On a quarterly basis the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) convene to discuss the same topic: Partnership. Our missions and geographies are similar, and even overlap. We have found that through open dialogue, planning and focused intention we can help each other more effectively protect the waters we love, and, have more fun in the process.
This quarterly meeting was particularly special. Our circle is bigger than it ever has been, and not just because of social distancing. With the growing staff of both organizations, our ranks reached 20 water warriors, even with a few missing. That alone was inspiring, and several new friendships were kindled. The work of clean water is, after all, about relationships and people.
One major opportunity we discussed is the Regional Conservation Partnership Project, for which we will all be working to build a successful application for millions of dollars to focus on watershed health in the Upper James River. If successful, this will involve building relationships and trust with people and groups that we have not worked with much before. The planning efforts of the James River Basin Partnership and others have set up a solid foundation of research about both water quality data and the most effective practices to improve water quality which we can leverage and build upon. Years of work that should open new doors.
One of the best parts of this meeting was the location and our hosts, Bob and Barbara Kipfer! Here is more of a description provided by Kaitlin Marshall:
The Kipfer farm is located just Southeast of Ozark, with Bull Creek flowing through the heart of the valley. The farm is equipped with a cozy cabin, a weathered well, a firepit gathering area, and with a rich local history shared by Bob Kipfer. For example, Mail Trace road which runs through the farm was the first road in the area and connected the White River at Forsyth to the Springfield area. The Postal Service of the 1800’s, Union and Confederate soldiers of the Civil War, as well as many families, utilized this road. The property also once homed a Mill, and still homes a small cemetery where people of the 19th and 20th century have been laid to rest.
The property is also a place of scientific research; A few sites along Bull Creek are places of study for Dr. Debra Finn and her graduate students. Dr. Finn is an Ecology professor at Missouri State University, her research focusing on Aquatic Ecology and Biology. The Missouri Department of Conservation also visits the property to gather research data on a regular basis.
Kipfer farm is truly a place of classic Ozark beauty. Many people and organizations, including the Watershed Conservation Corps, have spent time on this land and alongside the Bull Creek waterway working on restoration projects. Their efforts have established hundreds of native plants on the property, enhancing the area for wildlife, protecting the integrity of the water and land, as well as adding aesthetic value for the Kipfers and their visitors. The land ethic of Bob and Barbara Kipfer is truly inspiring, as is their graciousness in sharing it.