When water and soil conservation districts and other resource agencies met earlier this month in Oregon, the focus will be on water quality.
"Successful on-the-ground projects made possible by funding and direction from the districts prove to all Oregon landowners that conservation is good business," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba. " There is a high public expectation for clean water, environmental enhancement, and watershed protection. Districts are conservation leaders in each of their communities."
ODA monitors the state's 45 soil and water conservation districts.
"The districts are an essential component of the state's effort to address conservation needs, whether it involves soil, water or fish and wildlife habitat," says Ray Jaindl, ODA Natural Resource Programs director.
"They have played that role for nearly 75 years and relish the opportunity to provide assistance to landowners."
The joint meeting of the Network of Oregon Watershed Councils on Nov. 3, leaders looked for new partnership opportunities to sustain Oregon water resources.
"Oregon's conservation districts and watershed councils form the base for voluntary, locally-led conservation work in Oregon," says Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Executive Director Tom Byler, whose agency provides grants for conservation projects.
"More and more, we see these groups coming together to achieve conservation outcomes at a landscape scale," he adds. "Through their work with multiple landowners on critical conservation projects, these groups create restoration jobs in their communities, and all Oregonians benefit from clean water and healthier forests and rangelands."
Locally elected district directors and staff implement natural resource conservation programs across Oregon, providing technical assistance and finding financial aid to implement best management practices to private landowners.
They have led the charge in development of farm projects to improve irrigation techniques, protected wildlife and habitats, and work with state and federal conservation agencies.
"Districts are always looking for opportunities to protect the soil, protect the water and provide habitat while sustaining the economic viability of Oregon agriculture," says Jaindl.