Letter: Writer misunderstood Indiana Forest Alliance

Mr. Ray Moistner misunderstands Morton Marcus’ argument concerning the timber industry in Indiana in his letter [Indiana’s forests are in good hands, March 1]. He suggests that Marcus was somehow seduced by the Indiana Forest Alliance into attacking the timber industry.

Indeed, the timber industry is important. Eighty-five percent of the forest land is private and usually more than 90 percent of the timber harvest volume comes from private forest owners, sources of supply not under scrutiny by either Marcus or the IFA. Marcus was suggesting we should focus on important additional uses of our publicly owned state forests.

The economy of Indiana is in the midst of a transformation. According to the governor, we want to add Next Level jobs in advanced manufacturing, construction, life sciences, business and IT, and logistics. Work-life balance is critically important. Urbanization will continue to reduce our contact with nature, and people will need to find places of recreation, peace and ecosystem stability. I understood Marcus to be looking out for the future of all 3.2 million people employed in Indiana, including the 70,000 people employed in the timber and timber products industry. He deserves credit for focusing on the long game.

Mr. Moistner calls the Indiana Forest Alliance a “conflict industry” that only exists to fight. Actually, the IFA and the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association began a dialogue in good faith; while we still disagree on some matters, we agree on others. Curiously, the government itself, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, seems less willing to dialogue in good faith about an entity that the people of Indiana own, our state forests. In this country we have a right to “petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Finally, many states have a more balanced approach to state forest usage that seeks to provide the public with wilderness areas to enjoy. Indiana can take a good state forest system and make it better by serving the needs of all Hoosiers, including, but not limited to, the timber industry.

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Jeff Marks, volunteer treasurer, Indiana Forest Alliance

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