The Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture has a 100+ year history of public land management. The national forests were established in 1891 to ensure the proper care, protection, and management of public forests and watersheds. Congress later decreed that the national forests would be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, minerals, and wildlife and fish habitat. A series of laws have continued to guide national forest policies and ensure that public participation is a cornerstone of the agency's management.
"Caring for the Land and Serving People."
Vision for the Forest:
The Vision for the Hoosier NF, as set by its employees, is: "The Hoosier National Forest, one of Indiana's premier Federal resources, provides outstanding stewardship by restoring, maintaining, and interpreting our public's cultural and natural resources."
The Hoosier National Forest has eight interrelated goals as a framework for forest management:
• Conservation of Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat
• Maintain and Restore Sustainable Ecosystems
• Maintain and Restore Watershed Health
• Protect our Cultural Heritage
• Provide for Visually Pleasing Landscape
• Provide for Recreation Use in Harmony with Natural Communities
• Provide a Useable Landbase
• Provide for Human & Community Development
For more information on these goals go to Planning under Land and Resource Management.
The Hoosier National Forest is NOT located in Bedford, Indiana- it is scattered across nine counties. Our headquarters office is in Bedford, with a district office co-located in Bedford, and another district office in Tell City, Indiana.
At over 200,000 acres in nine counties of south-central Indiana, the Forest is located in two of the natural regions of Indiana. The northern portion of the Forest is within the Brown County Hills section of the Highland Rim Natural Region. The central and southern part of the Forest is within the Crawford Upland, Mitchell Karst Plain, and Escarpment sections of the Shawnee Hills Natural Region. Click here for a diagram of the eco-regions.
- Charles C. Deam Wilderness - Indiana's only Congressionally designated wilderness area has 13,000 acres which provides for solitude and a remote experience.
- Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest - An 88-acre old-growth forest and archaeological site. The Forest's only Research Natural Area.
- Hemlock Cliffs - a box-shaped canyon with sandstone formations, seasonal water falls and rockshelters.
- Rickenbaugh House - A stone house built in 1874, used as a local post office and church meeting house. Now on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Wesley Chapel Gulf - This National Natural Landmark is an 8-acre collapsed sinkhole with an alluvial floor which provides a window to the underground river system.
- Several special areas have been identified to manage and protect unique ecosystems. Rock shelters, bluffs, and coves provide interesting places on the Forest and are home to rare plants. Go to the special areas section of the website for more links to special areas.
Approximately 266 miles of hiking, horseback, and mountain bike trails; hunting; nature study; camping and picnicking; and scenic drives are all available on the Hoosier. Campgrounds are located adjacent to large lakes and in conjunction with some of the trail systems. Five horsecamps are associated with equestrian trails. Check out the recreation section of our webpage for details.
Hardin Ridge Recreation Area is popular with boaters and anglers alike because of easy access to Lake Monroe. Recreation areas are also located on Celina Lake, Indian Lake, Tipsaw and German Ridge Lake. The Little Blue and Lost River offer opportunities for seasonal float trips through the Forest.
Panfish, catfish, and bass fishing opportunities are available throughout the Forest. Mano Point provides boat access to the Ohio River.
The Ohio River Scenic Byway parallels the Ohio River along the Indiana shore, weaving through historic towns and rolling river hills. This national byway offers panoramic views of the forest and countryside.
Indiana's Historic Pathways National Byway traverses the Hoosier along the Buffalo Trace, the historic stage coach route of US 150 and the railroad and original highway route of US 50. Each have a rich history to tell. Vistas and scenic areas are found throughout the Forest. Scenic drives are recommended for viewing fall colors and springs' dogwood and redbud.
The mix of openland and forest provides a wide variety of wildlife habitats. Common mammals include white-tailed deer, fox, woodchuck, opossum, and gray squirrel. Common birds are turkey, pileated woodpecker, several neotropical migrant songbirds, and migratory waterfowl. The karst ecosystems include many unusual cave species.
Southern Indiana is rich in history. Archaeological sites are still being discovered, indicating human use of this area for thousands of years. Cemeteries and historic buildings on the Forest offer visitors a glimpse into the past. The Buffalo Trace, Brooks Cabin, Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower, Lick Creek African American Settlement, Mano Point, and the Rickenbaugh House are interpreted for the public.
The Mount Carmel Fault runs through the Forest area. Limestone and gypsum is mined extensively on private land in the area, as well as some coal. Geodes are common in some areas and people pan for gold and gems in area streams. Limestone bluffs along area roads are rich in fossils.
Central hardwoods, primarily oak and hickory, are predominant in southern Indiana. The pine on the Forest was planted primarily to restore eroding land and is not native to the area. The barrens communities on the Forest have many rare fire-dependent species which are carefully burned periodically.
Timber harvests and vegetative management are used to perpetuate and enhance biological diversity. The Hoosier has inventoried 38 different forest types. A sustainable yield of high-quality hardwood products is also a priority in some areas. Management is a balance of uneven-aged and even-aged systems. The allowable sale quantity on the Hoosier has a ceiling of 5.7 million board feet per year. The average amount sold since 2006 has been about 4.15 million board feet per year.
Threatened and Endangered Species:
There are four federally listed threatened and endangered species whose ranges could include the Hoosier National Forest. These species are: Indiana bat, gray bat, rough pigtoe mussel, and fanshell mussel.
Provides key protection for Lake Monroe and Patoka Lake watersheds. Lake Monroe is the sole source of water for the city of Bloomington and several other water companies. Patoka Lake provides water for many cities, towns and water companies.
The Forest is managed to provide a diverse mix of opportunities and resources for people to enjoy. The Hoosier National Forest comprises about half of the public forest land in Indiana. As such, the Forest has a key role in providing forest ecosystems which enhance biological diversity on a regional scale.
Wildlife habitat management occurs on some portions of the forest, timber harvests, prescribed burns, wetland development, and other practices occur in areas defined for appropriate uses. Each decision on a management practice is a commitment to enhancing the Forest. Forest managers work closely with the public to develop a shared vision of how the Forest should be managed. The challenge is to provide a Forest with the values and benefits people want while responsibly providing for the unique ecosystems on the Hoosier National Forest.