Debate over state forest logging regulations shelved

(WISH Photo/Chopper 8)
(WISH Photo/Chopper 8)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Legislators officially approved topics for this year’s interim summer study committee, and an issue raised by I-Team 8’s investigation last month will not be among them.

Senators passed a resolution in March calling for an interim study committee hearing on the use of commercial logging in state forests. An I-Team 8 investigation found permits for logging sold by the state’s Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry have increased by more than 1,000 percent over the last 10 years.

Bills aimed at restricting additional logging on state forest property were filed in both the House and Senate, but neither was heard by a committee. After hearing from what he estimated to be “hundreds of constituents,” Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) filed a bill requesting the issue be studied by an interim study committee.

On Wednesday, Indiana’s Legislative Council, Chaired by House Speaker Brian Bosma and comprised of six appointed Representatives and six appointed Senators, declined Steele’s request, citing scheduling conflicts in the Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

That committee will instead be charged with studying a statewide policy for recreational trails and with studying proposed new regulations on state shooting preserves and potential disease risks they might pose.

87 summer study requests were filed this year, Bosma noted during the hearing. This year, 34 total topics will be heard.

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