The Indiana Tourism Association is asking Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Department of Natural Resources to halt a planned timber harvest in two southern Indiana state forests, joining hundreds of Hoosiers and scientists protesting the plan.
The DNR accepted a bid from Hamilton Logging earlier this month to harvest 1,700 trees on about 300 acres in the back country area of Yellowwood and Morgan-Monroe State Forests.
“The Indiana Tourism Association represents over 80 destinations across the state and we advocate the value that tourism brings to Indiana,” writes Executive Director Carrie Lambert in an email to Holcomb and DNR representatives Monday. “We know visitors spend over $11.5 billion a year and it is our job to continue to promote and safeguard the many assets we have in the state. This includes our natural assets such as creeks, lakes, rivers, caves and forests.”
The ITA joins Visit Bloomington and the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau in opposing the harvest plan, saying logging can hinder local tourism efforts and affect statewide economic impact numbers.
Lambert also asks for “a balance between timber production and wilderness recreation in Indiana’s state forests.”
DNR representatives say timber harvest is a tool used to keep the forest healthy by maintaining a balance of old-growth and young-growth trees.
Earlier this month, a large group of scientists sent a letter to Gov. Holcomb to oppose the plan and say the state is logging too much.
DNR spokesperson Marty Benson says no start date is scheduled, but the logging must be complete no later than March 31, 2018.
Protesters are camped out on private property near the future logging site to publicly oppose the plan. The ‘Save Yellowwood’ group alleges unaffiliated protesters marked trees on the tract with paint in an effort to confuse the eventual harvest.
This post has been updated.