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To fully appreciate the importance of trees and forest resources to the State of Indiana think in terms of crops and cover. As a crop, the IDNR-Division of Forestry reports that Indiana forests contribute more than $9,000,000,000 (nine billion dollars) to the Indiana economy each year. Forest-based manufacturing provides more than $8 billion in value of shipments. This is almost six percent of the statewide value for manufacturing. Tree sales generate estimated revenue of $175 million. It is a surprise to many that Indiana ranks first nationally in the production of wood office furniture, and forest-based businesses are the fourth largest manufacturing sector by employment in the State. (Taken from “Forests of Indiana: Their Economic Importance”, prepared by the USDA Forest Service and Indiana Department of Natural Resources).
The cover provided by wooded land provides oxygen to breathe, clean water to drink, and brilliant fall colors to enjoy. A walk in the woods reveals food, shelter and home for wildlife; stable soil protection preventing erosion and pollution runoffs; canopy and shade for widely diverse undergrowth; exercise and adventure, or simply solitude and peace for the hiker; and much, much more. The Division of Forestry alone manages three million acres in their State Forest properties while, statewide, forest-based recreation and tourism account for $1 billion annually.
Because of their importance, the Division gives specific attention to existing forest lands, ensuring they are restored once mining is complete. An inventory of wooded areas proposed for mining document size of coverage area, number and diversity of trees and other conditions. The application must then explain how these conditions will be restored and how those conditions will be achieved.
During permit review, active mining inspections, and, finally, post-mining inspections and bond release, some of the conditions operators will be required to satisfy are:
Additional success measurements required for bond release:
Recent rule making cleared the way for the planting of trees on prime farmland. If the landowner concurs and the mining company is willing, trees may be planted on prime farmland areas. Soil depths and proof of productivity are still at prime farmland standards. This allows for more flexibility when planning land uses on a surface coal mine.
The permit application must also explain how the operator will restore the area including care and maintenance of reclaimed areas. The Division holds the operators performance bond on disturbed areas for a minimum of five years. The bond will not be released until all conditions of the permit have been achieved and the forest resources are restored. A report completed in 2007 examined the longevity of the forest land use of reclaimed mine lands and can be viewed by clicking here: “Assessment of Reforestation on Reclaimed Indiana Surface Coal Mine Sites”.