Imagine thirteen “wild areas” within seven different Indiana state forests: large tracts of forests undisturbed by commercial logging and perfect for hiking, backpacking, hunting, foraging, mountain biking, horseriding, and camping in a wild forest setting. These wild areas would also provide critical deep forest habitat for many rare threatened and endangered species, including bobcats, gray foxes, bats, songbirds, reptiles, and amphibians.
These state wild areas will comprise 36,820 acres, or 24%, of Indiana’s state forest acreage. With names like “Scarce O’ Fat” and “Hellbender,” the 13 areas are, in our estimation, the most distinctive and intact areas in the whole state forest system.
The idea of creating 13 state wild areas is a modest proposal. Pennsylvania, for example, has designated 60 wild areas. The goal? “To provide locations for scientific observation of natural systems, to protect examples of typical and unique plant and animal communities, and to protect outstanding examples of natural interest and beauty.”
In Indiana, a program of state wild areas would provide a place for recreating in wild nature that isn’t possible in a state nature preserve (off limits to most recreation) or at state parks (heavily developed with roads, buildings, etc.). The Wild Indiana campaign’s objective is to restore a state forest management policy that balances timber production with recreation and wilderness preservation.
What does the Wild Indiana campaign look like? It is a year-round effort to advance the issue with elected officials. And it is a vision that the IFA shared with Hoosiers around the state as we host events, table at festivals and speak at meetings. The Wild Indiana campaign involves working with state legislators to pass laws that protect the state forests, and with Governor Holcomb, who can set aside areas of state forests as the state’s chief executive over the Department of Natural Resources which manages our state forests.
How can you get involved?
- Read about these 13 wild areas: their names, locations, and their unique character.
- Download and share a two-page description of the Wild Indiana Campaign.
- Learn more about the rationale for state wild areas in this white paper by IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant.
- Join one of five coalitions around the state working locally to preserve these nearby wild areas: e-mail IFA for details.
- Communicate regularly with your state senator and representative—and Governor Holcomb–to express your support for legislation that sets aside some of Indiana’s public forests for future generations to enjoy them in their most primitive state.
The Indiana Forest Alliance’s Wild Indiana campaign is made possible with support from the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, the McKinney Family Foundation, Change Happens Foundation, and Patagonia Works.