Time is Expiring to Submit Comments on the Division of Forestry’s Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019

If you haven’t already, please write and submit your comments ASAP. The comment periobrian_14d ends October 31st!!

Here’s how to lend your voice to protecting our State Forests:

To ensure your comments are accepted, the Division of Forestry is requiring that comments are submitted through their Question/Comment web form at  www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/2856.htm with “Strategic Plan” entered in the subject line.

Longer comments or comments with attachments can be email to Division of Forestry Director Jack Seifert at jseifert@dnr.in.gov or mailed to:

Mr. Jack Seifert
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Division of Forestry
402 W. Washington, Room W-296
Indianapolis, IN 46204

You can read IFA’s concerns with the proposed Strategic Plan provided in testimony at the public meetings here.

The proposed Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019 can be accessed here.

Below is a sample letter but PLEASE let the Division of Forestry hear you concerns in your own words. Address this letter to everyone.  Instead of only sending your letter to only the Division of Forestry, send this letter to Governor Pence, your State Representative and Senator, as well as to the editor of your local paper.  You will save yourself the effort of writing multiple letters, and your voice will reach far and wide, beyond the Division of Forestry.

When you do write a letter, let us know!  We are tracking the numbers of letters that are written to the Division of Forestry and legislators in the coming year so we can hold them accountable to the public’s opinion.  You can email your comments to sara@indianaforestalliance.org.

Dear Director Seifert,

I am writing to express my frustrations over the recent Strategic Plan proposed by the Division of Forestry, for 2015-2019. As it is currently, the state forest management program has had severe impacts on public recreational activities, such as hiking, backpacking, hunting, bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, and backcountry camping. The DOF’s Strategic Plan would continue the excessive logging of the state forests at levels 10 times beyond the logging ten years ago, authorize more clearcutting, set aside no areas for the enjoyment of wilderness or primitive recreation, sell off “non-essential” tracts of state forests and establish user fees to build shooting ranges and expanded facilities. The changes revealed in this Plan to do not reflect the vision of state forests as multiple-use facilities, which would support primitive recreation not possible on any other state lands, biodiversity of natural forest habitat, and finally timber harvesting. Please revisit your Plan to provide a truly multiple use strategy rather than managing our state forests primarily for the timber industry.

In past years, the DOF has solicited Hoosier opinions in advance of setting forth its Plan; this has included a 30-day public-comment period, meetings with multiple stake holder groups and public hearings.  These opportunities were neglected before the unveiling of the 2015-2019 Strategic Plan. It is imperative that the public opinion process be expanded by the Division of Forestry to provide more comment opportunities and clear instructions for public comment and in turn, appropriately respond to those comments and incorporate input into the Plan.

Please employ a balanced management of our state forests by reducing commercial logging throughout the entire state forest system to pre-2005 levels and setting aside Wild Areas where the public can enjoy natural forests without logging or roads.  Redraft this Strategic Plan to include the comments and concerns of Hoosiers who own property next to the state forests or who recreate in the state forests, allowing a public comment period of a  minimum of 6o days. Landowners have been told to trust the Division of Forestry with the practical application of silvicultural methods in the state forests; the Division of Forestry needs to recognize that the state forests belong to the people of Indiana and more genuinely consider public opinions on the management of this public resource which matters to the health and quality of life of Hoosiers.


Your Name
City State Zip Code

TAKE ACTION NOW! Submit Comments on the DOF Strategic Plan by October 31!

logging machineOnly 2 weeks left to submit comments on the Strategic Plan….

We need your voices!!!

Thank you to so many of you for attending the three Strategic Plan meetings held by the Division of Forestry in September. It is crucial in the development of the plan that will guide management of our state forests for the next five years that so many forest user voices were represented and heard at these meetings.

