Indiana Loses Icon In Forestry, Timber Management and Soil Conservation

Indiana Loses Icon In Forestry, Timber Management and Soil Conservation

Al Meyer helped pioneer forestry practices and RC &Ds in Indiana.

Today if you visit Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh there is an area of about 700 acres that is a park. It is the Johnson County Park, and was the site of the Pan AM horse events in the late 1980's. The park also includes what's now a mature forest, planted to match species to soil types, and a log cabin at the entrance to the forest, moved there and resurrected about two decades ago by the Johnson County Spoil and Water Conservation district.

None of this would have happened without the initiative and leadership of Al Meyer, Greenwood. Meyer passed away recently at the age of 88.

He not only was visionary in helping the Johnson County SWCD obtain land for the park form the government in the 1970's, and finding a way to gain co-sponsorship through the county so the park could become reality, but he practiced leading-edge timber stand improvement methods on his extensive forest holdings. He owned and practiced timber farming on several hundred acres in northern Brown County.

On his home farm near Greenwood, he placed a field in the Conservation Reserve during one of the early signups, and then devoted 15 acres, containing one of the highest peaks in Johnson County, to a tree planting much like the one later established at the park. Trees were planted based on soil type, with pines interspersed amongst hardwoods to cool off the site. Today it is a young forest.

Always ready to share his knowledge, Meyer, a railroad company employee by trade, hosted numerous field days and participated in two FarmFest events for the general public, sponsored through local Extension services surrounding Indianapolis.

He was one of the first recipients of the Master Conservationist of the Year award, sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Indiana soil conservation partnership. The program ran for two decades, recognizing about 100 Hoosiers who had not been properly recognized for their contributions to soil conservation in Indiana, before being discontinued by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts two years ago.

Meyer is also remembered as one of the founders of the Hoosier Heartland Resource and Community Development group, which included doughnut counties around Indianapolis. He was active in the group, spreading the conservation word beyond county lines, for many years.
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