A bill that would have prohibited logging in portions of the state’s forests is dead after failing to get a vote in committee. But the hundreds of Hoosiers who gathered at the Statehouse Monday to support the measure say their fight isn’t over.
Groups like the Indiana Forest Alliance have advocated for years for a law requiring some of the state forests be preserved from logging.
Senate Bill 420 would have set aside 10 percent of state forests where harvesting timber isn’t allowed. That’s less than previous proposals.
“Last year there was a bill that would have set aside 23 percent of state forests and would have created what we call state wild areas, which would be for recreation and would not be logged,” says Anne Laker, Communications Director for the Indiana Forest Alliance.
That measure didn’t even get a hearing.
Logging in the state forests has increased 400 percent in the past decade. The Indiana Forest Alliance blames former Governor Mitch Daniels for slashing the Division of Forestry’s budget and making the agency responsible for generating more of its operating costs.
But the Division of Forestry says the only motivation is the health of the state forests.
“When I came here in 2005 the foresters were saying, Jack you need to do something,” says State Forester John Seifert. “This forest is aging and there’s mortality picking up everywhere … and the question is do you continue to let 10 million feet a year die because you can’t control it? It’s an evolution.”
The Indiana Forest Alliance is conducting a study analyzing the economic impact of logging in the state. It could be released this spring.