Brothers live off the land, but still protect it

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
You don’t have to be a cowboy to be a rodeo fan, and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a responsible steward of soil and natural resources.

Brothers Robert and Douglas Wine of Wichita are prime examples. Because of their dedication to preserving natural resources, the two have been named winners of the 2002 Farm Bureau Grass Buffer Award.

Robert, an accountant, and Douglas, an engineer, live in Wichita, but own land south of Peabody and west of Burns.

“We’ve owned the land for about 10 years and installed the grass buffers two years ago,” Douglas said.

The Wines learned about grass buffers through the Marion County Natural Resources Conservation Service and from articles in Pond Boss magazine.

They lease the land to Cecil Wiebe.

“We’ve been very interested in conservation since we were kids,” Robert said. “Going back to Kanopolis Reservoir, the absence of conservation contributed to siltation and poor water quality.”

Douglas agreed water quality was a prime concern.

“We wanted the lake on the property to be full for fishing and that type of activity,” Douglas said. “We wanted the pond to be good for our kids and grandkids, and the way it was going with the silt coming in, it wouldn’t have been good for very long.

“When we first got the ground, all the ground was farmed, right up to the pond,” Douglas said. “Even the draws were being farmed.”

So the Wines decided to take action by creating grass buffers. They have seeded 14.4 acres of filter strips and 9.9 acres of grass waterways to native grass.

The filter strips are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

“The (Natural Resources Conservation Service) guided us through the whole process,” Robert said. “They examined the property, and told us where the grass strips should be.”

The buffers provide water-quality protection to the watershed lake on their property, as well as enhancing wildlife habitat.

By keeping sediment out of the lake, its life span will be prolonged by many years.

The grass waterways have been seeded in anticipation of constructing terraces sometime in the future. Once the grass is fully established and well rooted, the terraces will be constructed.

The Wines are also a firm believer in wildlife preservation and wildlife habitat.

“We’ve intentionally left standing timber for wildlife shelter,” Robert said. “Part of our agreement with Cecil Wiebe is to have him leave seed around the tilled property for wildlife.

“It comes out of our share, and it’s strictly for the wildlife.”

Added Douglas: “The youth of today need to do all they can to preserve our natural resources. Once you have something, you don’t want to lose it.”

Both men were surprised to receive the Farm Bureau Award.

“I was surprised, but also happy they recognize this kind of effort on the part of the landowners,” Robert said. “I’d like to see it encouraged for others, and I hope they continue to practice it.”

Douglas agreed.

“It’s appreciated,” he said. “We had no idea there was even an award for this. My advice is to take care of what we have, and it’ll last a lifetime.”

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