On Sunday, October 9th, forest advocates descended on O’Bannon Woods State Park to protest unprecedented logging in the adjacent Harrison-Crawford State Forest. The protestors, which included two bears, a squirrel, and a tree, hung a banner from the O’Bannon Woods fire tower that read, “Stop Logging State Forest.”
Since 2004, commercial logging in Indiana’s state forests has increased 400%. This policy has led to increased logging roads, log yards, and clearcutting in the wildest areas of Indiana’s state forests. Even “selective logging” requires vast networks of logging roads and skid trails, creating severe erosion hazards, unstable trail conditions, and less desirable forest conditions for forest users, such as hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.
The caves, sinkholes, cliffs, and old trees of Harrison-Crawford State Forest are home to a handful of endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else in the state. The Allegheny woodrat makes its home in the rock outcroppings overlooking the Ohio River, while the northern cavefish spends its entire life in underground rivers and lakes that are a key part of the local karst ecosystem. The long-term viability of these species, along with the Indiana bat, suffers from the adverse impacts of current state forest management policy.
“Most forestland in Indiana is owned by private landowners,” said one of the bears, “many of whom would not be excited if me and my family were to start spending more time on their property. That’s why it’s important to stop logging Indiana’s public forests, including the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, so we have a safe place to live and play.”