Indiana’s second highest ranking public official, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, is encouraging the expansion of the state’s timber industry.
Lt. Gov. Crouch unveiled a strategic report on Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, in downtown Indianapolis. The Indiana Hardwood Strategy report details opportunities to expand the state’s timber industry. According to the report, the state’s hardwood industry is valued at around $10 billion, and involves some 70,000 jobs. The report states, in 2017, the value of Indiana’s hardwood exports exceeded a quarter billion dollars.
The report’s lead author, Phil Seng, is the Vice President of DJ Case & Associates, a company with the stated goal as ‘conservation engagement.’ The Mishawaka-based consultancy tracks public opinion and launches communication campaigns for its clients. Previous campaigns include working Illinois Department of Natural Resources to increase support for hunting. DJ Case and Associates has also worked with other states to boost sales of hunting licenses. The report was compiled by DJ Case & Associates and includes research from the Purdue Center for Regional Development, Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Purdue Extension.
The report states the hardwood industry in Indiana faces a lack of access to forests. The strategy lists ways to identify, support and communicate with private landowners, and encourages what it terms as ‘the active management’ of private and public lands.
The report mentions a segment of the public opposes logging on public land.
The Indiana Forest Alliance is a non-profit statewide organization dedicated to preserving Indiana’s native hardwood ecosystem. The Forest Alliance works with private landowners to harvest sustainably, but wants to leave the majority of public land for non-logging uses. IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant blames the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry for the increases in logging. Logging in Indiana forests increased by more than 400%, since 2004. At the current rate of logging, the Forest Alliance estimates that within about a decade 95% of Indiana’s state forests will have been logged.