Restoring grassland becomes a family project

Charles and Barbara Stinchcomb, who live in Russell, used their land to involve grandchildren and nephews in a family venture to remove invasive Osage orange and cedar trees that were taking up valuable space and shading out grass on their 550 acres.
Charles and Barbara Stinchcomb, who live in Russell, used their land to involve grandchildren and nephews in a family venture to remove invasive Osage orange and cedar trees that were taking up valuable space and shading out grass on their 550 acres.

Charles Stinchcomb is a retired veterinarian in Russell whose love of family involvement with cattle grazing on Kansas pasture led to his purchase of native grassland in Marion County.

He and wife Barbara used their land to involve grandchildren and nephews in a family venture to remove invasive Osage orange and cedar trees that were taking up valuable space and shading out grass on their 550 acres.

Their involvement with their renter, Deines Farms at Ramona, in further cross-fencing the land into 40-acre rotational grazing plots led to them receiving the Marion County Conserva?tion District Grassland Award at the district?s annual awards banquet Saturday in Marion.

Stinchcomb also added multiple water resources, including ponds, wells with electric- and solar-powered pumps, and rural water for the rotational grazing.

He has an additional 600 acres of tilled ground at the location, he said.

Stinchcomb said the number of cows or feeder cattle in each grazing paddock is monitored for rotation to ensure ample root reserves growth for next year?s grass.

His family and the Deines company are continually doing maintenance to ensure that the system and invasive species control continue to work.

Much of the work, Stinch?comb said, has concentrated on annual elimination of musk thistles, and cleaning off old junk left in erosion ditches before constructing ponds.

He has developed the project into a family recreation, work and learning experience for his grandchildren, Edwin, 9, and Diego, 10, children of daughter Angela and husband Kai Muller; and Jenna, 10, and Charles, 8, children of son Jason and his wife Trisha, of Las Vegas, Nev.

He also has the help of his nephews, Crawford, 11, and Bennett, 9, the children of Richard and Susan Mueller.

Stinchcomb said the land has been a family opportunity to point out the difference in grassland species of the tallgrass prairie in Marion County as compared to the short-grass prairie common around Russell.