Economics lecture set for Oct. 18; Marcus is speaker

Morton J. Marcus

The Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) is calling for citizen response to a draft plan for tree harvesting by the Indiana Division of Forestry (DoF).

Without the IFA prompt, how would anyone know that such a plan was being considered by the DoF? I didn’t see such a DoF announcement on TV, in my e-mail, in the newspaper, or hear it on radio. Did it make it to your Facebook account or show up as a tweet?

The DoF will claim a lack of funding for such notifications. This is a legitimate claim because the Indiana legislature doesn’t provide any government agency sufficient funds to do its job. This deplorable condition exists because Hoosiers have been seduced by candidates who promise no tax increases, without mentioning the resultant poor quality of services provided by government.

But I digress. The DoF plan in question relates to Clark State Forest. Do many Hoosiers know where Clark County is located (just across the Ohio River from Louisville) or that there is a State Forest with that name?

The 32-page, detailed technical plan calls for logging 521 acres. The potential erosion hazards and implications for watersheds, trails, and other features are noted and “should be considered when planning management activities”. As readers understand, “should” is different from “will”.

Elsewhere, the DoF explains,

“Indiana law dictates that DNR Forestry “protect and conserve timber, water resources, wildlife and topsoil in forests owned and operated by the division of forestry” and use “good husbandry” to remove timber that has substantial commercial value “in a manner that benefits the growth of saplings.”

Defensively, DoF continues,

“There are those who object to this public policy and repeatedly demand DNR Forestry stop doing its job. In contrast, a Purdue University public opinion survey of Indiana residents found that 95 percent of Hoosiers approve of removing trees to protect woodlands from disease and fire.”

Oh, how true. Purdue did issue a 255-page report on a 2009 study designed to solicit approval of DoF policies. How could anyone disapprove when prompted to “tell me if you approve or disapprove … [R]emoving some trees to protect Indiana woodlands from spread of disease & wildfire?

That’s a loaded question. Could anyone expect less than 95 percent of respondents staunchly opposed to the “spread of disease and wildfire” in our woodlands? In addition, DoF changed the limited idea of “Removing some trees” to the expanded proposition of “removing trees”.

Public response, as encouraged by IFA, could be light. Most Hoosiers will not wade through the detail and the professional language of the Clark Forest plan. Few of us have the expertise or information to determine if cutting timber and its resultant impact is appropriate at this time in the designated places.

How could our simple preferences stand up against the “science” of DoF “professionals”? It looks like the game is rigged.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at

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