Protect White's Woods Nature Center in Perpetuity

Protect White's Woods Nature Center in Perpetuity

September 11, 2022
Signatures: 343Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Susan Dahlheimer

White's Woods Nature Center, located on the edge of Indiana, PA, in White Township, is a 250 acre preserve that our entire community is able to enjoy; its trails are a ten-minute walk for 10,000 permanent residents and 8,000 college students.  On three occasions (1995, 2007-08, and 2020-present), the White Township Supervisors have proposed to engage in timber harvesting and (most recently) rototilling, which would destroy our beautiful forest.  The most recent proposal has been described by ecologists as the "nuclear option," because:

  • Mature forest canopy will be lost.  This will dramatically damage the forest, by allowing explosive growth of invasive plants;
  • The logging plan is not ecologically sound.  Storm water run-off will damage neighboring residential properties;
  • Rototilling will destroy root structure, killing trees and permanently disrupting the fungal undergrowth which supports the healthy forest;
  • Logging and rototilling activities will likely destroy perennial ground species, including at-risk or vulnerable plant species, Trillium spp. and Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), listed by the United Plant Savers as at-risk species
  • Damage to the forest will decimate the habitat of several "species of special concern," including as many as a dozen birds, at least one species of salamander, the Eastern box turtle, and two threatened species of bats.
  • Removal of a significant number of trees in WWNC will significantly interfere with WWNC's absorption of over 1,100 tons of carbon annually, sequestration of nearly 28,000 tons of carbon, absorption of over 207,000 gallons of stormwater annually, and hosting hundreds of human visitors every week.

For 27 years, citizens have sent White Township a message:  Leave White's Woods alone.  How?

  • In 1995 the Township mailed ballots to every household; of 2,463 returned, 62% opposed the plan (31% approved);
  • In 2007:
    • the Indiana Gazette conducted an online opinion pole; of 747 responses, 69% opposed the plan (23% supported some timbering):
    • Over 1,000 local citizens signed petitions opposing the plan;
    • The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) ruled that timbering 21% of the forest was excessive.
  • In 2020:
    • Friends of White's Woods surveyed park users; 98% of 229 respondents opposed that plan (June);
    • 80 citizens wrote letters to the supervisors; 100% opposed timbering (July);
    • over 1,200 area citizens signed a petition opposing the plan (July);
    • DCNR vigorously criticized the plan.
  • In 2022
    • 28 citizens emailed the supervisors opposing timbering, and none supported it (February);
    • A doctoral research class surveyed ten local business and environmental organizations; of 289 respondents, 68% opposed selective timbering (19% favored); 57% opposed deer hunting (24% favored) (June);
    • The same research class interviewed eight local business, environmental, and government leaders who expressed many concerns, including the township's lack of transparency (June);
    • An independent study student interviewed 20 WWNC users in the nature center; none supported timbering and there was strong opposition to deer huntinig (August)

But the Townshp has never withdrawn the 2020 plan, and the Township and the Stewardship Committee continue to explore ways to alter the park.  And the Township continues to ignore the extensive data already collected by expert researchers.

Our petition asks for the following from the White Township Supervisors and/or the Stewardship Committee:

  • Enact an ordinance to declare White's Woods a Forest Preserve to be held for present and future generations as an undisturbed natural area, minimizing damage and alteration due to human interference.
  • Develop a mission statement for WWNC that stipulates that no timbering will be part of the stewardship plan for WWNC.
  • Enroll WWNC in the Old Growth Forest Network, allowing WWNC to age via natural succession and become an old growth forest.
  • Use the existing public input data, dating from 1995 to the present, to design the stewardship plan.
  • Designate WWNC exclusively for Project 70 approved purposes, including "passive recreation" (hiking, walking, running, etc.), conservation, and historical preservation.
  • Design a long-term, comprehensive, evidence-based park management plan, developed in consultation with stakeholders and existing public input data and with professionals who have expertise in ecology, conservation, park management practices and Project 70 rules, to preserve White's Woods as a natural area for future generations.

Please sign our petition.

For more information, visit the Friends of White's Woods website:

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