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Success Stories

Conservation Showcase MapRead about Oregon farmers and ranchers who are taking positive steps to protect the natural resources on their land.

View the stories on our Conservation Showcase interactive map.

You may also access the individual Conservation Showcase stories through the links below.

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Stopping wildfire in its tracks

Wildfires can heat the air to over 1,000 degrees and generate fire whirls with the force of tornadoes. Not much stands in their way.

John Engelien is one of the exceptions.

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Oregon sheep ranchers flock to soil health

Pete Wahl and his siblings started out as ranchers. Today, they run a salad bar.

It started when they sold the tractor two years ago. With it went the tillage equipment and the seed drill. You can’t very well farm without those. At least that’s what they thought.

 

Karen Kuntz, a rancher in Tillamook County, received the prestigious Riley Freeman award in 2017 for her commitment to wildlife habitat.

Award Winning Conservationist Beefs Up Healthy Habitat

For coastal Oregon rancher Karen Kuntz, conservation and beef production go hand-in-hand. Karen raises high-quality, grass fed beef on her 304-acre ranch in the small community of Nehalem, in Tillamook County.

Jeff Baxter

The Rancher in the Rye

Buying more land isn’t always an option. But often, you can make your existing land go much further.

 

When distster strikes, call a conservationist

When disaster strikes, call a conservationist

December of 2015 brought unrelenting storms resulting in damaging floods that threatened homes, business, roads and utilities. Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District used the Emergency Watershed Protection program to protect their communities.

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Blackberry Battlefields

If your land is covered by thorny invasive plants, it’s not really your land.

Meet Chad Furlong and Alex Appleman, Oregon farmers who faced a similar problem: they couldn’t use, or even access, much of their property.
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Protecting a rural way of life in Wallowa County

In a county without a single traffic light, the threat of development is real.

Local farmers like Woody and Megan Wolfe are determined to take a stand and protect their way of life.

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Klamath County juniper project saves water, reduces fire risk

Junipers are thirsty trees. In Klamath County’s Gerber watershed, one juniper can suck between 10 to 100 gallons of water per day from the soil.

Through the Gerber Watershed Forest and Juniper Project, the Livingston family is making a difference.

Landowner Shane Mustard

Family Forest along Pacific Crest Trail Reducing Wildfire Risk in Ashland, Oregon

Ashland Forest All Lands Restoration puts people to work to reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health

Nick Puhl the cranberry farmer.

Oregon's cranberry capitol gets major upgrade

It’s time for their 75 acres of cranberry beds to be watered. Nick pulls a smartphone from his pocket, and with a few swipes, irrigation pumps located several miles inland rumble to life and sprinkle water onto his crops.

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Creating resilient forests also stimulates local economy

For forestry contractors in Southwest Oregon, conservation helps keep business afloat. Just ask Richard “Pancho” Parker, a third generation woodland owner in the Ashland watershed and small business owner of Brierville Fire and Forestry.

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Top timber forest balances business with culture

For Chairperson Brenda Meade, the Coquille Tribal Forest is much more than a vibrant and sustainable business:

“It’s home.”

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Small scale conservation bring big yields for Fiddlehead Farm

Fiddlehead Farm is not large, and if you ask owner, Katie Coppoletta, it doesn’t need to be. From crops growing every month of the year, to blossoming hedgerows full of life, Fiddlehead Farm is a cornucopia of good stewardship on display.

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Willamette Valley hazelnut growers use cover crops to combat soil erosion

Ioka Farms takes a proactive approach to reducing soil loss despite record rainfall.

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Oregon basil pesto?  Coming right up, thanks to a Seasonal High Tunnel
Willamette Valley herb farmers get a jump start to the growing season with assistance from the National Resources Conservation Service in Oregon.
 

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Oregon Wheat Grower Saving the Soil with help from Conservation Stewardship Program

Sometimes you just can’t keep doing things the old way. That’s Tom Sorey’s approach to farming 6,000 acres of winter wheat in Pendleton, Oregon.

