Tim Bean

*I’m not going to delve into the murky background of the Yellowwood State Forest timber sale. As the old saying goes, “Here Thar’ Be Dragons.” I am not an employee of Indiana’s DNR, but I appreciate they work they do. So should you. 

That infamous $150,000 bid:according to the DNR, the “bid” was simply an unsigned sheet of paper passed around to media members as the auction commenced. No one stepped forward with an actual, honest-to-goodness $150,000 bid. Legally, once an commercial auction commences, the highest bid is the winner, no matter what occurs afterwards. That’s why it’s called an auction. The $150,000 bid came from a hardwood floor store owner, who received the funds from a hardwood executive who didn’t like the stranglehold timber interests had on Hoosier forests.

Think about that. An unsigned, unofficial bid handed to media, then an owner makes a speech for another owner who complains he doesn’t have a piece of the action? At best, that’s not exactly heroic. At worst, there’s something very shady in that bid, more self-promotion than selfless. Why not arrive at the auction with a certified check instead of a statement? Or pay Hamilton Logging (the winning bidder) the $150,000? No company is going to turn down an five-second, $40,000 profit.

Labeling the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as “greedy.” Okay, this is almost laughable, especially if you’ve worked for any county or state parks in Indiana. Nothing they do is greedy. Parks are almost always operated on shoestring budgets, prayers and duct tape. Employees don’t complain too much because they know it’s not greed; there just isn’t funding. There’s nothing to be greedy with.

Parks are a public service and public services are not profitable. If you think the $109,000 from the winning bid on the Yellowwood logging is going to fund an executive’s bonus check, then you need to research Indiana’s DNR a bit. It goes right back into the forest.

Politics? I kept running across this in article after article. It’s a political issue. Ladies and gentlemen, which side of the partisan fence do you think the Department of Natural Resources and its employees are likely to land? The exact same side as the protestors.

Thinning (or Selective Logging) versus Clearcutting. Hordes of loggers will not come rumbling into Yellowwood and plunge their Stihl chainsaws into swaths of the forest, although this is what some people seem to think. It’s known as “forest thinning” or “selective logging”, averaging five to six trees per acre in this case. Six trees per acre. Try to visualize that. Roughly 205 feet by 205 feet. Considering this forest has densities ranging from 40 to 80 trees per acre, five to six trees seems reasonable.

Thinning not only promotes new growth in a forest, it also helps current trees thrive. The yellowwood tree specifically needs full sunlight and well-drained soil, conditions provided by thinning. Thinning remains the only effective way humans can prevent the catastrophe of forest fires as well, since changing topography is a little harder. These considerations stood at the forefront of the DNR’s decision.

Want to Know More?

Here’s the DNR’s official response to Yellowwood Forest Timber Harvest Misconceptions.

Information about the Yellowwood tree.

And…the final word. A study on the impact of forestry practices on species health and diversity (warning: strongly supports the DNR’s actions)