If you did not get a chance to come out to the meetings, and even if you did, conservation groups from across Indiana requested and received a 30-day public comment period and production of a response to comments document. We are asking folks to submit their personal comments on the Strategic Plan directly to the Division of Forestry.  This can be done by going to the Indiana Division of Forestry’s page, then following instructions for sending in a comment.  At this time, the Division of Forestry has asked individuals and groups who would like to comment to submit through their general comment option, with the subject line reading “Strategic Plan.”  This will ensure your comments are funneled to the right person. If you have longer, more detailed comments or would like to add or send your comments as an attachment, please send them to DOF Director Jack Seifert’s email.

IFA has asked that the DOF create a separate link for making comments specific to the Strategic Plan, but as of this posting, that has not occurred.  In the meantime, we can submit all comments through their main page. The comment period ends October 31st!!

IFA’s concerns with the proposed Strategic Plan can be read here.

Advise on Crafting your Comments:

Speak from the heart.  You are motivated to write because you have a deep love of Indiana’s public forests, and are affected by their destruction.  Do you own land beside the state forests?  Do you now deal with runoff due to decreased ground cover, erosion of your road due to logging trucks?  Can you walk through an “even-aged regeneration practice and management prescription” (i.e. a clear cut, as defined by the Division of Forestry) without hearing a living creature make a sound, tripping over the refuse that is left behind?  Do you hope for forests for your child and their children on into the future?  Say those things.

Choose one point you don’t agree with from the Strategic Plan, and go with it. As you all know, it can be impossible to write an essay when you feel like you have to say EVERYTHING you want to.  Often, it is best to choose one point that you particularly want to address, and commit to tackling it with all your energy.  Choosing one part of the Strategic Plan to critic will allow you to communicate what you need to in a way that is coherent and organized.  To view the Strategic Plan, go to this link: http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/files/fo-State_Forest_Strategic_Plan_2015_2019.pdf

Address this letter to everyoneInstead of only sending this letter to the Division of Forestry, send this letter to Governor Pence, your State Representative and Senator, as well as to the editor of your local paper.  You will save yourself the effort of writing multiple letters, and your voice will reach far and wide, beyond the Division of Forestry.

Phone a friend.  If you would like a second pair of eyes or someone to help you write your letter, a personal scribe, even, feel free to contact the Forest Alliance.  The Outreach Coordinator, Sara, will be more than happy to assist folks with writing letters.  Also, if you are having difficulty locating your representatives contact information, we can help with that.  Keep your eyes peeled on our website for meet-up times for letter writing and editing sessions, as we will be hosting these events all over the state.  We take requests for meet-up locations!

An example of a letter:

October 15, 2015

Dear Cameron Clarke, and
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources,
Division of Forestry,

I am writing to express my frustrations over the recent Strategic Plan set forward by the Division of Forestry, for 2015-2019. As it is currently, the state forest management program has had severe impacts on public recreational activities, such as hiking, backpacking, hunting, bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, and backcountry camping. The DOF’s Strategic Plan would see further cuts on state forests, as well as the selling off of “non-essential” tracts of forestland and a proposed user fee in order to build shooting ranges and expanded facilities. The changes revealed in this plan to do not reflect the vision of state forests as multiple-use facilities, which would could support primitive recreation, biodiversity of habitat, and finally timber harvesting. Please revisit your Plan to address a truly multiple use strategy as opposed to managing our state forests for the timber industry.

In past years, the DOF has solicited Hoosier opinions in advance of setting forth its Plan; this has included a 30-day public-comment period as well as public hearings. These opportunities were neglected before the unveiling of the 2015-2019 Strategic Plan. It is imperative that the public opinion process be expanded to provide clearly defined parameters of how public comment will be accepted and in turn, appropriately responded to by the Division of Forestry.

Please employ a balanced management of our state forests by reducing commercial logging throughout the entire state forest system to pre-2004 levels. Redraft this Strategic Plan to include the comments and concerns of Hoosiers who own property and who recreate within the state forests, with the full procedure of a public comment period of a minimum of 6o days in place for individuals to provide comment. Landowners have been told to trust the Division of Forestry with the practical application of silvicultural methods; trust that you will continue to hear from the people of Indiana on this public health and quality of life issue.