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Oregon ranch enhances Mahogany Mountain habitat for the bird and the herd

Looking out across the Greeley Ranch from atop Oregon's Mahogany Mountain yields a grand view of sagebrush country, dotted with lava rock outcroppings, groves of aspen, and mountain mahogany.  The Owyhee Reservoir shimmers to the north of the ranch and the Steens Mountains jut up like desert sentinels to the southwest. This landscape is the heart of core habitat for greater sage grouse in Oregon.

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Seeing is Believing: How no-till farming transformed the landscape in Oregon’s Wasco County

For decades, this region was dominated by winter wheat farms that used extensive tillage to control weeds during fallow years. It was the conventional way of farming in the area, from the early 1900’s through the 1980’s.

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NRCS Conservation Assistance Supports Tribal Elk Habitat

Hunting and gathering for first foods is an important part of tribal culture—yet in the fast-pace of 21st century living, these ties to the land can be forgotten.

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde (CTGR) have not forgotten the importance of keeping its people connected to their heritage. Like many other tribes in our region, the CTGR embraces a lasting commitment to the land and to their elders.

Ganesh and Lakshmi sell most of their produce to a local Indian grocery store and to families signed up for their mailing list, much like a payas- you-go Community Supported Agriculture.

NRCS helps family transition from backyard gardening to organic-certified farming

Ganesh Balamurugan and Lakshmi Tata have always enjoyed backyard gardening. For years, they planted vegetables and flowers in the yard of their suburban home.

But just a few years ago, they took their gardening to the next level. They purchased a home outside of town and established a half-acre organic vegetable farm. Their farm name – ‘Edible Stories’ – reflects the terraced structure of their market garden, which is situated on sloped ground.

We're building a strong community, which will make the rollout of future ag innovation even easier. None of this would have happened without CIG, said Julie Davies O'Shea

Conservation Innovation Grant spurs promising “Farmers Screen” technology

Nobody wants fish to get stuck in irrigation pipes. Not the public; not the farmers; especially not the fish. But with more than 70,000 irrigation diversions tapping into Oregon’s rivers and streams, the concern is real. Learn how the Farmers Conservation Alliance and NRCS��​ solved the problem.

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Cover Crops on Dryland Wheat? Challenge Accepted. 

Noah Williams loves it when people tell him he can’t do something.

Like when people say there’s no way he can make cover crops work in a dryland wheat cropping system.

“It’s my motivation to find a way to do it,” he says. “I like the challenge.”

Key Words:  Environmental Quality Incentives Program, regenerative agriculture, cover crops
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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.” More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Deschutes Basin
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Small woodland owners leverage NRCS funding to improve forest health

When John and Cathy Dummer need a hearty dose of nature, they head for “The Ridge.” That’s what they call their 39-acre forest in Washington County, nestled just outside of Hillsboro along Pumpkin Ridge. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Lower Willamette Basin
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Polk County landowner leverages partnerships to restore oaks, bolster butterflies

Bill Wainwright knows a thing or two about maximizing conservation on his land.

Over the past 17 years, he’s worked with multiple state and federal conservation partners to restore and protect highly-valuable oak habitat on his 400-acre ranch in Polk County. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Lower Willamette Basin
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Yamhill County Rancher Breathes New Life into Oregon White Oak

If you take a stroll through Cherry Hill Ranch, you might feel like you’re in a fairy tale. That’s because it’s home to many majestic oak trees that are hundreds of years old. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Lower Willamette Basin
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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
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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
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Oregon Ranchers Raise Cattle With A Conservation Vision

Mark and Patti Bennett own a small slice of heaven: an 8,000-acre working ranch near Unity, Oregon. Their home and red-trimmed barn look out on a series of meadows along Camp Creek that stretch for miles in the shadow of Bull Run Mountain. A few red angus cattle munch on grass nearby, and the smoke from their fireplace rises out of the chimney as we talk about how they manage their ranch. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Sage Grouse Initiative, Snake River Basin
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Soil Health Producer Profile: Kenneth Jensen

