Mike Chaveas, supervisor of the Hoosier National Forest, told the 50 or so people present about the Houston South project, which would cut timber on the 4,000 acres south of the Charles C. Deam Wilderness area.
Of that, up to 417 acres would be slated for what’s called clear felling or clear cutting, the taking down of all the tress in one area in a uniform way. Other areas in the project area will have thinning of trees but not clear cutting.
Chaveas said the U.S. Forest Service harvests timber in national forests as a tool to help the agency sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the forest “to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
Most of the Houston South project area is in Jackson County, with a small portion in Lawrence County. The project was first detailed in the 2006 plan for the Hoosier National Forest. The forest plan was developed over a five-year period with public comments being taken throughout the process.
The Houston South area does not physically touch Lake Monroe but is within the lake’s watershed area, a concern for many of the people at the meeting. While timber harvesting does impact the land and possibly nearby water, Chaveas said the forest service has to look at more than just conservation for its projects. “We are looking at the long-term,” he said, adding that the agency will do timber harvesting, not deforestation.