While the Kipfers are now ardent conservationists, in the mid-1990s their knowledge was limited. The world in which they were surrounded, however, contributed to their connection with the land and its meaning beyond their lives.
In the early 1800s, explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft made his trek across the Ozarks through their land. Schoolcraft’s “Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw” is largely considered the first modern account of the Ozarks region.
Native American artifacts have been found on-site; remnants from a post office, the mill and a cabin dating to the 1840s remind of life long ago, as does the Cobb-Keeton Cemetery. Its stones from the 1800s silently tell of those for whom the land was part of their life, and today it still is.
Those discoveries, study and passion for creating a better natural world have evolved in the years since the Kipfers’ purchased the property, which led them to build a bank.
Not of money — of land.
It was erosion that led the Kipfers to build that bank along the water on their property, and of their own knowledge and understanding conservation. They worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation through a cost-sharing collaboration for the stabilization and repair of the bank, which included planting 2,000 seedling trees.
“Once word got out at MDC that they had a ‘live’ one, they started coming back,” Bob says, listing some of the projects: Burning, warm-season grasses, glade restoration, timber-stand improvement and further bank-stabilization efforts.
“Each one of those things was a new education and got us to the point that when we retired ...” Bob says, and Barb finishes: “... we had our jobs cut out for us out there.”
The couple’s section of Bull Creek is recognized as an index stream, the highest standard against which others are measured, and one of Missouri’s Outstanding State Resource Waters.