Letter: League of Women Voters takes position on logging

To the editor:

The recent controversy over the Department of Natural Resources’ logging of the Yellowwood backcountry has highlighted the treasure we have in our Indiana old-growth and mature forests and sparked additional focus on forest management.

The board of the League of Women Voters of Brown County approved the following resolution at its Dec. 11 meeting, supporting certain protections for Indiana’s forest heritage.

“Whereas old-growth forests once covered most of the 23 million acres of pre-settlement Indiana and therefore were a significant part of the state’s history and heritage.

“Whereas less than 3,000 acres of this virgin old-growth remains today, and most of these old-growth forests are small patches of less than 100 acres (from old-growth forest webpage on IDNR website).

“Whereas the vagaries of nature, including drought, storm, fire, insects and pathogens, will inevitably destroy these last remnant old-growth forests, depriving future generations of Indiana citizens the opportunity to experience the environment that shaped their forebears.

“Whereas, given time and opportunity, forests that have been harvested in the past will recover and can ultimately develop most or all of the characteristics of historical old-growth forests.

“Be it resolved that the League of Women Voters of Brown County supports the proposal that a portion (30 percent) of each state forest that historically supported forest vegetation be set aside and protected in perpetuity so as to allow the forests therein to develop into old-growth.

“Be it further resolved that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources should be directed to identify and designate for preservation areas that contain large, contiguous blocks of mature forest with characteristics similar to historical old-growth forests of Indiana.

“Be it further resolved that the League of Women Voters of Brown County applauds and supports bills proposed before the 2018 legislative session of the Indiana General assembly that will carry out these goals (SB 275: Old Forest Bill, co-sponsored by Senators Bassler, Ford and Koch, and SB 313: Timber Management, sponsored by Senator Stoops).”

Julie Winn, president, League of Women Voters of Brown County

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