February 23, 2017

Indiana: Sportsmen Oppose Bill that Limits Forest Management

Two bills in the Indiana state legislature could impact the conservation and management of the state’s forest habitat, which is vital to many game and non-game species.

Indiana S 420 would set aside at least 10 percent of each state forest as an old growth forest area, and also prohibits the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR) from conducting or allowing timber management in these areas. The bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

Conservation groups in the state including the Indiana Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) have come out in opposition to this bill.

“The limitations in IN S 420 would restrict the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry’s ability to effectively manage the health of the state’s forest properties,” said Dan Gehring, Director of Habitat Management for the Indiana Chapter of RGS/AWS. “About 60 percent of Indiana public forest land is already unavailable to timber harvesting. Additional land this bill sets aside as unmanaged mature forest is not needed, and comes at the expense of wildlife species that need early successional or young forest habitat.”

IN H 1089 sponsored by Indiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Jeff Ellington, prohibits local counties, cities, towns or townships from regulating the sale or removal of timber from private property. This bill would remove barriers to private property owners managing their land for the welfare of wildlife that may depend on young forest and the harvesting of mature timber.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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