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Hood River County - Information for Partners and Participants

Upper Valley in bloom with Mt Hood in background.

Upper Valley in bloom with Mt Hood in background.

Hood River County has an area of 533 square miles, or approximately 334,308 thousand acres. Of the private land cropland makes up the majority of the agricultural land consisting of 26,952 acres or 8% of the county of which 16,409 acres are irrigated. The majority of the irrigated land is in orchards (14,741 acres) with the main crop being pears (11,002 acres). The rest of the irrigated land is used to produce high value crops including cherries, peaches, apples, blueberries, nuts, lavender, berries and grapes. Public land makes up the majority of the county. The public land is managed by USDI Bureau of Land Management, United States Corps of Engineers, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Bonneville Power Administration, United States Department of Forestry.

NRCS Local Conservation Activities and Strategies

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

  • Water Supply and Quality Degraded Plant Condition - Inadequate structure and composition.
  • Fish and Wildlife – Habitat Fragmentation Fish Passage
  • Energy Use & Air Quality Impacts

An existing Conservation Implementation Strategy (CIS) is being utilized to address soil erosion and water quantity on irrigated land in orchards. Crop producers and citizens of the county are willing to participate in efforts that reduce soil erosion and improve water quantity and quality as there is a general consensus that water quality and quantity is essential to everyone in the county. Success will be measured by feedback from the local irrigation districts, water quality assessments, and the number of irrigation systems updated for efficiency.

Work is underway to develop a CIS to address water quality in Neal Creek. A lack of riparian vegetation is having the largest negative impact on water quality in Neal Creek and its tributaries. The Local Work Group also identified several other practices that have negatively impacted the water quality including: past timber harvests, road building, riparian tree removal (trees were removed to improve cold air drainage from orchards), unmanaged livestock access to stream, storm water runoff, overflow from irrigation ditches and orchards, development in the floodplain and spray drift from orchards.

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:

  • Bonneville Power Association
  • USFS
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon State University-County Extension Service
  • Hood River County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • East Fork Irrigation District
  • Farmers Irrigation district
  • Middle Fork Irrigation district
  • WyEast RC&D
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Local Work Group Updates

The Hood River 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 Stories


Cleaner Air through Cleaner Burning

Most mornings when Cindy Collins wakes up and looks out at her 46-acre orchard—with Mt. Adams towering in the background—she feels like she’s at summer camp. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Conservation Innovation Grant, Deschutes Basin

Ditching Smudge Pots for Cleaner Air

Ask any fruit grower and they will probably tell you—there’s no love for smudge pots.

These age-old systems are commonly used in orchards across the country to help protect crops from damaging spring frosts. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  National Air Quality Initiative, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Innovation Grant, Deschutes Basin

Clickable Map of SNOTEL Sites


For Additional Assistance Contact

The Hood River Field Office
6780 Hwy 35
Mt Hood, Oregon 97041

NRCS District Conservationist:  Carly Heron, (541) 352-1037
Hood River County SWCD, (541) 386-4588

Lower Valley in winter with Mt Adams in background.

Lower Valley in winter with Mt Adams in background.
EQIP dollars at work installing a filter and micro sprinkler irrigation system on pear orchard.

EQIP dollars at work installing a filter and micro sprinkler irrigation system on pear orchard.