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Group opposes logging in Salamonie Forest

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FOREST: Friends of the Salamonie Forest member Aaron Goulet points to a tree marked for cutting in the DNR’s logging plan for Salamonie Forest.
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MARK: Trees marked with blue will be eliminated from the Salamonie State Forest sometime in 2019 as part of the DNR Division of Forestry’s logging effort. But smaller trees in the area may come down in the process too. A group of concerned citizens formed last month to oppose the effort.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@h-ponline.com

LAGRO — In 2014, the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Forestry introduced plans to log 31 percent of 121 acres of the Salamonie State Forest in Wabash County.

The plan didn’t cause much controversy at first, but a citizen-led group was formed this summer to opposed the project.

The group calls itself Friends of the Salamonie Forest, with a mission to preserve and protect the forest for this generation and future generations. But the group’s first goal is to minimize the size and scope of the DNR’s logging effort here set to begin sometime in the spring of 2019.

“We feel it’s unnecessary to log at the scale that they’re logging because the forest is already doing what it does, which is regenerate,” said Aaron Goulet, a member of the Friends of Salamonie Forest. Goulet explained that while the Division of Forestry plans to remove pine to allow the hardwood forest room to regenerate, a large portion of the trees marked for cutting do not include pine, as the hardwood forest has already made a comeback and the pine tree population here is dying out naturally. He’s worried about the trees not marked for cutting that may still be eliminated once they’re deemed undesireable.

Goulet says the lack of trees will then open the canopy of the forest, resulting in an abundance of invasive plants such as Asian Honeysuckle.

“It’s dramatically going to open up this forest floor,” he said. “I’ve seen pictures of Yellowwood after they did what they call a single tree selection, like what they’re doing here, and it’s all overgrown with briars and honeysuckle and everything else. And the trails will be impassable for quite a few years because it’s all going to be briars and brush.

“Even back here already without it being opened up you have some Asian honeysuckle. You open this up even more, this stuff is going to flourish.”

The Friends of Salamonie Forest hope to raise awareness before the DNR proceeds with the project next year.

“There’s two ways of looking at a forest,” Goulet said. “A lot of people look at it and they see board feed of timber for sale. Or they look at the forest and they see a unique and thriving ecosystem that deserves to be protected ... there is state park quality going on here and it’s the largest hardwood forest in northern Indiana by far. One of only two public forests in northern Indiana.

“It’s going to take ordinary people with a passion for this place to have a chance of stopping the plans.”

Thirty people met together to form Friends of Salamonie Forest on Sept. 5, and the first official meeting for the group is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesdasy, Oct. 17. at the Huntington City-Township Public Library.