EDITORIAL: Holcomb saw the forests for the trees

May 8—A jaded view of government would assume that officials rarely follow through on promises, and that they more often do harm than good.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's vow that his administration would oversee the planting of 1 million trees on public land during his second term, 2021-24, cuts through that cynicism in two directions.

By following through on the promise, the Holcomb administration has done a very good thing.

On April 27, Gov. Holcomb capped the million-tree accomplishment by planting a cucumber magnolia, grown at Clark State Forest, on the Indiana Statehouse lawn.

As reported by the Indiana Capital Chronicle, fulfilling Holcomb's vow was a massive project that necessitated teamwork involving the state Department of Natural Resources and its environmentally conscious partners.

They mustered their resources to plant native trees — red oak, white oak, bur, swamp chestnut, cherry bark oak, black walnut and many other species — in state forests, state parks, state fish and wildlife areas, and nature preserve acreage.

The best part of the million-tree program is that it is just the beginning of an effort to plant 250 million more trees across eight states and two Canadian provinces over the next 10 years.

Holcomb is bowing out, as required by the state constitution, after two terms as governor. But Indiana is committed, regardless of who sits in the governor's chair, to joining the effort.

Hoosiers, by and large, love nature and understand the preeminence of trees in the ecosystem. They produce oxygen, stabilize the soil, provide habitat, reduce flooding and provide shade for an afternoon nap.

The state hasn't always been friendly to trees. In the 1800s, the vast majority of Indiana's trees were cut down to clear land for farming.

But Hoosiers have a better appreciation and understanding of the value of trees these days, and the state boasts 4.8 million acres of forestland, about 160,000 of it in state forests.

The million-tree promise fulfilled and the state's continuing commitment to reforestation is ample reason for optimism that Indiana government can fulfill promises while doing right by both current-day Hoosiers and future generations.