Environment news

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House lawmakers approved a bill Monday that regulates Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves, sending the measure to the governor. That comes more than a decade after the legislature first began working on the issue.

The state tried to shut down high-fenced hunting preserves more than 10 years ago.  A court battle finally ended last year with a ruling that said the state couldn’t regulate the facilities at all, under current law. 

Wabash River Enhancement Corp.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit says it will review a legal challenge that Indiana and 17 other states filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Waters of the U.S." rule.

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Legislation imposing rules and restrictions on Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting facilities looks likely to pass through the House. But, industry opponents are still lobbying for stricter language.

Environmental and conservation organizations have long opposed high-fenced deer hunting, an industry left unregulated by the courts last year.

The likelihood of the General Assembly banning the industry outright this session is essentially zero, but the opposition groups hope to strengthen proposed rules and restrictions.

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The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ newly-revised strategic forestry plan doesn’t include any significant changes to the amount of timber cut by the Indiana agency, but does include plans to make forests more accessible to Hoosiers looking to pitch a tent or explore a cave.

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Coal industry representatives in Indiana, one of the nation’s top coal-producing states, say the Supreme Court’s stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has little immediate effect on the state.

By many accounts, utility companies haven’t been scrambling to comply with the proposed regulations, which would require Indiana to create a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than one-third over 15 years.

The stay lets states off the hook until the Supreme Court has its say on the plan.

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For the first time in 11 years, observers should be able to see five planets together in the night’s sky. Planetary alignments mean this spring should make for exceptional stargazing.

If you face South, the brightest object in the sky should be Jupiter. Following a line across the sky and to your right and you’ll see Mars, Saturn, Venus and, close to the horizon, will be Mercury. Indiana University professor of astronomy Caty Pilachowski says this kind of alignment is rare, and for good reason.

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Legislators plan to introduce a bill that would force the Division of Forestry to set aside 10 percent of each state forest, with no logging allowed in those areas.

Two Republicans, Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) and Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), will introduce the bill during this legislative session.  Previous efforts to protect state forests from logging have gotten stuck in committee with little support from GOP legislators.

“I think what you’re going to see is bi-partisan support for the legislation,” says Jeff Stant, Executive Director of the Indiana Forest Alliance.

huntingdesigns / https://www.flickr.com/photos/huntingdesigns/

Supporters of legislation that would regulate Indiana high-fenced deer hunting say the recent resolution of a decade-long court battle – negating any state authority over the industry – will give them traction this session. 

The state court system ultimately decided last year that Indiana has no authority under current law to regulate the hunting facilities. Rodney Bruce, the owner of one of Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves, where people can pay money to hunt farm-raised deer in an enclosed area, says that makes this year’s legislation critical.

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Purdue research showing that during some months, residents along the Wabash River use an amount of water equal to the river’s entire volume has raised questions about a new problem – tracking all that h2o. A study from the university’s school of civil engineering shows a huge lack of cooperation among county, state and federal agencies when it comes to reporting water usage.

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A new program that’s running this year will let library patrons check out Indiana State Parks for free.

The State Park Centennial Library Check-out program provides 240 park entrance passes, one for every library in Indiana.  Starting January 1, Hoosiers with a library card can check-out a free pass just like a book.  It will be up to the library to decide when the pass needs to be returned.