In the Treasure Valley -- one of the nation’s top agricultural hubs nestled in Southeast Oregon and Southwest Idaho -- an innovative farmer named Kenneth Jensen is making waves for soil health. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, Snake River Basin
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Producer Profile: Soil Health is a Group Affair

Mark Butterfield, Joe Dawson, Alan Klages, and Kevin Melville each have diverse irrigated cropland operations throughout the Wallowa Valley -- each with varying management objectives. Some of them also have rangeland mixed in, where their cattle graze in the summer. But despite the differences, they are discovering that investing in the health of their soil increases productivity and lowers input costs -- it’s just a matter of finding the right recipe for success. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, Snake River Basin
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Producer Profile: Juvencio Argueta Ramos and Lyn Jacobs

Fifteen years ago, Juvencio Argueta Ramos and his wife Lyn Jacobs planted their very first seedlings at La Finquita del Buho.

The name of their farm translates to “The Small Farm of the Owl.” It’s located just 20 miles west of the bustling, eccentric city of Portland, Oregon in the suburban community of Hillsboro. With such proximity to Portland -- a city that thrives on eating local, organic food—Juvencio and Lyn have had great success with marketing their produce to a wide range of customers. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  CSP, Lower Willamette Basin
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EAST FACE: Reducing Wildfire Risk through East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains Project

A few years ago, Dave Mellinger’s woods looked a lot different than they do now.

“You couldn’t walk through here before,” Mellinger says. “The trees were too close.”  More (HTML...)

Key Words:  East Face, EQIP, Snake River Basin
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EAST FACE: Reducing wildfire risk and improving forest health

Eastern Oregon ranchers Shelly and Jerry Gray understand the importance of protecting their land from wildfire. Their 1,100-acre property includes a mix of rangeland and forestland and is located in an area prone to high wildfire risk. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  East Face, EQIP, Snake River Basin
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NRCS conservation project helps firefighters quench wildfire

When it comes to fighting wildfires in rural communities, conservation projects can save lives and property. That was the case during a recent fire fight in the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, Wildfire, North Coast Basin
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Maintaining Healthy Tribal Forests

To achieve their forestry goals, the Siletz Tribe is working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to obtain technical and financial assistance for pre-commercial thinning.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, Healthy Forests, Upper Willamette Basin
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Nutrient management improves forage, water quality on organic dairy

Keeping manure on the farm—and using it to increase production and profits—is important to organic farmers like Joe Price. Price operates a 300-acre organic dairy in Tillamook, Oregon called Price Dairy. Family-owned and operated for the last 14 years, he currently has about 400 milking cows and 350 dry cows and young stock.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, Organic, North Coast Basin
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Strategic Groundwater Conservation

For decades, water quantity has been the top resource concern in Marion County -- the most diverse cropland production county in Oregon's Willamette Valley. While the region typically receives ample rainfall, most does not fall during the growing season. That means irrigators rely on groundwater aquifers as the primary source to water their fields. But some of those aquifers -- such as the Stayton-Sublimity Restricted Groundwater Priority Area in Marion County -- are at risk of depletion.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, irrigation, Lower Willamette Basin
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PARTNERSHIPS for Monarch Habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have teamed up to help private landowners improve Monarch habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Partnerships, USFWS, pollinators, Upper Willamette Basin
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Bringing Back the Monarch

If you plant them, they will come. That’s Warren and Laurie Halsey’s approach to improving monarch butterfly habitat on their 270-acre ranch in Benton County, Oregon.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  WRP, pollinators, Upper Willamette Basin
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High Tunnel, High Yield -- Feeding local urban communities

Stacey Givens owns a unique operation in Portland’s northeast Cully neighborhood called The Side Yard Farm and Kitchen. It’s an urban farm with three separate lots within one mile from each other, a supper and brunch club, and a catering company. When she’s not busy farming and cooking, Givens also coordinates weddings, parties and other special events on her farm, including kid camps and education activities. She even dabbles in bee keeping.   More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, EQIP, High Tunnel, Lower Willamette Basin
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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
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Oregon Organic Farmer Unlocks Soil Health Secrets

"Investing in soil health is fundamental to good organic growing. They are essentially one in the same," he says. 

