Coming this fall to the Marion SWCD, a new logo and look, but the same great resources and people!
Be assured our service will remain dedicated to the conservation of Natural Resources in Marion County.
It’s harvest time in Marion County, and it’s a “Tighty Whities” harvest, the end of the “Soil Your Undies” local challenge. Ten prominent Marion County farm women planted undies on their farms to learn more about soil health and help educate others.

Women taking the challenge (NOT pictured in order)  were Tracy Duerst; IOKA Farms of Salem, Brenda Frketich; Kirsch Family Farms of St. Paul, Gayle Goschie; Goschie Farms of Silverton, Elaine Gumc; 4G Farms of Aumsville, Trish Hogervorst of Salem, Rochelle Koch; Whole Circle Farms of Silverton, Lori Pavlicek; 4B Farms of Mt. Angel, Joanne Ross; Scott Creek Farm Miniature Horses of Salem, Alexa Weathers; Willamette Mission Farms of Gervais, and Regan Wyckoff; M & R Stables, Turner.

In May, each farm woman “planted” a white XXXL  100% cotton pair of briefs, hoping the healthy microbes in the soil would degrade the cotton. 60 days later the results were displayed. The more shredded the undies were, the greater the breakdown.  Very little breakdown of the cotton meant that the soil was not hosting enough microbes. Marion Soil and Water Conservation District hosted the challenge on behalf of the local Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS).

The group of ten women “harvested” their Tighty Whities and met on participant Gayle Goschie’s farm and chose to “Dine in the Vines” at the hop field to compare results.  The follow-up of the soil experiment yielded eight women with no cotton undies at all, just the elastic band when they dug up undies.  Two women had a small amount of cotton, and both planted their undies a little late.  Several women were afraid they wouldn’t even find the undies they buried.

Pollinator Conservation Short Course
October 1, 8:30-4:30pm
Minto Island Growers, Salem OR

This full day workshop will focus on concepts around protecting and enhancing populations of pollinators, especially bees, in agricultural landscapes. The course will provide an overview of bee natural history and identify practices such as protecting and creating habitat, modified horticultural practices, and advice on how to manage pests while protecting pollinators.

Protecting Your Home & Property from Wildfire Workshops
October 5, 9-11:00 am for homeowner’s & small properties 1-3:00 pm for larger properties
Oregon Gardens, NREC building
There is a $20.00 fee and space is limited. Registration is required. Register online at

Soil Health Workshop
November 6, 12:30-5:00pm
Chemeketa Eola Campus West Salem OR
Attendees will learn how to navigate the web soil survey, learn the latest soil research in our area and discuss making soil testing a tool that works. Workshop cost $20 registration at For more information please call 503.391.9927 ext. 334
Thanks to our amazing sponsors Pratum Coop and Wilco.

First Fridays (December-March 9-10:30am)
Marion SWCD Office (338 Hawthorne Ave NE)
Join Marion SWCD Staff and subject matter experts at any of the 4 First Friday events. We are excited to share coffee, donuts and information with you!
  • December 6-Irrigation Efficiency
  • January 3-Pond Maintenance with the Water Master
  • February 7-Winter Twig ID
  • March 6-Composting on your Land


New crop varieties and new research make it worth your time to take a second look at cover crops on your farm. Marion SWCD is rolling out a new incentive program now for cover crops on agricultural lands for this fall.  Want to get the most out of your soils and learn a little more about soil biology? This incentive program pays on a per acre basis ranging from $30-$70 depending species, planting method and planting timing.  You can apply now for planting over the next two months. This new program has limited funds and closes on October 29th, 2019. For more information, details, and restrictions please contact the office or go to our website. We would love to talk to you more about cover crops and our new program give us a call at (503) 391-9927.

Applications are available at the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District Office located at 338 Hawthorne Ave NE Salem, OR 97301 and on our website at

Applications will be:
  • accepted from August 1st – October 29th, while funding is available
  • accepted on a first-come first-served basis
  • received by Marion SWCD staff and approved by the board of directors before planting can occur
Required application documents to include: Cover Crop application, soil map (for each field) and current field condition photo(s).
Partner Capacity-Building

In April, Marion Soil & Water Conservation District partnered with Marion County and the North Santiam Watershed Council to collaborate on a project. There are 8 sites scattered throughout the county which were developed by Marion County as mitigation for capital improvement projects. Unfortunately, the sites had succumbed to invasive weeds and never attained compliance.

Sarah Hamilton at the Soil & Water Conservation District partnered with Rachel Hiller at Marion County and Rebecca McCoun from the North Santiam Watershed Council to develop a plan to renovate the sites. The district is providing technical advising and project oversight. A calendar was developed to manage the invasive species at each site according to the best management practices for each of the weed varieties found. Planting plans developed for each site were based on the native plant communities which were growing at or near the site, on current site conditions, and on the original plan for the site. The district recommends high-density native plantings to develop a shady canopy quickly. Most weeds are shaded out by a dense canopy, and high-density plantings of about 2200 stems per acre will quickly compete with weeds, minimizing maintenance costs.

The project consists of 8 sites including the areas adjacent to several bridges, a couple of stream sides, a wetland, and a project on the banks of the Willamette River.  

In June, a crew from R. Franco Restoration, Inc. treated invasive species at most of the sites. The crews used chainsaws and brush cutters to mow blackberries, reed canarygrass, Scotch broom, and other invasive weeds. This autumn the crews will return. Regrowth will be treated with herbicides, allowing better control with less herbicide use than spraying without mowing.  In areas where herbicides are not allowed, the crews will grub out the roots of the weeds by hand. Over the winter the sites will be planted with native plants and in the spring crews will maintain plantings with strategic spot spraying and mowing to prevent weeds. Weed management will happen every few months until control is achieved and the plants are free to grow.

The ultimate goal of this partnership is not just to manage the mitigation sites for compliance, but also to build up the capacity of Marion County to manage invasive plants and restoration sites within their jurisdiction. Invasive plants and ecological restoration projects are being prioritized by the county, and Marion SWCD is thrilled to provide technical assistance to help build their programs.
Soil Quality: Marion SWCD, NRCS & YOU!
The quality/health of the soil affects every living thing on earth, from the lowliest creatures to the mightiest - which includes soil  organisms, bacteria, fungi, earthworms, mites, ants, beetles, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and man!    Healthy soil makes for healthy plants (grasses, forbs, shrubs, trees) which in turn provide us  food, shelter, and habitat.

Healthy soil absorbs water, cycles nutrients to the plants which in turn help to filter chemicals and other pollutants from soil and water.  The quality of soil is measured by its organic matter, number of earthworm populations, soil respiration, decomposition rates, crop yields and even its smell and texture.  Generally, a dark colored soil is indicative of high content of organic matter, and better nutrient cycling – but not always.  Other physical characteristics are also used to distinguish one  type of soil from another: texture, infiltration rate, bulk density, soil compaction, aggregate stability and soil crusting – which  help determine how well water and roots are able to move through the soil, and how stable the soil is to the harsher effects of climate.
We encourage everyone to check out the NRCS  website to learn more about the scientific findings on soil, as well as other natural resources that are important to us- like water!  Learn how you can become our partner in conservation, and work to improve, protect and enhance the land and other natural resources  you have  been entrusted with for the good of  posterity.
Fire Prevention and Protection for your Home and Property

With red flag fire weather warnings in the Mid-Willamette Valley last week, everyone should be thinking about ways to prepare their home and property to prevent loss in the event of a wildfire.  It may not be at the top of the list for many folks in Western Oregon, but this is something that we all need to take seriously.  There have been too many recent examples from around the region to remind us that we are not immune to the possibility of wildfire happening in our communities.

