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Greenleaf — Terry Sieker and Linda Clemedtson-Sieker of Greenleaf did not expect to receive recognition for the hard work and dedication they have put into managing their forest land. The Siekers were more than honored to learn they had not only been nominated, but were named the 2016 Tree Farmers of the Year for Brown County.

The Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee bestows the award, which is sponsored by the American Forest Foundation, based in Washington, D.C. Tree farmers are evaluated on forest management activities they pursue on their property, such as sustainable timber harvests, tree planting initiatives, environmental protection efforts, wildlife habitat enhancements and efforts to promote sustainable forestry.

Terry and Linda purchased 115 acres of land in Brown County in 1989 and then bought another 60 acres where they currently reside in 1993. Although their property was mostly farm fields, they envisioned restoring the land back to forest to provide an area for family recreation and enjoyment, as well as wildlife habitat. Their forestland also helps contribute to clean air, clean water and soil protection.

Between 1998 and 2001, the Siekers planted an astonishing 99,000 trees, which reforested 123 acres of land. Aaron Burmeister, a master logger from Seymour, planted most of the trees for the Siekers using a tree planting machine pulled behind a tractor. Today, they have a young forest consisting of oak, walnut, maple, pine, spruce and cedar trees.

Terry and Linda have worked hard to keep their forests healthy by removing invasive plant species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle and multiflora rose. They worked together to cut these invasive species and treat each individual cut stump to prevent re-sprouting. Terry has also pruned pine and oak trees to improve timber quality. With assistance from the Wisconsin DNR, they also created several ponds to provide habitat for waterfowl. Terry and Linda have graciously shared their property with others, including hosting tours for Wrightstown students in fourth- through eighth-grades.

Previous Wisconsin winners of the Tree Farm award have gone on to win the Northcentral U.S. Regional competition in 2015 and 2016 and won the national competition in 2013. The 2016 Tree Farmers of the Year for Wisconsin, Gerald and Charlotte Kann of Sparta, are currently one of four state winners vying for national recognition.

For landowners interested in working with a professional forester to help manage their forest lands, obtain tree seedlings or identify sources of financial assistance, contact your local DNR forester or visit the DNR’s forestry website at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestLandowners/assist.html or call (920) 662-5156. Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association, an organization which aims to increase landowner knowledge of their forest through educational workshops and connecting landowners with resource professionals, provides resources and information on their website at http://www.wisconsinwoodlands.org/ or the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee at http://www.witreefarm.org.

Shirley Bargander is administrator for Wisconsin Tree Farm Program. 

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