitter everywhere. The wind was blowing and you could hear the leaves rustling. It was like a nature concert and it was a magical moment. It made me sad to think that one day those trees would be gone, and if the trees are gone the animals will leave as well.

I?ve noticed trees are being cut down at a high rate of speed in the forest I go to most often, Morgan-Monroe. I walked a fire trail that I used to frequent but hadn?t visited in two months due to weather and I had to look around because I thought I wasn’t in the right place. The trail was barely visible due to recent logging. The logs were laying everywhere, wood shavings covered the ground, and there were huge ruts from the heavy equipment.

I cried as it really hit me that they left my sanctuary looking like a war zone. I went to Yellowwood State Forest and found the same destruction. I sent e-mails and a letter to the Governor but only received a generic response. So many people care about and need these trees. Why would the government not care about that?

I think starting a youth group for kids who are having mental health issues would be a great idea, so that they can be taught the healing effects of nature. We can use the forest as a teaching resource. It?s important to keep fighting for the trees. They need us and we need them.

A Call to Action: Owen-Putnam State Forest

On June 11, IFA intern Anna Hopkins took her camera to Owen-Putnam State Forest to survey two soon-to-be-logged forest tracts with members of?Owen-Putnam Friends of the Forest (photos here). Nearly 2,000 trees, or 485,000 board feet of timber, will be sold at auction on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., June 20, 2018. This is more than were sold at Yellowwood cut, and from a smaller acreage area. The Friends are peaceably assembling June 20 to take a stand for more conservative, more balanced approach to logging in this and all state forests. CONTACT them to learn more and take part.?

by Anna Hopkins

Standing in the middle of the Owen-Putnam State Forest, you feel you have walked into a fairy tale. The sun streams through the towering forest canopy, washing the saplings and plants below in golden haze. The earthy breeze carries the sound of rushing waters and bird call. This gem of an Indiana state forest could almost be mistaken for paradise. Almost.

Upon closer inspection you can see that many of the most majestic trees have been marked with yellow spray paint, either single dots or thin rings all the way around the trunks. These doomed trees are next to seeps, along the road, on the inclines above Fish Creek, or directly next to historic heritage sites, the remnants of historic cabins. We even saw a marked tree right behind a wooden sign that read ?NO MOTOR VEHICLES BEYOND THIS POINT.? Logging trucks will be the exception.


This ash tree appears to be resisting the ash borer, but it still marked to be cut.

It?s alarming to me to consider the amount of damage that could result from this logging plan. We saw two ash trees marked for cutting that appeared to show no signs of emerald ash borer infestation. How are we supposed to stop the ash borer if we are cutting trees that seem to be evading the insect or could even be resistant to it?

Many of the other trees that were marked had only the ?problem? of competing with the more monetarily valuable trees around them. From what I observed, the DNR believes it is better to create an optimal environment for a single oak by cutting down the surrounding trees rather than to let natural disturbances occur, thereby nurturing a diverse crop of hardwoods. Just one look across Fish Creek where logging in past years has taken place proves this point–we could count on one hand the number of trees besides oaks that were left growing.

If the sheer amount of trees being cut isn?t enough to alarm you (?an estimated 285,922 board feet of timber? in Compartment 5 Tract 6 and ?199,204 board feet of timber? in Compartment 8 Tract 7 according to DNR’s advertisement in the local paper), then consider the ripple effects of the logging. We hiked the path that the skidders will use to haul out the trees and noticed it was full of saplings, native plants (the Cardinal flower, the Paw Paw tree, and the Christmas fern) and also extremely close to creeks and seeps. All these plants and saplings will be wiped out and the creeks will be burdened with increased silt and erosion.

Once the skidders exit the deeper parts of the tract, they will emerge onto a gravel road where the timber will be loaded onto trucks. Emerging onto these gravel paths from the depths of the forest was breathtaking. Flanked on both sides by towering trees illuminated in the hazy afternoon light, it felt like I was walking into a computer screensaver. I imagine the place will be unrecognizable after trucks loaded with 80,000 pounds of timber create deep ruts on the path, disturbing the surrounding trees with their oversized load.

Just one visit to Owen-Putnam State Forest was enough to make me incredibly angry at the claim that cutting these trees will create a healthier forest. Will it lead to a quick profit? Yes, despite the timber selling for less than it does on private land. Will it lead to a more profitable forest in the future? Maybe.

Will it lead to a better environment for Indiana forest-goers and the flora and fauna that already inhabit this deep forest? Absolutely not.

Standing dead trees are part of an already-healthy forest ecosystem. Photo by Anna Hopkins, taken June 11, 2018 in Owen-Putnam State Forest.

Box Turtles: Looking for Love is Easier in Contiguous Forests

By Ann Deutch Hougham, IFA Member

When my husband and I moved back home to Indiana 16 years ago, we had a young Box Turtle visit our garden regularly. It was a mystery how that little turtle could get in and out of our fencing. We finally caught sight of him or her simply turning sideways and scooting through. Box Turtles are declining in numbers through most of their range so seeing a youngster made us especially cheerful.

In the large contiguous forest near our home, we?ve since seen more than 70 different individual Box Turtles, of which 6 were smaller than a full-grown adult. Clearly, the forest in this part of south central Indiana–not far from Morgan-Monroe State Forest–is vital for the future of Box Turtles because we see that some adults are successfully reproducing here.

Any full-size turtle we see could easily be older than we are; Box Turtles can live to be 100 years old. Box Turtle populations, like so many other wildlife, have diminished over recent years. The Eastern Box Turtle is recognized by the state of Indiana as a species of Special Concern, while several similar and related turtles such as the Ornate Box Turtle, Blanding?s Turtle and Spotted Turtle are listed as State Endangered species.? While Box Turtles can forage and nest in a wide variety of habitats, they hibernate in upland forests over winter, burrowing into the soil under leaf litter and woody debris.

Females take about 13 years to reach reproductive maturity.? Turtle eggs and hatchlings are so often eaten by predators that it can take decades for a single female to reproduce herself. A few years ago, a Box Turtle laid her eggs near my driveway. It was evening and my husband and I promised each other to erect a protective fence the next morning. To our dismay, a predator beat us to it. We suspected it was a raccoon who dug up her nest and ate the eggs but it could also have been a skunk or a fox.

Increased agriculture, housing and road development can cause a local extinction of Box Turtles that won?t be noticed for many decades because most likely, it?s the eggs, hatchlings and juveniles harmed by these threats. The adults live so long that it?s hard to notice when young turtles aren?t joining their ranks.

Like you, I want my great-great-grandkids to be able to enjoy seeing them just the way we do. A forest healthy enough to sustain Box Turtles will also be home to a diverse community. That forest will support such a variety of animals, plants and microbes with such complex interactions that the old phrase ?web of life? only begins to describe them. And so, what is the impact of logging on Box Turtles?

Researchers on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources? Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood Forests and elsewhere found that logging doesn?t kill turtles within their brief two-year study periods, but it does cause some behavior and physiological changes. For example, after timber harvests the turtles moved more often but shorter distances each day. They often crossed logging roads. Turtles were found more often in the deep forest or on the edge of harvested areas than inside harvested areas.


Can we be sure that logging on a grand scale as now practiced, no matter how careful, will allow Box Turtles to survive over the next century?

Purdue recently published a forest management guide saying ?Based on our current level of knowledge, it is impossible to predict all consequences, positive or negative, of timber harvesting? (MacNeil). Purdue suggested some Best Management Practices to minimize the problems science already recognizes. Don?t run over turtles, don?t drive in turtle nesting or hibernating areas except when the ground is frozen, leave woody debris on the ground, and don?t disturb temporary spring pond areas. Is this enough to assure turtles will survive in our logged forests? Scientists are not sure.

Here?s what we do know: forest size matters. The bigger the better. Box Turtles in the HEE (Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood) live in a larger contiguous forest and have larger home ranges than any other studied turtles. Two of the 44 radio-tagged HEE turtles were more nomadic than most. How One of them covered about 464 acres in just one year. One nice warm day, this turtle ended up a football field length away from w


here it started. Most of the HEE?s radio-tagged turtles stayed much closer to home averaging a home range (home area) of 18? acres (Currylow 2012 and Saunders 2013).

Turtle nomads are important members of the turtle community. All of the turtles this side of the Appalachians are related as one family according to their DNA (Kimble 2014). How were the family genes spread over such a vast territory? Throughout history some turtles must have been wanderers like the two found in the HEE, traveling far and finding new mating partners all along the way.

A genetic study of Box Turtles all over their range showed that there was historical migration connecting turtles all the way from Missouri to Tennessee. However, the same scientists found evidence that currently, would-be wanderers can?t traverse through the fragmented habitats throughout their range.

Even within their remaining habitat, crossing a road can easily be fatal for a Box Turtle. The same is true on logging roads. Turtles often hide in a little pile of leaves so a person driving a b


ig vehicle on a forest road can?t see them at all. Dividing their range with roads is a source of harm to the population as well as individual turtles. Because the few nomadic turtles cross extra roads, they are more exposed to being run over than stay-at-home turtles. In the past, Box Turtle populations operated at much larger geographic scales. (Kimble 2014).

The Precautionary Principle, or erring on the side of caution when any activity raises plausible or probable threats of harm, guides us to save as many of the few remaining large road-free forest areas as possible. It?s up to us to make sure as many turtle populations as possible have a large area where turtles can roam safely and mate with others who live far away.

