I Am Conservation

Keith and Maura Harris recently installed a reinforced stream crossing on their property near Neosho, Mo. Baynham Branch is a perennial stream that runs through their property and eventually feeds into Shoal Creek, one of southwest Missouri’s larger rivers, and a source of drinking water for the city of Joplin. The crossing they installed will significantly reduce sediment input to the stream that would normally occur every time agricultural equipment crossed over. “We’re trying to work with nature, not against it,” said Keith. The couple was able to tap into both state and federal cost share programs to help offset the cost of the crossing, which opened up 40 acres of their land to forest management that was otherwise inaccessible. “This voluntary practice shows the Harris’ stewardship ethic, their commitment to maintaining clean water, and their intent to reduce sediment inputs that could be detrimental to aquatic organisms,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Forestry District Supervisor Nate Forbes. “This type of conservation practice has applicability to the greater agricultural community across the state, where running water limits access to pastures and crop fields.” Keith said he and his wife want to leave their farm a better place than when they found it. “We like to think of what we’re doing here as basic homesteading,” he said. “If we can manage our farm well, work with our timber, raise some stock, and make the farm productive, we’re living a healthy lifestyle.”

—photo by Noppadol Paothong