Many Audubon members are aware that the Veterans Administration purchased a 14.75-acre forested tract of land in Crown Hill Cemetery with the intention to develop the site with columbaria to inter the remains of veterans. This tract is the core of an irreplaceable urban forest characterized in 2006 by DNR scientists as “a true high quality remnant of Indiana’s pre-settlement forest. In the context of Marion County, it is a very rare and special resource.” This mixed swamp forest with ephemeral wetlands exhibits old-growth qualities. Containing 705 trees more than eight inches in diameter, there are a half dozen native trees in the range of five feet in diameter: burr oak, sycamore, red oak, tulip tree, and white oak. Paradoxically the Environmental Assessment concluded that the clearing of this forest, which provides such excellent habitat, would have no adverse impact on wildlife.
Currently the VA plans to start clearing trees in December—a matter of weeks away. Public opposition and pressure is the only way to stop this senseless destruction. For more detailed information, please consult the case statment from the Indiana Forest Alliance.
Please write an email to the decision-makers listed below and ask them to:
– Immediately stop work on this site.
– Hold a public hearing and comment period after republishing the Environmental Assessment.
– Examine available alternate locations for the veterans’ cemetery in Indianapolis with less impact on the environment.
– Sell the tract to a public land trust to be preserved in perpetuity as a community forest.
Secretary Robert McDonald
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Representative André Carson
Senator Joe Donnelly