Crook County has an area of 2,991 square miles, or 1.9 million acres. Ninety-six percent of the county is within the Deschutes River Basin. Over 50 percent of the county is publicly owned. The private land is 900 thousand acres and made up of 71% rangeland, 4% forest, 7% irrigated and 8% dryland crop. The NRCS office, located in Redmond, offers voluntary technical and financial assistance to private landowners interested in natural resource conservation improvements. Historically the NRCS has focused on rangeland and irrigation improvements on private land. The economy is based on livestock, agriculture, forest products, recreation, manufacturing and wholesale trade.
NRCS Local Conservation Activities and Strategies
The major resource concerns identified by the local conservation partnership include:
- Degraded Plant Condition,
- Threatened and Endangered Fish and Wildlife Species,
- Degraded Rangeland Hydrologic Cycle
Seventy percent of the privately owned land within Crook County is rangeland. Water quantity and plant health and vigor are major attributes of healthy rangeland and critical to maintaining a healthy hydrologic cycle. Crook County is experiencing declining levels of rangeland health with a major cause being invasion of western juniper trees. This invasion of trees into non-historic areas degrades water quantity and plant health. Crook County has about 350,000 acres of privately owned rangeland that have been invaded with Juniper trees. There are springs, creeks and rivers throughout these juniper dominated rangeland areas. In many cases these water sources have been greatly reduced by the change in plant community and the associated downward shift in the hydrologic cycle. It has been scientifically proven that juniper encroachment can degrade the hydrologic function of rangeland and it is known that juniper control in sagebrush/steppe habitats can immediately improve sage grouse habitat.
NRCS Programs Available
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP):
- Financial and technical assistance for juniper removal and sage grouse habitat improvements within prioritized Sage Grouse Initiative Core areas.
- Financial and technical assistance for juniper removal and upland habitat improvements within the Conant Creek Watershed priority area.
- Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative:
- Financial and technical assistance for installing high tunnels to extend effective growing season.
- EQIP Organic Initiative
- Financial and technical assistance for conversion to organic farming or improving exiting organic operations.
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP):
- Financial and technical assistance for conservation stewardship and additional enhancements.
Additional Conservation Resources Available
Conservation agencies in the region are very cooperative and routinely work together with private landowners to accomplish resource enhancement projects. The following agencies provide assistance in planning, funding or implementing conservation and restoration projects:
- Crook Soil and Water Conservation District - upland and riparian projects
- Crooked River Watershed Council - riparian and upland projects
- Oregon Department of Forestry - forest related projects
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife - mule deer and other wildlife improvements
Local Work Group Updates
The Crook County Local Work Group meets to discuss natural resource priorities and provide input to NRCS on conservation programs. If you are interested in participating, please contact the NRCS District Conservationist listed below.
For meeting information, please click here.
Central Oregon Rancher Restores Sage-Grouse Habitat with NRCS Assistance
Paulina, Ore. – Rancher Gary Bedortha takes a group for a bumpy ride to the top of the grassy mountains behind his ranch house near Paulina, Oregon. His 4WD pickup climbs through a pocket of aspen and pine to an open ridgeline that overlooks thousands of acres of prime sage grouse habitat in Central Oregon. Purple lupine is beginning to bloom in between native grasses and sagebrush. More (HTML...)
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Key Words: EQIP, Sage-Grouse Initiative, juniper removal, Deschutes Basin
Oregon Rancher Works to Improve Rangeland and Save Sage-Grouse
Paulina, Ore. - One hundred million years ago during the earth's cretaceous period, Gary Bedortha's ranchland was a shallow ocean supporting a rich community of sea life. Today, that same land rises 5,000 feet above sea level, and supports a different kind of ecosystem - one rich with sagebrush, bitter brush, juniper, elk, deer, snakes, bobcats, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and the sage-grouse. More (HTML)...
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Key Words: EQIP, SGI, Deschutes Basin
Clickable Map of SNOTEL Sites
For Additional Assistance Contact
Redmond Service Center
625 SE Salmon Avenue, Suite 4
Redmond, Oregon 97756-9580
NRCS District Conservationist: Chris Mundy, (541) 923-4358 ext. 112
Crook County SWCD, (541) 447-3548
Invasive juniper were removed from this sagebrush steppe community to restore sage grouse habitat in Crook County Oregon