Marion SWCD Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2017-18
Landowner Assistance Program (LAP)
The Landowner Assistance Program (LAP) is a core conservation program for Marion SWCD. The program allows for the installation of conservation practices on properties throughout the county. The LAP enables landowners to implement conservation projects via a 50% cost share in which Marion SWCD pays half of the project cost, up to $7,500, and cooperators are required to provide remaining project funds using labor (i.e., sweat equity), materials, and/or cash. Projects must address a specific natural resource issue based on defined natural resource concerns that have been identified by the Marion SWCD Board of Directors and are synchronized with the state-wide priorities defined by the Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Water Resources Department, and the Agricultural Water Quality Management Plan (AgWQMP).
There were 23 applications for funding received in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, with funding approved for 18 projects in the total amount of $118,001. During the 2017-2018 fiscal year there were 14 LAP projects completed, which resulted in $83,524 in grant assistance provided from District funds; this amount was matched by $324,330 in landowner contributions.
Special Projects Grant (SPG)
The Special Projects Grant (SPG) program provides financial assistance to demonstrate innovative and sustainable conservation projects and speed the development and availability of new and effective conservation practices in the District. Projects require a 50% cost share in which Marion SWCD pays half of the project cost, up to $7,500, and cooperators are required to provide remaining project funds using labor (i.e., sweat equity), materials, and/or cash. There were no applications received for the SPG program during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Previous projects have included an integrated rainwater catchment system, an urban rain garden, hydroponic fodder feeder, innovative geotextile streambank repair, and a precision GPS guided planter.
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) Small Grants
Every two years the Mid-Willamette East OWEB Small Grant Team has $100,000 available for landowner projects that enhance the function of local watersheds. Marion SWCD is a participant in the Mid-Willamette East OWEB small grant program which supports implementation of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds by funding projects designed to improve water quality, water quantity, and fish and wildlife habitat. This program funds on-the-ground watershed restoration and enhancement projects on forest, agricultural, range, urban, and rural residential lands. During the 2015-2017 biennium, eleven projects were awarded funding totaling $100,000; six of the projects were for Marion SWCD cooperators with awards totaling $52,600, not including match funding. Projects include erosion control, manure storage facilities, irrigation improvements, and wetland habitat improvement.
|Marion SWCD Conservation Grant Programs
||Landowner Assistance Program (LAP)*
||Special Projects Grants (SPG)
||Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) Small Grants*
(Marion SWCD sponsored)
|Grant Assistance Provided
|Total Conservation Investment
2017-18 Native Plants Program
Native and Invasive Plant Specialist
This year the invasive plant program was all about partnerships! We partnered with several local and regional agencies and organizations to tackle weedy problems all around Marion County.
We developed an agreement with the City of Salem to conduct knotweed treatments along Clark and Pringle Creeks in Salem. We contacted several landowners to obtain permission to treat this highly invasive plant along the waterway. Many landowners were relieved to finally have assistance combating this aggressive plant. Treatments were conducted in the fall of 2017 by a licensed contractor and we plan to continue with follow up treatments for at least 3 years. Croisan Creek will be the focus of treatments and outreach for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Knotweed along Pringle Creek
We also teamed up with the Marion County Weed Control District and the North Santiam Watershed Council and received grant funding from the Oregon State Weed Board to conduct invasive plant surveys and treatments in the Upper Mill Creek Watershed around Stayton and Aumsville. The Upper Mill Creek Watershed is the District’s ODA Focus Area for the 2017-2019 biennium. The landowner outreach along with the invasive treatments and surveys is the perfect complement of activities for the ODA Focus Area and allows us to provide additional information to landowners on best practices to care for and improve riparian health. This grant is also helping to rejuvenate the Marion County Weed Control District by providing needed invasive weed ID training to county staff. Surveys were conducted in late summer of 2018. Species that were found during the surveys include: tansy ragwort (the most prevalent species), false brome, old man’s beard, and yellow flag iris. We are planning a workshop for landowners in early 2019 to provide more information about how to control these weed species.
Our 16th Annual Native Plant Sale in 2018 was another overwhelming success!