The IFA?s proposal to set aside 10% of our State Forests as Wild Areas is a nod to the Precautionary Principle. Creating State Wild Areas would help protect Box Turtles and the community of life in the forest in ways we don?t yet understand.



Currylow AF, MacGowan BJ, Williams RN (2012) Short-Term Forest Management Effects on a Long-Lived Ectotherm. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40473. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040473


Currylow, Andrea F., et al. “Seasonal variations in plasma vitellogenin and sex steroids in male and female Eastern Box Turtles, Terrapene carolina carolina.” General and comparative endocrinology 180 (2013): 48-55.

(available on Google Scholar)

Kimble, Steven JA, O. E. Rhodes Jr, and Rod N. Williams. “Unexpectedly low rangewide population genetic structure of the imperiled eastern box turtle Terrapene c. carolina.” PloS one 9.3 (2014): e92274.


Lloyd, Terrell C., et al. “Modeling Hematologic and Biochemical Parameters with Spatiotemporal Analysis for the Free-Ranging Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Illinois and Tennessee, a Potential Biosentinel.” EcoHealth 13.3 (2016): 467-479.

(not available on the open internet- use a university library)

MacNeil, Jami, Brian J. MacGowan, Andrea Currylow, and Rod N. Williams. “Forest Management for Reptiles and Amphibians.”


Saunders, Michael R.; Swihart, Robert K. 2013. Science in the hardwood ecosystem experiment: accomplishments and the road ahead. In: Swihart, Robert K.; Saunders, Michael R.; Kalb, Rebecca A.; Haulton, G. Scott; Michler, Charles H., eds. 2013. The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: a framework for studying responses to forest management. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-108. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 315-332.???




Why Forest Advocates Should Have Hope

By Anne Laker, IFA Staff

Forest advocates are moving the meter at the Indiana General Assembly. How, you ask, since the Senate bill to set 30% of state forests from logging did not get a hearing? And an amendment to set aside 10% was defeated in the House.

Here?s why: the Indiana forest bill in the Senate had support from 10 Republicans, was authored by a Republican, and sponsored by two others. In the House, three Republicans spoke in favor of the amendment, and 13 voted for it. Not to mention that both pieces of legislation have the full support of Democrats.

Forest advocates lobby for Indiana forest bill.

IFA Director Jeff Stant, biologist Leslie Bishop, and economist Morton Marcus make the case in the statehouse halls to a representative for leaving some forest unlogged.

In both cases, the word is that Governor Holcomb put his thumb on the scale. If Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville), the only House Republican to speak against the amendment on the floor, said: ?The Governor has authorized me to say that he does not support this policy.? Had this claim not been uttered, who knows how many more Republicans might have voted for it?

So it took backdoor intervention from the Governor to halt progress. This is a governor who has never made a public statement about his position on the logging of Yellowwood, or articulated his own vision for our state forests.

Last weekend, an IFA member saw Gov. Holcomb walking around Nashville. She boldly approached him about Yellowwood. He said he has just been up in a helicopter with DNR staff. The Governor showed the IFA member pictures taken with his phone (from a major distance). The Governor said there was no old growth forest. The forest advocate stated that she understood that it was farmland in the past, but that the forest has been growing since then. The Governor said there were no 100-year-old trees. He said they were clearing the canopy so smaller growth can get bigger.

If the Governor is data-driven, as he often claims, he will take interest in IFA?s study of the Yellowwood/Morgan Monroe backcountry. We found 105 trees older than 100 years in the area being logged now. To say the least, forest advocates must continue to educate and engage the Governor.

IFA Director Jeff Stant greets Gov. Holcomb just after his inauguration in January 2017.

So then, why are we hopeful? ?When you look at the level of bipartisan support in both chambers,? said IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant, ?you have to conclude that setting aside some of the state forests from logging?is an idea that is gaining traction in the legislature.”

Why is it gaining traction? Two reasons.

  • Time and again you?ve responded to the Indiana Forest Alliance?s call to, well, call your lawmakers. Via e-mail, phone and at in-person town hall meetings, you?ve taken the time to contact your senator and representative. Our voices are more audible than ever. Sure, representatives such as Peggy Mayfield and Jim Lucas have state forests in their districts and say they support the DNR. But we?ll only step up our dialogue with lawmakers in this category.
  • The idea of preserving some of our state forests from logging is not a ?red? or a ?blue? issue. It?s simply a wise, balanced policy. It speaks to the value wild nature has for tourism and for personal enjoyment and solace. Managing a small portion of our forests to be as they were 170 years ago is an exciting goal, one that most Hoosiers from whatever party would undoubtedly support.

