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Society of American Foresters


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2008 ISAF Winter Meeting
February 27-28, McCormick's Creek State Park
Oak Room - Canyon Inn

Highlights of this Year's Winter Meeting
Wednesday, February 27
1:00-1:45 The Potential for Poplar as a Cellulosic Feedstock for Biofuel Production - Rick Meilan, Purdue University
1:45-4:45 Forest Policy and Law Issues and the ISAF - Moderator Bill Minter

An Introduction to the IU Law School Conservation Law Clinic - William Weeks, Director IU Conservation Law Clinic

Sustainable Forest Management and Conservation Easements - Jeff Hyman, IU Conservation Law Clinic
The IU Conservation Law Clinic works with organizations to develop policies and provide assistance for those people interested in conservation easements. It will provide assistance in developing conservation easements that allow the land to remain in its current land use by placing easements on the development rights. These conservation easements can be written to allow for timber management.

Indiana Forest Policy Issues - A Look Back and Forward (ppt presentation, 7.4MB) - Burney Fischer, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Indiana Forest Policy Roundtable - Forestry leaders discuss and answer questions about current and future forest policy issues

Forest Certfication in Indiana (PowerPoint presentation, 3.0MB)

Comments by Allen Purcell
Someone once remarked that "Prediction is one of the pleasures in life." Apparently this is because we all would like to know what the future holds, or that we ourselves believe we might have some insights into things yet to come. In 2005 a psychologist by the name of Philip Tetlock published a book in which he set out to demonstrate that experts were no better than non-experts in predicting the future. In fact he found that contrary to what we are led to believe the accuracy of an expert's prediction actually decreases in proportion to the expert's confidence in the prediction, how renowned the expert is, and even to some extent the depth of the expert's knowledge. In other words the more expert they were perceived to be, or thought of themselves as being, the less likely they were to make accurate predictions of the future.

That said there is a simple philosophy known as The Path Principle that might be helpful to us. Not because it predicts the future, but because it states the obvious. In short, "Direction determines destination". There are many possible applications of this principle, but here are three areas relevant to Indiana forestry we might consider. These just as food for thought rather than predictions.

White Nose Syndrome
Recently there has been a mysterious disease outbreak among hibernating Indiana Bats in the northereastern US. While the cause of the disease is unknown it has been named White Nose Syndrome because of the physical appearance of the bats. Thousands of bats have been reported to have died thus far including many Indiana bats. This is a troubling development on two fronts. No one wants to see a disease ravage a population of rare animals, especially one for which many millions of dollars have been spent to secure its protection. The thought of losing this animal to an uncontrolled epidemic is a wrenching thought. The wider implications of this are in relation to forest management. State and federally owned forests in the central and eastern US are subject to incidental take permits for the Indiana bat. These permits are predicated on the assumption that the population is sufficiently stable to tolerate the occasional loss of bats from forest management activities. If we are now witnessing the beginning of what will become widespread death among bats, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will be compelled to reconsider the wisdom of incidental take permits. And well they should. It is possible that if White Nose Syndrome spreads beyond the northern margins of the Indiana bat's range and into the Central Hardwoods, this story could become a flash point for controversy. Right now it is extremely difficult to predict whether the bats will be decimated by White Nose Syndrome. As a result we're better off spending our time preparing ourselves for the possible outcome of such an event.

We can also deduce from the path principle that if direction determines destination we will soon have an ecologically unsustainable population of white-tailed deer in Indiana if we don't have one already. The trends are readily apparent. In the last few years a record number of deer have been harvested in Indiana. And from all indications the population has exploded since 1980. Harvest numbers are a murky metric to interpret though. While it may be somewhat difficult to estimate actual deer population statewide with strong confidence it seems intuitive this is the number we need to be watching, yet the number is seemingly unavailable for public consumption. Only publishing the harvest number is like the US Census Bureau only publishing the number of people who died last year in the United States and expecting us to extrapolate from that the population of the country and the annual growth rate.

Here again it is not as important to predict when, or even if, we will cross some threshold where the deer population becomes ecologically unsustainable. What is more important is to predict what will happen when the population gets too far out of hand. We only need to look at Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin to see the extremely undesirable circumstances that can arise.

The white-tailed deer is truly a majestic animal, but when they have been allowed to multiply to the point where they are increasingly viewed as pests then something of the mystical they once possessed has been lost. And when that has fully taken effect within society it's hard to imagine how that sense of wonder at such a fine animal can ever be regained.