We counted 604 visitors to our plant sale and sold almost 5,000 plants! Thank you for your continued support of Marion SWCD and for purchasing native plants that provide habitat for all critters great and small, protect our stream banks, and look beautiful when they bloom. Profits from the Native Plant Sale fund two scholarships for students from Marion County studying natural resources at an Oregon College or University.
The Native Plant Sale is our biggest public event, and we love seeing and talking with all of the folks that visit our plant sale each year. We enjoy seeing new faces and helping you find the perfect plant for your project!
We would also like to extend another great big thank you to all the volunteers who helped at this year’s plant sale. We couldn’t do it without you! We have several volunteers who have been helping for over 10 years, thank you for your dedication! You are amazing!
We help landowners in Marion County with native plant questions throughout the year, not just at the Native Plant Sale. There are several ways that we provide assistance: locating a native plant nursery, finding a particular plant, recommending certain plants for different growing conditions, identifying plants (send us a picture, bring in a plant, or we can come to your property), recommending plants to attract wildlife, and more! Give us a call or send us an email—we are happy to help!
Lastly, we partnered with Willamette Riverkeeper and Oregon State Parks to help them conduct landowner outreach and gain permission from private landowners along Windsor Slough south of Willamette Mission State Park. Willamette Riverkeeper and Oregon State Parks are working on a large- scale project in Mission Slough and Windsor Slough to survey for and treat an aggressive aquatic invasive plant called water primrose that is taking over the waterways.
As always, we continue to provide technical assistance to landowners for plant identification and treatment information, along with responding to Oregon Invasive Species Hotline Reports for Marion County. We are active in the local Mid-Willamette Cooperative Weed Management Area and the Willamette Aquatic Invasives Network.
Where does your Watershed: 2018 Mural Contest Winner!
Marion SWCD held its first conservation themed art contest back in 2003. That first year, we had twenty-two 3rd graders from Auburn Elementary School participate in the program. And based upon the enthusiastic response from the students, their parents, teachers, and other public members, the District decided to continue the program forward. 16 years later to 2018, we have served over 9,730 children (K through 5 grade ages). On average there have been ten different schools participating each year, from one or more of the following School Districts: Salem/Keizer, Cascade, Silver Falls, N. Santiam, and Woodburn. The Boys/Girls clubs and Salem Academy Christian School have also been represented.
But as times change, so must we. Today, our community schools are being required to meet higher standards. And changes to daily classroom curricula preempt the time spent to less important things like “art contests.” As a result of reduced participation the District is looking into alternative ways to provide our communities’ youth and/or its educators a new means to conservation education. We ask that you keep posted to our website/and or newsletter for future updates on the educational programs we offer. Thank you for your continued support, and the interest you have shown us over the years for the K-5 Grade Art Contests.
In 2018, 187 second through fifth graders from six different elementary schools across Marion County, worked together (in 8 teams) to learn about water and where it sheds to. All were participants in the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2018 K-5 Grade Mural Art Contest “Where Does Your Water Shed?” Under the guidance of their Teachers (Team Leaders) they made good use of the materials provided them by the District (fun-filled activity /color books, informational materials, power-point presentations, mural art sized paper, and crayons) They studied the materials and learned about Water - what it is, where it comes from, what forms water takes on (ice, snow, sleet, rain, etc.), who and what needs water, when it falls - where it travels to. What a watershed is, what is unique about the watershed in which they live. Afterwards, they worked together as a team to create a large art mural that conveyed a message to its viewer, about something they had learned. It was also important that they include the words “Where Does Your Water Shed?” on their murals.
Of the eight participant classrooms, only four submitted completed murals by the May 4th, deadline date. (Each just happened to be in the Intermediate Division Level -2nd & 3rd Grades). Sadly, there were no entries received for the Beginning (K-1), or Advanced (4th-5th) level Divisions this year.
Follow-up with the instructors of those classrooms not having entries submitted, revealed that each classroom had enjoyed learning about the year’s topic (watersheds), and that each, were nearing the completion of their murals, but sadly, higher priority tasks had taken precedence over the activity.