Your Name
City State Zip Code

Here is the link for submission:

If you are a fan of snail mail and would prefer to mail your comments directly to the DOF, here is their address:

Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Division of Forestry
402 West Washington Street Room W296
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2739
(317) 232-4105

To find your legislator, you can use this tool, which will ask you to enter your city and address.

Here is Mike Pence’s contact info, should you be so inclined to drop him a line, as well:

Office of the Governor
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797

Ecoblitz Postponed Due to Tropical Storm Bill

Red-backed Salamander

Red-backed Salamander

The Indiana Forest Alliance and its partners have decided to postpone this weekend’s Ecoblitz, due to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bill.  Two teams of experts and volunteers were scheduled to survey for birds and herptiles (reptiles and amphibians) in the 900-acre Ecoblitz area in the heart of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest Back Country Area.  The surveys will now take place on Saturday, June 27th, and Sunday, June 28th.  This purpose of the Ecoblitz is to document the biological diversity of an intact, interior hardwood forest ecosystem.  This is done through a comprehensive inventory of flora and fauna in this tract, with the assistance of experts from a dozen colleges and universities, as well as citizen experts.  If you would like to accompany one of these expert-led teams next weekend or at any of our future Ecoblitz weekends, contact Audrey Moore ataudrey@indianaforestalliance.org.

League of Women Voters to Host Forum on Yellowwood Road


From the Friends of Yellowwood:

Here’s the pitch: Very rarely does one get a chance to serve one’s community and to help our Yellowwood State Forest at the same time. Now is your one best local opportunity to affect significant positive change by merely attending one meeting or sending one little message. The public for eight years has been short-changed by deliberate efforts by IDNR Division of Forestry officials to subvert previously promised public input during the design phase of the proposed new INDOT-designed Yellowwood Road. On Thursday, May 28 (at 6:00 P.M.), the remarkable Brown County League of Women Voters, at the behest of the Brown County Commissioners, will conduct a public meeting (in the Billy Salmon Room  of the Brown County Courthouse Annex at 201 Locust Lane, Nashville) to solicit public opinion on the proposed DNR Yellowwood Road project. Brown County is currently blessed by having Commissioners who are honest, decent people who truly value public input and community effort. However, they need to see the depth of public sentiment on this issue in order to resist intense state pressure to approve the road as presently designed. Come to the meeting, tell us how you feel about the road project. Don’t forget to express your appreciation to our Commissioners, who deserve public acknowledgment for their efforts to date. This meeting is as much a celebration of fair, open government and our Hoosier community’s efforts to work together as it is a discussion of IDNR road design. The BC Commissioners hold regular office hours, and they can be reached by phone at 812-988-4901 or at the site:  commissioners@browncounty-in.us. Their names are: Dianna Biddle, Joe Wray, and Dave Anderson. Their office is also located at 21 Locust Lane.

Yellowwood Poster

Lots of commenting opportunities, upcoming sales!

State forest logging heating up this summer.
Mossop Ridge State Wild Area

Mossop Ridge State Wild Area

We’ve just posted several draft resource management guides that are open for public comment.  In each of these guides, the Division of Forestry lays out their plans for more commercial logging.  Comments for proposed logging in a tract in Clark State Forest are due June 5th, and June 6th is the deadline for submitting comments on logging plans in the proposed Mossop Ridge State Wild Areain Yellowwood State Forest.  Public comments for proposed logging in seven tracts of Jackson-Washington State Forest are due on June 10th, including tracts in each of the proposed Starve Hollow, Orchard Ridge, and Spurgeon Hollow State Wild Areas.
In addition, there are several sales coming up in June for Morgan-Monroe,Yellowwood, Owen-Putnam, Ferdinand, Greene-Sullivan and Pike State Forests.  Details of those sales can be found on the Hoosier Forest Watch website, or by clicking those links.
For a step-by-step guide to submitting public comments, you can use IFA’s Forest Guardian Handbook.  Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for all our work helping to protect Indiana’s forests.


