WABASH, Ind. (AP) — Activists opposed to the planned logging of a state forest in northern Indiana say it would harm one of the region's largest remaining tracts of woodlands and allow invasive species to take hold.
State officials say the logging of selected trees on about 120 acres in the Salamonie River State Forest will clear dead and dying pines planted about 90 years ago for flood control, and allow old hardwoods more room to regenerate. The forest lies about 60 miles north of Indianapolis.
The state Division of Forestry's logging plans for parts of Huntington and Wabash counties were announced in 2014.
Aaron Goulet, 42, a founding member of the conservation group Friends of Salamonie River State Forest, told The Journal Gazette the logging would clear some of northern Indiana's remaining natural forest land and mature hardwood stands.
"This (logging) will open up the canopy, and allow invasive species to get a stronger foothold than they already have," said Goulet.
Indiana Forest Alliance executive director Jeff Stant said the logging plan would harvest about 30 percent of Salamonie's estimated wood stock. About 29 percent of the trees slated to be cut are pine trees, and most of the rest are native hardwoods, Stant said.
Tara Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the logging plan arose from a careful, "holistic" planning process that takes into consideration topography, geology, hydrology, health of the soil and wildlife.
"We have 20-year plans for the health of all the state forests," she said. "It's not a logging plan, it's a management plan."
Jessica Harshbarger, who runs Huston Timber Marketing in Andrews with her brother and father, said the logging of Salamonie is "long overdue." She said many trees are dead or dying and that the canopy is so thick in some areas that little sunlight gets through.
"People get upset when you cut the trees out, but it's something you've got to do every once in a while. It's like trimming your hair," she said.