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Delaware Watershed Tour looks at sedementation problems at Perry Lake

Delaware River Watershed TourParticipants in the Delaware River Watershed Tour study the conservation practices of Daryl Sales on his propery located north of Valley Falls Thursday morning. His forage program includes the use of Eastern Gammagrass and clover. About 40 people attended.

Story and photos by Monty Davis

Watching grass grow is not all that exciting to most people.

Delaware River Watershed

Portion of the Delaware River Watershed

But it was the Eastern Gammagrass that brought about 40 participants of the Delaware River Watershed Tour to Daryl Sales’ farm north of Valley Falls Thursday morning.

Sales uses an innovative forage program that involves crop rotation with native grasses, said Marlene Bosworth, coordinator of the Delaware River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) program.

Bosworth said Sales’ farming practices provide permanent ground cover most of the year that stabilizes the soil and provides water quality protection.

“When it rains and you’ve got runoff the water filtrates into the soil as opposed to running off and eroding and taking pollutants with it,” Bosworth said.

Bunnie Watkins

Bunnie Watkins

The watershed tour, which included stops in Jackson and Jefferson counties, was conducted to highlight conservation practices of area landowners and educate stakeholders on the sedimentation problems at Perry Lake.

The Delaware River watershed is a 740,772 acres (1,157 square miles) area in Atchison, Brown, Jackson, Jefferson, and Nemaha. Most of the watershed flows into Perry Lake, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Bunnie Watkins, Natural Resource Manager for the Corp of Engineers, Perry Lake, explained to the group about the sedimentation rate of the lake.

When the lake was completed in 1969, it was built to store 135,000 acre-feet of water. A water survey completed in 2001 shows 70,000 acre-feet of the lake has already filled in. Another survey is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

“We are filling up faster than that 100-year life expectancy,” Watkins said.

Sedimentation is the worst problem at Perry Lake, according to Bosworth.

“It’s filling in more quickly than we anticipated than it would because of erosion that is occurring in the watershed above,” she said.

The siltation problems occurring at Perry Lake are caused by erosion from stream banks, pastures, and crop land, Bosworth said.

“We are working to try to help land owners do a better job of protecting our water resources by stabilizing soil, stabilizing stream banks.”

Education is a large part of watershed protection.

“That’s why we do tours like these. You get farmers out here to look at this and it sparks an idea that, ‘Hey I can do something like that or I might try this,’ ” Bosworth said.

Bosworth encouraged participates to work with county extension agents and other natural resource professionals who can help landowners custom design conservation programs for their individual situations.

“The fact that you are here is a testimony to your concern for the lake watershed and I appreciate this type of group.” said Greg Foley, executive director of the State Conservation Commission.

Roger SpellmeierRoger Spellmeier of Sabetha studies the seed head of an Eastern Gammagrass plant on the farm of Darly Sales north of Valley Falls Thursday morning. Spellmeier was participating in the Delaware River Watershed Tour.

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