PORTLAND, Ore. – When it comes to helping people help the land, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are instrumental in engaging Oregon’s urban and rural communities in voluntary conservation.
This year, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recognized two Oregon SWCDs and one SWCD employee who have done exceptional work throughout 2017 to help NRCS implement Farm Bill financial assistance programs across the state and perform conservation education and outreach.
The Yamhill SWCD and the Illinois Valley SWCD received the District Partnership Award, and Cindy Thieman from the Hood River SWCD received the District Employee Partnership Award. The awards were presented at the 2018 CONNECT conference hosted by the Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network in Seaside, April 18.
Cindy Thieman was recognized for providing outstanding support in securing a successfully-funded RCPP project for the East Fork Irrigation District in the Hood River Watershed. Cindy’s ability to build and maintain relationships with local agencies, landowners and other partners has helped forge a strong and focused alliance within the community to achieve natural resource outcomes within the county, watershed and basin boundaries. These relationships, combined with Cindy’s technical knowledge, attention to detail, and skillful writing, have enabled the county to leverage numerous funding sources for conservation delivery. Cindy is a noteworthy example of how partners can build better communities by working together to achieve shared natural resource goals.
The Yamhill SWCD was recognized for providing outstanding assistance during fiscal year 2017 to plan and implement voluntary conservation on Oregon’s working lands. Yamhill SWCD entered into an agreement with NRCS to address a backlog of cultural resources determinations, which alleviated project delays and enabled timely completion of projects across the state. Yamhill SWCD also supported a national NRCS field tour focused on improving conservation delivery through mission support functions. Yamhill SWCD has successfully implemented one of the first Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects in Oregon focused on oak restoration, meeting their targets throughout the timeline while also serving as a national example of successful RCPP implementation and outreach.
The Illinois Valley SWCD was recognized for providing outstanding assistance during fiscal year 2017 to plan and implement projects through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program in Josephine County. The Illinois Valley SWCD sponsored $270,000 in construction repairs for two EWP projects to protect infrastructure, private property, and habitat from further damage. The SWCD established and built relationships with local landowners and regulatory agencies to efficiently complete landowner agreements and obtain permits. Because of these effective relationships, NRCS and the SWCD implemented the projects on time and within budget. As a first-time EWP sponsor, the SWCD’s efforts provided significant economic benefits to the citizens of Josephine County, protecting more than $725,000 of private and public infrastructure.
With a field office in nearly every Oregon county, NRCS works closely with local SWCDs to deliver technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and non-industrial private woodland owners to conserve vital natural resources on private lands while support local urban and rural economies. For more information about NRCS Oregon and conservation opportunities in the state, visit www.or.nrcs.usda.gov.