PENDLETON, Ore. – When it comes to helping people help the land, employees with 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 who have done exceptional work throughout 2016 to help NRCS implement Farm Bill financial assistance programs across the state and perform conservation education and outreach.
The Columbia SWCD received the District Partnership Award, and Teresa Matteson from the Benton SWCD received the District Employee Partnership Award. The awards were presented at the 2017 CONNECT conference in Pendleton on May 2.
The annual NRCS Partnership Awards honor a conservation district and a conservation district employee who has provided exemplary assistance to implement conservation programs on Oregon’s private working agricultural lands and forestlands.
The Columbia SWCD was recognized for providing outstanding assistance to private landowners and local municipalities in response to record-setting rain and flooding in December 2015 in Columbia County. During and after the storms, Columbia SWCD employees engaged with local residents, business owners, cities, and the county to assess and inventory damage, and develop repair solutions. The SWCD partnered with NRCS to sponsor more than $2 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funding to implement construction repairs for 12 projects to protect infrastructure, private property, and fish and wildlife habitat from further damage. The Columbia SWCD provided top-notch customer service and technical expertise to successfully implement this EWP program, which was the first EWP in Oregon since 2010. As a result of the Columbia SWCD’s partnership with NRCS to implement the EWP Program, we have protected more than $3 million of private and public infrastructure in Columbia County.