The co-owner and operator of Square Peg Farms in Forest Grove, Roehm says he and his wife Amy Benson plan for the long-term, and he thinks soil health is the best way to maximize their returns over time.  More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, Grazing Management, Lower Willamette Basin
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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.”  More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Soil Health, No-till, EQIP, Deschutes Basin
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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
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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
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Organic grain grower sows seeds of hope in soil health

To say Eric Nelson enjoys a challenge is an understatement.

He’s a certified organic farmer, growing small grains in a 12-inch precipitation zone—most of which comes between December and February. And if that isn’t enough of a challenge, he’s also working to reduce his use of tillage while he’s integrating diverse rotations and incorporating cover crops. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  Organic, Soil Health, John Day / Umatilla Basin
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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. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  CIG, Soil Health, Deschutes Basin
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Pioneering Partnerships in Oregon's Upper Willamette Valley

Soil health means different things to different people -- but for Teresa Matteson, the key word is partnerships.

A soil conservationist for the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Matteson has led the charge for outreach, education and partnerships to promote soil health initiatives in Oregon’s upper Willamette basin. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  CIG, Soil Health, Upper Willamette Basin
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Willamette Valley Farmer Implements Conservation Practices Promoting Soil Health

Most  of the crops Peter Kenagy grows on his 325-acre family farm in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley are typical of the area, yet his production methods are anything but conventional.  Recognizing that productivity requires sustainability, Kenagy has joined a growing number of farmers in implementing conservation practices that promote soil health.  Cover crops are a notable example. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  CSP, EQIP, Soil Health, Lower Willamette Basin
Bedortha and Mundy crouch amidst a healthy sagebrush-steppe habitat

Central Oregon Rancher Restores Sage-Grouse Habitat with NRCS Assistance

Paulina, Ore. – Rancher Gary Bedortha takes a group for a bumpy ride to the top of the grassy mountains behind his ranch house near Paulina, Oregon. His 4WD pickup climbs through a pocket of aspen and pine to an open ridgeline that overlooks thousands of acres of prime sage grouse habitat in Central Oregon. Purple lupine is beginning to bloom in between native grasses and sagebrush. More (HTML...)
Key Words:  EQIP, Sage-Grouse Initiative, juniper removal, Deschutes Basin
Wheat rancher Jim Olson

Protecting the Fish: Partnership Works to Keep Water in Critical Streams

Dufur, Ore. – In the unusually hot summer of 2009, streams in Upper Fifteenmile Watershed began to dry up. As the water level fell and creek temperatures rose, fish began to die.  Recognizing the potential for an environmental crisis, landowners and natural resource technical advisors sprang into action to prevent a repeat of the ecological disaster. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, water management, Deschutes Basin
Roger Ediger partnered with NRCS to restore mule deer populations on his Murderers Creek ranch.

Ranch Stewardship and Natural Resource Agency Partnership Improve Habitat for Mule Deer Recovery

Mt, Vernon Ore. --The mule deer population in the Murderers Creek basin in central Oregon has dropped dramatically from 30,000 in 1980 to just 5,900 today, prompting natural resource agencies to partner with local landowners in an effort to reverse the growing trend. More (HTML...)

Key Words:  EQIP, Mule Deer Initiative, John Day Umatilla Basin
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Seasonal High Tunnel Gives Organic Grower Year-Round Production Capacity

Roseburg, Ore. --Thanks to a newly installed seasonal high tunnel, Jim Leet has extended the growing season on his organic farm from three months to year round.

Jim operates Linnea Marie Farms located within the Umpqua River Watershed in Roseburg, Oregon. Here, he grows a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. The severe winter climate, however, makes it impossible for Jim to grow his produce in the field year-round without protection. That’s why in 2012, Jim acquired a 2,496 square foot seasonal high tunnel through voluntary participation in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. More...

Key Words: Organic EQIP,  high tunnel, Southwest Oregon Basin
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High Tunnel Extends Season for Organic Grower

Maupin, Ore. -- Among Eastern Oregon’s first organic growers, Bob Larsell and Laura Coblentz will have a longer growing season thanks to the addition of two high tunnels on their farm. Bob and Laura, who own and operate Seed to Table Farm, are self-taught organic growers and pioneers of organic production in the Wasco county area. Through their enrollment in the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), they have doubled their covered growing space and extended their growing capacity for warm weather crops by nearly two months. More...

Key Words: Organic EQIP,  high tunnel, Deschutes Basin
Felipe Jimenez

Micro-irrigation System Conserves Water and Expenses for Vegetable Farm

Umapine, Ore. -- Felipe Jimenez implemented an underground drip irrigation system that has revolutionized his production by reducing operating costs and conserving the natural resources on his vegetable farm near Milton-Freewater, Oregon. More (HTML...)

Key Words: EQIP, irrigation management, John Day Umatilla Basin
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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...)

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

Conservation Programs Improve Soil and Water on Organic Farm

Junction City, Ore.-- Organic farming is a passion for John and Christine Deck. The 320-acre Deck Family Farm lies nestled in the rolling hills west of Junction City, Oregon. It includes stretches of tranquil creeks, green pastures with grazing livestock, and expanses of luscious woodlands. More (HTML...)

Key Words: Organic EQIP, CREP, riparian area enhancement, water quality, Upper Willamette Basin

Jim Merzenich

Mosaic of Niche Ecosystems: Tree Farmers Restore Oak Woodlands to Benefit Wildlife

Brownsville, Ore. -- Ed and Jim Merzenich wanted to improve the hunting grounds on their Oak Basin Tree Farm, a 961-acre woodland perched on the north Coburg Hills in the Willamette Valley. As they examined their land, however, they realized the existing habitat was not ideal for the local blacktail deer or Roosevelt elk because a tangle of invasive shrubs covered much of the ground, preventing the growth of native grasses and wildflowers that these animals depend on. "You couldn't get through the blackberries," said Ed. "They were 15 feet tall everywhere." More (HTML...)

Key Words: Oak Habitat Restoration, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Upper Willamette Basin
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Nurturing Oregon's Nurseries:  NRCS and OAN Make Connections for the Future

Boring, Ore. -- The 180-acre farmland that makes up the Hans Nelson & Sons Nursery is tucked away in a quiet spot less than two miles outside the Multnomah County line east of Gresham. Accessible via a web of neatly paved back roads, the property is speckled with large puddles that reflect the nearby butte during the brief sunbreaks.  More (HTML)...

Key Words: Water management, nursery management, Lower Willamette Basin
Sarah Walker holding a naturally-raised lamb

Walker's Tornado Farming: Taking Point Source Pollution to Productive Sustainable Farmland in Seven Year

Siletz, Ore. -- A tornado is the symbol in their farm's logo and for their personal lifestyle. Randy and Sarah Walker have generated a whirlwind of conservation activity and results as they converted their 20-acre property located 16 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, from point source polluter to productive, sustainable farmland. Their success is the result of their vision, hard work and the assistance from technical staff and programs of the USDA-National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD) and other natural resource partners. More (HTML)...

