Indiana Residents fight the U.S. Forest Service over the future of Hoosier National Forest. The mighty, valuable oak is at the center of a conflict between federal officials and logging opponents over how to manage mature forests in an era of climate change.
The Forest Service has more than 20 projects underway like the Hoosier plans that include logging or burning in 370,000 acres of those mature and old-growth forests.
But Richard Birdsey, who spent 40 years with the Forest Service before his retirement as a distinguished scientist in 2016, says the agency’s climate science is wrong. Such a fall-off in carbon absorption can take hundreds of years to unfold as trees die and decay. Middle-aged forests of the eastern United States would continue to absorb and store carbon over the next two crucial decades for staving off the climate crisis—if they are allowed to stand, he said.