Beckers’ four decades of preserving woodlands
By Jane Myhra
Merlin and Georgie Becker, of Manawa, were chosen as one of four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year by the American Tree Farm System.
Hard work teamed with stewardship programs and professional forestry advice has made this property a forest management showcase.
Since 1967, Ed Becker (Merlin’s father) and Merlin Becker have concentrated their efforts on increasing the productivity of the land. This has continued up to the present.
Active hunters, the Becker family studies, documents and manages the deer and turkey populations in the region. They ensure there is young tree growth for food for wildlife, and have helped maintain the habitat of a pair of bald eagles for several years.
Always active in the community, the Beckers host field days, present at forestry conferences and meet with legislators, all to showcase stewardship to their forests and their commitment to sustainable forestry.
The 97-acre Becker Woodlands are a designated demonstration forest that is open to the public for self-guided tours with maps and interpretation stations along the trails. It is estimated that several hundred people have had the opportunity to tour the woodlands because of this.
For over four decades, Merlin, Georgie and their family have actively shared their land and experiences by hosting forestry educational and promotional events at Becker Woodland.
In doing so, the Beckers have encouraged other landowners to practice sustainable forest management on their woodlands.
“I believe the seed of education planted in the minds of people is equally important as planting a seedling in the ground,” Merlin said.
The Beckers have a one in four chance to be selected for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. The winner will be determined by online votes.
The other regional winners are: John and Ann Boutwell and Peggy Boutwell Autrey, Plattville, Alabama; Duke and Naomi Hoiland, Poleridge, Montana; and Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.
To cast a daily vote for the Beckers, visit www.treefarmsystem.org/2015-otfy.
A program of the American Forest Foundation, ATFS is the largest and oldest sustainable family woodland system in America.