Home Page – Current Status

Current Status of White’s Woods Nature Center Timbering Controversy

Background:

White’s Woods Nature Center is a 250 acre parcel of mature forest located within a mile of town center which for 50 years has provided passive recreation to Indiana County. In June, 2007 the White Township Supervisors unilaterally declared White’s Woods to be a “township forest” for “continuing township revenue by the sale of forest products”, and adopted a plan to timber 21% of the park (see link to “Summary WW Plan” to right, full plan available at http://www.whitetownship.org). Friends of White’s Woods, Inc. (FWW) is a non-profit, grass-roots organization that feels White’s Woods is a park for recreation and conservation, not a commercial forest and is fighting to save our local nature center.

Status:

DCNR rulings: The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) wrote a letter to White Township (2/8/2008) declaring the timbering plan “… does not meet the minimum requirements to be considered a Forest Stewardship Plan.” In a later letter (4/10/2008) DCNR further explains “The plan is not consistent with the Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act [used to purchase the land]…[and]… is not consistent with the definitions of recreation and conservation in the Act…”  DCNR goes on to state that the plan should be revised and submitted for approval prior to any logging. Thus DCNR agrees with FWW that the current plan is deeply flawed and inappropriate for White’s Woods Nature Center (click on the “DCNR – White Township Correspondence” link in the right sidebar to see the letters).

White’s Woods remains under threat: In May, 2008, DCNR sent a team to White’s Woods and met with the Township Manager as a step in the process of issuing recommendations for revising the timbering plan. At that meeting, DCNR asked the Supervisors to complete a form which asks what their long term goals are for the property. There was apparently some confusion as to whether the Supervisors were to fill out the form individually or collectively with the result that some Supervisors submitted the form individually while DCNR sought, and still awaits, a collective response.

When the form is finally submitted, DCNR will issue its recommendations and the Supervisors will have the author of the original plan prepare a revision. While the time frame is uncertain, given DCNR and the Supervisors have prepared for the revision by (1) visiting the site and preparing preliminary notes and (2) notifying the original author of the plan that they will be expecting a revision, the revised plan could be issued with little prior notice.

FWW remains vigilant: Since that time, each month FWW has used the PA’s right-to-know law to request any communication between DCNR and the Supervisors. We also have a representative at every Board of Supervisors meeting.  As of this date, the Supervisors have not submitted the completed survey to DCNR. It is not clear why it has taken them over a year to fill out a survey and submit it. However, the timbering plan is still on the table, the Supervisors apparently intend to modify and implement the plan as soon as they receive guidance from DCNR and thus, White’s Woods is still at risk.

Follow the links in the right sidebar for additional information and documentation.

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