To the editor:
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Bloomington Herald-Times reported that Indiana Senate Bill 420, which would have preserved 10 percent of each state forest as old growth, protected from logging, was not allowed to proceed to a Senate vote.
This was despite positive testimony by members of the scientific community, enthusiastic public support, and the support of a similar measure in the last legislative cycle by such conservative Republicans as Brown County’s previous Senator Brent Steele and, at that time Representative Eric Koch.
According to the Herald-Times article, the measure was opposed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry Strategic Direction Plan 2015-2019 describes the mission of the DNR as “To manage, protect and conserve the timber, water, wildlife, soil and related forest resources for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations, and to demonstrate proper forest management to Indiana landowners.” The plan states this is to be done under a “multiple-use multiple-benefit philosophy.”
The 2015-2019 plan also states that one of the goals and objectives of the DNR is to “Work toward a long-term balance in forest stand ages and structure with 10 percent of forest acreage in or developing older forest conditions (e.g. nature preserves and high conservation forests) …”
Over the last year, we have seen how current logging policy appears to undermine other popular DNR programs, as hiking trails have been closed for logging activity.
Surely common ground can be found between the DNR and forest advocates on this issue.
Senate Bill 420 seems to be in line with the stated goals of the Forest Management Plan: multiple-use, multiple benefit should include designated old growth areas, already targeted at 10 percent by the DNR.
At the very least, our legislators should be allowed to represent our views through a public vote on these issues.
Cathy Rountree, Nashville
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