Jackson-Washington State Forest


THE TIME HAS COME FOR EVERY HOOSIER TO KNOW THAT OUR STATE GOVERNMENT IS CUTTING DOWN OUR STATE FORESTS TO SELL THE TREES YOU AND I OWN FOR BARELY HALF THEIR MARKET PRICE.  This profound tragedy would not be occurring in Indiana if enough Hoosiers knew it was happening. State officials are robbing future Hoosier generations of the chance to see and enjoy the majestic public forests that have returned to our state forests.

U.S. Census data indicates more than 2 million people live within 20 miles of our state forests, and more than 14.5 million live within 100 miles of them.  This is one in every three Hoosiers and one heck of a lot of Americans!  While they only comprise 158,000 acres (barely 3% of the forests in Indiana), and are not depended upon by the timber industry (which gets over 90% of its wood from private lands), the state forests make up much of the only areas in our state and region where wilderness recreation like long distance hiking, backpacking and primitive camping can occur.

Saving those precious forests from the ax immeasurably improves our quality of life and makes good economic sense. U.S. Forest Service Budget Data indicates recreation supports nearly five times as many jobs in communities surrounding our national forests as logging, generating 205,000 jobs and contributing $13.6 billion to America’s gross domestic product each year.  Local communities could benefit much more from tourism that the state is also spending money to promote if these public trees were left standing than cut down.

Mossop Ridge, Yellowwood State Forest

Yet judging from the unprecedented level of commercial logging underway in Indiana’s state forests, the people who appear to be the most unconcerned about these facts are the very managers of the state forests!  At their current rate of cutting, nearly every tract within our state forests will have been extensively logged within 15 more years.  Majestic stands of forests returning to their old growth conditions will be stunted and left in a perpetual state of recovery from logging or reduced to stumps entirely as the state employs more of its planned clearcutting.  New gravel roads will snake down virtually every ridge and up every valley, leaving hundreds of slopes and ravines crisscrossed with skidder trails.

For the last two sessions of our Legislature, we’ve introduced bills to save the wildest parts of our state forests from this destruction, but have gotten nowhere thanks to the steadfast opposition of Governor Pence’s Department of Natural Resources and the timber industry.  This has to change!

This month, the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) is launching a new campaign to tell the story of this destruction to tens of thousands of Hoosiers, and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO SPREAD THE WORD! Scofield Editorial has produced a 2 minute film that powerfully summarizes the destruction currently underway in our state forests and asks every Hoosier to get involved and save our beautiful heritage.  That film is right here on our website. We’ve also launched radio and TV commercials that will show Hoosiers what they can do to stop the logging. We are employing social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hope you’ll help us make the message go viral! Most of all, be a part of the movement!Become a part of our organization, and then contact Governor Pence to demand that he stop this logging and urge everyone you know to do so as well.



Jeff Stant

Executive Director

Indiana Forest Alliance


Contact: Call Governor Pence at: 317-232-4567

Mail him a letter at: 200 West Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN  46204

Or go to http://www.in.gov/gov/2333.htm to email him.

25th Anniversary Heartwood Forest Council Approaching, May 22-25th, in Paoli


Celebrate 25 extraordinary years of Heartwood at the Lazy Black Bear in southern Indiana May 22nd-May 25th, 2015.  

For 25 years, Heartwood has coordinated vital campaigns for forest protection, launched dynamic new organizations, gathered activists together for education and enjoyment in beautiful places, and built a community of people across the hardwood region who help each other to protect the places they love.

Though the organization has changed over time, the Heartwood circle remains, connecting us through friendship and commitment like the long, tangled skeins of mycelia that hold our forests together.

On Memorial Day weekend, join us to celebrate Heartwood and to envision the powerful possibilities that the future holds.

-Inspiring speakers from across the Heartwood region
-25 Years of Heartwood Chefs:  Fabulous meals created by an amazing team of the best Heartwood chefs from the past 25 years
IMG_2362-Music!  On stage, in the talent show, around the campfire, anywhere at any time.  Featured performers include Dana Lyons, Austin Lucas, and Bob Lucas.

