Revised Strategic Forestry Plan Holds Steady On Timber Harvests
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ newly-revised strategic forestry plan doesn’t include any significant changes to the amount of timber cut by the Indiana agency, but does include plans to make forests more accessible to Hoosiers looking to pitch a tent or explore a cave.
DNR Forestry Division Director John Seifert calls the strategic plan a “living document” that’s revised even while its original iteration is in effect. While it doesn’t contain binding resolutions or legislation, the plan maps out the DNR’s direction and priorities for its 13 state forests through 2019.
Seifert says other than logging, one of the most popular requests the DNR fielded was for more recreational opportunities in forests.
"They want bike trails, they want more hiking trails, they want these things and we have to figure out how to have all these constituent groups be happy with the forest management in place," he says.
The revised plan floats the idea of extending trail systems in half a dozen state forests. It also considered selectively opening caves, many of which have been closed because of the deaths of thousands of Indiana bats due to the spread of White-Nose Syndrome.
Seifert says just because the amount of harvesting didn’t change doesn’t mean the DNR didn’t take public comment into account.
“It just depends," he says. "Some people are telling us we should be harvesting more making more opening and some people are telling us we should cut less.”
Meanwhile, two bills hoping to regulate state timber sales died before reaching the floor this session.