Indiana: Your help needed to prevent state wilderness from being destroyed by logging

Located in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest and extending into the
Yellowwood State Forest, the Back Country Area was established in 1981
as an area equivalent to a wilderness area in a national forest, such
as the Charles Deam Wilderness Area in the Hoosier National Forest. In
the words of James Ridenour, then director of the Indiana Department
of Natural Resources, “The State designation of ‘Back Country’ is
similar to the Federal Wilderness Area designation” (1981 DNR press

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For nearly three decades the Back Country Area has been off limits to
commercial logging and has been a favorite place for local hikers,
hunters, and backpackers. All of that, however, is about to change:
the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is planning to sell trees
in the back country area to commercial contractors and send in heavy
equipment to cut them down and large trucks to haul them off. Pets are
not even allowed in the Back Country Area because “they tend to
disturb the delicate conditions of a Backcountry experience” (DNR
publication, 1981); yet one wonders what kind of damage will result
from the commercial extraction of thousands of trees. According to the
Purdue University Department of Forestry, forest fragmentation is the
number one threat to the health and biodiversity of Indiana forested

Under the governor’s new economic demands to sell more trees in
our state forests and without any consideration for ecological
consequences, the manager of the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State
Forests has been forced to commence logging areas that were previously
off-limits to logging. Unfortunately, this now includes the Back
Country Area. This previously protected forest is much too special to
lose now. Representative Ralph Foley of Martinsville has recently
co-sponsored a bill to put the Back Country Area under permanent
protection, which will require the support of a caring public. Letting
go of such a rare recreational treasure so near to Morgan County would
be a tragic shame. Considering the state of our environment these
days, asking for permanent protection for the Back Country Area is not
a radical proposal; the plan to log this unique area that has been
protected since 1981 is. If you agree with this statement, please
consider writing Robert Carter, director of the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources to ask that the plan to log the Back Country Area in
Morgan-Monroe State Forest be cancelled and that the entire area as it
now exists on state forest maps be put under permanent protection from
commercial logging.

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