Are foresters relevant?
Finally, how relevant are foresters to society? I believe what I do is relevant and I have every reason to believe your work is relevant as well. Unfortunately it is not we who ultimately determine who is relevant. Society determines who is relevant. If we are relevant, why is it that foresters and the forestry profession are often left out of policy decisions that have long-lasting and dramatic effects on forests and forestland? While we shouldn't be arrogant enough to think we ought to have the primary voice in all matters that affect forests, how many times is it that we are not even thought of, let alone consulted? Why is it, for example, that international trade is paramount to policy makers even if the unintended cost is the release of the emerald ash borer or other invasive insects and disease, the cost of which must be born by our forests and forest industry? Can Clinton, Obama, McCain, or Huckabee even loosely articulate a reasonable forest policy for our nation? I doubt it. Is it because in the big picture we are considered irrelevant? Probably not explicitly so, but certainly we need to acknowledge we are of minor importance in most policy debates.

So where does this leave us? We know two trends are certain. Population density and resource scarcity are both increasing. This presents us as foresters with both danger and opportunity depending on our degree of success in establishing relevance. Population density and scarcity of resources historically has resulted in typically two social arrangements. The first is a tight and abundant regulatory framework and/or some degree of socialism. The second social arrangement under these same circumstances is near-anarchy.

China and Europe are two examples of socialism as the answer. India, Nigeria, and Indonesia are examples of loosely contained chaos. If the path principle of "direction determines destination" is true then we are of course more likely to pursue the first solution - creeping socialistic tendencies. One only has to observe the ratio of the number of laws and ordinances passed by our governments compared to the number repealed or declared unconstitutional by the courts. We are moving toward a more regimented system of control, which will necessarily include forests and forestry.

We might pretend that we can successfully resist the tide of history, but this notion is foolhardy. There are only two productive paths before us: either we shape the direction of the enhanced regulation that will sweep us along, or foster revolutionary ideas and notions that redefine the paradigm of forestry for our society. The first is the less risky of the two, although the second is a possibility. The most risk-fraught course of action is the path we may be on now, that of irrelevancy. The demise of the hardwood furniture industry is a sad yet useful example of how the thought that we can go on as we have always gone on in the face of overwhelming forces to the contrary can have tragic results.

While we cannot with much degree of certainty predict the future, we can with reasonable assurance assume there are several possible “futures” that face us. The least likely of which is that the view of societies toward forests, and those things that arise from the forest, will remain the same or require less accountability from us in the future than in the past. Change is certain to come, so if we are wise we should be among the relevant who choose to shape the future rather than resist it. Whether our profession will remain relevant, or hopefully increase in relevance, will depend on not our technical competence as much as our power to shape ideas.

Comments by Bruce Wakeland
During the 2008 ISAF winter meeting I was asked to be part of a panel discussion about forestry issues Indiana will be facing in the future. I was one of five foresters on the panel, and we were each given 5 minutes to talk about issues we thought were important. I listed 7 issues.

  1. I think the most important issue is the loss of woodlands to home sites and other development. This problem is underestimated because of the definition of forestland used by the statewide forest inventory. It calls anything one acre or larger, and as little as 10% stocked, forestland. This definition would include a lot of acres that I would not consider forestland, and serves to hide the extent of the loss. Four dollar gas will help slow the spread of rural residential building, but foresters need to be doing a lot more to slow this loss in our resource base.
  2. Indiana has a serious and expanding problem with exotic invasive plants, insects, and diseases.
  3. The public needs to be better educated about the many values associated with well managed forests.
  4. Indiana needs to be careful to maintain a healthy environment for our woods using industries to operate in, because the economic value of timber is the one best forest preservation tools we have.
  5. In my opinion third party forest certification is not in the best interest of Indiana's private woodland owner. There is a lot of cost associated with administering green certification programs and little indication that they will result in higher prices paid to woodland owners for timber. The cost of these programs will likely come out of the pocket of woodland owners or from Indiana's forest industry. These programs are likely to lead to forestry practices laws, which create many problems for landowners, foresters, and industry. Green certification programs open Indiana up to control by outside the state, and sometime outside the country--third parties who may have a different agenda than ours.
  6. Water quality will become a more important forestry issues. This could result in more timber harvesting regulations. We should use the fact that forestland protects water quality to help sell forest management and to slow down the loss of forestland.
  7. Consulting forestry will continue to grow as a profession in Indiana if we can maintain our forest base and keep a healthy forest industry.

