Commissioner, sister lauded for practices
Leavenworth County Commissioner Don Navinsky has a pretty realistic outlook on life.
"You look at the obituaries every day and you see our lives are very short," he said.
Navinsky, co-recipient of a conservationist award from the Kansas Bankers' Association, believes we should spend that relatively short amount of time being caretakers of the land.
"Conservation is the right thing to do," Navinsky said. "If we don't take care of this, our kids won't have anything for the future. And not just our kids, I'm talking about everyone. If we abuse this land, they won't have anything to eat from."
For 20 years, Navinsky has farmed and practiced soil conservation techniques on the land that his sister, Barbara Enns of Wichita Falls, Texas, inherited from their parents. The land has been in their family since the 1930s.
"I farm because it's in my blood," Navinsky said.
While he isn't able to get out to the property as often in colder weather, he said he spends time there at least once a week during warmer months, when there is livestock on the land and plants are growing.
The 160-acre plot has both farm and wildlife areas. The farm is described as having 5.3 acres of hay land, 40.6 acres of pasture land, 9.4 acres of wildlife land and 2.7 acres of roads.
Throughout the property are terraces, built to save the land from erosion.
Navinsky said he had installed two kinds of terraces on the land: gradient and tile-outlet. Both serve the same purpose, which is to run excess water down to a natural or man-made stream instead of allowing it to pull land down in its gravitational path.
Terraces are set at roughly 100-foot intervals.
Navinsky said terracing had been a practice in Leavenworth County for years.
Gary Rader of the Natural Resources Conservation Service said Navinsky and Enns won the conservationist award because of the work Navinsky had done remodeling older terraces and putting in new structures.
"His father back in the 1950s, I understand, put quite a bit of conservation on this land," Rader said. "Don lives up there, so he's farmed it since he was a teenager. He's re-done all the terraces because they were done pretty small."
Rader said that with the larger size of modern equipment, terraces had to grow, too. He added that Navinsky also had put in underground outlets, or tile outlets.
Recently Navinsky has tried to incorporate more conservation practices, turning what he estimates was about 30 acres of pasture into native grass.
This is Navinsky and Enns' first nomination.