Letter: DNR Forestry must talk to residents in person

To the editor:

I wish that current state forest management letter-writing apologists would come to Brown County to officially defend or debate current DNR Forestry policy to we Brown County citizens face-to-face in a public forum, or to perhaps demonstrate for us on the ground the success of these policies.

The recent DNR Forestry-prompted correspondents to The Democrat use the same hackneyed historical DNR PR drivel consistently regurgitated by recent “leaders” of DNR Forestry, who currently seek to gut our publicly-owned forests in their own version of “crony capitalism.”

Notice that they always stick to generalities and avoid commenting on any specific forestry policies or problems continually pointed out to them by Brown Countians. The Director of Forestry has stated publicly that he will not come to Brown County to get yelled at. (Assistant Director of the DNR John Davis, recently came here and was treated with typical Brown County civility.) Public policy disagreement does not constitute yelling unless it is done at more than a conversational volume level, Mr. Director of Forestry.

Speaking of yelling, I sincerely hope that reporter Ben Kibbey will eventually have the opportunity to review the IFA video of the Brown County Indianapolis public input meeting for the 2015-2019 DNR state forest plan. More than 200 Brown County citizens traveled to Indy to try to provide meaningful, collaborative input to DNR Forestry. Brown County Democrat, please find and interview any (non-DNR-employed) Brown County residents who attended that meeting for their take on it. The public spectacle that happened there was a public embarrassment for the Division of Forestry, a travesty for public input, and a death knell for Indiana state government transparency. I’m estimating that 95-percent-plus of the people attending that meeting were very unhappy to not get answers to even one of their many proposed and specific Brown County forest management questions.

What DNR Forestry toadies can never acknowledge publicly now is that the scientific underpinnings that supposedly buttress their recent efforts are today considered extremely outdated (20 years), false and (self) proven unsuccessful. For example, I didn’t see one Department of Forestry shill write any words in response to any of the specific DNR Forestry Thousand Canker walnut disease mismanagement issues that Brown County resident Linda Baden detailed in a recent Brown County Democrat letter to the editor.

Current DNR Forestry officials will never show in our county to defend their failed policies in a public forum or discussion with independent scientists and the Brown County public because 200-plus Brown County citizens are now uncomfortably well-informed on state forestry issues.

Shame on these men for fearing and avoiding us! They need all of us to help them solve the very same problems that they think they dare not mention to us, invasive species and habitat loss.

Thanks once again to Ben Kibbey, Sara Clifford and The Democrat staff for their continuing commitment to the health and future of our Brown County. Keep up the good work, as always.

From the heart of Yellowwood,

Charlie Cole, Brown County

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