State accepting public comments on forest plan

Public comments on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry strategic plan for 2015-19 are being accepted online through Oct. 31.

One way the proposed strategic plan differs from previous ones is an emphasis on increasing and improving recreation opportunities in state forests, which includes Jackson-Washington State Forest.

The plan seeks to support these activities with user fees, something DNR Forestry has done for years on three properties but now intends to apply across the entire state forest system, according to a news release.

The forestry division has broad responsibilities that include managing about 158,000 acres in 15 state forests and state recreation areas; managing more than 700,000 acres of private woodlands in the classified forest and wildlands program; growing and selling 3 million seedlings per year; and administering a statewide urban forestry program.

Jackson-Washington State Forest encompasses nearly 18,000 acres in Jackson and Washington counties. The main forest and office area are located 2.5 miles southeast of Brownstown on State Road 250.

Also new to this plan is support for private lands woodland management with fees paid by people who use the services of district foresters. The services and fees are undecided at this time, and the division is looking for public input and direction on how to carry out this program.

A comment form is available at in.gov/dnr/forestry/ 2856.htm.

The strategic plan is available under the annual reports and forest strategic plans at in.gov/dnr/forestry/ 3605.htm.

State forests are managed for multiple uses and benefits — camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mushroom hunting, picnicking and more. Other benefits include certified timber production; conservation of air, soil and water resources; wildlife habitat; and protection of cultural resources.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.