My thanks to Miranda Garbaciak and Liz Jackson for their recent comments in IDS regarding forestry, including logging in Yellowwood State Forest.
I agree with Ms. Jackson that the recent Yellowwood logging does not constitute deforestation. However, I and many other Hoosiers find that timber sale and current state forest management deeply troubling.
The three tracts involved received “back country area” designation in 1981, when the Indiana Division of Forestry committed to preserving the tracts’ wilderness character.
The DOF maintains that single tree selection harvests in these tracts won’t affect their qualification as an older forest.
However, logging, including removal of old trees, disrupts forest succession — the natural changes in plant and animal communities over time.
Indiana state forests are indeed multi-use, which includes timber harvesting. But how much? According to the Indiana Forest Alliance, “there has been a 400 percent increase in commercial logging in our public forests since 2002.”
This worries many residents, including a growing number of legislators. Recently, Senate Bill 275, authored by three Republicans with bipartisan support, recommended designating at least 30 percent of each state forest as “old forest area” and off-limits to logging.
Similarly, an amendment to House Bill 1292 called for setting aside 10 percent.
In addition, Dr. Leslie Bishop, Professor Emerita of Biology, Earlham College, and 239 of her scientist colleagues sent a letter to the governor on Nov. 2, 2017.
The letter concludes: “As governor, you have the authority to change the current trend in over-harvest of our state forests. To ensure the viability of Indiana’s native forest ecosystems for the future and for Hoosier’s future quality of life, we need to conserve major portions of our state forests and allow them to return to old growth conditions.”
5,070 citizens contacted the governor to oppose the Yellowwood logging. About 200 protested at the timber sale, when 1,733 trees in the back country area were sold for $108,785, or $63 per tree.
Hoosiers have a voice in state forest management. Tell the governor and your legislators what YOU think!
Karen S. Smith