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Wasco County - Information for Partners and Participants

Wasco County, Oregon
Wasco County has an area of 2,392 square miles, or 1.5 million acres of which 902,669 acres or 59% of the county is privately owned and 387,113 acres are Tribal lands or 25% of the county. Public land makes up 13% with the USDA Forest Service managing 177,888 acres of land or 12% of the county. The rest of 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. There are about 236,435 ac of crop land with about 24,311 acres irrigated. The dryland cropland is mostly devoted to small grains. Much of the irrigated land is used to produce high value crops including cherries, apples, peaches, blueberries and grapes. Private forestland makes up about 20,000 acres and the remainder of the private acres are dryland cropland and rangeland. Wasco County ranks 13th for gross farm and ranch sales in Oregon at 89.7 million dollars. Wasco county ranks 5th for wheat production in Oregon.

Wasco County Long Range Plan

NRCS Oregon uses a Strategic Approach to Conservation to address priority natural resource concerns in specific watersheds and landscapes across the state. It all begins with a Long Range Plan. Each county develops a Long Range Plan with input from landowners, agency partners and other stakeholders that identifies and prioritizes natural resource concerns in the community. Based on those plans, NRCS works with partners to develop local Conservation Implementation Strategies to help agricultural producers in those targeted areas implement conservation practices that address the resource concerns. Long Range Plans are updated to reflect the changing needs and objectives of the county's natural resources.

Current Financial Assistance Opportunities for Farmers, Ranchers and Forest Owners in Wasco County

The following Conservation Implementation Strategies are available to help Wasco County agricultural producers address targeted resource concerns identified in the Long Range Plan. Click the project names below for more information:

Additional Funding Opportunities...

In addition to the local projects above, producers may also apply for statewide programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Organic Initiative, Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, On Farm Energy Initiative, and conservation easement programs. Visit with your local District Conservationist for more information on these and other programs, or visit the NRCS Programs webpage.

Local Work Group Meetings

Every year, NRCS hosts a Local Work Group meeting where farmers, landowners, conservation partners and other members of the community discuss the natural resource needs for the county. Based on feedback from those meetings, NRCS updates the county's Long Range Plan and develops new Conservation Implementation Strategies to address those resource concerns. You may contact us anytime to express concerns or comments about conservation needs in the county, and we encourage you to attend the next Local Work Group meeting in your county. For more information about Local Work Group meetings, contact your local NRCS office.

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

  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quantity and Water Quality
  • Rangeland Health
  • Forestland Health

Snowpack Information in Wasco County

Contact Your Wasco County Conservationist

Other Resources Available:

Success Stories in Wasco County


Wasco County Landowner Transforms Forest to Withstand Wildfire

If you own forestland in Central Oregon, then you take the threat of wildfire very seriously.

“Just about every few years, we get a wildfire coming through this area,” says Ken Thomas, a woodland owner with 7,200 acres in northern Wasco County. “If we didn’t do something to treat the forest, this whole area would be gone with the fire.”


Soil Health = Profitability

For Oregon cherry orchardist Mike Omeg, the sweetest thing about his operation isn’t just the cherries -- it’s increased profits through investing in the health of his soil.

“Soil health means continued profitability in an ever more competitive global marketplace for my product,” said Omeg, a fifth generation owner of the 350-acre Omeg Family Orchard in The Dalles, Oregon. “It makes sense to farmers. A better soil makes us more money.”

Without irrigation, it’s hard to imagine growing a cash crop in an environment that receives less than 12 inches of precipitation annually. Welcome to the world of grain farmers in central and eastern Oregon.


Focus on soil health drives innovation, moisture preservation for Oregon farmer

Without irrigation, it’s hard to imagine growing a cash crop in an environment that receives less than 12 inches of precipitation annually. Welcome to the world of grain farmers in central and eastern Oregon.

David Brewer is one of those farmers. But rather than looking to the sky for help, he’s looking to the soil—improving its health in an effort to retain and preserve every drop of precipitation that happens to fall on his farm.