A public meeting regarding the Hoosier National Forest Plan and Buffalo Springs Project will be held at the Orange County Community Center, 1075 Sandy Hook Road, Suite 2, Paoli on Monday, April 3, 2023, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Senator Mike Braun has arranged for Dr. Homer Wilkes, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the US Department of Agriculture, to attend a public meeting in Paoli.
The focus of the meeting is the Buffalo Springs Project and the development of a new Land and Resource Management Plan for the Hoosier National Forest. Large crowds are expected with large banners and colorful signs.
Under Secretary Wilkes and Senator Mike Braun met with Orange County citizens in July of last year regarding the Buffalo Springs Project. This project would impact close to 30,000 acres, predominantly in Orange County and involve extensive road building, logging over 5,000 acres, prescribed burns, and herbicide treatments. Currently, the HNF is managed under the 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan which was due for an update in 2021.
A Citizens Preferred Alternative (CPA) was submitted to District Ranger Chris Thornton (Bedford) during the 30-day comment period in late 2022. A copy has also been sent to Gina Owens, Eastern Regional Forester, emphasizing the need for the Forest Service to consider alternatives.  In addition, an Environmental Impact Statement is required by NEPA; the Forest Service has only done an Environmental Assessment.
The public may submit written concerns to Senator Mike Braun and Under Secretary Homer Wilkes during the meeting.