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Back country logging rights to be auctioned Thursday morning
Updated on: 07.24.13

Myke Luurtsema, coordinator at Hoosier Forest Watch, says a timber sale Thursday morning would be devastating to an area of Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests.

But John Seifert, director of the Division of Forestry at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the sale is part of the DNR's regular tree harvesting.

The timber is scheduled for a public auction at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Yellowwood State Forest office in Brown County, along with three other sales of timber spread across the two forests. Private timber companies will bid to see who gets the rights to harvest the trees on this land.

If sold, more than 1,100 trees and 200,000 board-feet of timber would be logged from the back country area, an area defined by the DNR as a property in “a rectangular shape of at least 1,500 acres of land which is relatively free of improved roads and trails.” All four sales total nearly 7,500 trees and more than one million board-feet combined.

Luurtsema said a news release from 1981 by then-Gov. Robert Orr supports the idea that the back country should be left untouched.

“Users of the area should enter with the philosophy that they will disturb as little as possible the natural woodland ecosystem and that it will offer an experience of visiting a forested area looking much the same as it may have appeared a century and half ago,” the news release said.

However, Seifert said the same news release supports sensible management of the back country.

“Timber harvesting in the back country area will be restricted to single-tree selection of mature, damaged or diseased trees on site having slopes less than 45 degrees,” the release said.

Luurtsema said the back country area is important because it provides an ecosystem that many wildlife species rely upon, such as the federally endangered Indiana and gray bats and state-endangered hooded, cerulean and worm-eating warblers.

But Seifert said the DNR has surveyed the area and found there are no species that require that specific area of the forest to live. The endangered species live in old-growth forests, which the back county has, but can live in other habitats.

Luurtsema said the area provides a great recreational experience, where hikers actually feel like they’re in the forest when they hike.

“The state parks are so developed and heavily populated,” he said. The back county “provides a unique experience that you can’t find anywhere else in the state of Indiana.”

Luurtsema also stressed that the DNR plans to harvest a lot of trees. He said the current DNR plan calls for harvesting, as he sees it, in “every corner of the forests” every 15 to 20 years. Since 2002, logging in Indiana’s state forests has increased by 1,000 percent, from 1.4 million board-feet in 2002 to more than 14 million board-feet in both 2011 and 2012.

Seifert said the assertion that tree harvesting happens in every corner every 15 to 20 years is only “partially accurate.” He said 3,000 acres are set aside as nature preserves in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests, and that there are thousands of acres designated for recreation as well. Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests are each 25,000 acres.

Seifert said, as an example, the DNR would harvest only between 10 and 15 trees out of 80 on the site.

“It always grows back if you take care of it,” Seifert said.

He also said the Division of Forestry is trustworthy because they’ve been doing timber management for 100 years and have had 1,400 timber sales in 45 years.

Luurtsema said he's asked the member base of the Indiana Forest Alliance to make phone calls to Gov. Mike Pence's office to try to stop the sale. He said he's hoping for a "flood of phone calls," asking Pence to protect the back country area.

“Ultimately, it comes down to Mike Pence,” Luurtsema said. “It’s his administration. He’s continuing the policies of Mitch Daniels, but he’s the one who has the authority to change the direction of the management of our state forests.”

-- Tim Grimes, via HSPA InfoNet

  • September 1
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 1
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • September 1
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • September 2
    Woodworkers Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
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    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 Schoolhouse Lane
  • September 3
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    5:30 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • September 4
    Farmers market in Bean Blossom
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 4
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 5
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    3 to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Deer Run Park; Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • September 6
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    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 8
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • September 8
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    6:30 p.m. BCCF, 209 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 8
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    noon Hotel Nashville, 245 N. Jefferson St.
  • September 9
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    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 12
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • September 12
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    8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 5802 Old Settlers Road behind Brownie's restaurant
  • September 17
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 18
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    7:30 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    6 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 20
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    2 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 28
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    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 4
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane