Today, tomorrow, and Thursday, diverse groups of outdoor enthusiasts are taking action — including peaceful protests — to stop the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from auctioning the rights to cut down trees in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests. Hundreds of acres, including pristine backcountry areas and old growth forests, are slated for logging.
While DNR officials often disagree with forest advocates about proper forest management practices — sometimes even disagreeing over the meaning of terms like “clear cutting” — a letter written by biologist Leslie Bishop, and signed by 227 other scientists, says they are “concerned about the substantial increase in the rate of degradation and habitat fragmentation taking place in our state forests due to timber harvesting.”
Bishop’s letter, addressed to Governor Eric Holcomb, states, in part:
“Large tracts of contiguous mature forests are necessary to preserve the rich biological diversity of central hardwood forests. In Indiana the total acreage of documented old growth forests is small. The current timber management practice of removing large, older trees from state forests impairs the potential for any significant amount of old growth forests to return for the next several generations. Our forest ecosystems cannot be sustainable if the only old growth forest is in nature preserves and state parks, which contain only one-third of one percent of Indiana Forest land.”
Earlier this fall, Indiana State Forester John Seifert of the Indiana DNR penned a letter about the state’s proposed “resource management plan.” Jeff Stant, executive director of the Indiana Forest Alliance, wrote a rebuttal.
Here is an interactive map, produced by Cathy Greene of Mind the Gap and Wild Tecumseh Friends, along with Dave Simcox and Lauren Frederick (also Mind the Gap members), that shows much of the destruction along the Tecumseh Trail. Greene recently hiked the Tecumseh Trail and documented some of what is already happening to the forest. Bidding for logging rights starts on Thursday and, Greene says, logging can begin as soon as a bid is accepted. “It was humbling to see all the trees marked, the newly logged sites, and the increase in clear cutting,” she says. “I have never seen logging like this before, and it is very concerning to know they are planning to increase the number of ‘disturbed areas’ in the forest. The ‘boneyards,’ or huge piles of wasted logs left after the site is abandoned, is a travesty. It was in stark contrast to the beautiful areas I walked through that made the outdoor adventure worthwhile and being outdoors such a wonderful experience.”
The Indiana Forest Alliance issued a press release listing three events “in advance of a planned Nov. 9 auction for rights to cut timber in old-growth areas of Yellowwood State Forest. The efforts are geared toward asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to call off the plan to cut down 1,733 trees in the Yellowwood State Forest Back Country Area, in Brown County. Visit www.SaveYellowwood.com to view the reasons protestors oppose the logging plan.”
1) INDIANAPOLIS CANVASS TO SAVE YELLOWWOOD STATE FOREST
Advocates are canvassing Indianapolis neighborhoods to explain the issue and invite citizens to contact Gov. Holcomb to call off the logging of Yellowwood.
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 orientation; canvassing until 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Indiana Forest Alliance, 2123 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, 46202
WHO: Heartlands Group of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Hoosier Environmental Council & Indiana Forest Alliance
2) ENCAMPMENT NEAR THE FOREST AT RISK
Advocates are preparing to stand vigil over the forest at the home of a supportive private property owner.
WHEN: Tuesday through Thursday
WHERE: 7154 N Possum Trot Rd, Unionville, IN 47468 (map attached)
WHO: Various concerned citizens are camping. Property owner Dave Shoopman and campers available for interviews.
3) TIMBER SALE PROTEST
The state plans a sale of 1,733 trees in Yellowwood State Forest. These include trees in areas that scientists recommend be set aside for conservation and recreation. 228 Indiana scientists sent a letter to Gov. Holcomb last Thursday urging him to bring a more balance between logging and forest preservation.
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 (sale is to start at 9 a.m.)
WHERE: Yellowwood State Forest Office, 772 Yellowwood Lake Rd., Nashville, IN 47488
WHO: Indiana Division of Forestry, Department of Natural Resources AND many protestors. A police presence is expected and lawyers will be present to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected. The protest is planned as peaceful and lawful.