Key Words: EQIP, Manure Management, Soil Management, Upper Willamette Basin
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Bringing back the butterflies: Habitat being prepared for the return of the Oregon Silverspot

Gearhart, Ore. -- The Clatsop Plains on the Oregon coast is normally a place of quiet solitude pierced occasionally by the shrill sound of a Western seagull. On this volunteer work day, there are also the sounds of clippers and hand saws, as a small army of habitat advocates works to reclaim the dunes of the Clatsop Plains from a sea of Scotch broom, so the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly can be reintroduced and flourish. More (HTML)...

Key Words: EQIP, Wildlife Habitat Restoration, Oregon Silverspot, North Coast Basin

Oregon Rancher Works to Improve Rangeland and Save Sage-Grouse

Paulina, Ore. -- One hundred million years ago during the earth's cretaceous period, Gary Bedortha's ranchland was a shallow ocean supporting a rich community of sea life. Today, that same land rises 5,000 feet above sea level, and supports a different kind of ecosystem - one rich with sagebrush, bitter brush, juniper, elk, deer, snakes, bobcats, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and the sage-grouse. More (HTML)...

Key Words: EQIP, SGI, Deschutes Basin
Curt McKinney

Eugene Forest Benefits from Conservation Practices

Curt McKinney is a consulting forester who manages thousands of acres of private forestland around the Eugene, Oregon area. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is just one of the many tools in his toolbox that has helped him improve forest health, increase production, improve wildlife habitat, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire both on and off the land he manages. More (HTML)...

Key Words: EQIP, forest management, Upper Willamette Basin
Dan Hammelman

Stewardship and Profits Bloom on Zollner Creek Nursery

Dan Hammelman is a nurseryman on a mission. He grows top-quality flowers, fresh vegetables and wheat while using conservation best practices that keep soils fertile, healthy and intact, and waterways free from sediment. More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, EQIP, water management, Lower Willamette Basin
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Saving Oregon's Oak Woodlands - a Collaborative Necessity

The richest and most diverse terrestrial eco-systems in Oregon are disappearing - oak woodlands and savannahs. Since the arrival of settlers in the early 1800s, more than 90 percent of Oregon's pre-settlement oak habitats have been cleared to make way for farms, urban areas, and other development. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partner organizations are working with private landowners to help protect and restore precious remaining oak habitats. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, oak restoration, Southwest Oregon Basin
Beth Hoinacki

NRCS Assists Organic Farmer Transition to Organic

KINGS VALLEY, Ore. -- Back in 2008, with a little assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Goodfoot Farm, a 10-acre organic farm nestled along the banks of the Luckiamute River in Kings Valley, Ore., was about to experience improvements not seen in years. More (HTML)...

Key Words: Organic EQIP, pest management, Upper Willamette Basin
Bene Medelez

Legacy of Conservation Lessons Learned

A legacy of conservation lessons learned by parents who farmed during the Great Depression left an impression on Bene Medelez. A rancher in his own right, Bene has been working with USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to keep and improve the good conservation aspects of his 5,100-acre ranch acquired in 2007. While this is his first time working with NRCS, his parents worked with the agency in Texas early in its development. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CSP, irrigation efficiency, John Day Umatilla Basin

CCPI Conservation Program Cuts Need for Water and Power

Larry McFetridge starts his pump with the flip of a small silver switch. According to Tom Smith, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, -- Larry used to run two 75 hp pumps. With the installation of the Prairie Creek Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) project through NRCS, Larry only needs two 40 hp pumps, so he's using significantly less energy. That is a significant reduction in his annual pumping costs. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, water management, energy management, Snake River Basin
Fawn Rupp standing on his property

First-Time User of NRCS Programs Values Past; Looks to Future

Fawn Rupp kneels and gently pulls aside a tousled ryegrass to reveal three pioneer gravestones that lie prone in the fenced enclosure. "I didn't know these were here when I bought this farm," admits Fawn who purchased the land two years ago. "I found the markers when I worked up the field for the first time." Since his discovery, Fawn has cleaned up the grave site and built the fence, protecting the legacy of pioneers who may have been part of the original homestead in the 1800s. More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, water management, John Day Umatilla Basin
Joyce and Dan Gover standing side by side on their ranch in eastern Oregon.

Enterprise Ranchers Create a Legacy of Conservation

Dan Gover tips one of the 100 hats he has in his colorful collection, and motors an ATV out to the timothy hay field and new pumping station with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, Tom Smith. The relationship between Dan and NRCS staff has stood the test of time. Dan and the agency have worked together for decades to create a legacy of conservation that has improved soil and water health on his scenic ranch at the foot of the majestic Wallowa Mountains. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, water management, Snake River Basin
McFetridge family portrait

Grassroots Idea Becomes Conservation Reality

Merlie McFetridge serves lunch to her family and farmhands at the stroke of noon every day. "If you're late, you may not eat," says her son Jay who manages the farm for the family. Everyone gathers 'round the large table in the sunny dining room for a substantial meal to fuel an afternoon of strenuous work in the fields. After his dessert of chocolate cake and ice cream, Jay pushes back from the table and returns to putting up hay. The crew follows. The tradition of farm life for the McFetridge family is as strong as their legacy of conservation. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, water management, Snake River Basin
Forest canopy on Petersen Ranch

Lane County Landowner Subscribes to NRCS's Healthy Forest Reserve Program

My mother's side of the family has been in this area since the late 1880's; my dad's side purchased the ranch in the 1940's - so this is a long-term relationship with the land," said Andy Petersen, owner of Petersen Ranch, LLC. "We realize we are simply stewards of the land. It is ours for this period of time; we want to take as good of care of it as we can to pass it on in better condition than when we found it. I think the HFRP program is a good way for us to do that."  More (HTML)...

Key Words: HFRP, forest management, wildlife management, Upper Willamette Basin
Mike Omeg standing next to an owl box on his property.

Mike Omeg Builds on Family's Legacy of Conservation

Mike Omeg climbs up the tall ladder and quietly peers in the top of an owl box. The fifth generation farmer is trying to encourage barn owls to take up residence in the 50 nesting boxes Mike has built and installed around his cherry orchards. The owls are a low impact method to manage rodent damage: one family of barn owls is likely to consume 3,000 gophers each year. More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, irrigation management, wildlife management, Deschutes Basin
Diego Leon standing in his orchard

Scientific Irrigation Scheduling (SIS) Saves Precious Water and Energy

A new technique in irrigation management is bringing impressive results to this fruit-growing region along the Columbia River in Central Oregon thanks to a program of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) known as the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). The program is helping farmers help the land through the formation of partnerships, including one with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Matching funds from BPA and other natural-resource partners have leveraged the impact of the USDA-NRCS program, and resulted in the installation of Scientific Irrigation Scheduling (SIS) on 3,100 acres in The Dalles area, which has saved precious water and energy. More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, irrigation management, Deschutes Basin
Portrait of landowner Tim Dahle

Cooperative Conservation Produces Scientific Irrigation Scheduling for Irrigation Water Management

The Dalles, Oregon is the Sweet Cherry Capital of the World, and that crown for nectarous fruit is the result of not just suitable soils and a hot, dry climate, but an efficient irrigation system. Thanks to a partnership of local landowners, eight organizations and USDA-Natrual Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), intensive irrigation water management will meet water quality and supply challenges of the future and growers will produce even plumper fruit.  More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, irrigation management, Deschutes Basin
Matt Williams surveys his ranch.

Legacy of Conservation Produces Vigorous Secar Grass

If there was a contest for producing the tallest Secar grass amongst landowners in Oregon, Matt Williams may bring home the prize. Matt has found chest-high Secar on his ranch in Twickenham along the John Day River in the center of Wheeler County. Rangeland grasses like Secar are an important tool for conservation. The first Secar on the Williams place was planted as part of a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) demonstration project 25 years ago. Secar is a long-lived, cool-season wheatgrass with an extensive root system that grows from one to four feet tall. Seed for the Secar grass growing on the Williams rangeland was first collected in the Lewiston, Idaho area along the Snake River.  More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, conservation planning, Deschutes Basin
Michael Paine stands in front of a recently installed solar array on his organic farm in Yamhill, Ore.

Organic Farmer Shines Light on Irrigation Issues

When Michael Paine, owner and operator of Gaining Ground Farm, first approached the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in 2008, he was powerless. Literally. His small, community-supported farm has no electricity in or near the fields, making the task of irrigating the land both technically and financially challenging. More (HTML)...

Key Words: Organic EQIP, irrigation management, Lower Willamette Basin

Take Half, Leave Half: Alma Campbell's Golden Rule of Conservation

Alma Campbell's blue eyes twinkle as she talks about her ranch, her cows and her commitment to conservation. The 86-year-old rancher is passionate about the preservation of the land and water that was in her family and passed down to her care. Alma rides her chestnut horse daily to check on her 4,000 acres of Eastern Oregon rangeland and 80 brood cows. Alma urges everyone with land to use good conservation practices: "Even if you have just a small amount of property, and a few horses and cows, you need to take care of it because it will benefit you in the long run."   More (HTML)...

Key Words: CCPI, juniper removal, John Day Umatilla Basin

NRCS Programs Aid Central Oregon Organic Grower

Sarahlee Lawrence deftly peels back the white drape of row cover from an interplanted row of organically-grown produce and flowers, inspecting for damage from the prior night's frigid temperatures. "Oh look, a melon!" she says with triumph in her voice. The small green-striped orb is partially hidden by leafy chard and yellow calendulas and it appears unscathed by the early frost. The 28-year-old farmer is pioneering organic production in the high desert of Central Oregon, where the growing season is short but the potential for market success is long. More (HTML)...

Key Words: Organic EQIP, AWEP, organic improvement, irrigation management, Deschutes Basin

Farmers, Fish and Community Benefit from More Economical and Reliable Water Supply

McKenzie Canyon farmers Kathy and Steve Simpson will be sleeping a lot better this summer. A newly-completed irrigation pipeline to their farm will eliminate the need for round-the-clock checks of their irrigation pond level. The Simpsons and 30 other landowners are benefiting from a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) project that replaces open irrigation canals and ditches with 10.3 miles of 36" High-density Polyethlene (HDPE) pressurized pipeline, and provides turnouts and lateral pipeline connections on 1,976 acres of Central Oregon farmland.  More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, irrigation water management, Deschutes Basin

Pipeline Brings Water to Ranching Community

Glenn Cooper had a personal goal to bring irrigation water to the ranches of McKenzie Canyon in a naturally pressurized pipeline. He found willing and able partners for this goal in USDA-NRCS and Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID). With the support of these partners, the participation of neighboring landowners and a little help from Mother Nature, that goal has been realized. More (HTML)...

Key Words: AWEP, watershed enhancement, Deschutes 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
FFA members LeeAnn Pallett and Korey Kelly conduct irrigation efficiency tests with assistance from NRCS student trainee, Garrett Duyck

FFA members learn about conservation while helping farmers save water

Driving through Oregon's agricultural areas in the summer, it's difficult to miss the variety of irrigation systems raining much-needed water over field after field of fruits, vegetables, grains and grasses.  More...

Key Words:  EQIP, irrigation water management, Lower Willamette Basin
Rancher Sherril Wells (left) discusses his grazing management strategies with NRCS District Conservationist David Chain

Grazing Management for Healthy Pastures, Animals
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps producers manage pastures to benefit soil, water, wildlife and the bottom line.

Sherril Wells used to start feeding hay to his livestock in August each year. Now, thanks to a rotational grazing system he put in place with assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the cattle and sheep are able to feed on his pastures' standing grass until October.  More...

Key Words:  EQIP, conservation planning, grazing management, Southwest Oregon Basin