The contest’s select panel of Judges (five Natural Resource Professionals) indicated it was again difficult to select only one “winning entry” (though there were only four to review this year), as each was wonderful in its own right! However, only one seemed to meet the judging criteria best- and that mural was created by Mrs. Laurie Aguirre’s 2nd/3rd Grade Class at OLE’ Charter School (Keizer, OR). It was therefore deemed the winner, the “Most Outstanding!”. (Special Note: This marked the fifth consecutive year in which a winning entry has been created by a class from OLE’ Charter School! (Wow!))
Each year the contest’s theme has been based upon a different natural resource topic like: Soil, Water, Energy, Wildlife Habitat, and Pollinators. The contest has been a fun way to take conservation education to the children in our community. And thanks to the efforts made by Teachers like Mrs. Aguirre, to include conservation education into their classroom’s curriculum, Oregon will surely see some great conservationists and good stewards of the land in its future.
The Marion SWCD’s annual K-5 Grade contests have always been open to children residing within Marion County, and within the District’s boundaries. Over the past 5-years, it has been a Mural Contest created to help in encouraging team building/cooperation with others. (Team size: 5 to 30 members). Teams could be members of a classroom (public, private, or home based), a Group or Organization like the Boys/Girls Clubs, an After-School-Program, Brownies, Cub Scouts, or a Church Group. They could be comprised of students of the same age/or grades or be a combination of several. Each team had to be led by one or more adults (Team Leader(s)) aged 18 or older and a Leader was required to have their team(s) registered to participate, by the required deadline date (January 31, 2018).
Each team, submitting a completed mural by the required deadline date (May 4th) received a 9” Sports Flyer, and an Activity/Color-book on “Water Conservation.” for each member.
Members of the “Winning Team” also received: (1) LED Night-Light, and (3 blocks of 4) Temporary Tattoos. The “Winning School” (Ole’ Charter Elementary School) was also awarded a $100.00 check on behalf of the Teacher (Mrs. Laurie Aguirre) for the purchase of school supplies/or equipment to benefit the classroom.
A Special Thanks to this Year’s Panel of Judges:
Anna Rankin, Pudding River Watershed Council; Les Bachelor, District Conservationist for Natural Resources Conservation Service; Deborah Topp, Natural Resources Outreach Specialist, City of Salem; Neil Bell, Senior Instructor II, Community Horticulturist, OSU Extension Service; and Rebecca McCoun, Council Coordinator, North Santiam Watershed Council. Their on-going dedication to providing conservation education to the public, and their support of this contest is greatly appreciated. 16 Great Years of Teaching Kids about Conservation Through Art!
2018 Update in Ag Conservation
Ag Conservation Planner
With the 2018 farming season in the rear view and 2019 just around the corner, I took a moment to reflect on some of the issues in agriculture during this past year. Agriculture today is facing issues ranging from chemical regulation, tariffs, market volatility, labor shortages, technology changes, herbicide resistance, and weather variation. Oregon is no different especially in Marion County. Our district landowners face all these with our diversity of crops, varied terrain, farm structures and markets with their own individual concerns. When farming on our family farm we always said, “any given year something exceeds expectation and others fall short, we live with the average to try again next year”.
This may seem a little discouraging but for 2019 optimism and management will lead the charge forward into the new year. Let’s take a hard look inside, we can improve our operations and keep working towards tomorrow. The goal is to always prepare for the lows be as strong as possible against the challenges and road blocks that are in the way. Take a moment to audit your operation and look for areas that can be improved or strengthened. Reach out for an outside opinion. Can improvement be made through different procedures? technologies? or conservation? Conservation planning can be a great tool to make your operation stronger. Conservation practices and production aren’t adversaries but partners, this is often misunderstood.
Conservation can mean conserving water through better irrigation management or improving system efficiency. Soil health can be improved through cover crops and tillage practices with correct planning. The better use of resources can help improve your operation setting it up for success through conservation. We have high hopes and vision for this next year. We can improve efficiency with irrigation to conserve water, decrease energy and save on labor. Improve soil health and reduce erosion with cover crops. We have been working a lot on water savings and soil health issues in 2018, so what do we need for 2019? Water savings and soil health. Our name fits now more than ever Marion Soil and Water Conservation District. Water and soil are still our top priorities and will remain charging in 2019 with strong determination for another great year. The best thing we can do now is have a conversation about conservation.