Comments by Lee Huss
Urban sprawl and land conversion from forest and agricultural cover will continue at a rapid rate. Public concerns over tree cutting on public lands not the real problem in forestry. Environmentalists for the most part, have turned their backs to the loss of private forest land. Losing private forests and the management of small urban woodlots will be the next challenge for foresters. USDA Forest Service is already heavily promoting the utilization of urban wood.

The next generation of forester will be the trained to provide services in both the remaining rural and urban ecosystems. Many urban foresters however do not have a science based background. Urban foresters numbers are growing in other professional organizations (International Society of Arboriculture, Society of Municipal Arborist) while SAF will continue to decline in membership. SAF must continue to embrace the urban forestry movement.

Forestry Needs an Image Makeover by Bob Swihart
Forestry majors have experienced a 167% decline in enrollment since 1980, based on data from 12 leading universities in the north central and northeastern regions of the U.S. he average enrollment was 262 in 1980 but had dropped to 99 by 2003. This decline has occurred despite an increasing number of jobs available due to retirements of baby boomers.

Why the disconnect? I hypothesize that forestry suffers from an image problem - among teachers, and the public – and the image negatively affects student attitudes toward entering the profession. Two lines of supporting evidence:

  1. Survey results from 510 K-12 teachers in Oregon are summarized in the table below and in the September 2007 issue of the Journal of Forestry. Although the survey was conducted in 1998, it is alarming nonetheless. Twelve terms, half usually considered as positives and half with negative connotations, were presented. Farmers were considered to be more conservation oriented, more innovative, and better land stewards than foresters, often by wide margins. Foresters also were considered more wasteful, inflexible, and close minded. As noted by the letter writer, "if this is what the teacher truly feels about us, then it is no wonder students are not looking at forestry as a career? A teacher will certainly not encourage a student to look into a career for which they have so little regard."
  2. Forestry isn't "sexy" or appealing to students in its current clothing. What are the prevailing messages/vibes/signals sent by forestry to the public?
    1. Only you can prevent forest fires - places responsibility on user, not on the professional.
    2. Don't move firewood - it bugs me - probably not meaningful to most kids.

Why isn't the forestry community working to craft messages that provide a broader perspective of what foresters do? These messages would appeal to more people and serve to shift the mindset of many from what likely is an antiquated notion of forestry:

  • What value is added by foresters (compare with accountants – no glamour, but serve a useful purpose)? What services do foresters provide? In the absence of a compelling response to this question, the need for foresters will be questioned with increasing frequency, and decision-making relegated to non-experts.
  • Foresters as stewards of biodiversity. Why aren't foresters known as "defenders of wildlife"?
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and forests as carbon sinks. Forestry as a means of combating carbon emissions and climate change.
  • Cellulose as a feedstock for biofuels - forestry is seeking solutions to oil addiction.
  • Urban foresters - trees are the keys to livable communities

Bottom line: foresters should be seen as the vanguard of the real green movement. How to accomplish this image makeover? National campaign? Grassroots effort? Either way, it needs to be a coherent, consistent message. And it needs to be crafted soon, if foresters want a seat at the table in future decisions about natural resource management issues.

Survey results from 510 K-12 teachers in Oregon are summarized in the table below and in the September 2007 issue of the Journal of Forestry.

By Teaching Area
  Overall General Science Other
Term Farmer Timber Farmer Timber Farmer Timber Farmer Timber
Conservationist 42 30 48 39 29 18 38 24
Conservative 56 35 54 36 67 33 56 35
Close-minded 6 14 5 12 4 16 8 17
Dishonest 1 5 1 5 0 11 1 5
Generous 37 9 38 11 31 11 36 7
Hard working 95 75 95 74 100 82 93 75
Inflexible 6 16 6 16 7 20 6 15
Innovative 41 26 42 29 36 22 41 24
Polluter 12 17 11 16 20 29 10 16
Poorly educated 4 10 2 8 7 16 5 12
Land steward 65 32 68 36 60 33 62 27
Wasteful 2 24 3 23 2 31 1 23
Thursday, February 28
9:00-9:45 Global Climate Change and Midwest Forests (pdf) - Anantha Prasad, USDA Forest Service
Researchers are tracking the movement of tree species over time due to climate change and trying to predict that movement into the future. This movement is even charted in Google Earth.

Prasad said tree species tend to move related to climate as individual species - not as complete ecosystems. He gave lists of "winners" and "losers" in the Midwest and then specifically in Indiana. Two species that are coming in Indiana - shortleaf and loblolly pine!

