Forest Service proposes to harvest tornado-damaged trees and unblock streams in Martin County

Martin Co.- In response to recent tornado damage, the Forest Service is proposing to salvage damaged timber within a 193-acre area of the Hoosier National Forest to reduce hazardous fuels, remove hazardous trees near the roadway and private lands, prepare the site for natural regrowth of native forest, improve the aesthetics of the area, and capture the value of damaged timber while creating local jobs. 

The proposed project would also restore stream flow and prevent flooding by removing blockages created by the June 25, 2023, EF2 tornado that damaged lands in Martin County, Indiana in the area of Blue Creek Lane and Blue Creek.

Timber stands in the tornado’s path experienced significant damage and salvage logging operations are being proposed to include removal of dead and downed trees in the identified area, as well as removal of standing timber that experienced crown damage, root collar and/or root system damage, or other types of mechanical damage causing exposure of heartwood.

Tornado blow down also caused several severe blockages within Blue Creek where it flows through Hoosier National Forest property which is likely to cause exacerbated flooding on Forest and private land, erode the flood plain, destabilize streambanks, and impede aquatic organism passage. To date, 21 blockages have been identified and assessed on a site-by-site basis for possible removal. Additional blockages may be identified and addressed as the project moves forward. Removal of blockages would require heavy equipment operating within the riparian floodway and some bank stabilization using any riparian channel bank and floodway stabilization means necessary. Stabilization may require regrading, seeding, rock armoring, stake and blanketing, straw mulching, etc. Some woody debris may be scattered outside the floodway to minimize cost of removal. Some woody debris may also be left for fish habitat if the debris is found to not impede flows significantly. Some channel excavation may be needed to rehabilitate the stream channel back to its natural state. Deviations from Forest Plan guidelines regarding skidding and heavy equipment within streambeds would be necessary to help restore stream hydrology but will be analyzed and documented in the decision. Operations may take place during wetter conditions to respond to the urgent need of removal before heavy rain events that may exacerbate flooding and erosion issues.

A decision regarding this project is expected this fall with implementation to begin soon thereafter. More information and a map can be found at:

The public is invited to comment on this proposal, and comments would be most helpful if received by October 17, 2023. Comments may be sent electronically to: [email protected]. Hard copies may be mailed or delivered to:

Chris Thornton, District Ranger, Brownstown Ranger District, Attn: Blue Creek Salvage and Stream Restoration Project, 248 15th Street, Tell City, IN 47586

Include the following information when commenting:

  • Title of the project (Blue Creek Salvage and Stream Restoration) in the subject line
  • Your name, address, telephone number, and organization represented if applicable
  • Specific concerns, facts, and supporting reasons regarding your comments

All comments received are considered part of the public record and will be available for public inspection upon request.  For questions or additional information, please contact Travis Swaim at 812-547-9237 or [email protected].