2018 Upper Mill Creek:
Here’s What’s happening in our Focus Area
In 2018, we worked in Upper Mill Creek. We will finish the biennium next June and reevaluate whether to keep working in Upper Mill Creek, go on downstream to Lower Mill Creek or work in both watersheds. Work has gone well in the Upper Mill Creek watershed.
Conservation Program and Partnership Lead
There are 13,830 acres in the watershed with about 7,406 acres zoned for farm use. Upper Mill Creek includes the main stem of Mill Creek and the North and South forks of Mill Creek. Also, several creeks that are predominately used as irrigation ditches; they include Porter Creek, Beaver Creek, McKinney Creek, Salem Ditch, Shelton Ditch, Highberger Ditch and the Perrin Lateral.
We have had documented notable success in three areas this biennium. Our first success was a new marketing campaign; to let folks know we are available to get agricultural management practices on rural land and assist landowners in soil and water conservation efforts. The second success has been connecting with landowners; and in partnering with them, we have written up of conservation plans and assisted in beginning to implement those plans. The third success is that the Mill Creek Invasive Survey work that has been completed.
Results of these successes will generate three planned workshops, that will be hosted in Mill Creek watershed. An irrigation breakfast workshop is planned in a local Aumsville restaurant February 5, 2019. A Manure Management workshop is tentatively scheduled for March 13 and will be hosted on an Aumsville horse farm. A spring workshop in Stayton for the Mill Creek Invasive Survey is in the planning process.
Our first success has been in our new marketing campaign of nontraditional outreach. Our move to embrace new technology has paid off, who doesn’t like to go to the movies? We have been advertising at Star Cinema in Stayton and Northern Lights in Salem. We designed, printed and placed over 1000 placemats on water quality distributed in Stayton and Aumsville.
Electronically, we post to Facebook several times a month. We write or find water quality articles to add to both the website and in the electronic newsletter. We also have a twitter account that we are beginning to use. This year we also used radio and TV public service announcements.
In the field, the technical staff has been making inroads by attending the grower meetings and reaching out to connect to boards such as the Santiam Water Conservation District. We made contacts at the Aumsville Saturday market and gave out 1000 fliers at the Aumsville Corn Festival.
Our second success has been in landowner connection. We have been able to bring 2502 acres under conservation plans in Mill Creek. Considering there are only 7406 acres in this watershed, we have been able to make a significant reach. There are few opportunities for riparian restoration, landowners prefer to generate income rather than planting filter strips and field borders.
More opportunities for conservation exist for upland areas including: livestock grazing in tributaries, bare ground along and in irrigation ditches, manure management, inefficient irrigation systems and lack of cover crop. We have worked with farmers and awarded LAP grants and are writing more. We were unable or barely able to get to this level of connection in our former watersheds over the former bienniums.
Water quantity is the focus area and most of these plans are written on large grass seed, hops, hazelnut and row crop farms. As we work with these farmers our focus is on cover crops and soil moisture monitors to complement the investment these farmers have made in irrigation efficiency. Many of these farms have opportunity and interest in doing a second and third project.
Our third success is the Mill Creek Invasive Survey, a joint project funded by a grant by the Oregon State Weed Board. Our partners are the Marion County Weed Control District, the North Santiam Water Control District and the Santiam Water Control District. Landowners were contacted and signed permissions were receipted. On the ground in July and August, the invasive team surveyed about 175 parcels along 25 miles of Mill Creek and tributaries and a half mile on Lucas Ditch which is also a tributary.
Goals for the invasive plant surveys are to improve education, control, and prevention efforts for several invasive species; and to assist landowners with reducing and controlling invasive weeds on their property by offering identification assistance and best management practices. Landowners will receive survey results and at an early 2019 workshop and receive technical assistance on how to control invasive plants and restore/reseed the infested sites.
Clearly, these successes are showing results that indicate both farmers and land owners along Mill Creek are completing projects that show an improved future for Mill Creek in both water quality and water quantity.
Water Rights Boot Camp 2018
Water Rights Boot Camp was held Election Day, November 6 at the Keizer Civic Center. It was a packed house with 200 people; landowners, agency staff, water rights examiners and irrigation specialists.
