Cains earn wildlife habitat award for longtime conservation practices

By Lori Kuykendall
Osage County Conservation District

Gayle Cain and his son, Russell, will receive the 2017 Wildlife Habitat Award at the upcoming Osage County Conservation District annual meeting. This award recognizes individuals who have excelled in improving wildlife habitat on their land in addition to conserving soil and water resources. The award is sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Gayle enrolled some of his ground into the Conservation Reserve Program when it first became available in 1987. The long-term goal of CRP is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. Gayle continued to reenroll his land into CRP for as long as it was eligible. Some of his land has been in CRP for 30 years.

Gayle is enrolled in a variety of CRP practices including CP25, the restoration of rare and declining habitat, CP21, filter strips, and CP33, habitat buffers for upland game birds. All his CRP acreage is planted to native grass with forbs and is managed to help improve wildlife habitat.   

The CP21 filter strip practice is planted along streams. The purpose is to remove nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants from surface runoff and thereby reduce pollution and protect surface water and subsurface water quality.

CRP ground requires management to keep trees and noxious weeds out of the grass. Controlled burns are done before April 1, to protect ground-nesting wildlife during the primary nesting and brood-rearing season. Spot spraying is done to kill any trees that survived the burn and also to kill any noxious weeds that are seen. Spot spraying reduces the risk of killing the forbs which are used as food for a lot of wildlife species.

Russell began helping his dad manage the CRP the last few years. With more than 150 acres enrolled, it takes a lot of time to keep the CRP ground in pristine condition.

Gayle and his wife, Nancy, live in Overland Park, but own several hundred acres east of Melvern. Gayle enjoys seeing the wildlife when he visits his farm.

For all their hard work and their commitment to water quality and wildlife habitat, the Cains are deserving recipients of the Wildlife Habitat Award.

The Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 22, 2018, at the Osage City school cafeteria, where the district will present the annual Kansas Banker Awards and Young Farmer Award.

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