Oregon USDA NRCS Local-led Conservation Planning Goes Virtual

PORTLAND, Ore. (Jan. 13, 2021) – Each year, from January through mid-March, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) county field office staff and their conservation partners at Soil and Water Conservation Districts host Local Work Group meetings. These meetings provide a forum to outline future conservation needs, identify conservation resource concerns and set priorities for a given county.

Locally-led conservation

This locally-led, grassroots planning effort is the hallmark of USDA NRCS. These planning meetings are open to the public and provide time for participants to share their perspectives on local funding priorities. A complete list of Local Work Group meetings, times and locations can be found on the NRCS Oregon website. These annual meetings align with NRCS Oregon’s larger planning framework; the Strategic Approach to Conservation.

Strategic approach to conservation

In Oregon, NRCS deploys resources through the Strategic Approach to Conservation (SAC). The SAC leverages resources and the expertise of partners at all levels of government, research institutions, non-profits, and landowners to concentrate conservation efforts and yield measurable results.

To start the SAC process, each county office develops a Long Range Plan, usually utilizing Local Work Group meetings to gather input from landowners, agency partners and other stakeholders that identifies and prioritizes natural resource concerns in the community. Long Range Plans are updated to reflect the changing needs and objectives of the county’s natural resources.

Based on those plans, NRCS works with partners to develop local Conservation Implementation Strategies (CISs) to help agricultural producers in those targeted areas implement conservation practices that address related resource concerns. Local Work Group meetings provide the venue for gathering information for new CISs. These meetings also provide an opportunity to check-in on current projects, to ensure the project is meeting its goals and enabling adjustments to be made when necessary.

Each CIS is the culmination of a multi-partner effort that identifies a specific natural resource problem, sets goals and objectives, evaluates alternatives, establishes partner roles, and develops an implementation and monitoring plan. Oregon NRCS provides information on current CISs and other NRCS conservation project on its interactive map.

Going virtual via Zoom

NRCS and SWCD partners are developing their 2021 meetings to maintain state COVID social distancing and safety requirements. Many counties will hold their meetings via Zoom, which provides even greater opportunities for local farmers and ranchers to join a meeting. Additionally, producers can receive ongoing information on conservation news, events, and opportunities near you by signing up for email updates.