The Indiana Forest Alliance is not against all logging. We don?t think that the DNR?s 30 trained foresters are bad people doing things that are 100% bad. Their efforts clearly meet their goal of generating trees to be logged, by supporting more oak and hickory, etc.

We simply question the idea that the single, solitary goal of state forests should be to produce merchantable timber, at the expense of open trails or an aesthetic forest experience or scientific study in unlogged areas. These are the other goals we know to be of value, and there is room for more than one goal. These are the public?s forests, and the public should have a voice in their public purpose.

This is the message we will bring without relent to the Governor, lawmakers, the public, the media?with your help.

Rep. Matt Pierce introduced his amendment by saying that offering our kids the experience of an Indiana forest as it might have been 150 years ago is one good reason to set aside some land from logging.

Gambling with our Natural Heritage

Gambling With Our Natural Heritage

by Dr. P. David Simcox, Mind the Gap: Protectors of the Low Gap State Wild Area

Let’s examine the issue of how our Governor Holcomb has disregarded concerns voiced by a multitude of citizens about the accelerated rate of logging in our State Forests. The Governor has chosen to rely upon his experts, Indiana DNR’s Division of Forestry, to decide the best policy to manage these Forests. In other words, he has exercised his responsibility to make policy by avoiding the issue.

Embedded in this policy is that Division of Forestry staff believes all woodlands need human intervention to survive. Human intervention in this case means logging. It turns out–as the Governor knows–that there is a body of evidence about larger ecological issues expressed by scientists who offer a opposing points of view.

The object of this discussion is not to debate the scientific arguments, but to point out that our Governor has chosen the riskiest approach to managing our resources for the future.

Science is Not Absolute

We have all seen reports of a new scientific study finding something you eat is bad for your health. Then a short time later another study says this same item is good for your health. ?Take chocolate or coffee for example. What you are hearing is that science is not absolute. There will be new research to be considered. There are always differing opinions that need to be incorporated into the body of evidence to support a scientific course of action.

Managing Global R&D Programs

In my career as a manager of global technology platforms in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, having a strategy incorporating differing points of view and technology was prudent. Portfolios were created that blended conservative projects and those with higher risk and those with proven technology with more cutting edge science. In no case did we ever bet on one horse. We sought a balanced R&D portfolio that offered opportunities, but minimized the risk.

In reviews with scientists over the decades, I learned to appreciate the researchers who were open to varied explanations for their findings and then sought further investigation to select the right ones. Unfortunately, some scientists are there to sell you on their point of view, not to weigh the options.

Financial Portfolio

What would you do if your financial advisor says: “I found this great stock pick. Let?s take 97.5% of your retirement and invest it all there!” You would likely look for a new advisor. You would never want to take an irreversible or unrecoverable risk. You always seek a balanced investment portfolio spreading your risk and opportunity. It is all about risk management.

Opposing Points of View

IDNR’s current policy protects only 2.5% of our 158,000 acres of State Forests from logging. Even in the “old growth or older growth” sections of their Strategic Plan, they consider logging a management requirement.

Other midwestern states, through policy or science, set aside significant portions of their state forests for no logging. No logging policies range from 100% in Illinois to 25% in Pennsylvania. Why does Indiana’s DNR think that is not a prudent approach? Do they know better? I have been told by a senior IDNR manager that Pennsylvania is ?just different? with the only explanation given that it is larger. This outright dismissal should set off alarm bells.

Our Governor has rejected the advice of 228 Indiana scientists who see the current IDNR policy as ignoring the larger ecological picture. These forest ecosystems are complex and intricate. Concerns about the lack of knowledge about the forest soil ecosystems were recently expressed by a Professor Emeritus of Forestry from Purdue University. So much has yet to be learned about the impact of logging on these ecosystems.

Our IDNR is involved in a Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment study. This 100-year project is underway to determine how to best manage the forests. The operative word here is “experiment.” IDNR must be acknowledging they do not have all the answers…why otherwise would you call this an experiment?

In the meantime, while gathering the data, IDNR is ignoring opposing science and concerns and will continue to log all but minor tracts in our State Forests. There are many terms one might use to describe their approach, but “extremist? is a fair descriptor.

Other Governors Have Done Their Job

Past Indiana Governors have understood that our State Forests are precious resources and should be conservatively managed. Until 2002 and then with the subsequent hiring of a pro-logging head forester in 2005, Governors from both sides of the aisle have set aside as much as 40% of our State Forests from logging. This is not a resource for which one should take large risks.

Governor Holcomb is Gambling with Our Future

So instead of developing a policy that balances pro-logging and ecological concerns, Governor Holcomb has decided to push in all his chips and make the big bet. That is what our Governor is doing. Gambling with your and your grandchildren’s future: our natural heritage and the species that depend upon us.

Call Governor Holcomb and tell him he should have not picked just one stock; what we need is a balance in managing our State Forests.