When Don Porter purchased 30 acres of farmland near the Marais des Cygnes River northeast of Fontana in 2007, he had visions of turning the property into a wetland habitat for waterfowl.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and some financial assistance from the CRP cost-share program through the Miami County Conservation District, he’s been able to turn his vision into reality.
Porter said the land had been farmed for quite some time, but he worked to restore it to its natural state. He planted about 1,000 trees, including walnuts, pecans, cherries and evergreens.
He also seeded warm-season grasses, installed berms and removed clay tiles that previous farmers had used to drain water. Porter wanted to retain water, so after acquiring water rights he installed three pools and water control structures.
For the first couple of years, Porter said all he could see were cockleburs, but those eventually transitioned into horsetail plants that were about 3 or 4 feet tall, and he’s now seeing native plants growing throughout the property.
“It’s taken about 10 years for natural plants to start growing,” Porter said. “It was really interesting to watch the procession of nature coming back.”
Porter, who lives in Overland Park but is originally from Kentucky, plans to use the property as a waterfowl hunting ground.
The Miami County Conservation District has honored Porter for his work by selecting him as a recipient of the Buffer Award. The award will be presented during the conservation district’s annual meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21.