A meeting about Salamonie River State Forest and Frances Slocum State Forest becoming state parks will be held Wednesday. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is planning to log about one third of mature trees at both, and a couple of organizations are against the plan. Pitching to turn the forests into state parks is their approach to stopping the logging.
Friends of Salamonie Forest are hosting the meeting at the Aboite branch of the Allen County Public Library, with support from the Indiana Forest Alliance.
Friends of Salamonie Forest has turned in a petition with 871 signatures to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. They would like Salamonie Forest in Wabash County and Slocum Forest in Miami county to be designated as state parks and they want the INRC to help them accomplish that.
In 2016, the forests were moved from the DNR’s State Park and Resovoir Division to the Forestry Division. That allowed them to log their trees for profit.
The Friends of Salamonie want to move the management back to the State Park and Resovoir Division to protect the trees from being logged.
DNR’s plan is to log about 30 percent of Salamonie’s mature trees and 32 percent of Slocum’s mature trees. The parks are 121 acres and 97 acres, respectively.
At Salamonie, the trees to be logged have already been marked with blue paint. The logging could begin as soon as May, putting the Friends of Salamonie up against the clock. They are hoping with enough public support they can get INRC to help them stop the DNR’s plans before any trees come down.
“We are feeling the pressure for sure, which is really heartbreaking,” said Friends of Salamonie Park member Chelsea Vona. “if you at all love the land and you’ve been out there, they’re taking out a big chunk of Salamonie, right down the middle of it, the heart of it. They are pulling from the land. It’s going to mess with the ecosystem, the birds, the plants, animals and the hiking trails. It’s going to mess with our recreation. Then, what’s going to stop them from taking the rest or the trees?”
Vona explained that along with protecting the tress from getting logged, they’re also preventing environmental damage. She said logging disrupts the environment by disturbing the habitats of bald eagles, causing erosion, and opening the forest to invasive species.
INRC is reviewing the petition, using a particular review process to do so.
The Friends of Salamonie Forest are holding a public meeting at the Aboite Branch of the Allen County Public Library Wednesday night at 6 p.m to plan their next steps.