Barnes dedicates land to wildlife habitat


Les Barnes

Photo by Clarke Davis
Wildlife habitat award winner
Les Barnes will receive a wildlife habitat award when the Jefferson County Soil Conservation District holds its annual awards banquet Jan. 27. Barnes has continued to enhance his tract of land since the 1980s when his son, Chad, won the same award.


by Clarke Davis
When Les Barnes first bought 80 acres of grassland and timber back in the 1980s, it served mostly as a 4-H project for his son, Chad.
In recent years it has been Les’s hobby to improve the timber and continue to enhance the wildlife habitat.
The Valley Falls man will be honored Jan. 27 and handed an award for wildlife enhancement at the annual Bankers Awards dinner sponsored by the Jefferson County Soil Conservation District.
“My son started to develop this wildlife habitat as a 4-H project in the ’80s. He won this award back then,” Barnes said. “When he went to college, I just kept adding to it.”
The two people who loom large in guiding the improvements and providing advice over the years are Randy Whiteaker, wildlife biologist, who also helped Chad, and Dave Bruton, state forester.
“They and several others have helped a lot making these improvements,” Barnes said.
Bruton became involved about five years ago when it was decided to plant a grid of 50 burr oak trees.
When Barnes visits that plot of burr oak trees, he can look up the hill to the taller trees his son planted over 30 years ago.
About 18 months ago, the Wildlife and Parks department had a program to incorporate wildflowers back into native prairie.
“This will be the second year for the wildflowers and we should begin to see some results this spring and summer,” he said. “We saw pretty good results last year from some of the early ones.”
The 80-acre tract is located near Boyle and is divided into two 40s. Most of the land is being converted back to prairie grass.
The land had not had much care when Barnes acquired it. “It was just pasture, brush, and weeds,” he said.
In the timber areas, he has cleared some trees leaving only the oak and walnut. The thick brush has been replaced with tall prairie grass.
In the bottom along a creek, he has tilled the ground and will plant something to feed the wildlife. He’s not sure what, possibly some milo.
While doing much of the clearing, he has left numerous brush piles for the animals and some plum thickets near the ponds.
There are a few pheasant and quail, Barnes said, but noted that their populations have dwindled throughout the area over the years with more extensive farming. His acreage attracts a large variety of birds and deer.
Barnes is a Valley Falls native and 1957 graduate of Valley Falls High School. He is retired after a 45-year career with Weishaar Brothers of Valley Falls and Nortonville. His wife, Betty, is retired from a career with the extension service. The couple resided at Boyle for many years and have moved to Valley Falls following retirement.
Their children are Chad and his wife, Lisa, Santa Monica, Calif., and Cathy Porterfield, and her husband, Rick, Chesapeake Beach, Md.
Chad is a construction science engineer and a realtor. After a career with the Air Force, Cathy works in the 4-H program through the University of Maryland.
Besides the wildlife award bestowed upon him, Les said the payoff is having a place to take his dog every day to walk and enjoy the outdoors.

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Posted by on Feb 9 2016. Filed under The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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