10:00-11:00 Carbon Credits for Forests - Todd Parker, Delta Institute
The Managed Forest Carbon Offset and Trading Program creates an opportunity for landowners to earn revenue through the sale of carbon-offset credits when they sustainably managed their forestlands thereby contributing to the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon. The rise of carbon credit trading has opened new financial markets for forest landowners. The Program serves as an entry point to the North American carbon market (known as the Chicago Climate Exchange) and provides a financial incentive that encourages long-term, sustainable forest management.

The Delta Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency (P2/E2) Center, LLC is the manager for this program and Registered Aggregator on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Formed by the Delta Institute, a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization, the mission of the P2E2 Center is to provide technical assistance and financing for pollution prevention and energy efficiency measures, including carbon sequestration, offset, and trading projects. As an Aggregator, the Delta P2E2 Center has the authority to sell verified carbon credits on the CCX trading platform on behalf of projects owners.

The Chicago Climate Exchange is a private, voluntary market primarily comprised of large manufacturing companies, electric utilities and institutions. Exchange members must reduce their carbon emissions 6% by 2010, often through a combination of emission reductions and through the purchase of carbon offset credits generated by landowners. Landowners can earn carbon-offset credits through long-term, sustainable forest management, conservation tillage, permanent grass plantings, tree plantings sustainable forest management, and anaerobic manure digesters. Landowners can get more information on the Chicago Climate Exchange.
11:00-11:45 Forest Certification - Jack Seifert, Division of Forestry
12:45-1:15 Voluntary Forest Mitigation for Indiana - Bruce Wakeland
Purpose: To reduce the loss of forested acres in Indiana.

Method: All licensed timber buyers and consulting foresters will be invited to take a pledge to not sell or buy standing timber from any part of a woodland that is being converted to a use other than woodland, unless the part being converted has been or is being mitigated on at least a 1 to 1 ratio. It is assumed that the party responsible for the conversion would be responsible for the cost of mitigation, and not the timber buyer or consulting forester. IHLA, IACF, IFIC, and/or ISAF could sponsor this project.

Benefits: Articles and other media coverage about mitigated projects will result in a better informed public about the loss of woodlands, which should help save woodlands. There would be a reduction in the loss of woodlands because some landowners, when approached by a timber buyer or forester, will change their plans from converting their woodland to another use. The parties taking the pledge, and the parties providing for the mitigation will benefit from the peace of mind knowing they did not contribute to the loss of woodlands, and they would benefit from the public perception that they are environmentally responsible. The mitigation of converted acreage should result in additional acreage of planted trees. A successful voluntary mitigation program could set the stage and show the way for a more comprehensive solution for the loss of woodlands. Landowners wishing to plant trees could get the cost of their planting covered by developers or others wishing to buy mitigation credits or those just wishing to contribute to solving the problem.

For those taking the voluntary forest mitigation pledge: Mitigation would be required if half-percent acre or more of a woodland is cleared or converted to another use, and that converted woodland acreage must be replaced at a ratio of one acre converted to one acre of planted trees. Mitigation can be done by planting a forest plantation in an area not currently a woodland with the end result meeting the definition of a woodland. Any given acre in a forest plantation can only be claimed once for mitigation purposes. A mitigation tree planting should be planted not more than one year before the conversion or not more than one year after the conversion. Written and signed arrangements for the mitigation planting should be completed and made available to the pledge taker before the standing trees are sold. A single-family home site will require a minimum of 2 acres of mitigation. Woodlands within city limits or with access to city sewer and water would not require mitigation. A sponsoring organization would keep a registry of pledge takers and of mitigation projects completed and mitigation acres planted. This registry and information would be used to support pledge takers, to generate publicity, and to evaluate the program.

Definition of a Woodland: An area containing at least forty (40) square feet of basal area per acre or at least four hundred timber producing trees per acre. Trees must be timber producing species, can be any size, and can be planted or naturally occurring. The woodland parcel may be of any shape, but must be at least fifty (50) feet in width. Open areas may exist within the confines of a parcel of land identified as a woodland if the open areas do not exceed the lesser of five (5) acres or ten percent (10%) of the total woodland area. The following trees are not considered timber producing trees; dogwoods (Cornus); water-beech (Carpinus); ironwood (Ostrya); red bud (Cercis); pawpaw; black haw; pomaceous trees; Christmas trees which are grown for commercial purposes; and other trees listed by the state forester. (The above part of this definition is from the Indiana Forest Classification Act.) In addition, a woodland must be at least four (4) contiguous acres in size. A minimum of two (2) acres will be excluded from a woodland or forest plantation for each currently inhabitable home site. A woodland is not divided by property lines, meaning two acres would be considered a woodland if it is contiguous to a woodland. Timber harvesting or the cutting of trees does not require mitigation unless the harvest is part of the process to convert the site to a use that does not meet the definition of a woodland.

