I am writing as a concerned citizen regarding the proposed Buffalo Springs Restoration Project.
An initial request for public comment was set for thirty days to end on November 15th. I am very concerned that there was insufficient notification to the public affected by this large project that will have a direct impact on the quality of life for persons living in and near the Hoosier National Forest.
With at least 5124 acres of the Forest in counties south of Monroe, including Orange, Crawford and Dubois counties being slated for harvest, (some of it clear-cutting) nearly 15,100 acres were identified for possible prescribed burn, 771 acres of chemical treatment with herbicides/pesticides and in addition the creation or recreation of 19 miles of roads in the Hoosier National Forest, the potential impact on the health and well being of those of us living in or near the Forest is tremendous.
Speaking for myself and based on my discussions with others in Orange County that are highly invested in the preservation of our Forest, there has not been sufficient notice provided in order to solicit input on the proposal. People in this area are by and large completely unaware that this proposal has been made. There was no press release issued.
I read the proposal itself, and it is clear in that proposal that all the “community input” referenced in the proposal is more than twenty years old. The culture, economy, population, and people living in the areas affected by this project have changed tremendously in the past 20 to 26 years (the timeframe in which input was solicited).
The lack of notification and input of people who live here NOW, and would be affected by this action now, would ethically require that the comment period be extended significantly past the November 15th deadline. Especially if, as the proposal indicates, failure to comment in this initial period would disqualify us from comment/participation in later stages of the project, failing to notify the public and solicit commentary from those affected by the project is negligent in the extreme.
I live directly across the road from the Hoosier National Forest in Southern Orange County. A portion of my front yard was actually a part of the Forest and was only recently deeded back to us. At no time were my husband or I notified about this proposal. The area immediately across the road from us is slated, “to be determined”, however, we are surrounded on three sides by areas designated for logging, burning, and oil and gas exploration.
We have significant breathing-related issues and autoimmune health problems that would make this large-scale burning and use of pesticides or herbicides very dangerous to our health.
When you factor in how the runoff from these operations will go into the Patoka watershed where we obtain our drinking water (as do most of the people in this area), the negative environmental impact on us and our neighbors is even higher.
The residents of Orange and Crawford Counties are by and large living in significantly greater poverty than most of the state. For that reason, the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 would be especially relevant in this area. The damage to the quality of our air and drinking water has not been sufficiently studied, especially in light of the fact that many of the people here have limited resources and education to defend their own best interests. It is the opposite of Environmental Justice to impose these kinds of potential harm on people who have not been given sufficient notice or opportunity to voice their concerns.
It is also very concerning that in addition to community input being seriously outdated, the forest and climate science on which this proposal is based is outdated. The most recent research cited is from 2006. At more than 15 years ago, this research is not likely to have incorporated the most recent relevant research on the environmental impact of these proposed actions in terms of climate science and global warming.
A proposal of this scope and impact should at a minimum be relying on more current science, involve adequate notification of the community that will be impacted with an extended period for commentary, and be mindful of federal legislation mandating that people in impoverished areas not be targeted for actions that compromise their health and well-being by poisoning the environment where they live.
The proposal states, “The management direction provided in the Forest Plan will be subject to periodic and timely change as new information comes to light and then the public demonstrates a desire for a changed focus in management. Amendments will be proposed when the need for change is evident and the public will be involved in those changes.” Newer, more relevant research is available, we the public are demonstrating our desire for a changed focus in management, and we are now asking for an extended period for commentary until December 31st instead of ending November 15th so that amendments to this plan may be proposed.
Please contact the DNR at and ask them to do the right thing and extend the period for commentary on this project by current residents, instead of relying on comments from more than twenty years ago, issue press releases on the proposed project, and hold open forums in which residents who live here now can participate. It is the only ethical and just action that can be taken at this juncture.
If you wish to submit a comment, you may send it to:
Kevin Amick Hoosier National Forest All Units 811 Constitution Avenue Bedford, Indiana 47421 or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also contact your elected officials to ask them to delay the start of this project and extend the period for receiving comments from the public.
Rosemary Parke, Orange County
The public may also share information by email at Marion.email@example.com or by fax to 812-279-3423, or mail to Attn: Public Affairs, Hoosier National Forest, 811 Constitution Ave., Bedford, IN 47562. For further information please contact the Forest toll-free at 866-302-4173.