Forest Management is the Right Thing to Do
Dan Shaver, WSI President
The Woodland Steward has been reaching woodland owners in Indiana for 25 years. Throughout our history we have promoted good forest management to enhance forest composition and structure, develop timber resources, promote wildlife habitat, protect threatened and endangered species, improve water quality, provide for recreation, and control invasive species. The wide range of benefits from managing forests has been demonstrated over and over by history, time and scientific research. Indiana has gone through a major transformation from only 6% forest cover in the late 1800’s and predictions of being treeless by 1935, to over 20% forested in 2016. This transformation is in large part due to the Indiana Board of Forestry created in 1901, the establishment of State Forests in 1903 and the adoption of the Forest Tax Classification Act of 1921. In Indiana, the Division of Forestry has been managing our State Forests for over a hundred years and assisting private woodland owners for almost 100 years. This is a testament to a forward looking vision to ensure forest conservation, continued production of hardwood resources, water quality, and wildlife habitat.
In each issue of the Woodland Steward we try to bring you, the woodland owner, up-to-date information on forests, wildlife, soil conservation, endangered species, insects and disease, and invasive species. The science of forest management evolves and changes just like the forest itself. As woodland owners we need to change our management strategies to keep up with our woodlands. Twenty years ago, we did not worry much about invasive plants or insects, but now their impact cannot be denied. We see the loss of forest regeneration, the death of ash trees, the degradation of wildlife habitat and the negative impact to water quality and recreation from invasive plants. In the mid-1900’s, wildlife that liked young forests thrived in Indiana. But as our forests have matured and people’s tolerance for forest openings and clear-cuts has waned, certain wildlife species suffer (see The Other Silent Spring article in this issue starting on page 7). The only way to address this change in forest structure is by good management, such as that demonstrated on our State Forests.
Forest management is the right thing to do. Indiana State Parks and IDNR Nature Preserves in Indiana no longer just let nature take its course. They practice forest management by doing invasive species control, conducting salvage harvests, hunting, and utilizing prescribed fire to manage their properties. They may not harvest timber commercially, but these other practices are essential in maintaining the natural resources they are trying to protect. Forest management is the right thing to do on State Parks and Nature Preserves, it is the right thing to do on private land, and it is the right thing to do on our State Forests. As the only division in the DNR with a mission that allows for timber management, the State Forests in Indiana have the unique opportunity to manage for early successional forest on a scale that state parks and nature preserves cannot, and in a landscape context and scale that private forestlands do not provide. Timber management allows the Division of Forestry to alter the composition and structure of the forest to benefit declining wildlife species, declining forest community types and threatened and endangered species. The added benefit is that commercial timber harvesting pays for the habitat management and forest restoration that so many wildlife species in Indiana desperately need to survive and thrive.
The Woodland Steward Newsletter is celebrating 25 years of producing accurate, creditable and timely information for woodland owners in Indiana. Over the past 25 years, we have strived to maintain the Woodland Steward Newsletter as a free publication for woodland owners. This is only possible through the financial support of our member organizations, direct support from Soil and Water Conservation Districts, business card ads and donations from you, the woodland owner. Over the next year, we will further explore the reasons why forest management is the right thing to do on public and private land in Indiana.
There is a donation envelope included with this newsletter. The Woodland Steward Institute would appreciate your donation to ensure that this newsletter continues to be mailed to woodland owners three times in 2016. Relying on the Woodland Steward Newsletter as a source of timely, accurate and science based information is a good way to ensure you do the right thing when managing your woodland. Thank you for your support in 2015 and please consider supporting us with a donation in 2016. If you want to find us or donate online go to www.inwoodlands.org.