The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on September 15, 2002 · Page 20
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 20

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Hays, Kansas
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Sunday, September 15, 2002
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Page 20
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SUNDAY • SEPTEMBER 15,2002 NOR'WESTER THE HAYS DAILY NEWS • C1 ABOVE: Rodgers shows some of the new signs that will advertise the buffer program. RIGHT: A mature grass buffer strip is pictured in Ness County. ; Arlan and Juanita Parker, rural Ness County farmers, are pictured near two conservation buffers, tree rows and grass waterways. They have taken advantage of the buffer program to improve the water quality on their farm that borders the city's water wells. Mike Muller, soil conservation technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, leftt and Randy Rodgers, wildlife biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, examines newly planted grass buffer in a field in Ness County. ^ ,,,•». . • ^ - i -,„,.. ~ —• • •"• *•—-—* —' •~ "-" -" «i—*«**»««,•••• — * -, f j _ Ness County leads the way and provides a look into innovative conservation practices NESS CITY —In a year when Kansas crops have been ravaged by drought, a rare bright spot on the growing success and expansion of conservation practices is perhaps even more impressive. An addition to the traditional Conservation Reserve Program, farmers now can profit financially by establishing buffers amid their;c,rops that not only aid production and reduce erosion.and water contamination but also benefit wildlife at the same time. Farmers have enrolled about 40,000 acres statewide in the program, and about one-third of that land lies in western Kansas. In fact, the state's best example of the conservation practice is in Ness County. Buffers cross almost 2,900 acres there. Randy Rodgers, wildlife biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in Hays, said the progress in Ness County is the result of legwork by local officials and experimentation by interested farmers. "Ness County got a leg up on other counties/' he said. "A lot of other counties are just getting started. But it's the local person that makes all the difference. You have counties! where nothing's happening, but those are also the counties where it's not being pushed." It's difficult to sell farmers on something that strays from the traditional mentality without an example to show off,. and Rodgers said he expects Ness County's distinguished practices to continue to expand simply because experts can hop in the car and point to already established examples. Staff at the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office said their job certainly is easier because of the early interest of only a few farmers. Arlan and Juanita Parker planted their first grass buffers in the spring of 1998, and both admit the establishment of the buffers initially required a lot of work. It's also been an experience of trial and error. Originally the couple planted buffers seeded only with grass, primarily intended as erosion control, but to enhance the presence of wildlifeVthey've-started to , add alfalfa to the mix. A buffer of trees aligned with a barn has required frequent watering, and Juanita Parker said much of her time since her retirement in 1998 was spent irrigating them. "For the first two or three years, you can't just sit back," she said. But now the Parkers have the s.tart of a protective break from harsh winds year- round, and the nearby grass buffers already have brought more wildlife info their backyard. Buffers of different varieties stretch across 1 !!! acres at their family farm. Protection from blowing snow in the wintert also is intended to help cattle. Eventually snow, and ultimately the moisture from that snow, will remain on the fields where it is needed and will keep livestock out of show-drifted stock peris. "They're protection for the , farmhouse, protection for cat- ' tie, and they help wildlife," said Mike Muller, a soil conserva- ' tion technician in Ness County. Tours of the'Parker'fields have been frequent, especially as farmers have learned about the financial incentives available, Muller said. All of the buffer practices include annual U.S. Department of Agriculture pay-, ' ments, although the amounts , of those payments vary, depending on soil type. Muller said average incentives for Ness County farmers areJbe- A00VE; Muller, right, talks with Troy Schroeder, agriculture jiai- son for-the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, left, Matt Palmquist, soil conservationist with NRCS, second from left, and Rodgers as they talk about a crosswind grass strip in Ness ; .' 