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Deschutes County - Information for Partners and Participants

Irrigated field near Sisters

Irrigated field near Sisters.

Deschutes County has an area of 3,055 square miles, or 1.96 million acres. Over 77 percent of the county is publicly owned. The 461 thousand acres of private land includes 92,000 ac. forest and 240,000 ac of range. Pasture and hay is grown on most of the 38,000 ac. of irrigated land. Livestock production is a large portion of the agricultural industry. The local food movement is strong here with a growing number of community supported and organic farms. The NRCS office, located in Redmond, offers voluntary technical and financial assistance to private landowners interested in natural resource conservation improvements. Lately the NRCS has focused mostly on irrigation improvements for water conservation.

NRCS Local Conservation Activities and Strategies

The priority major resource concerns identified by the local conservation partnership include:

  • Water Quality/Quantity, More efficient use of irrigation water to improve flows in the Deschutes River
  • Forest Stand Health on Private Land to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire, especially near the Wildland/Urban interfaces
  • Threatened and Endangered Fish and Wildlife Species,
  • Noxious and invasive plants, especially on rangeland where they can increase erosion potential, limit wildlife habitat and weaken native plant communities.

Conservation Implementation Strategy

NRCS Programs Available

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:

  • Deschutes County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Deschutes County Weed Control District
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement board
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Oregon State University-Extension
  • Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Deschutes River Conservancy

Local Work Group Updates

The Deschutes 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 Stories

NRCS Programs Aid Central Oregon Organic Grower

Sarahlee Lawrence deftly peels back the white drape of row cover from an interplanted row of organically-grown produce and flowers, inspecting for damage from the prior night’s frigid temperatures. “Oh look, a melon!” she says with triumph in her voice. The small green-striped orb is partially hidden by leafy chard and yellow calendulas and it appears unscathed by the early frost. The 28-year-old farmer is pioneering organic production in the high desert of Central Oregon, where the growing season is short but the potential for market success is long. More (HTML)...

Download a printable copy (PDF 461KB)

Key Words: Organic EQIP, AWEP, organic improvement, irrigation management, Deschutes Basin

Farmers, Fish and Community Benefit from More Economical and Reliable Water Supply

McKenzie Canyon farmers Kathy and Steve Simpson will be sleeping a lot better this summer. A newly-completed irrigation pipeline to their farm will eliminate the need for round-the-clock checks of their irrigation pond level. The Simpsons and 30 other landowners are benefiting from a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) project that replaces open irrigation canals and ditches with 10.3 miles of 36” High-density Polyethlene (HDPE) pressurized pipeline, and provides turnouts and lateral pipeline connections on 1,976 acres of Central Oregon farmland.  More (HTML)...

Download a printable copy (PDF 981KB)

Key Words: AWEP, irrigation water management, 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:  Tom Bennett, (541) 923-4358 ext. 123
Deschutes County SWCD, (541) 923-4358

Forest thinning west of Bend

Forest thinning west of Bend.
Alpacas on pasture near Terrebonne

Alpacas on pasture near Terrebonne.