Mixing drought’s good, bad news

By Jim Suber

Some good things happen in droughts, the folks who tend to like their weather dry are quick to report. It’s true only up to a point, which is when there is no water to be had and none in Nature’s vast pipeline headed your way anytime soon. So, a drought is a mixed bag of trail mix on our journeys. Just need to wash it down with something.

To shift gears into something good and positive, the other night my wife and I attended the annual conservation district meeting in Alma. It was pleasing on several levels.

Fine, bright-looking youngsters were involved. First there were the conservation posters that won first place in their various grades. Those were really very good and the theme was “What I like about the Flint Hills.” The posters’ scenes were endearing. The children, kindergarten into junior high, really tried and their teachers were proud.

Then there were the young servers crewing for the caterer, Sue Palenske of Wabaunsee town site. Sue and the kids, she told me, attend the famous Beecher Bible and Rifle Church. The children are in her Bible study group and she was paying them for helping her at the dinner the profit margin to help them pay for a group journey to St. Louis to a religious program there. They all did a great job with the meal.

More good stuff from the annual meeting included presentations by young teenagers who had attended various range camps during the year sponsored by conservation districts. The county leader also continues to put on with great planning and effort at least two outdoor environmental and ecological excursions into the hills and to the streams each year. Those are hugely popular.

Icing on the cake were the annual banker’s awards to producers who have implemented significant conservation techniques and developments. Those pictures and explanations were extremely interesting, and it was cheering to see old warhorses gain some recognition for being good stewards of the water and soil they use to feed us all. That might sound a little hokey, but it really is true that conservation works and it usually pays dividends to the landowners and the public. It is a great win-win to see and think about.

Moving out of county and back to Israel for a thought, where last autumn my wife and I were for three weeks, a new happier debate than normal has sprung up. That is, some officials there are claiming that Israel’s new desalination methods to convert sea water to fresh water for irrigation and drinking are the greater cause for a rare plentitude of water than the wetter than normal winter they are having.

While we were there we were told by our erudite guide (these guys are highly educated, highly experienced and versed in both history and current events) that his nation was about to experience a great breakthrough in desalination processes. Apparently they did it. And looking outside, I see another large group of robins on what used to be a lawn.

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