'County. fMGHT^Agracler builds a terrace in Ness County: Farmers typically are'faced i/yith' the challenge of rebuilding terraces. When topped with grass, they last longer and help hold moisture, in the fields, tween $40 and $50 per acre. Establishing conservation buffers also can be supplemented with state and federal cost-share programs. "We have people that can't really, understand what the program is all about. They can't picture it;'so we just . bring them here. They're our trendsetters out here," he said of the Parkers. Matt Palmquist, a soil conservationist at the Ness County NRCS office, said he thinks the program is contingent on "that one key farmer getting involved" in every community and spreading the word. But buffers are not limited to landlocked acres of farmland. Buffers along stream beds soak up runoff of agricultural chemicals that would have gone into the water otherwise. Troy Schroeder, agriculture liaison for Wildlife and Parks, said the water benefits are hard to dismiss. "Water quality concerns are not going to go away. But here you can improve water quality and get paid for it," he said. A patch of grassland along Walnut Creek was a practice run for local conservationists, but Muller said it works much like the buffer strips now growing elsewhere in, the .county * "'"--;tfiis land here fll^-'-, ters water going in there, It , filters water before it gets to the dam," he said. Rodgers said it's trial-and- error approaches like the one at Walnut Creek that have 'llurned. the buffer^ program i ^ into a federally funded conservation practice,' one he ' considers one of'the USDA's best initiatives ever, " ..''But until people can see - r f ^'i. ( * **y^ * Jr. ' * *38?\ >, U'^V r »• * .;' f^fyolcome area, farmers (9 con-' V ' ' $•'< tacfiherribyie-rrialt,abQUt$elr ' ' fev'' mftwiMfaV""' -'--'-?•-* '^•/*vWU JWW*; '. is- - v - j , - ». f * 1 - 1 j --, P^>!'. '.. '' ,*rV '„-' ' aWc*£&i f lui'*ir\foir»nn*i7ii' -4 ? ?/•' High Plains OF NORTHWEST KANSAS Couple's anniversary includes proclamation NESS CITY — George and Alma Gross celebrated an extraordinary milestone a week ago, and Ness City officials proclaimed Sept. 8 as "George and Alma Gross Day" in their honor. The couple celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary last weekend. George was born April 7,1900, and Alma was born Jan. 18,1906. They were married at the La Crosse City Hall in 1922. Just as amazing as their long lives together is the couple's time living in Ness County. They made then- home hi the Highpoint Township, 14 miles southeast of Ness City for 29 years before they built a home in Ness City. The Ness County News paid tribute to the couple with an article and photo on this week's front page. "The union of George and Alma has exemplified marital fidelity, enriched the community and set a standard worth of emulation," the newspaper reported. With their proclamation, city officials presented the couple with a wooden key to the city. Hearing to gauge support for closing school ALTON — The Osborne USD 392 school board voted unanimously last week to stage a public hearing for the potential closing of the junior high school in Alton. The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Osborne High School auditorium. Principals Tom Conway and Jesse Jackson told the school board that they had developed a workable schedule that would facilitate, the move. During a previous meeting, officials indicated that moving the junior high students to either one wing in the grade school or to a designated floor of the high school would make the move possible. Scheduling to prevent junior high students and high school students from crossing paths in the hallway each day would be possible, and Conway and Jack' ' son-said the'move-cotild-ailow" ••<-— soine grades to share teachers. "It wouldn't be the best, but it could work," Conway said. "It's just a rough estimate of what would happen." Students launch own 'pennies for pool' project ATWOOD — The Atwood Pool Committee launched the second year of its ongoing fund-raiser for a local swimming pool, A pep rally at Atwood Grade School included the cheers of the Atwood High School cheerleaders "to get kids iii the mood to read, readi read," The Rawlins County Square Deal reported. The project is designed to enlist the help of grade school students, who find sponsors to pledge money for each book read. The school's goal is to read 25,000 books. "The first time we did this project, our goal was 25,000 books, and the students read close to 27,000 books," said Dawn Hampton, a member of the local committee. Students gather sponsors and read the books, and at.the end of the year, committee volunteers send statements to donors. During the 2000-01 school year, the students' efforts raised more than $6,000. This year, Hampton has pledged an extra incentive for students to read. "If they meet the school goal of 25,000 books, it's $5,000 or five days on the roof," she said. As long as students meet their reading accomplishments of last year, she plans either to top off that amount with $5,000 in donations, or she'll spend five days atop the roof of the local drug store ' during the annual Rod Run event. '• r">> i, *>*>' l .f' ',- '/ , "- '?'' ' , Volunteers continue repairs at shelter house OBERLIN — Work began esu-ly in the morning to strip the roof < and replace shingles on top of the Sappa Park Shelter House. Jack Benton has coordinated 1 all repairs at the shelter house, and he tpld the Oberlin City r Council that he hopes to have the projecticpmplete bytiils winter. itfwprk^Vbfttlejwjft'^nathe . group now has two niorV sections of shtogtes, to replace, ^junteers > CltoCk 4*AA«lk«l I M!~—3 O_^J_.J-J— Wnt*1C * H 1 ?^«MwWB e ^-, '>. l^;- '•

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