Gov. Eric Holcomb recently established two new state forests in Morgan and Brown Counties from land that was already part of state forests.
Ravinia State Forest, previously part of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, is located in Morgan County directly across from Burkhart Creek County Park. Its 1,500 acres features opportunities to hunt, hike and view wildlife and to gather nuts, wild berries and mushrooms.
Mountain Tea State Forest, which had been part of Yellowwood State Forest, is a 1,153-acre area in Brown County. Recreation at Mountain Tea includes hiking, hunting, wildlife viewing and mushrooming.
The state forests are the first state forests to be established in 67 years, but some environmental groups are hoping the state acquires more public land and puts a cap on logging the newly established forests, according to the Indy Star.
“I was disappointed that it wasn’t new forest land being secured for our state,” said Julia Lowe, executive committee chair for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Because I would like to have more forested land and public land in the state of Indiana.”
John Seifert, director of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, said that the creation of the state forests establishes new opportunities for these areas to be appreciated by Hoosiers. He also noted that the forests were geographically separated from the state forests that they were formerly part of by about 20 miles.
Logging is another concern for some environmentalists. Jeff Stant, the executive director of the Indiana Forest Alliance, said he would like logging to be banned in parts of Ravinia and Mountain Tea. He also wants 10% of the new forests to be logging-free, but he would favor the state protecting a larger amount.
Seifert said that more than 50% of the DNR forested lands are already set aside as areas where logging is not allowed. He also said that foresters are planting trees at Mountain Tea State Forest and Ravinia State Forest as part of the DNR's program to plant one million trees by 2025.