Petition To Establish State Wild Areas in Indiana's State Forests

  • by: Peter Scott
  • recipient: Indiana Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana General Assembly

I live in North Judson, IN, and my daughter was born on August 15th, 2015. I'm excited by the prospect of including nature in her life - that's why I support the Indiana Forest Alliance's proposal to create 13 "State Wild Areas" in our state forests, totaling 36,820 acres.

Will you sign my petition today urging the state to create these wild areas? We need to set aside these pristine areas from logging and road building so that they can remain forever wild, not just for my daughter but for all future generations!

Our state parks and nature preserves make up less than one-half of one-percent of Indiana, simply not enough land to let songbirds, amphibians, bats, and other wildlife survive here. From the back country of Spurgeon Hollow to the bobcats of Clark State Forest, the future of Indiana's forests is crying out for our protection. Consider Harrison-Crawford State Forest, home to Indiana's only Eastern Hellbenders, the world's largest salamander!

It is especially important to preserve the beautiful natural areas close to our homes - and more than 14.5 million people live within 100 miles of a state forest. Designating these wild areas will conserve something increasingly rare and very precious that we can't build on our own: wild nature.

We must not leave our children a world so devoid of wild nature that they have to drive hundreds of miles out of state to find it. Please protect Indiana's forests and wildlife, and sign my petition for wild areas today!

The Indiana Forest Alliance has mapped 13 “State Wild Areas” in the state forests that total 36,820 acres. They comprise some of the largest, most contiguous and rugged forest tracts left in the state forests. This petition is proposing what they are proposing, that these areas be set aside from logging and road building to remain forever wild for public enjoyment as they grow back to their all-aged, old growth conditions. The Low Gap, Spurgeon Hollow and Leota State Wild Areas (SWAs) will protect the three Back Country Areas established 30 years ago to promote wilderness recreation. The Scarce O’ Fat, Mossop Ridge and Miller Ridge SWAs in Brown County will protect significant parts of the largest wild forest left in the lower Midwest. In Jackson-Washington State Forest, Orchard Ridge SWA will keep the most vertical, stunning drops in Indiana from being logged. The Knobstone SWA will protect nearly 6,000 acres at the southern end of Clark State Forest where the bobcat, native pine and several other rare and endangered species exist amidst “old forest” set aside by the previous state forester. The Hellbender SWA would protect steep bluffs, overhanging cliffs, and rocky streams flowing into the Blue River in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, where the last population in Indiana of the Eastern Hellbender, largest salamander in the world, survives.

Our state parks and nature preserves make up less than a half of one percent of Indiana, simply not enough acreage to ensure that beleaguered forest songbirds, amphibians, bats, and hundreds of other native creatures will survive in our state. They need these wild forests left in their maturing, unlogged conditions to have a fighting chance.

Census data indicates that more than 2 million people live within 20 miles of the state forests, and 14.5 million people live within 100 miles of them. Establishing these wild areas will conserve something increasingly rare and very precious here that we can’t construct or build, a legacy that shaped our forefathers and mothers, wild nature. Experiencing wild nature is part of who we are and basic to our quality of life. According to the State’s latest Outdoor Recreation Plan, increased attention deficit disorders, obesity and depression in our children are linked to their lack of connection to nature. We must not leave them a world so devoid of wild nature that they will have to drive hundreds of miles out of state to find it.

Indiana’s timber industry gets 5-7% of its wood from the state forests.
Setting aside less than one fourth, 23.6%, of our state forests will have a negligible effect on this industry’s health. In fact, before 2005, some 40% of our state forests, or 60,000 acres, were set aside from logging under various management designations which included “old forests” and Back Country Areas that have since been eliminated or relaxed to allow more logging.

State officials assert that “multiple use” means ALL of our state forests must be logged, something the law does not require. These State Wild Areas will leave more than three-fourths of state forest acreage open to logging but protect much of the majestic forests traversed by our three longest hiking trails, the Knobstone, Tecumseh and Adventure Trails.
Just as wilderness areas are part of the “multiple use” management in national forests, “multiple use” of our state forests should leave major tracts alone to be enjoyed by Hoosiers as sanctuaries of wild nature. US Forest Service budget data demonstrates that recreation supports nearly five times as many jobs in communities surrounding our national forests as does logging. This petition is a collective action asking the legislators of Indiana to act on establishing these 13 State Wild Areas.

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