As Miami County Conservation District enters its 75th year, the green buffer between our rural county and the expanding KC-metro continues to shrink.
This space between cities, when managed responsibly, serves many vital purposes including:
- critical wildlife and pollinator habitat for dwindling insect and bird populations;
- healthy soil and water resources to support agriculture and food supply for growing urban populations;
- filters polluted runoff from roads, urban development and agricultural uses;
- conveys water in the stream channels and holds water in the floodplains, preventing the flooding of residential areas;
- provides cleaner air and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, returning it to the soil;
- and offers an escape for urban dwellers to commune with nature, fish/hunt and breathe the fresh air.
Natural resource conservation is simultaneously becoming more necessary and increasingly difficult. The conservation district and its partners continue to offer assistance with traditional soil and water practices such as terraces, waterways and livestock watering systems.
Locally, an emphasis on restoring soil health and reclaiming grasslands from invasive species continues to drive outreach and education efforts, and financial assistance programs.
During the past year, the district worked to raise awareness about the ecological and historic value of the remaining remnants of native prairie — land that has never been converted to crops or cool-season pastures, a rarity in the county. These remnants function as islands of diversity in the landscape and support a vast number of native bee species, as well as other threatened insect and bird species.
The Miami County Commission increased local financial support to the district for operations and for matching the Hillsdale Watershed grant.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture — Division of Conservation contributes to operations and on-the-ground conservation. The Hillsdale Watershed grant was increased and renewed through 2022.
A National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant supported the prairie conservation efforts in 2019 and will continue through the first part of 2020. Johnson County Stormwater, the cities of Edgerton, Gardner, Spring Hill, Louisburg and Paola all support district and watershed activities, as does the Hillsdale Area Water Cooperative. It is due to the generous support of these organizations that the district and staff are able to adapt to the changing dynamics and continue offering meaningful conservation opportunities.
By the Numbers — District
- On-the-Ground Conser-
- vation — $138,542 to 17 producers (double amount from 2018)
- 12 Workshops — soil health, livestock grazing, prairie management (422 participants)
- Watershed Streams Program — classroom and field (469 students/ 26 volunteers)
- 6 Pollinator Classroom Sessions — Louisburg fifth Grade (175 students)
- 2 County Earth Day Events — Louisburg/Paola/Osawatomie fifth Graders (455 students)
- Ag Day Participant — Louisburg/Paola/Osawa-tomie fourth graders (455 students)
- Free soil tests for 139 farmers and county residents
By the Numbers — NRCS
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is the district’s primary partner in conservation, providing a district conservationist, a soil conservationist and a conservation technician to support projects. NRCS provides office space and equipment in exchange for district support for NRCS programs and educational priorities.
The partnership achieved the following:
- On-the-Ground Conser-
- vation — $580,000 to 34 producers
- Technical assistance visits: 378
- Brush Management: 107 acres
- Forest Stand Improve-ment: 32 acres
- Residue management, no-till: 212 acres
- Soil health, cover crops: 2,369 acres
- Terraces: 4,994 feet
- Fencing: 1.14 miles
- Livestock Watering Systems: 2,417 feet pipeline; six off-stream watering systems
The Miami County Republic is a valuable partner in conservation, ensuring that landowners are well-informed of conservation issues and programs by publishing articles and featuring award winners in the annual conservation edition.
The district periodically publishes a printed newsletter for members and manages a website (www.miamicountycd.com) and social media tools for regular communications.
Contact the district at (913) 294-3751 Ext. 3 to join the email list and to find out more about staying engaged with district efforts.