Plan to stay late! On Monday afternoon, Heartwood will host an organizing session to protect all National Forests. We are inviting individuals from across the country to join in building a legislative platform that our local and regional efforts can support and promote. In celebration of last year’s 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and next year’s 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, we hope to empower a vision that can do our land honor and justice.

kleercut-action-bannerDIRECT ACTION! A weekend-long Direct Action training will run concurrently with the Forest Council. Get hands on experience with various types of direct actions to fight extraction! All ages and experiences levels welcome! Pre-registration is suggested for the Direct Action track. For more information, email glaciersedge@riseup.net



Friday night:
“The Earth beneath our feet”, the roots of Heartwood
-Music with Dana Lyons, Bob Lucas, and Austin Lucas

-“The Heart of Heartwood”: Calls to Action from across the Heartwood region, featuring music by Danny Dolinger & Robert Hoyt
-Workshops on forests, climate, biomass, fracking, pipelines, and mountaintop removal-
-Heartwood Auction

-Dance all night with The Kookamongas

-Heartwood Circle
Strengthening Sustainable Communities: Workshops and Skills Sharing
-Heartwood Talent Show Extravaganza


Building a Legislative Platform for National Forest Protection: A National Conversation



Limited work exchange is available to help offset registration costs for those who need it.  Email info@heartwood.org for more details.

Heartwood is a cooperative network, and we depend on the shared work of everyone to get things done, whether it’s in an organization, a campaign — or the kitchen. To that end, you can receive $10 off for signing up for a 2-3-hour shift in the kitchen during the Forest Council.  Sign up for a co-op work discount now, and you can choose your specific work time (meal preparation, service, or clean up) when you sign in at the Forest Council.  Many hands make light work, and we depend on the hands of our Heartwood network. The best part? You’ll likely learn something and have a great time doing it!

Lodging Accommodations:
Airstreams and Camper Vans are available. There are also several cabins containing 4-6 bunks per cabin. There is one solar shower house and the Poop Palace as restroom facilities.  You need to bring your own linens and/or sleeping bag and towels. You may also want to bring a sleeping pad since the bunks are rustic.  Because of the limited number of bunks in the cabins, it is essential to pre-register for the Forest Council if you want to guarantee a bunk in a cabin or a bed in an Airstream or van.

There will be plenty of space for tents, however!


We ask that you leave your beloved canine companions at home. If you need a dog to pet, one (or more) will be provided to you.

Remember: NO FRAGRANCES (e.g. perfume, cologne, scented laundry soap, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, patchouli, etc.)  One of our hosts at the Lazy Black Bear is extremely sensitive to these excessively sweet smells — they make her physically ill.  So please do your best to arrive fragrance free.

REGISTRATION IS LIVE!: https://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51248/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=2955

For QUESTIONS, contact Becky at info@heartwood.org or call 812-307-4326!

Owen-Putnam State Forest Open House Today

The Division of Forestry is hosting an open house today at Owen-Putnam State Forest from 3-7 p.m.  DNR staff will be on hand to answer questions and take public comments, either verbally or in writing.  Here is the comment we plan to submit this afternoon:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) and its members regarding the management of Owen-Putnam State Forest and Indiana’s state forest system as a whole:

Owen-Putnam State Forest is located in area of the state with relatively limited public lands available for recreation.  The property provides the only interior forest habitat in the region required by many rare, threatened, or endangered species (RTEs) for successful reproduction.  The ability of this forest to provide these important services is threatened by the current rate of commercial logging.  This unprecedented logging has occurred in spite of strong public opposition, including that of landowners who live or own property adjacent to these forests.  Time and time again, either through surveys conducted as part of the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, public comments submitted in response to the Division of Forestry’s (DOF) Draft 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, or comments submitted at state forest open houses, Hoosiers have voiced their overwhelming support for reduced logging in Indiana’s state forests and for a more balanced state forest management policy that allows for vast swaths of state forests to be allowed to develop into an old growth, all-aged condition.  Rather than respond to these demands from the public by restoring a balanced state forest management policy that focuses on providing primitive recreation opportunities and critical interior forest habitat required by many rare, threatened, and endangered species (RTEs), the DOF continues to log some of the last wild forests left in the state at a rate never before seen in Indiana’s state forests.

