The Hoosier Chapter Conservation Committee joins the Sierra Club Forests & Climate team and the national Climate Forests Coalition

The Hoosier Chapter Conservation Committee volunteer leaders work tirelessly protecting the State Forests of Indiana as well as the Hoosier National Forest. These public lands belong to the People and Sierra Club policy supports our opposition to logging for timber on public lands. Mature and old-growth forests are the most effective natural land-based mechanisms for removing and storing carbon from our atmosphere. The recently released United Nations report confirms that climate change is upon us. Now is not the time to be chopping down this lifeline to a livable future and turning the results into fence posts, pallets or toilet paper when the average lifespan of a wood product in our country is less than five years. Hence the name of the Climate Forests Coalition endangered forest report, “Worth More Standing.
Earlier this year, Lea Sloan, Forests Advocate, Old-Growth Forest Network Board, Sierra Club Forests & Climate team, sent an email to the Hoosier Chapter inviting us to join the Climate Forests Coalition virtual meetings and Chapter Conservation Committee members, Julie Lowe and Marilyn Bauchat are participating. The work being done by the coalition, which includes Oregon Wild, Heartwood, Environment America, Standing Trees and many others, is in direct support of volunteers like us, helping us protect our forests. On the virtual calls we check in with other activists across the country and share actions and tactics that elevate awareness, provide information and mobilize action to preserve mature and old-growth in our National Forests.

In January 2022, Sierra Forests & Climate Grassroots Network were at the inception of the Climate Forests Coalition of about one hundred national, regional and local nonprofit environmental groups. Sierra Club is one of the leaders, and part of a team that helped propel President Biden’s Earth Day 2022 announcement to preserve mature and old-growth forests. The Department of Agriculture is charged with completing mapping of those forests on or before Earth Day 2023. 

The Coalition is helping shape next-steps strategies to initiate a process to secure a Federal Rule-making, like the 1990s Roadless Rule, to protect those forests. The Coalition created the Vanishing Forests Report linked here, Report: U.S. Agencies Undermine Biden’s Pledge to Protect Climate-Saving Forests (, detailing a dozen of the most egregious projects in National Forests. The Report was presented at November’s COP 27. So far this year, Coalition members staged rallies and protests in threatened forests and in front of Forest Service offices across the country.

Two men stand in a parking lot with trees in the background. They are holding an orange sign which says Protect Buffalo Springs. Stop the Forest Service from logging and burning 20,000 acres of YOUR Hoosier National Forest in Orange County!
A photo courtesy of Julie Lowe, before a hike at Lick Creek Settlement.
The hike was in the Hoosier National Forest in the Buffalo Springs Area.
Pictured are Winding Waters Group members from Columbus, Richard Crawford and Steve Schoettmer.

The Hoosier Chapter Conservation Committee invites participation from you and other Chapter members who are interested in guiding strategies about forests from a national perspective or joining the conversation to learn more about how you can make a difference. There are two massive U.S. Forest Service projects threatening our climate and the Hoosier National Forest right now, the Houston South Vegetation Management Project and the Buffalo Springs Restoration Project, a controversial proposal. Hoosier Chapter members and staff have submitted public comments opposing these projects to the U.S.  Forest Service and continue to work to stop the projects with other environmental groups in Indiana.

The Hoosier Chapter has enjoyed close collaboration with environmental allies such as Friends of Owen Putnam State Forest, Indiana Forest Alliance, Heartwood and Save Hoosier National Forest over the years and it has been hard work with victories few and far between. Recently, Jeff Stant, Executive Director of the Indiana Forest Alliance, (IFA) visited the leaders of the Shawnee Forest Defense in Illinois, heroes that have worked to protect the Shawnee National Forest since the 1990’s with great success. Presently, they are working to change the land use designation of the Shawnee National Forest to the proposed Shawnee National Park and Climate Preserve. Because of the problems we are facing in our Hoosier National Forest, logging and burning projects by the U.S. Forest Service looming, Jeff and IFA staff arranged for local environmental groups to join in welcoming the Shawnee Forest Defense leaders for two events in Bloomington, Indiana. On March 22nd, at the IU Center for Rural Engagement, the Shawnee folks shared the documentary, Shawnee Showdown by Cade Bursell, who was a professor of cinema and photography at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and afterwards enjoyed a panel discussion.

We also heard updates from IFA and from an IU student group advocating for “a local Bloomington woman, Maggie Gates who has been arrested and jailed and is facing unjust charges of “Domestic Terrorism” along with 22 others for attending a peaceful music festival in support of: STOP COP CITY/FOREST DEFENSE”. You can read more here about the forest and climate advocates’ fight in Atlanta, Georgia to save their local forest which is on public land from being leveled to build a military style national training center for the U.S. Police. On January 18th, 2023 during a non-violent protest, Atlanta police shot and killed Manuela Teran known as Tortuguita. We mourn the loss of Tortuguita and oppose this senseless and violent tragedy of death and incarceration of people demonstrating within the rights of our Democracy. On March 23rd we met with the Shawnee folks and about 50 other people at the Cascades Inn in Bloomington for a roundtable discussion. We look forward to our work together and consideration of the proposal of the Hoosier National Forest becoming a “climate preserve”.

We must continue to bring public and media attention to the price we all pay for the destruction of our forests.

Julie Lowe and the Conservation Committee.

These are real and useful actions you can take right now:

-Contact Rebecca Dien-Johns - if you are interested in joining the Hoosier Chapter Conservation Committee and working alongside amazing volunteers that care so much about protecting the wild places of Indiana and advocating for climate. 

-The Climate Forests Coalition is urging people from across the country to call the White House comment line and ask President Biden to follow through on the Executive Order he signed on Earth Day 2022 to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land to draw down carbon and restore our climate.  Take Action: Call The White House Today!

-Help fund this work! Donating to the Hoosier Chapter furthers our efforts to protect our forests as a central mission of our Conserve the Climate campaign. 100% of your donation will go to the Hoosier Chapter. DONATE HERE.

Further reading:

Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation's Forests, Communities, and Local Economies | The White House
Chapter Conservation Committee Chair, Julie Lowe's public comment opposing HNF Buffalo Springs Project
Forest-clearing to create early-successional habitats: Questionable benefits, significant costs