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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Planned logging of state forest alarms opponents

The DNR plans to sell logging rights for Yellowwood State Forest to a private bidder. The state would gain about $150,000.
Yellowwood State Forest (file photo courtesy Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau)

NASHVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Some activists are concerned that a plan to log nearly 300 acres in a southern Indiana state forest will disrupt hiking trails and animal habitats.

The state Department of Natural Resources plans to sell the logging rights in the Yellowwood State Forest near Nashville to a private bidder, with opponents hoping to persuade Gov. Eric Holcomb to call off the sale.

The state could gain about $150,000 from the logging contracts but it would depend on the grade value and type of wood harvested, state forester John Seifert told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

The agency estimates about 1,500 trees could be cut down in the area, but opponents with the Indiana Forest Alliance say the state's plan is vague and that more than four times as many trees could logged.

Forest alliance director Jeff Stant said he's concern the logging will harm the forest and destroy its wilderness character with the loss of some trees that could be 200 years old.

DNR spokesman Phil Bloom told The (Bloomington) Herald-Times that in a typical single-tree selection harvest, about five trees are removed per acre.

The forest alliance, however, argues the amount of timber expected to be produced by the logging "can only be described as an aggressive selection cut." Stant said the number of trees to be cut ranges from "a few dozen to 40 or more trees on nearly every acre."

"We're very concerned about this," Stant said. "This is going to decimate the most beautiful deep-forest wilderness remaining in the state forest system. They promised to maintain it as an older forest. They're just throwing all that out."

Seifert said the agency will manage the forest's health.

"We've had harvests in this backcountry area," Seifert said. "It is allowed by our policy. It's better to utilize those trees before they die. There are folks who want you to think we're out there spray-painting (all of the) trees and going crazy, and that's just not the case."

The agency's plan calls for logging to "target diseased and declining trees, as well as ash being ravaged by emerald ash borer." State officials are accepting public comments on the plan until Sept. 3.

David Seastrom, who lives on 27 remote acres near the area set for logging, said he believed the DNR was turning to logging to make up for state budget cuts.

"The DNR is trying to fund their operations by selling our heritage," he wrote in a letter about the issue. "To pay for their operations, they are devouring the very thing they are charged to protect."

For a complete list of logging plans throughout the state, click here.