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Grande Ronde Watershed Conservation Partnership Project


Year Awarded: FY 16
USDA Funding: $3.7 million
RCPP Funding Pool: Critical Conservation Area - Columbia River Basin
Project Timeline: 5 years (2016 – 2020)
Location: Union County, Oregon
Lead Partner: Union County Conservation District



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Collaborating Partners:

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Grande Ronde Model Watershed
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Department of Forestry – La Grande District
  • Private landowners

Project Summary:

By working with partners and agricultural producers in the Grande Ronde watershed, this project aims to implement critical watershed-scale projects to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve water quantity and quality, and contribute to the recovery of endangered salmon, steelhead and bull trout populations. Conservation projects include removing barriers to fish passage, prescribed grazing, fencing, improving streamside riparian habitat, irrigation efficiency, and forest health.

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The Grande Ronde Watershed Conservation Partnership is a diverse group with a 23-year history of collaboration. The Partnership works with landowners to address local conservation priorities related to watershed health and fish and wildlife habitat.

The Upper Grande Ronde provides critical habitat for federally-endangered spring Chinook salmon, summer steelhead, and bull trout. It also provides important habitat for native salmonids and lamprey and serves as key calving and winter habitat for Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer.

The project objectives are to: 1) Treat 77,000 upland acres with prescribed grazing, water developments, fencing, range seeding; 2) Eliminate five fish passage barriers; 3) Protect and improve 210 acres of riparian habitat; 4) Improve water use efficiency on 4,500 acres; and 5) Implement 1,700 acres of fuels reduction and forest health improvements.

The Partnership plans to monitor the project’s success using several methods, including an irrigation water management analysis, instream flow measurements, vegetative assessment surveys, and fire danger assessments. Additional monitoring efforts include an annual fish distribution and quantitative habitat survey, and routine site visits for all upland restoration projects.

NRCS Financial Assistance Programs Used:

NRCS Conservation Practices:

  • Fence
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Pumping Plant
  • Range Planting
  • Livestock Pipeline
  • Spring Development
  • Watering Facility
  • Water Well
  • Herbaceous Weed Control
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Pond
  • Woody Residue Treatment
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Stream Habitat Improvement and Management
  • Aquatic Organism Passage
  • Irrigation Pipeline
  • Sprinkler System
  • Irrigation Water Management
  • Access Control
  • Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
  • Stream Crossing
  • Streambank and Shoreline Protection

Points of Contact:

Kate Frenya, District Manager                                   
10507 N. McAlister Rd., LaGrande, OR 97850

NRCS Local Service Center Contact: Union County