Ohio Division of Wildlife Wildlife Council member Paul P. Mechling II can now add the title of Top Conservation Farm Family award winner to his repertoire of accomplishments.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture named Mechling and his wife, Joanne, as this year’s conservation family farm honorees for the agency’s Northeast Ohio district.
Besides being on the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council, Mechling’s day job includes working as a veterinarian along with owning – again with his wife, Joanne – the 365-acre “Snowy Oak Tree Farm” in Ashtabula County.
The Mechling’s operation is an American Forest Foundation certified tree farm, a designation which requires an inspected every five years to verify that the business is practicing sustainable forestry.
In making the announcement, the Agriculture Department says the Mechling’s have planted more than 140,000 trees on reverted agricultural land, built three wetlands in cooperation with the Wildlife Division, and which protects more than 11 acres of wetlands.
Also, Mechling has been an Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor since 1998, is a well-known maple syrup producer,,and works as a volunteer with the National Wild Turkey Federation in various capacities.
All in addition to serving on the Wildlife Division’s Wildlife Council, which has recently tackled various hot-button issues including whether to allow the trapping of bobcat, a topic the panel has thus far rejected.
“Paul is an outstanding council member. He is a very dedicated conservationist, and I’ve known him for years,” said now retired Wildlife Division chief Mike Budzik.
“He is a leader who stands up for what is right and he is not afraid to take a position that is contrary to the Division if he knows he is right.”
Budzik added that Mechling “has asked the tough questions concerning many of the Department’s actions,” and possesses a keen intellect while likewise owning a “good measure of common sense.”
“I would rank him near the top in terms of being a Wildlife Council member,” Budzik said.
Outdoor writer and an official with Buckeye Firearms likewise says that Mechling is both well informed and thoughtful individual.
“He has been key in getting speakers on subjects,” Moore said. “And the chronic wasting disease situation and its relationship with various captive deer herds are also something he’s asked a lot of questions about.”
At press time, Mechling was unavailable for comment.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture annually recognizes five families, each of whom represents one region of the state. This was the 35th year for the awards program, the Agriculture Department says.
Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 181 Ohio farm families for their efforts conserving soil, water, woodland, wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, scout groups, farm organizations and others, the Agriculture Department says.
In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families were also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and received plaques from ADS Hancor Inc. Ohio Farmer magazine has sponsored the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards since the program's inception.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn