In his ninth ?Partners In Conservation? tour, U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran made two stops in Marion County Tuesday, April 9.
The first was in Peabody to hear from ranchers about fire as a range management tool. The second was at Marion Reservoir?s Cottonwood Point swim beach to learn about water-quality issues.
?I want to compliment Marion County for its work in water-quality issues,? Moran said in front of more than 40 people at the reservoir.
The purpose of touring the reservoir was to find out what strategies are being used to control blue-green algae, zebra mussels, phosphorus levels and other contaminants affecting the water.
Speakers at the reservoir included Traci Robb, park ranger, and Neal Whitaker, park ranger and project manager with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at Marion Reservoir; Robert Lynch, phytoplankton research, and Peggy Blackman, coordinator of the Flint Hills Resource Conservation and Development.
Marion County is not the only area dealing with reservoir issues, Blackman said. Big Hill Reservoir in Cherryvale is also monitoring for high levels of phosphorus and other contaminants.
Conservation practices in Marion County started being used in 2005, Blackman said.
The plan was to deal with overgrazed pastures, erosion caused by cattle trails and erosion blocking adjoining streams.
In two years, ponds were built to cover the worst of the erosion, the land was allowed to heal and native grasses started coming back.
The strategy continues to be one of cooperation and coordination between the various agencies, she said.
Local leadership in farming practices is vital, the group noted.
?Heavy rain events bring in nutrients and other stuff,? Blackman said, noting it?s the other stuff that causes problems.
By looking at farm buffers that have fallen away and looking at a plan to renovate wetland use, the county could begin seeing better water quality. A biological survey sediment core sampling was done in July 2007.
The study noted that from the tests, a high probability of phosphorous was being recycled into the water column at any given time when the lake was absent of oxygen (anoxic).
WRAPS, an acronym for Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, will continue to partner with other agencies in meeting goals for improved water quality, Blackman said.
Quoting Winston Churchill, England?s prime minister during Wold War II, Blackman said, ?It is no use saying, ?We are doing our best.? You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.?