General Position

  • White's Woods Nature Center (WWNC) was purchased with Project 70 funds, intended for recreation, conservation, and historical preservation. Selective timbering or the creation of a working forest is inconsistent with the stated purposes of Project 70 funds.

  • In 1995 the voters of White Township were surveyed regarding their desire to commercially/selectively timber WWNC.  Township residents overwhelming declared their opposition to commercial/selective timbering.  (62% opposed, 31% for timbering, 7% no opinion).  The concept of commercial/selective timbering was also opposed when survey data was collected in 2007-08.  In 2020, a higher percentage of those surveyed than ever before opposed commercial and/or selective timbering in the WWNC (98%).

  • DCNR is clear that public input is an essential part of land management; excluding the many tax-paying users of this public resource from the initial planning process is a violation of the public trust.  

  • FWW commends the Township for establishing Stewardship Management Sub-Committee.  It should be empowered to actively solicit input from the many current users of WWNC and develop a plan to meet their stated wishes.  The subcommittee's charge should be expanded to include ongoing management of WWN. 

  • The Township should accept the offered contract for carbon credit payments in exchange for leaving the forest intact for its 40-year duration.

 

Legal Considerations:

 

Conservation Considerations:

  • The Stewardship Management Sub-Committee should contact multiple consultants (hydrologists, forest ecologists, environmental biologists).

  • Destructive or pernicious management of WWNC is not compatible with the intended uses of the WWNC. 

  • It is prudent to have a management plan for WWNC.  FWW endorses a science-based management plan that keeps the WWNC in its natural state and respects the process of natural succession.

 

Financial Considerations:

  • The potential for WWNC to provide revenue for the Township through carbon credit payments far outweighs any potential income from timbering, with its potentially exorbitant extraction expenses.

  • WWNC is worth far more to White Township and Indiana Borough as a natural area than it is as a timber farm. White’s Woods Nature Center is a true boon to the community. It is helpful in attracting, and retaining, people and businesses to the township and Indiana borough. It provides relatively untouched green space directly adjacent to the largest town and the county seat of Indiana County. 

  • Access to this wonderful natural area has the potential to contribute to Indiana’s economic grown by enhancing the likelihood that: 

    • Working-age households remain in the community and commute into the Pittsburgh metro area, rather than relocate closer to work.

    • Work-from-home individuals remain in the community rather than relocate elsewhere.

    • Retired households stay in the community rather than relocate elsewhere.

    • Soon-to-retire or retired households originally from the community, but who left to take work elsewhere, return to the community for their retirement.

    • Businesses stay or relocate here to provide access to the outdoor recreation opportunities that their employees demand.

 

Environmental/Residential Considerations:

  • Potential disruption of the relative calm of many borough and township neighborhoods and damage to roads.

  • Increased and significant water run-off from timbering resulting in damage to both borough and township properties and affecting groundwater drainage systems.

  • Increase in the deer population resulting from an increased ground cover food supply, further affecting adjacent properties, and increasing collateral.

  • Decrease of air and water quality in the Indiana area.

  • Decrease of property values of homes within walking distance of the park.


 

Recreation Considerations:

  • WWNC meets DCNR’s priority of providing natural space within 10 minutes of all residential areas.

  • WWNC is perfect for walking, birdwatching, running, and cycling, the favorite outdoor recreation activities for Pennsylvania outdoor enthusiasts.

  • WWNC offers passive recreation opportunities for people of all ages and physical abilities.

 

 

Future Plans:

 

FWW strongly believes that the WWNC should be kept as a natural area and that a comprehensive, evidence-based park management plan be developed by experts in conservation, park management, recreation, biology, forest ecology, hydrology, and the input from all of the park’s stakeholders, including Indiana Borough and those of us who frequent its trails each day.

 

We need a plan that is collectively developed by all relevant experts and invested stakeholders.  This plan should be updated regularly and, along with stakeholder input, guide further management of this natural area park.