Protect Our Lakes and Rivers from Unregulated Logging and Mining

House Bill 1289 — Eliminating local regulation of natural resource development

Find our call to action below!

HB 1289, (Rep. Ellington, R-Bloomington), prohibits county, city or town governments from regulating natural resource development –defined as timber harvesting or mineral extraction –on private property.  Local ordinances that regulate natural resource development are part of zoning regulations. This bill would preempt local control.

Why is HB 1289 a bad idea?

Local government may be the only source of protection available.

Local oversight is the only form of regulation available to protect streams, lakes, and neighboring landowners from the harmful impacts of poor logging practices – such as logging or road building on steep slopes or other violations of best forestry practices. This is particularly important in Monroe County and other communities with valuable water resources (e.g. Lake Monroe) that are surrounded by private woodlands that may be harvested or cleared for land development.

Indiana’s lakes and streams would be at greater risk from pollution.  

HB 1289 limits local government authority statewide, but its origins are in Monroe County.

Lake Monroe, located south of Bloomington, serves as a drinking water supply for 120,000 people including the population of Bloomington.  Sediment and nutrients that flow into the lake from upstream lands or due to disturbance on or near the shoreline can lower water quality, harm aquatic life including the lake’s valuable sport fishery, and contribute to algal blooms that make the lake undesirable for swimming or watersports.  Poor logging practices and unregulated mining activities can increase the sediment levels discharged to the lake.

Lake Monroe is a tourism and outdoor recreation powerhouse. Protecting the water quality and shoreline of Lake Monroe is a high priority for Bloomington, Monroe County and other nearby communities given that the lake is a highly valuable economic and tourism resource:  about 1 million people visit the lake’s recreation areas each year.

Steep slope clearcut area at Lake Monroe – to waterline

 

Logging near Lake Lemon without use of erosion control measures

 

The state of Indiana has chosen not to regulate timber harvesting or certain mining activities on private land. 

The Indiana DNR does not govern forestry practices on private land.  Instead, the agency promotes the use of voluntary best management practices but there is no penalty if a logging company ignores them.  What’s more, normal forestry activities are exempt from federal regulation under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, as well as exempt from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Rule 5 which seeks to control erosion from construction sites.   As a result, local ordinances that enforce forestry best management practices are the only protection from logging-caused erosion for most of our lakes and rivers.

For mineral extraction, the state of Indiana regulates oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and mining of sand and gravel from navigable streams (but not on adjoining floodplains). Local regulation of mineral extraction may be necessary to provide additional protection for public health and welfare, or in the case of limestone or sand and gravel mining, local regulation is the only regulation. In Monroe County, the local ordinance designates certain mineral extraction zones which provide certainty to mining companies (mainly limestone quarries) on where mining is allowed.

The bill’s proponents have not identified problems with local government oversight of activities on private lands around Lake Monroe or Lake Lemon. 

Allegations that local government oversight of forestry is overreaching and intended to stop all logging near lakes have been used to justify the bill, but only one specific “problem” from 16 years ago has been cited by bill supporters.  Read more here.

Take Action Today!

HB 1289 passed the Indiana House of Representatives on February 5th.  It now goes to the Senate where it has been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Please call or email your state senator today and urge him or her to:

Oppose HB 1289, and communicate this opposition to Committee Chair Susan Glick (R-Lagrange)

And, email Sen. Glick and ask her to NOT schedule the bill for a hearing.