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Crook County - Information for Partners and Participants

NRCS Oregon is accepting applications for Drought Mitigation in EQIP  -- application cutoff date is June 17, 2016.

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.

Conservation Implementation Strategy

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.

Success Story

Bedortha and Mundy crouch amidst a healthy sagebrush-steppe habitat

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...)


Download a printable copy (2MB)

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)...

Download a printable copy (PDF 4.04MB)

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

BEFORE: Invasive juniper were removed from this sagebrush steppe community to restore sage grouse habitat in Crook County Oregon
AFTER:  Invasive juniper were removed from this sagebrush steppe community to restore sage grouse habitat in Crook County Oregon