Will it work: It will require a concerted effort to gain publicity for those taking the pledge and for those doing the mitigation plantings. All involved including landowner, timber buyer, forester, and developer will need to be convinced of and recognize the benefits. It will be worthwhile even if only a small number take the pledge. This program will fail if it does not have a method to give it long-term support, if pledge takers violate the pledge, if adequate publicity is not obtained for pledge takers, or if only a very small number participate.
1:15-1:45 Invasive Species Task Force - Phil O'Connor, Division of Forestry
2:00-2:30 Impact of Foreign Markets on Indiana Forestry (PowerPoint presentation) - Mike Seidl, Indiana State Dept. of Agriculture

2007 ISAF Summer Meeting

group shotThe summer meeting for the Indiana Society of American Foresters (ISAF) was held in Tell City, Indiana on August 22 and 23. On the first day the group was able to tour the Domtar Company and Swiss Plywood, a local paper mill and furniture manufacturer. For those who missed it, they were two very interesting companies. The evening meeting at the Patio in Tell City was good food and a good program. (Photo: group shot)

mac mccleeryThe second day was spent largely on the Hoosier National Forest. More than 40 Indiana foresters made five stops on the Forest. Silviculturists Chris Thornton and Tom Thake were able to showcase the timber management program and the success of past clearcuts. "We stressed the need to be patient with oak regeneration," said Thornton. "We often don't see it a dominant early component of young clearcuts, but if you give them time, in most of the sites we've studied, oak perseveres." The first stop on the Hoosier was a 25 year old clearcut that demonstrated the dominant and co-dominant trees now have a strong representation of oak as tulip poplar and other species. "This is an example of a stand where earlier it would have seemed that tulip poplar and other species were dominant but over time those other tress drop out and the oak percentage continues to increase," notes Thornton. (Photo: Mac McCleery)

The second stop on the tour was a shortleaf pine stand that will be offered for sale this fall. Thake explained the restoration efforts the forest will be undertaking as it converts the pine, planted throughout the Forest on eroding hillsides to stabilize soils, back to native hardwoods. Thake explained how the sale would be administered to leave a stand of hardwoods while opening the stand up for new hardwood regeneration. Following the harvest the stands will be burned at least twice to help promote a component of oak and other species that depend of fire disturbance.

bruce wakeland, dale weigel, barrensThe third and fourth stops were designed to demonstrate the benefit of prescribed burning. The third stop demonstrated how prescribed burning was beneficial in maintaining a chestnut oak stand where once it was being lost to shade tolerant maple and beech and the final stop was how fire was able to help maintain a barrens community. Barrens are a globally imperiled ecosystem based on thin soils and include several rare species. "The benefits of burning were very evident to the group when comparing stands that had received several burns to those across the road that had never been burned," said Thornton. "Many of the foresters had never seen a barrens before and were pretty fascinated to hike around and see them. There were people keying out unusual plants, and some marveling over never having seen a blackjack oak before." (Photo: Dale Weigel, Bruce Wakeland, barrens)

After the barrens visit, the group visited a research project on the Hoosier. Graduate students from Purdue University conducted a timber stand improvement study this summer. An earlier success story by Chris Thornton described their work in thinning young oak stands to different stocking levels. The students explained their study, showed the techniques used, and demonstrated the differences in various plots they'd developed.

chainsaw artFor lunch we went to the Bear Hollow Sawmill and crafts outlet, where we not only were well fed, but were entertained by a chainsaw carver who carved out a Smokey Bear. Many thanks to the Ettiennes who sponsored the lunch stop for the group. (Photo: chainsaw art)

The tour ended with a visit to lands owned by the nearby St Meinrad Catholic Abbey. American Energy Partner (AEP) foresters met the group at the edge of a new hardwood plantation and explained their aggressive program to lease lands and put in tree plantations that will sequester carbon. They had planted 13 former fields on Abbey lands and discussed how they monitored for carbon sequestration and the balancing of carbon emissions versus sequestration that their company was working towards.