• Indiana Forest Alliance | Guest Blog Post

  • We are extremely proud to be able to donate a portion of our proceeds to an Indiana charity close to our hearts – the Indiana Forest Alliance. They are working hard at preserving and restoring Indiana’s native hardwood forest ecosystem for the enjoyment of all, and we are happy to help support that mission. Please enjoy a guest post about their local non-profit from the delightful Anne Laker.

    Learn More about the Indiana Forest Alliance with Anne Laker

    It is intuitive, and proven with research: When you spend time in a
    forest, your mood is boosted, your blood pressure lowers, and your stress
    melts off.

    Indiana is lucky to have 156,000 acres of public forest in our twelve
    state forests, not to mention waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and
    seemingly magical geological formations. If you’ve hiked or paddled
    through these forests, you know the often unsung beauty waiting to be

    But imagine taking a wonderful weekend hike…only to come upon a series
    of clear cuts.

    This is a common sight in Indiana State Forests today. Our Governor, Eric
    Holcomb, and the two preceding governors, have sanctioned a policy of
    inviting commercial loggers to cut trees on taxpayer-owned land to
    generate revenue to pay for the Indiana Division of Forestry’s (DoF’s)
    budget. The Division’s strategic plan calls for nearly half of its budget
    to come from “product sales” (i.e. logging revenue).

    Fact: In 2002, 40% of Indiana State Forests were protected from logging;
    in 2016, less than 5% are protected. The DoF justifies this policy in the
    name of science, saying that forests are like gardens and need to be
    weeded, and that forests need to be heavily managed to survive, and that
    cutting down trees “creates wildlife habitat.”

    Why is this problematic? First, forests are ecosystems. Unlogged, old
    growth forests provide habitat that support rare biological diversity and
    unique assemblages of animals, plants, and fungi that are found nowhere
    else but in old growth forests. A forest “knows” what it needs. If you’ve
    read the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, you know that
    forest have their own systematic intelligence. The wise forest manager
    lets a forest be a forest, with only sensitive, strategic intervention.

    While it’s true that selective timbering can encourage growth of desirable
    trees, to say that logging “benefits wildlife” is not accurate, unless you
    define wildlife as wild turkey and deer. These species are already
    plentiful. Endangered, rare and threatened species such as the cerulean
    warbler, the Indiana bat, and the Eastern Hellbender salamander need
    undisturbed forests to thrive.

    Taxpayer-owned forests are supposed to be managed for multiple use, not
    treated like timber farms. That means balancing the needs of hunters,
    hikers, and forest management (a.k.a. logging). Right now, the balance is
    weighted far in favor of the timber industry, a $17 billion industry in
    Indiana, with $3 to $4 million of that generated from state forest
    logging. Allowing Indiana State Forests to be aggressively logged amounts
    to the commercialization of public land, and it’s directly against the
    American ethic of preserving our common assets, be it the Grand Canyon or
    our own Yellowwood State Forest.

    Imagine you own property in Brown County. You moved there because you love
    nature. Now imagine the trees around you being cut and dragged out,
    tearing up roads and causing erosion. This is bad for your property
    values, and bad for eco-tourism.

    What can we do about this problem? A lot. The Indiana Forest Alliance
    (IFA) invites every Hoosier to join the movement to protect our public

    IFA is lobbying the governor and lawmakers to establish 13 new Wild Areas
    in seven of Indiana’s State Forests, preserving them for hiking, primitive
    camping, backpacking, hunting, mountain biking and horseback riding
    opportunities available nowhere else on public lands. These proposed Wild
    Areas will protect 23% of the state forests from logging. Take one step
    today: Send a postcard to Gov. Eric Holcomb asking him to reserve some
    portion of state forests from logging.
    Volunteer or donate in support of IFA’s Ecoblitz. The Ecoblitz is a
    comprehensive effort to inventory all the amphibians, small mammals,
    insects, reptiles, vascular plants, birds, bryophytes, lichens, fungi
    living in a 900-acre tract of one of our state forests: Morgan-Monroe.
    Knowing what life exists in the unlogged forests is a logical baseline.
    [Side Note: The 24 different salamanders in Indiana are equal to the
    number of salamanders in all of South America, including the Amazon
    Get to know and love Indiana State Forests. Try a state forest rather than
    a state park. State forests are the only places where (theoretically) you
    can do primitive, off-trail camping and hiking.
    Become a member of IFA, and attend their rallies and events.
    Advocate for green space in your county, whether urban or rural. Green
    space reduces crime, mitigates heat, absorbs carbon, and raises everyone’s
    quality of life.

    On that last note, Indianapolis residents may have heard about the effort
    to save Crown Hill North Woods. Here’s the story: the U.S. Veterans
    Administration approached Crown Hill Cemetery about building a massive
    columbaria to house the ashes of 25,000 veterans. But this worthy project
    was unessecarily sited on a 15-acre plot within Crown Hill including
    300-year-old trees, one of the oldest stand of trees in inner-city

    The Indiana Forest Alliance and supporters sounded the alarm. Over six
    months, hundreds of calls were generated to elected officials, and
    multiple rallies and vigils held. School kids, veterans and neighbors got
    involved. The message was clear: the Indianapolis community wanted the VA
    to select a different site for this important project, one that honors
    veterans and the American heritage they fought for without needlessly
    sacrificing an old growth forest.

    As a direct result of public outcry, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett made a
    public statement against the project in its selected location. Then, in
    mid-March, a group of citizens occupied the site in a show of resistance
    on the day the felling of tree was to start. The VA issued a stop-work
    order and promised to consider alternative sites. In the end, Crown Hill
    Cemetery offered the VA an alternative portion of land of equal size. This
    important piece of forest is, for now, preserved.

    Nature is not a commodity. It is us. The Indiana Forest Alliance and its
    allies continue to fight for the right of every Hoosier the opportunity
    for true wilderness recreation in this beautiful state. The IFA continues
    to strive for the preservation of deep forest habitat for native,
    forest-dependent species of flora and fauna in these places owned by all