The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) invites the public to an open house covering the results of a recent agricultural lands evaluation conducted in the Hood River area.
The Odell Creek Strategic Implementation Area presentation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Wy’east Middle School from 6-8 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
ODA is responsible for maintaining and protecting water quality on agricultural lands in Oregon. The Odell watershed has been chosen as one of six “Strategic Implementation Areas” in the state, where ODA will evaluate agriculture’s impact on water quality. Following these evaluations, ODA will provide outreach, identify opportunities for water quality protection, connect landowners with technical assistance where needed, and pursue regulatory actions when necessary.
Agricultural properties in the Odell watershed were evaluated using aerial photos and/or field verifications from publicly accessible areas. The surveys focus on livestock in or near creeks, manure storage practices, the quality of streamside vegetation and the amount of bare ground located in the vicinity of a waterway.
Technical and financial assistance may be available to landowners interested in making improvements to their land to enhance water quality. This could include livestock fencing, planting streamside vegetation, building a manure storage facility or hardening a paddock footing. Staff from the Hood River Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) will be at the open house to help landowners interested in assistance. The Hood River SWCD works to provide educational, technical and financial assistance to the community for the protection, conservation and restoration of natural resources.
• ODA will conduct a Compliance Evaluation to identify potential sources of pollution from agricultural activities.
• ODA will contact landowners who might need assistance. The sooner landowners contact ODA partners, the more likely they will receive help because partners have limited resources.
• After landowners have been given a chance to make changes, ODA will track progress toward reducing agricultural sources of pollution.
• Properties that do not meet the requirements established in the local Area Rules (regulations) may be subject to a compliance investigation and further action by the ODA.
What landowners can do
Agricultural pollution can come from many sources. The Ag Water Quality program focuses on land conditions and management that supports clean water and healthy watersheds. People should evaluate their agricultural activities and try to determine whether they might:
• Pollute streams, canals and/or groundwater, or
• Prevent growth of appropriate vegetation along streams to stabilize stream banks, provide shade and filter potential pollutions.
Questions or concerns regarding the Strategic Implementation Area process or open house should be directed to Theresa DeBardelaben, ODA’s Agricultural Water Quality program, at 541-318-9088 or email@example.com.