The Indiana Forest Alliance presented information on local nature preservation and related issues at an informational meeting held March 9 at Sun King Brewery in Carmel.
IFA is a nonprofit established in 1996 to protect Hoosier woodlands. According to IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant, Indiana had 20 million acres of forests when European settlement began in the 1800s. In less than 100 years, the total reduced to 1 million acres.
“It is important to appreciate how vital the forests are to our existence,” Stant said. “We are in, by many measures, the deepest, richest breadbasket in the country.”
Since the 1900s, nearly 25 percent of Indiana’s forest-covered area has returned. The state has approximately 5 million acres of forests, with 90 percent privately owned.
“Any effort to conserve forestland in the state must address private forests,” Stant said.
Also at the meeting, retired teacher Zelma Taylor shared how she partnered with several other residents in 2022 to advocate against a proposal to build 33 townhomes north of 96th Street between Haverstick Road and Wild Cherry Lane, which would have required the destruction of a forested area.
Taylor spoke about using petitions and gathering support from community members who wanted to preserve the woods. She said the proposal was later withdrawn without a reason given.
“We didn’t think we did it ourselves. It took a whole bunch of people,” Taylor said.
Stant said preservation starts at home, as Taylor demonstrated.
“I think that this is a great crowd to see, because it shows the community will try to hold on to what they have left and to make that into a political issue,” Stant said.
Learn more about the alliance at indianaforestalliance.org.