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Moran visits Marion County Tuesday on conservation tour

Staff writer

Representative Jerry Moran was in Marion County Tuesday to learn more about conservation efforts in central Kansas.

He viewed a CRP controlled burn site before his first stop at the former Potter Ranch southeast of Peabody, owned and operated by Fred and Lynn Berns.

Three ranchers from different parts of Kansas spoke to a large group about how they use fire as a range management tool.

Ted Alexander of Barber County explained how improving grassland, ridding it of cedar trees, and using rotational grazing can increase productivity.

“It takes no infrastructure, just learning how to manage grass,” he said.

He noted that improving the grass also increased the water supply.

Mike Collins of Greenwood County manages grassland for absentee landowners.

He said burning grass controls invasive species and cool season grasses in native pastures and increases gain on stocker cattle.

“Fire is a free lunch,” he said. “No herbicides or pesticides are needed.”

Berns spoke last and talked about the economic benefits to rural communities that come from raising beef.

“Every dollar’s worth of beef multiplies to seven dollars in the community,” he said.

Speaking directly to Moran, he said, “We have a bank in the ground, and you are our bank in town.”

Underlying the presentations was a somber feeling that the rancher’s way of life is threatened by possible future restrictions on cattle and grassland and how they are managed.

Moran’s second stop in Marion County was at Marion Reservoir. Many government officials and conservation personnel were in attendance.

Moran listened as Tracy Robb a park ranger at Marion Reservoir, Peggy Blackman, WRAPS coordinator, and a Kansas water quality official explained what is being done to address problems at the lake, such as blue-green algae, zebra mussels, and phosphorus levels.

“It’s not enough to do your best, you’ve got to do what is necessary,” Blackman said, quoting Winston Churchill.

Moran visited Reno County Tuesday morning and planned stops in McPherson and Saline counties Wednesday. This is his ninth conservation tour.

Last modified April 9, 2009

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