Water has been the Willamette Valley’s hottest agricultural issue, due to a combination of the droughts of 2015 and 2018, proposed projects by the Army Corp of Engineers on major waterways, increasing government regulation and environmental pressure.
Laura Schroeder, Portland attorney and qualified expert was the keynote speaker, the combination of an attorney with water rights law might seem daunting to most people. However, Laura Schroeder received rave reviews from the participants. “Laura Schroeder brought a lot of experience, knowledge, and insights to share; loved the speaker...great presenter, very engaging.”
Laura Schroeder has been sharing water rights information with farmers and landowners in the pacific northwest for nearly three decades and is a published author and recognized speaker on specific legal issues involving water resources and practices in five states and overseas.
She led adiscussion on dissecting water rights, based on the source or type, as well as place of use and the point of diversion, rate and volume water is used, and other factors that are part of a water right.
Other topics included transferring water rights, the ways landowners lose water use or rights and ways to protect existing water rights. She fielded many questions during the presentation.
Lindsay Thane, associate attorney at Schroeder Law, also spoke. She discussed locating water rights though property descriptions, deeds, plat indices and water right files. Participants commented “Thanks for showing how to navigate the Water Resources website and the information that can be found there.”
Three corporate sponsors were there to assist landowners as well; they were Clearwater Irrigation Supply, Ernst Irrigation and Stettler Supply. Wilco also provided a $50.00 gift card which was won by Wally Lierman. Marion County Dairy Women provided unlimited bowls of ice cream in five flavors.
Over 70% of the attendees rate the overall event and the venue as excellent. Also 75% of the attendees felt the topic was coverage was excellent. When asked if participants would attend a similar event, 98.5% said they would.
“Outreach and education are important components of our work", said Jane Keppinger, District Manager. "This was a group effort by all staff members that was well received by the community.”
If you have questions about your water rights or need help with water issues, give Marion SWCD a call at (503) 391-9927 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A staff of technical people are available to help you get answers to your questions.
Reflections from Opal Lake
By Ron Crouse
Natural Resource Education Specialist
Last October, I hiked down the recently re-positioned trail to Opal Lake with Jenny Ammon, our newly hired Natural Resource Educator who is preparing to replace me in January. Yes, that is correct, I am retiring after 12 years with Marion Soil and Water Conservation District and a 42-year career. I gazed across those tranquil lake waters, reflecting the clouds and the spiring Engelmann spruce and saw myself those many years ago, starting a career in this newly minted profession termed environmental education. For several decades the profession struggled to break free from the burgeoning environmentalist movement taking over the generations of the 1980’s and 90’s. Our efforts were admirable, the results, less than so. The issues of the day were many; clean water and air, preserve remaining wilderness and protect parks, farmlands, rivers and forests. Climate change was unknown, and our biggest concerns were legacy pesticides, nuclear waste from the cold war era and how to regulate this new recreational craze called mountain biking.
Years past and I found myself educating on numerous natural resource issues and associated research while still bringing hands-on science to our youth. I had hoped that the seeds of conservation I had planted during my career would have grown into the psyche of our young adults and blossomed into the stewardship ethics that would save our natural planet from the ravages of progress. In the end, some seeds were poorly sown and did not germinate, preferring to rot in the soil. Others took root but failed to mature properly or were stricken by disease or herbicide and died while on the vine. Fortunately, there were a select few that found a fertile niche, grew strong and flowered brightly, offering food for the pollinators that would provide more fertile seeds for the next generation.
Those individuals are now the ones to who I pass the “wooden staff of education” forward. They are the future stewards of our natural world that I strove so hard to nurture and support, the teachers, the park rangers, the foresters and the marine biologists. With Marion SWCD I was awarded and blessed with the opportunity to bring all the facets of my knowledge together and into play in the wonderful programs that we developed. Oregon Envirothon, North Santiam Salmon Watch programs, school presentations for all ages, and “K - Grey” learning opportunities for everyone who would take the time to lend an ear or get involved. District staff have provided education opportunities in conservation for thousands of students every year and will continue to do so long into the future. What all of us have created over the past decade will march boldly into the next.
