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Comment period for HNF project needs extending past Nov. 15

I am writing as a concerned citizen regarding the proposed Buffalo Springs Restoration Project.

An initial request for public comment was set for 30 days to end on Nov. 15. I am very concerned that there was insufficient notification to the public affected by this large project that will have a direct impact on the quality of life for persons living in and near the Hoosier National Forest.

With at least 5,124 acres of the Forest in counties south of Monroe, including Orange, Crawford, Dubois and other counties, being slated for harvest (some of it clear-cutting),  nearly 15,100 acres identified for possible prescribed burn, 771 acres of chemical treatment with herbicides/pesticides and in addition the creation or recreation of 19 miles of roads in the Hoosier National Forest, the potential impact on the health and well being of those of us living in or near the Forest is tremendous.

There has not been sufficient notice provided in order to solicit input on the proposal. People in this area are by and large completely unaware that this proposal has been made. I read the proposal itself, and it is clear in that proposal that all the “community input” referenced in the proposal is more than 20 years old. The lack of notification and input of people who live here now, and would be affected by this action now, would ethically require that the comment period be extended significantly past the Nov. 15 deadline, especially if, as the proposal indicates, failure to comment in this initial period would disqualify us from comment/participation in later stages of the project, failing to notify the public and solicit commentary from those affected by the project is negligent in the extreme.

A proposal of this scope and impact should, at a minimum, be relying on more current science and involve adequate notification of the community that will be impacted with an extended period for commentary.

All of this sludge and chemicals will run off into the Patoka Watershed where we get our drinking water. Burning thousands of acres of forest will make breathing dangerous for many who struggle with asthma and allergies.

Please contact the DNR and ask them to do the right thing and extend the period for commentary on this project to Dec. 31 by current residents, instead of relying on comments from more than 20 years ago, issue press releases on the proposed project and hold open forums in which residents who live here now can participate. It is the only ethical and just action that can be taken at this juncture.

If you wish to submit a comment, you may send it to: Kevin Amick, Hoosier National Forest All Units, 811 Constitution Ave., Bedford, IN 47421, or email it to [email protected].

You may also contact your elected officials to ask them to delay the start of this project and extend the period for receiving comments from the public.

Rosemary Parke, LMHC

Clinical Service Specialist

Southern Residential Liaison

Department of Child Services

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