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Date Approaches For The Start Of Logging In Yellowood Backcountry In Brown County
Updated November 3, 2017 9:15 AM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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This map shows the areas of the Yellowwood backcountry that to be logged, in relation to popular hiking trails and the Indiana Forest Alliance's Ecoblitz area. The Forest Alliance has documented approximately 3,800 species in the 900 acres of forest surrounding and including the planned cut areas. Photo provided by Indiana Forest Alliance

(BROWN CO.) - As the date approaches for the start of logging of 300 acres in the Yellowwood backcountry Area of Brown County residents are hoping to stop it. Bidding is set to begin on Nov. 9th.

The trees are set to harvested in an area that covers Brown and parts of Monroe counties, and some of the trees are more than 150 years old.

The forestry division's plan is to sell to a private bidder the opportunity to log three tracts of forest.

DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said the typical cut for a backcountry area is five to six trees per acre, as prescribed by the single selection cut method meant to be used in such woodlands. The management guides for these tracts, however, suggest that number could be much larger.

According to the plans' harvest volume, the logging could generate between roughly 475,000 to 712,000 board feet of timber -- which could equate to as many as 30 to 40 trees per acre.

Tourism officials have stepped up to plea with the state, saying disturbing pristine wilderness areas could drastically impact the number of people visiting each year.

The outdoor recreation economy in Indiana generates $15.7 billion in consumer spending each year.

Anne Laker, director of communications and administration for the Indiana Forest Alliance, says making a quick buck is not worth jeopardizing the beauty of the state.

"What are our priorities here?" she questions. "Tourism and the use of these forests by tourists and outdoor recreation folks are more important than cashing in on $150,000 from this timber sale."

Laker says logging on state forests has increased 400 percent since 2002. She says many of the state's best hiking trails, and its only long-distance backpacking trails, run through the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests.

Laker says despite residents saying they want the forests to be protected, the state has prioritized logging over recreational use.

"At least 400 people wrote in saying they are against this plan," she points out. "Hundreds of calls have been generated at the governor's office, but still they have announced that they will put the trees up for bid on Nov. 9, and then logging could begin in December."

According to the latest U.S. Census data, more than 2 million people live within 20 miles of Indiana's state forests and more than 14.5 million people live within 100 miles of them.

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