In past columns I have related how valuable the timberlands of Indiana are to Hoosiers. They add up to $9 billion each year to the state’s economy. Let us check out some additional facts on the forests of Indiana.
Hoosierland is an ideal location for trees. Rich soil, an adequate amount of rain and both lowland and hill country provide habitat for a variety of tree species, many of veneer quality.
On average Hoosier woodlands grow twice the amount of wood that is cut for timber and trees that die from some form of natural death. This shows just how productive our woods can be if properly manages.
Most of the timber harvested from Indiana woodlots come from rather small independent logging operations that employ 20 or less. Most of these are in the southern half of the state.
The average Hoosier woodlot contains around 4,000 board feet of what is classed as saw timber per acre. Local landowners receive up to 175 million dollars each year from sale of timber from their woods.
The most recent survey of Indiana wood processing mills list 184 saw mills, 12 veneer mills, four other mills that produce handles, and one pulp mill. These mills produced 90 million cubic feet of wood-related products. Of the wood used 85% came from Hoosiers forests.
Pulpwood is not a large part of the Indiana lumber production. Still 45,000 cords of pulpwood comes each year from our state.
Veneer is the cream of the crop from Hoosier woods. Our trees are noted for fine quality veneer wood. In 2000 a total of 28 million board feet of veneer lumber came from our veneer mills. This, however, was 10% less than was produced in 1990. It seems the number of trees capable of producing high quality veneer may be decreasing, a trend many hope can be turned around.
Indiana is noted for the excellent furniture, kitchen cabinets, and architecture products that comes from factories scattered over the state. Many of these are in the southern half of Hoosierland. Dubois County is famous for the quality furniture crafted by its skilled artisans.
The number of people who use wood for all or part of their heating seems to be increasing each year. Over 400,000 homeowners are said to burn firewood. The wood used is around one-half million cords in an average Hoosier heating season. Up to two-thirds of this wood is cut by those who burn it to heat their homes. The other one-third of the firewood comes from the 130 commercial firewood dealers based in Indiana. The firewood they provided was worth nearly $12 million. Not bad for a side product that otherwise would probably have been wasted.
The majority of this firewood came from either trees that had already been harvested or from dead trees. Very little came from live trees. Most of this was obtained from city trees or trees from yards where trees had become a problem.
Many other products come from Indiana woodlands. How about maple syrup, the mushrooms we love to try and find each spring, or the herb and medicinal plants many now seek out and use.
There and more will be featured in future columns of the value of our often overlooked Hoosier woodlands.