Friends of Salamonie, the group formed to push Indiana to limit the number of trees it cuts down in Salamonie River State Forest and Frances Slocum State Forest, wants a hearing with the state government to push it to name them both state parks instead of state forests.
The hearing has not been set up yet so the immediate plan for the group is to spread awareness.
“Right now, we’re hoping to get a trial just to talk about it,” said Chelsea Vona from Friends of Salamonie. “Hopefully, they hear us out with the 870 signatures that we brought down to the state. So that’s our biggest hope. Keep collecting signatures, signing the petition that we have on the website.”
The group wants to change the forests to state parks because a process called logging is not allowed on state parks. Logging is cutting down trees and selling the lumber. Some worry about holding back on logging.
“Best solution is go with what we got,” said Gary W. Hunter, a longtime volunteer at state parks and state forests. “I think the tall trees, the danger of them falling and injuring somebody is more important than opening a canopy up. They’re worried about that. If you’ve ever had a tree fall beside you while you’re hiking or walking, it’s real sobering.”
However, Friends of Salamonie are not looking to do away with logging entirely.
“We are totally for that to help maintain the trail, so people don’t get hurt,” said Vona. “I definitely think that safety in the outdoors is probably the number one thing, but what’s going on with the logging here is not at all about the safety. It’s not at all about looking out for the people. They are using the trees as agriculture, so they are selling it for profit.”
At the end of the meeting Wednesday night, the group brainstormed ideas of companies to contact to help push for the hearing it’s looking for. Groups like The Indiana Trail Alliance, The Miami Tribe and the Chamber of Commerce were all suggested as organizations to contact.
The group says anyone who is looking to help should contact their local legislator or contact Governor Eric Holcomb.