While much discussion and debate has occurred regarding the recent large-scale and complete removal of trees on Brown County-owned land along SR 135, I would offer a perspective through the scientific lens of professional forestry.
The term “clearcut” has often been used to describe this event. However, that does not seem to have been its purpose. A true clearcut is a harvest method sometimes used by professional foresters to regenerate a stand of trees while also providing diverse wildlife habitats across a given landscape. The Society of American Foresters (SAF) has a clear position which states:
The SAF supports the use of well proven silvicultural methods, including clearcutting, to meet diverse forest management objectives, such as efficient utilization of commercial timber and assurance of prompt and successful regeneration following timber harvest or natural disturbances. While not appropriate for every situation, clearcutting is an effective tool to regenerate shade-intolerant tree species, control forest insects and pathogens, improve the productivity of managed forests, and provide early-seral forest habitat that is important for a variety of wildlife species. Oversight by professional foresters and other natural resource specialists and adherence to contemporary sustainable forest management standards can ensure that clearcutting is applied in a manner that addresses environmental, economic, and social concerns.
This activity was intended to create a scenic overlook. It was not a sustainable forestry practice, and should not be considered a “clearcut”. Rather, it was intended to convert a forested area to another use. If allowed to regenerate naturally or, if needed, supplanted with additional trees, this site could have the potential for providing early successional wildlife habitat (especially for some declining species of birds) of which Indiana public and private lands are lacking.
Another point to note is that a professional forester was not consulted in the planning or execution of this activity. While Brown County government might not likely employ a professional forester due to its small land acreage, private consulting foresters are readily available to assist. If their services had been employed, the breakdown in communication that was admitted to by the parties participating in this event would have been averted. Such services could and should have been sought in this case if sustainable forestry had been the goal. The SAF position on this states:
SAF recognizes that many public forest management functions and services are performed by independent contractors, consultants, or other vendors as a result of constrained budgets and other pressures. Although it is recognized that there may be cost savings and other efficiencies gained through contract services, decisions on when, where, and to what extent such contract services are deployed should remain a responsibility of, and be performed under the direction of, career natural resource professionals who are responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s public forestlands, without undue encumbrances of additional bureaucratic processes. Where contract services include professional or technical forest management functions, SAF believes that it is essential that they be provided by natural resource professionals who adhere to the high standards of professional ethics and practice expected of all natural resource managers and scientists.
Lessons can be learned from this unfortunate event. While appropriate timber harvesting is vital to the health of Indiana’s forests and economy, and serves to enhance wildlife habitat and (at times) scenic viewsheds, professional foresters are trained to assure public and private landowners’ goals will be successfully met.
Chair, Indiana Society of American Foresters
Please register ASAP for the upcoming Indiana Society of American Foresters Winter Meeting – Thursday February 21 & Friday February 22, 2019. The program is "Timber and Non-Timber Forest Products" and will be held in the Canyon Inn at McCormick’s Creek State Park, 451 McCormick Creek Park Rd., Spencer, IN 47460.
The meeting information and registration information can be found here.
SB610 (see attached) - This bill creates a forestry commission (with no professional forester on it except an appointee of the DoF) which will determine the 100 year management plan, among other analyses, for the Indiana's State Forests. The members of the commission would provide significant oversight to the management of Indiana's state forests.
HB 1376 Dedicated Conservation Funding –(fact sheet attached) This was created and supported by IN Conservation Alliance, of which ISAF is a member. This bill would move the sales tax already being collected for outdoor recreation items to the DNR instead of the general fund, this amount averages $60 million per year. Funds would go to 1) backlog of DNR capital repairs and rehab, 2) B Harrison Conservation Trust for new land purchases, 3) State Wildlife action plan. You’ll note no direct funding to DoF , except indirectly through points #1 & #2. Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
In Greenfield, Indiana on November 16th, an intrepid group of ISAF members showed up after a bit of an ice storm to perform some Timber Stand Improvement and raise some charitable funds for the chapter. We are finding plenty of groups and events that need our support in promoting forest management in Indiana, so hopefully we can do this again soon. Enjoy the pictures!
For those of you who attended the Forest Pesticide Training Program in Danville on November 29th this e-mail is a follow up to the presentation that Dawn gave. If you did not attend the training program please check out the following link to learn more about this rule that will ban the sale, distribution and transport of 44 invasive plants in Indiana. http://www.sicim.info/news/
Non-native invasive plants are a threat to the health, productivity, and sustainability of Indiana’s forest resources so please take the time to lend your support to this proposed rule.
The following is some updated information directly from Dawn Slack, chair of the Invasive Plant Advisory Committee:
The proposed terrestrial plant rule timeline has been updated and a notice of intent has been posted in the Indiana register.
The public hearing will be Dec 19 @ 10:00 AM in the Government Center North Bldg., 1st Floor – typically 1st room on the right . The online comment period will remain open until the end of the day Dec 20th.
What does all this mean for us:
Written comments are the most effective tool, so please continue to share and ask people to comment on the rule.
Timeline is here: https://www.in.gov/nrc/files/lsa18316_timeline.pdf
To post a comment: https://www.in.gov/nrc/2377.htm
The public hearing is run by the Law Judge (Dawn Wilson, Administrative Law Judge). She will host the hearing in her office and open the meeting for comments. As mentioned above, written comments of support are the most important tool. IPAC members discussed yesterday that it is not necessary to pack the room during the public hearing with those in favor of the rule. We do hope that representatives of various businesses and organizations attend the public hearing (Nursery, Landscaping, Forestry, Land Trusts, Special Interest, etc.) and provide support for the rule at that time.
We are not discouraging participating in the public hearing, but again, we want to express that the most important tool we have are written comments - especially since we have until Dec 20th to provide such comments.
The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub are offering the popular Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices training(Flyer PDF) as an online, seven-week course! The winter 2019 course will be held during Jan. 8 - Feb.19, 2019 with a focus on the Central Hardwoods and Central Appalachians. This course has been approved for 21 category 1 CFE credits by the Society of American Foresters.
Please save February 21st and 22nd 2019 for the next meeting of the Indiana Society of American Foresters, which will be held in Spencer at the McCormick’s Creek State Park Inn. The theme of the meeting will be “Timber and Non-Timber Forest Products”. Details on agenda topics, location, and fees are forthcoming.