I feel a sense of sadness knowing that the daily grind will be coming to an end, but also an exciting curiosity of the unknown and what is to come. I fully intend to assist our “wooden staff of education” along its way in the coming years, but I am going to let someone else carry it from here on out. It is getting heavy and it has given me some splinters that need time to heal. It has been an honor to serve the students and teachers of our great state through the Oregon Envirothon and the many programs for the constituents of the Marion SWCD, of which I am one. I will be watching closely to see how the last of the seeds I planted compare to the first. Have my farming skills improved over those 42 years of teaching? If the past is any indication I feel that we will all be in very capable hands. I must end as the fish are rising, and I left the truck running, Jenny Meisel will be extremely mad at me. Thank you and tight lines to all.
2019 Winter/Spring Events
Marion SWCD Board Meetings
1st Wednesday/Monthly: January 2, February 2, March 2, 6:30 pm
Multnomah Room, Marion SWCD Office: 338 Hawthorne Ave NE, Salem
First Friday @ Marion SWCD FREE
January 4, February 1, March 1: 9-10:30 am
Marion SWCD 338 Hawthorne Ave NE
Come-in and have some donuts, coffee and free knowledge. First Fridays are set-up to be a non-formal educational opportunity for our customers (Marion Co. residents) to enjoy. January’s topic soil moisture monitors. February’s topic is all about money (grants). March’s topic is weed identification and management. Simply click here to register for this free offering.
Propagation of Woody Native Plants Workshop FREE
January 15, 6-8 pm
Willamette Heritage Center-Dye House
Join Marion Co. Master Gardeners and Marion SWCD to learn from NRCS Plant Materials Center Staff how to choose the best propagation techniques for native trees and shrubs (cuttings, bare-root, seed, and containers). Winter Twig Identification—demonstration and hands-on ID activity with 12 common native species.
Please visit the Master Gardeners website to register for the program and learn more about their events.
Plan for your Land Workshop Series FREE
January 17, 24, 31 & February 7, 5-7:30 pm
Stayton Community Center
The South & North Santiam Watershed Councils and the Marion Soil & Water Conservation District are helping you Plan for Your Land. This FREE workshop series will walk you through the steps of developing a long-term conservation plan for your small acreage. There will be 4 workshops on 4 consecutive Thursday evenings during the winter. Each session will build on the previous workshop, and registrants will be signed up for all 4. There are no partial registrations available. Register at http://plan-for-your-land.eventbrite.com/
Englewood Park Habitat Project: Remove Invasive to plant Natives
Four Sessions: Jan. 21, Feb. 23, Mar 23, April 22: 9 am-Noon
Englewood Park, Salem
Erosion Control & Stormwater Management Summit
January 29, 8 am-3pm
Keizer Civic Center
Continuing education is provided through this 6-hour summit. Learn about techniques in construction erosion prevention, LID inspections, retrofits, stormwater facility design standards, operation and maintenance of public stormwater facilities, and more. Please visit the City of Salem to register for this program. The Summit is presented by Mid-Willamette Stormwater Outreach Group.
Marion SWCD Annual Meeting
February 19, 5:30-8:30 pm
Macleay Conference and Retreat Center
Join us for dinner, awards presentations, highlighted 2018 conservation projects, annual report presentation, and to finish the evening off right-door prizes! Register here.
Native Plant Sale
March 9, 9 am-4 pm
Our native plant sale is a fundraiser that supports the Stan Vistica Memorial Scholarship. Profits from the native plant sale help fund scholarships for two students from Marion County studying Natural Resources or Agriculture at an Oregon College or University. Using native plants in your landscape helps support and enhance local environments and habitat for wildlife, birds and pollinators. Join us for a great cause!
Well & Septic Class
April 3, 3 chances to attend
9-11am---Woodburn Library Multipurpose Room
1-3pm---ODFW Headquarters Classroom
6-8pm---ODFW Headquarters Classroom
The class will focus on basics for rural well water and septic maintenance. The same content will be presented at all 3 workshops. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Jenny Ammon 503-391-9927
The Marion SWCD is an equal opportunity employer, providing services to the public without regard to race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, mental or physical disability, marital status, age, or other protected status or activity in accordance with applicable law. Anyone who wishes to attend and needs special accommodations, please telephone the District office 48 hours in advance at 503-391-9927