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Harney County - Information for Partners and Participants

The Harney County USDA Service Center is closed until further notice. For NRCS assistance during this time please leave a message at the following number 541-573-6446 ext. 3, and we will contact you directly. You may also visit of the following Service Center’s for NRCS assistance at this time:

John Day Service Center
721 S Canyon Blvd
John Day, Oregon 97845-1084
541-575-0135 x109

Lakeview Service Center
17612 Hwy. 395
Lakeview, Oregon 97630
541-947-2367 x108
Ontario Service Center
2925 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 2
Ontario, Oregon 97914-2446
541-889-9689 x103
Redmond Service Center
625 SE Salmon Avenue, Suite 4
Redmond, Oregon 97756-9580    
541-923-4358 x123

Harney County Application Deadlines Extended

NRCS has extended the Jan. 15 deadline for the following conservation programs in Harney County: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): Sage Grouse.  At this time, the sign-up deadline has been moved to April 15, 2016.

EQIP funds currently focus on Working Lands for Waterbird Conservation in Harney County. This funding will help agricultural producers enhance the ability to manage sub-surface and surface water levels on flood irrigated meadows to provide spring habitat for migratory waterbirds.

SGI is a voluntary financial assistance program that reimburses ranchers for a portion of the expense to install conservation practices on private agricultural lands to further sage grouse habitat. Conservation practices include removing invasive juniper trees and other conifers, treating invasive annual grasses, and more. SGI promotes an overall healthy rangeland ecosystem.

The Sage Grouse RCPP project, led by the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, assists ranchers in their efforts to enroll and implement conservation measures through their Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for sage grouse.

EQIP applications can be found online at and mailed to the following address:   

Harney County Service Center
P.O. Box 848
Hines, Oregon 97738

Producers may also do business with NRCS from the comfort and convenience of their home, 24/7, through our new, secure website Conservation Client Gateway. This site allows farmers and ranchers complete a number of tasks that would normally require a drive to the field office, such as digitally reviewing, signing and submitting documents, tracking payments, documenting completed practices, and requesting assistance. Signing up for Conservation Client Gateway is entirely voluntary. At this time, the site is only available to individual landowners. NRCS plans to extend the system to businesses and entities, such as Limited Liability Corporations, in the near future. For more information about Conservation Client Gateway, or to register for an account, visit:


Harney County has an area of 10,180 square miles, or 6.5 million acres. The county is approximately 25% privately owned and 75% publicly owned. The private land in Harney County, about 1.6 million acres, is made up of 67% rangeland, 25% pasture/hayland, and 8% forest. The NRCS office, located in Hines, 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 to improve surface water quality and conserve ground water. The NRCS completed a county-wide soil survey of Harney County in 2006 which is available online.

NRCS Local Conservation Activities and Strategies

In 2010, NRCS developed a Natural Resources Long Range Strategy for Harney County with input from the Local Work Group. The Long Range Strategy identifies 5 priority resource problems to be addressed over the next five years (2011 – 2015). These five priorities are:

  • Invasive common carp
  • Invasive weeds
  • Riparian condition
  • Ground water availability
  • Juniper encroachment

One or more Conservation Implementation Strategies will be developed for each of the priority resource problems. A Conservation Implementation Strategy is a detailed plan for how NRCS and our partners will treat a specific resource problem, including what conservation practices will be used, how the project will be funded, what role each conservation partner will play, and how progress will be monitored.

The following is a list of draft or final Conservation Implementation Strategies that have been developed for Harney County:

  • Invasive Common Carp
    • Harney Basin Aquatic Health Improvement – Final
  • Invasive Weeds
    • Integrated Pest Management of Medusahead Rye in the Riley Focus Area – Final
  • Riparian Condition
    • Harney Basin Aquatic Health Improvement – Final
  • Ground Water Availability
  • Juniper Encroachment
    • Oregon Sage-Grouse Habitat Improvement Initiative – Final
    • Development of a CCAA for Sage-Grouse in Harney County - Final
    • Mule Deer Habitat Improvement in Harney County – Final

Conservation Implementation Strategy

NRCS Programs Available

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP):
    • Integrated Pest Management of Medusahead Rye in the Riley Focus Area.
    • Mule Deer Habitat Improvement - funding to remove juniper from aspen, bitterbrush, and mountain mahogany stands to improve mule deer habitat.
    • Sage Grouse Initiative - funding to remove juniper in high priority sage-grouse habitat
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP):
    • Funding for conservation stewardship and additional enhancements.

Additional Conservation Resources Available

  • Harney Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Harney County Watershed Council
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife
  • Harney County Sage-Grouse CCAA Steering Committee
  • Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center
  • Oregon State University Extension Service

Local Work Group Updates

The Harney County Local Work Group provides input to NRCS on resource priorities for Farm Bill programs.

If you are interested in participating, please contact the NRCS District Conservationist listed below.

For meeting information, please click here.

Success Stories

Frank & Sharon Catterson

Rancher Works to Restore Wildlife Habitat and Ranch Viability

Hines, Ore.—When both wildlife and vital natural resources began disappearing on their eastern Oregon ranch, Frank and Sharon Catterson made the decision to fight back against invasive plants and weeds and reclaim their land. Today, with support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its partners, the Cattersons are happy to declare success. More (HTML...)

Download a printable copy (2MB)

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Follow the link to view more images for this story on Flickr.

Key Words: Mule Deer Initiative, Sage-Grouse Initiative, juniper removal, High Desert Basin

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For Additional Assistance Contact

Hines Service Center
P O Box 848
530 Hwy 20 South
Hines Oregon 97738-0848

NRCS District Conservationist: Zola Ryan, (541) 573-6446 ext. 107