2016-01-12 / Front Page

Independent Reviews Support Forest Management Practices

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Owen-Putnam State Forest Property Manager Bill Gallogly measures an oak tree Wednesday morning. (Staff Photo) Owen-Putnam State Forest Property Manager Bill Gallogly measures an oak tree Wednesday morning. (Staff Photo) Little will change in 2016 at the Owen-Putnam State Forest. While many other state forest properties are upgrading amenities, Owen-Putnam Property Manager Bill Gallogly says continued maintenance of the property’s more than 6,800 acres will remain the focus of both he and his staff in the coming year.

On a related note, Indiana Department of Natural Resources director Cam Clark recently released the results of two independent reviews that support the methods by which Indiana state forests are being managed.

Findings from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) reaffirm the DNR Division of Forestry’s long-standing practice of sustainably managed state forests. Both reports are available at www.dnr.IN.gov/forestry/ 7532.htm.

DNR Forestry has met or exceeded SFI and FSC certification standards for nine straight years.

“Without question, our 158,000 acres of state forests were judged ‘well managed,’ and this certification should be viewed similarly by all Hoosiers as a job well done,” Clark said. “I commend the Division of Forestry for its hard work in meeting all the requirements of both forest management standards.”

SFI establishes North American standards for sustainable forestry practices, and FSC does the same for international standards. SFI and FSC certification ensures wood products from state forests are grown in a sustainable and well-managed manner.

Two auditors representing SFI and FSC spent three days reviewing office plans and supporting documents, and also toured forest sites to evaluate forest management practices. Their review focused on Clark and Harrison-Crawford state forests. Forest management activities were scored for conformance to standards that include wildlife management, forest management prescriptions, archaeological site protection, endangered species protection, and water quality.

Gallogly said that while the report changes nothing the staff is currently doing it does reaffirm their efforts. While he hopes the local property will see some additional recreational development in the next decade, he said the closest forest property receiving significant focus is Greene-Sullivan State Forest, where 12 overnight cabins are now in place.

“We’re not doing anything major recreation wise, we’re just continuing to try to improve our current facility, meaning the campgrounds we have. That will not change. Some of the properties have gotten some overnight cabins and our division is kind of pursuing more outlets like that on our forest properties to try to get more public usage on the properties. As for right now, there are no plans for Owen-Putnam to get any of these overnight cabins,” he said. “Our improvements are just making the sites more user-friendly, repairing and replacing grills and picnic tables with ones that are more resistant to vandalism. There is some upkeep and maintenance, but nothing big is going to happen here.”

Gallogly emphasized that timber management practices will also remain unchanged.

“We roughly mark 700,000 board feet of timber per year, of which some of the money from the sale of that timber comes back to the county,” he noted. “In lieu of the property tax, the state land does take money out of the property tax system, but we do return money back to the county in lieu of that.”

Gallogly said Indiana receiving the certification for the ninth consecutive year is important to the overall economy.

“A pat on the back is always nice to get. We’re constantly trying to improve the way we manage the timber here anyway. There are changes that are made periodically throughout the year on how we mark the timber, to promote the most sustainable forest for the future. We’re not saying everything we do now won’t change down the road, because science is a continuingly learning subject to begin with. Some of the things we’re doing now are different from how we were doing things 40 years ago when I first started, for sure,” he explained. “It’s all to maintain our forests better than in the past. There are sites here on the property that were once farm fields on ridge tops. Now they’ve become forests again; over time, nature heals things and we’re just trying to help nature along.” In renewing Indiana’s certification, the FSC auditor stated that DNR Forestry “has demonstrated continued overall conformance to the applicable Forest Stewardship Council standards” and cited other strengths:

•A “strong” best management practice monitoring program, with post-harvest BMP reviews conducted by DNR Forestry resource foresters and by a comprehensive second-party process.

•Employment of a fulltime wildlife biologist, whose time is focused on special situations (e.g., the Habitat Conservation Plan to protect bat habitat) but provides support for regular work activities. The audit also notes, “The Indiana Division of Forestry has dedicated considerable resources to developing stateof the-art bat conservation practices.”

•Employment of a fulltime archeologist, who has developed an “exceptional” program for identifying and managing culturally important sites.

•An “exceptional” program to retain stand-level wildlife habitat elements in accordance with scientific information.

•“Excellent” recreational opportunities for the public, including walking and horse trails, camping, and access to lakes and ponds.

•Annual State Forest open houses and a comprehensive website that contribute to public involvement in public land management and planning.

•A mentoring program for newly hired DNR Forestry employees, including frequent oversight by central office experts.

•Significant improvements to haul roads for handling wet-weather traffic and larger logging trucks.

•Restoration and maintenance of state forest offices, shops and recreational facilities, many that have historical significance.

Over 35,000 people each year enjoy the outdoors at OwenPutnam State Forest. Visitors can hike through some of the best hardwood forests in the country, explore six miles of mountain bike rails, fish in one of the property’s many ponds, horseback ride through some of the most beautiful hills of south central Indiana, and take in the view of a 50-foot sandstone bluff. Native wildlife species such as turkey, deer, raccoon and fox make the forest a popular hunting area. The property also offers camping, picnic areas and other recreational opportunities.

The Owen-Putnam State Forest office is located at 2153 Fish Creek Road. To learn more, call 812-829-2462, or email owensf@ dnr.IN.gov.

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