Let's jump right to what the Indianapolis Star thought were the 19th and 20th most important paragraphs in the story. I'm doing this only because I suspect you may be ahead of me:
The timber industry was a supporter of Daniels' 2004 campaign. In the December 2004 issue of Hard News, a publication of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen's Association, the group's lobbyist, Ray Moistner, penned a celebratory column about the GOP's statewide election victory.
"We have before us an opportunity to move forward, and make hay while the sun shines," Moistner wrote in the newsletter, which is available on the association's Web site ( www.ihla.org ). "I think it's safe to say the elections were very good for IHLA."
Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful the Star got around to mentioning it at all. But first we had to wade through Daniels' cover story and the support of a rather curious ally.
Daniels--who travelled to Morgan-Monroe State forest for his photo op--insists that logging is not the real purpose here. Nope, Mitch is interested in making our forests "more robust". I suppose we might find it in our hearts to understand why Mitch might confuse "robustness" with "shorter", but that doesn't mean we've got to accept the explanation.
Mitch's trusty sidekick in
Well, maybe that's the "sound science" they're talking about, but prior to the Daniels administration sound science involved testing and eradication programs, not bringing in bulldozers.
And before you write a check to the Nature Conservancy to help make public lands private, give this some consideration. We have a minor gypsy moth problem in Indiana; nothing like Michigan's. Here's a map:
There's not a whole lot of state forest land in that corner. In fact the worst infestation reported so far has been at Parkland Hospital in Fort Wayne, which is not a notable destination for Indiana's nature lovers, unless they happen to be nearby and have appendicitis.
Loopers, though, have been defoliating oaks in eight Southern Indiana counties, just as they did in 1978-1981. Using that as a guide, 2005 was the highpoint of the infestation, which will now collapse for another twenty five years. Or for good, if Mitch's boys get to remove all the oaks in the meantime. In the name of sound science, naturally.
Mind you, our state forests are set aside for multiple use. Nobody's saying that timbering hasn't traditionally been a part of that. But most of Indiana's commercial hardwood industry utilizes trees from private lands, and there's no particular reason other than greed to increase the harvest. But, golly, with Republicans in charge that seems to be reason enough.