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Baker County - Information for Partners and Participants

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

Sage Grouse Initiative in Baker County

Sage Grouse Initiative in Baker County.

Baker County comprises approximately 1,977,000 acres of land. There is 964,000 acres of private land of which approximately 127,000 acres is irrigated cropland or hayland, 638,000 acres is rangeland and 128,000 acres is forest. Fifty-one percent of the county is publicly owned. The major drainages in the county include the Powder River, Burnt River and Pine Creek. The NRCS office is located in Baker City. The NRCS staff provides technical assistance and administers NRCS financial assistance conservation programs.

NRCS Local Conservation Activities and Strategies

The NRCS in Baker County works voluntarily with private land owners and cooperatively with partners to strategically address priority natural resource concerns. Resource concerns that are prioritized for conservation treatment include:

  • Rangeland Health
    • Invasive weeds, including annual non-native annual grasses, threaten native plant communities which results in altered wildlife habitat, reduced forage production and increased erosion.
    • Juniper encroachment on native sage brush steppe grasslands adversely effect upland wildlife habitat.
  • Forest Health
    • Stands are overstocked with unhealthy, unsuitable species and disease and pests are reducing productivity while forests are subject to catastrophic wildfire.
  • Water Quantity
    • Inefficient application of irrigation water.

Conservation Implementation Strategy

NRCS Programs Available

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP):
    • Assistance may be available for irrigation efficiency improvements and management for targeted watersheds in the county.
    • Assistance may be available for forest improvement practices on private forest land in the Powder River watershed.
    • Assistance may be available for juniper control and implementation of upland wildlife habitat management to improve ecological conditions on rangelands to benefit the greater sage-grouse.
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP):
    • Assistance may be available for conservation stewardship and additional enhancements.
  • Grassland Reserve Program (GRP):
    • Funding to assist working ranches implement grazing strategies to benefit greater sage-grouse.

Additional Conservation Resources Available

The NRC works cooperatively with a variety of partners including:

  • Baker Valley Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Burnt River Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Eagle Valley Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Keating Soil and water Conservation District
  • Farm Service Agency
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon State University Extension
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
  • Tri-County/Baker County Weed Management
  • Irrigation Districts
  • Bureau of Land Management

East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains Partnership

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) have entered into a partnership to provide technical assistance and cost sharing opportunities for private forestland owners.

Local Work Group Updates

The Baker 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


Building Healthy Rangeland Soils

Eastern Oregon rancher Dick Fleming wants to make the most of every precious drop of rain on his rangeland. His 3,305-acre ranch in Baker County gets only seven inches of rain a year on average, and has a limited growing season of six weeks. It’s most definitely a challenge for Fleming—and other Eastern Oregon ranchers—to maintain moisture for forage production.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, Rangeland, Grazing, Snake River Basin

EAST FACE: Landowner leverages NRCS partnership to improving wildlife habitat & forest health

Like many woodland owners in eastern Oregon, Tim Fisher enjoys and appreciates the value wildlife brings to his 1,500-plus acres in Baker County.

“I love watching the elk up here,” he said as he drove his pickup truck up a steep dirt road on his property, a mountainous view surrounding him. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  East Face, EQIP, Snake River Basin

EAST FACE: Landowner gives conservation a try with NRCS -- and he’s coming back for more

For eastern Oregon ranchers like Bill Loennig, starting small can lead to big benefits. That was his approach for a recent cost-share partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve forest health along the East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains.

This summer, contractors completed timber thinning and tree stand improvements on 37 of his 900-plus acres in Baker County -- and Loennig couldn’t be happier with the results. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  East Face, EQIP, Snake River Basin

Juniper Eradication Project Bolsters Wildlife Habitat and Increases Water Quantity on Historic Ranch

Allen and Bev Duby hang on as their pickup truck bucks and jerks along the ragged tracks of their farm road. The ranchers are out inspecting a 1,000-acre portion of their 10,000 acre ranch —a section that illustrates both the rich farming history in Bev’s family and the progressive conservation practices they are undertaking to assure the family’s future. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, water-quality, juniper removal, Snake River Basin

Sage-Grouse: A Precious Natural Resource in Baker County

Boone Sullivan is keeper of the history and caretaker of the precious natural resources on his family’s 18,000-acre ranch along Burnt River south of Baker City. Boone tells the story of logging ponderosa pines, of hunting deer and elk and of Old Sam, a reclusive hermit and prospector who mined for gold on Forest Service land near their home place in the mid 1900s. Over the years the quest for gold has died out in the valley while awareness of another precious natural resource, the sage-grouse, has emerged.  More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, sage-grouse, juniper removal, Snake River Basin

Clickable Map of SNOTEL Sites

After the Fire Weekly Snow Reports are available for the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire burned area in Baker County. These reports provide a summary of weather and snowpack conditions that can help land managers determine when the snowpack is ripe for potential flooding or debris slides as a result of rain-on-snow events. Click here to view “After the Fire – Weekly Snow Reports” webpage.


For Additional Assistance Contact

Baker City Service Center
3990 Midway Lane
Baker City, OR 97814

NRCS District Conservationist:  Misty Bennett, (541) 523-7121
Baker County SWCD: (541) 523-7121

Forestry in Baker County

Forestry in Baker County.
Irrigation in Baker County

Irrigation in Baker County.