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Effort Under Way to Set Aside Old-Growth Forests in Every County

The Veterans Administration recently backed off of a plan to cut down ancient trees in Indiana to make way for a memorial. (Virginia Carter)
The Veterans Administration recently backed off of a plan to cut down ancient trees in Indiana to make way for a memorial. (Virginia Carter)
May 15, 2017

NASHVILLE, Ind. – An effort is under way to designate an old-growth forest in every county in the United States that has forestland.

The Old-Growth Forest Network is spearheading the effort, and the group’s executive director, Joan Maloof, will speak on the topic in Indiana next month.

Maloof says she's encouraged by what's happening in the Hoosier State, and calls the Veterans Administration's decision not to cut down hundred-plus year-old trees in Crown Hill North Woods in Indianapolis a victory.

People staged protests at the construction site where the VA had planned to make way for a memorial for soldiers.

Maloof says legislation (SB 420) pending in Indiana to set aside at least 10 percent of the state's forests from logging could become a model for other states if approved.

The bill would apply only to publicly owned forests, and around 95 percent of Indiana's forests are privately owned.

"Of the 158,000 acres of state forests, it's saying let's leave just at least 10 percent of this in its natural state so the forest can continue to get older and older," she points out.

The Indiana Forest Alliance says setting aside those acres would have a very minimal impact on the timber industry and would bring in more dollars to local communities through recreation.

Maloof will be speaking about the bill and about the importance of leaving some forests untouched at the
Toast to the Trees festival in Nashville, Ind., on June 24. The event is open to the public.

Maloof has written books on old-growth forests and maintains those forests can improve a person's health.

"In addition to what we see through our eyes, the birds and the insects and the fungi that are there, we're also breathing in things that are given off by all those organisms that can actually affect our health and our mood," she points out.

Maloof says residents should be able to visit an old-growth forest no matter where they live. She's pushing for each county in the U.S. to have a forest that's off limits to logging.

"And that's kind of what Indiana is trying to do with their old forest bill,” she states. “They're saying it's not enough to have these few small nature preserves and parks that are overrun with people. We need larger areas of unlogged forest."

More information is online at indianaforestalliance.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN