Posts filed under 'Natural Resources'

Indiana Land Resources Council has been reinstated

The Muncie Star Press is reporting that Gov. Daniels will be “re-populating” the Indiana Land Resources Council sometime in August of this year:

The state will re-establish the Indiana Land Resources Council (ILRC) and take other steps to preserve Indiana’s farm land, including drafting a model zoning ordinance for local governments.

Sarah Simpson, manager of regulatory affairs for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), announced the administration’s plans to save farm land during a recent videoconference broadcast to 25 locations throughout Indiana.

The Governor effectively dissolved the board in January of 2005 by asking for the resignations of its staff and members just before it was to present recommendations on planning policy to Lt. Governor Skillman.

In 1999, the Legislature established the Council (IC 15-7-9) to study and make recommendations on land use and planning issues. After it was dissolved, I introduced legislation to establish a new “Growth and Development Task Force” (HB 1242) to re-establish a working group in this important field. HB 1242 did not pass, but its goals included making several policy recommendations that could be picked up by the ILRC:

(1) Ensuring a process for making development decisions that are predictable, fair, and cost effective.
(2) Establishing ways to direct development toward existing communities and existing infrastructure.
(3) Integrating fiscal, transportation, energy, and environmental policies with land use planning.
(4) Encouraging the preservation of farmland, open space, and critical environmental areas.

I hope the new ILRC looks to an integrated planning approach that not only creates quality development, but also helps keep taxes down by fully utilizing our existing infrastructure.

The initial comments on the goals of the new ILRC are encouraging:

“We have some exciting objectives for the council, (including) state incentives … and providing a model ordinance and land-use tools to local government,” Simpson said. “We have a very aggressive initiative for that council when they are reconvened.”

Indiana needs a land-use strategy because the rapid loss of prime agricultural land to development compromises the future ability to feed the nation; reduces open space, wildlife habitat and groundwater recharge; creates rural-suburban conflicts; and requires the costly extension of roads, sewers and other infrastructure, Simpson said.

I look forward to following the Council’s progress. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the ILRC or land use policy in general.

5 comments June 21st, 2006

Emerald ash borer hits St. Joseph County

Back in December, I wrote about the emerging emerald ash borer infestation in Indiana, and how almost 10 million ash trees in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio had already been destroyed by the insects.

Unfortunately, the South Bend Tribune is reporting that ash borers have now shown up in St. Joseph County:

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced at a news conference Monday that the insects have been found in Granger… the preliminary estimate is the insects have been at that site for three to five years.

If you have ash trees in your area that you would like to save, make sure your neighbors are aware of the potential options for treating trees that are still healthy. The image below is linked to an aerial map of the one-mile zone around the latest infestation in Granger:

ash borer map

The Tribune article describes how preventative treatment can be an option for some trees:

Jodie Ellis, exotic insects education coordinator for Purdue University, said there is a chance that if an infestation is caught early, treatment with insecticides that contain imidacloprid can stop the damage.

“But if it (a tree) is already infested heavily, it probably will not survive,” she said.

It’s also up to homeowners to decide if they want to take their chances with a healthy ash tree, use insecticides to protect it or cut it down. Protecting a tree with insecticides can cost from about $50 to $200 a year.

To help stop the spread of this insect, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio have created a joint website to disseminate more information about the threat at:

Additional information is available below:

Indiana DNR Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology
Purdue Entomology Extension Inormation
National Invasive Species Council
The Global Invasive Species Initiative

3 comments June 13th, 2006

Indiana town to destroy 15,000 trees

ashThe town of Decatur, Indiana has decided to cut down 15,000 ash trees in order to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer infestation.

The Associated Press is reporting that the estimated $1 million operation is necessary to eradicate a pocket of the insects that have appeared outside of their natural spread area – likely brought in by transported firewood. The larvae of the insects have already been estimated to have destroyed 8 to 10 million trees – mainly in Michigan, but increasingly in Indiana and Ohio.

If left unchecked, the emerald ash borer could cause the extinction of the ash tree as a species in North America.

emerald ash borer

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus Planipennis) is an invasive species that was not found on this continent before June 2002. Its natural range is eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea, but it most likely came to the US in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships or for packing or crating heavy consumer products.

To help stop the spread of this insect, Indiana Michigan and Ohio have created a joint website to disseminate more information about the threat at:

Additional information is available below:

Indiana DNR Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology
Purdue Entomology Extension Inormation
National Invasive Species Council
The Global Invasive Species Initiative

1 comment December 22nd, 2005

State park fees set to increase

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission approved the Indiana Department of Natrual Resources’ request to increase fees at Indiana state parks. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports:

The Natural Resources Commission, which oversees Department of Natural Resources policies, passed the proposal 9-1 during its monthly meeting Tuesday in Indianapolis. Fishing, hunting and trapping licenses also will increase in 2006.

“I label it a fee restructuring,” DNR Director Kyle Hupfer said of the changes park visitors will face next year…

“Whether it was Tuesday in July or Saturday over Fourth of July weekend, a particular campsite cost the same. We think that’s a very ineffective and un-businesslike way to operate what I see as one of the closest things we have in government to retail facilities.”

The specific details are available in the post I made last week discussing the proposal.

1 comment November 16th, 2005

DNR fee increase proposal

brown countyThe Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director, Kyle Hupfer, recently circulated a letter to legislators informing us of his proposal to raise “user fees,” which include everything from fishing licenses to cabin rentals at state parks. In the letter he states:

In a few weeks, I am going to present to the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) a fee restructuring plan. This plan will take on a market-based approach, calling for changes in rates based on the demand for DNR’s services.

I will propose fee ranges so that the DNR and its property managers can adjust fees based on the time of year, capacity, location, and demand… We intend for there to be both increases and decreases in various fees.

The proposal will come before the Indiana Natural Resources Commission at their next meeting on November 15, 2005. The Natural Resources Commission was just recently given authority to change DNR fees as a provision of HB1001 – last year’s budget bill, which passed on a party-line vote (roll call here). The relevant code section is available here.

Hupfer intends his proposal to be a “market-based approach, calling for changes in rates based on the demand for DNR’s services.” However some of the increases are quite steep and likely to be opposed by many who hunt, fish, and use our state parks.

The DNR has had some successes in land conservation, as well as some controversies, including the recent dispute over logging on public lands. This new proposal is likely to generate discussion as well.

Please let me know if you have an opinion on the proposed DNR plan to increase fees.

1 comment November 8th, 2005


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