Last Chance to Save a Wild Forest

Tell Governor Holcomb to Stop the Logging in Yellowwood State Forest Backcountry

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY!

Update: November 9th:

Disregarding an outpouring of public support for the protection of the Yellowwood State Forest Backcountry area, Indiana’s state government accepted a bid of just $108,785 for the right to log 300 acres of state forest land along and nearby the popular Tecumseh Trail.
This winning timber bid equates to about $63 a tree, or 24 cents a board foot — a bargain basement price for these publicly-owned hardwood trees. Before the sale, a philanthropist offered the DNR $150,000 to not harvest the backcountry area.

Call or email Governor Holcomb today and urge him to cancel the sales agreement and instead commit to permanently protecting the wild backcountry areas in our state forests.  

Governor Holcomb:

317-232-4567 or GovHolcomb@gov.in.gov

Read the letter from 228 Indiana scientists calling for protection of old growth forest areas in our state forests.

Indianapolis Star says “push pause on Indiana’s backcountry logging“.

Despite hundreds of public comments urging the Yellowwood State Forest Backcountry area be protected, the Indiana DNR is moving ahead with plans to log 300 acres in a wild, deep forest area in northwest Brown County. Large hardwood trees have already been marked for cutting, including ones alongside the Tecumseh Trail – a highly popular long-distance hiking trail– which will have to be relocated while the harvesting occurs.

Tree alongside Tecumseh Trail marked for cutting

The State Forest backcountry areas – particularly the Yellowwood/Morgan-Monroe State Forest Backcountry – contain some of the most rugged and diverse forest in the state forest system, and if left unmanaged will become old growth forest. True old growth forest is rare in the state forests, and the DNR has acknowledged in its state forest management plans that at least 10% of the state forests should be maintained in old forest conditions. Yet across the state forest system less than 2% of the area contains forest stands older than 140 years, and in Yellowwood there is less than one percent with forests older than 140 years of age (Report of Continuous Forest Inventory Summary of years 2012-2016). Despite being well short of its old growth goal, the DNR Division of Forestry insists on logging these areas with no compelling reason to do so.

Part of the forest to be logged includes an area that has been the subject of an intensive four-year biological inventory undertaken in the backcountry by the Indiana Forest Alliance along with HEC and other partners, that has found:

Hibernating Indiana bat

–The federally listed Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat, along with the Little brown bat, recently proposed for listing by the Indiana DNR.
–Thirty-four species of reptiles and amphibians, including the state endangered timber rattlesnake, along with eleven species of salamander.
–430 vascular plant species, leading scientists to declare the area is comparable to the most botanically rich forested sites known in other regions of the state.
–Numerous forest songbirds including state species of special concern Hooded warbler, Worm-eating warbler, Black and white warbler, along with the state-endangered Cerulean warbler.

Read Ecoblitz reports here

In addition to providing habitat for a great variety of plant and animal species, old growth forests provide a living laboratory of forest ecosystem dynamics, providing a control area with which to compare the effects of forest management to those areas left unmanaged.

Old growth forests are also tremendous carbon sinks: research indicates that besides acting as carbon reservoirs, large, old trees actively capture large amounts of atmospheric carbon compared to smaller trees.

Distinguished Indiana biologists Dr. Marion Jackson and Dr. John Whitaker, Jr. – writing about the many benefits of protecting interior, old growth forests – said, “To conserve our wild heritage and ensure the viability of Indiana’s native forest ecosystem and our future quality of life, we need to let more of our state forests return to old growth conditions and to allow nature to function in these public lands.”

Hooded warbler

Slimy salamander

Resources

Old-growth Forests Store a Treasure Trove of Carbon

Indiana DNR State Forest Properties Report of Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) Summary of years 2012-2016

Dr. Marion Jackson and Dr. John Whitaker, Jr. on Old Growth Forests