IFA recommends that the DOF reestablish a true “mixed-use” management policy by reducing the annual timber harvests to pre-2005 levels, and exempting large areas of state forestland from commercial logging altogether, including the proposed Cataract State Wild Area at the northern end of Owen-Putnam State Forest.  This area should be set aside to serve as a biological reserve, allowing for natural processes to unfold unimpeded by human activity and to provide critical habitat required by many state and federally endangered species for survival and, more importantly, for successful reproduction.  Although they serve an important and laudable role, most of Indiana’s nature preserves are too small to provide for this need, and Indiana’s state parks are largely fragmented by roads and infrastructure.  Indiana’s state forests provide some of the only opportunities in the state for primitive recreation, such as hiking, hunting, camping, foraging, mountain biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing, in a wild forest setting.  The impacts of the current commercial logging program will last decades, radically altering the experience of recreational users of state forests for a generation.

Along these lines, the DOF should publish maps which show the location of the system’s “high conservation value forests” (HCVFs).  In strategic plans and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) audit reports dating back to 2005, the DOF has stated the goal of designating 10% of state forest acreage as HCVFs, where logging is more restricted than in other areas and the rotations are longer.  Since then, FSC audits have recommended that the DOF publish a map denoting these areas, but the agency has yet to do so.  Once this map is developed, it should be posted online and easily available to the public, along with the management guidelines for these areas.

As the annual timber harvest levels continue at an unprecedented rate on Indiana’s state forests, the public debate regarding state forest management has also increased.  Rather than encouraging that debate and being responsive to public demands, the DOF has reduced opportunities for public input on how our state forests should be managed.  Just this week the DOF released a new 2015-2019 Strategic Plan without providing the public with a single opportunity to provide feedback before the plan was finalized.  Such an action is a stark shift from how the 2008-2013 Strategic Plan was developed, which allowed comments to be submitted at three public hearings and a 30-day public period.  It also contradicts the plan itself, in which the DOF says that it will “utilize existing and create additional methods to solicit meaningful input from Indiana landowners and residents.”  The problem is not that there is a shortage of “meaningful input” from the public, but that the public’s meaningful input is ignored.  We recommend that the DOF offer this new plan as a draft, seeking public input much the same way as it did during the development of the 2008-2013 version.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Division of Forestry Releases New Strategic Plan for the State Forests Without Public Input

New plan calls for increased clearcutting, possible fee structure for state forest recreation.

Last week, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry (DOF) released a new 2015-2019 Strategic Plan.  This plan provides details on the DOF’s vision for the next five years of state forest management, which includes a continuation of the current unprecedented level of commercial logging in Indiana’s state forests.

One goal set forth in the new Strategic Plan is to “utilize existing and create additional methods to solicit meaningful input” from Hoosiers.  The DOF, however, neglected to provide the public with a single opportunity to comment on the plan before it was finalized.  This is a stark contrast from the process by which previous Strategic Plans, including the 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, were developed, which included public hearings and a 30-day public comment period on a draft version.  Most of the written comments submitted on that plan asked the DOF to exclude areas from timbering to develop into “old growth” forests or called for less commercial logging in our state forests.

“In addition to the heavy logging and a new emphasis on clearcutting, this Plan calls for the consolidation of state forests by selling or trading off smaller separated tracts of state forests, another idea that could be pretty controversial given the limited acreage of Indiana’s state forests,” states Jeff Stant, Executive Director of the Indiana Forest Alliance.

“The irony that the Division of Forestry would promise a concerted effort to solicit public input on state forest management in  in a plan for which they solicited no public input  cannot be understated,” adds  Stant.  “This is part of a pattern in which the Division of Forestry continues to ignore broad public support for a more balanced state forest management policy, one that prioritizes outdoor recreation and wild forest habitat over commercial logging,” concludes Stant.

You can read the DOF’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan here.