Letter: Get your comments in on the Hoosier National Forest Buffalo Springs while you can

Deadline is December 16th

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service opened the long-awaited comment period on the Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the Buffalo Springs project.

The proposed project prescribes up to 15,100 acres of aggressive burning and 5,124 acres of logging, including up to 707 acres of clearcutting, within the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) and represents the largest logging and burning proposal in the history of that forest.

The Buffalo Springs project is a threat to Indiana’s last great frontier of wilderness, and to the thousands of Hoosiers who depend on the Patoka watershed for clean water and the wildlife that call the HNF home.

“The Buffalo Springs area of the Hoosier National Forest is unique in many ways. The majority of the forest is 80-120 years old and well on its way to becoming old growth. The famous Buffalo Trace, significant to our nation’s history, is intact in this ancient woods like nowhere else and needs to be preserved for the future,” said IFA’s Hoosier National Forest Program Director Steven Stewart.

The Indiana Forest Alliance strongly urges all Hoosiers to submit a public comment to the Forest Service before the December 16th deadline.

“People need to voice their opposition to these destructive practices in our publicly owned forests,” said IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant. “The public needs to tell the Forest Service what the Hoosier National Forest means to them and why they care about protecting it.”

In addition to the aggressive logging and burning, the Forest Service plans to apply chemical herbicides/pesticides to 771 acres and construct over 17 miles of new or reopened roads in the HNF. Forest cover in Indiana is approximately 4.7 million acres of forestland, mostly in the rugged and hilly south-central portion of the state.

The HNF consists of 204,000 acres and is one of the smallest and the most heavily fragmented national forests in the country. It represents less than 1% of the land area of the state (4% of the forestland) but almost half of the public ownership. The Buffalo Springs project will destroy more than 10% of the forest and disrupt the habitats for countless species for many years to come.

To provide more information to the public and help them submit comments, IFA will host a Public Comment Writing Workshop on Sunday, December 4th from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Greenfield Township Community Building in Orange County, 2015 W County Rd 550 S, Paoli.

The Forest Service has stated that any comments submitted after the December 16th deadline will not be accepted, so IFA wants to make sure citizens act soon to voice their concerns. In addition, citizens who fail to comment during this period will be excluded from participating in any further regulatory actions related to this project.

Comments can be emailed to kevin.amick@usda.gov or mailed to: Hoosier National Forest All Units 811 Constitution Avenue Bedford, IN 47421

Comments should also be copied to Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young, as well as Indiana members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

More information and resources on the Buffalo Springs project can be found on the IFA website at www.indianaforestalliance.org.

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