  If you would like to learn more in person, please join us on Saturday, October 5 in Silverton for a workshop on Fire Prevention and Protection for your Home and Property.

Protecting Your Home 9:00—11:00 am
Protecting Your Property 1:00-3:00 pm

Natural Resources Education Center, The Oregon Garden

 Register online at
Presentation, discussion, and reference material will cover:
Your Home
  • Best practices and materials for fire resistant home construction and remodeling
  • Firewise practices for creating defensible space near buildings
  • Community Wildfire Protection Planning
  • Making a plan for your family to escape in the case of wildfire
 Your Property
  • Thinning, pruning, and groundcover management practices to reduce fire hazards in your landscape
  • Sources of assistance for assessing risk, planning and implementing fuels reduction and other treatments to reduce hazards
  • Sources of financial assistance and cost-sharing opportunities for fuels reduction
Attend one session or stay for both! There is a $20.00 fee and space is limited.
  Expertise and sponsorship provided by Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, OSU Extension Forestry,
Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and Silverton Fire District.

Conservation of our District’s natural resources is a complex task. Sometimes the most effective way to advance our goals and program work is to help support others in doing the work. The Marion SWCD has several Grants and Cost Share programs available as a way to provide our landowners and partners with the financial and technical resources to tackle diverse conservation projects and conservation education within our District.

Conservation Learning Education and Resources Grant - CLEAR

Eligible projects address water quality and conservation, soil quality and conservation, and/or sustainable land use. Projects must be located within the Marion SWCD boundary and directly benefit citizens of the District.

The maximum payment awarded is $1,000 per application. Applicant and project/event eligibility, approval or denial of applications, and dollar amounts awarded are determined at the discretion of the District.
Deadline for applying: complete applications are considered by the Board at their next regular Board Meeting. Contact Jenny Ammon, District Natural Resource Educator, at Phone: (503) 391-9927 ext. 334 or send e-mail to
Landowner Assistance Program – LAP

The maximum payment awarded to a successful grant application is $7,500. Marion SWCD will reimburse 50% of the project cost, up to $7,500. Applicant is required to provide a minimum of 50% of the project funds, which can be provided as labor, supplies and materials, equipment, and production costs. Financial assistance con-currently attained from other sources can be used towards the 50% match.

Next deadline for applying: must contact a Marion SWCD Planner no later than December 1, 2019 to be eligible to apply for the January 8, 2020 grant cycle.

Special Projects Grants – SPG

The Special Projects Grant (SPG) supports projects that provide examples of practices that, if widely adopted, could solve a local area resource concern through either new and innovative technologies or proven but under-represented technologies. Projects should include conservation practices or best management practices (BMPs) that solve a specific natural resource issue (such as erosion, weed control, overgrazing, etc.).

The maximum payment awarded to a successful grant application is $7,500. Marion SWCD will reimburse 50% of the project cost, up to $7,500. Applicant is required to provide a minimum of 50% of the project funds, which can be provided as labor, supplies and materials, equipment, and production costs. Financial assistance con-currently attained from other sources can be used towards the 50% match.

OWEB Small Grants

A competitive grant program that awards funds of up to $15,000 for on-the-ground restoration projects that benefit aquatic species, wildlife or watershed health. This program requires at least 25% secured match funding. Landowners/operators work cooperatively with the SWCD to be eligible for this program.  Contact a SWCD planner to learn more.
Additional resources may also be available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), your local energy provider (projects related to energy efficiency), and your local watershed council.  Contact a SWCD planner to learn more.
Salmon Watch Education 2019

As we summon the cooler weather and changing leaf color our Marion County students are headed back to school.  For over 10 years Marion Soil & Water Conservation District has provided students with outstanding Oregon environmental education at Salmon Watch; 2019 is no exception.  This year we expect to serve 9 schools and approximately 550 students with the help of volunteer instructors.
Marion Soil & Water Conservation District has a reputation for doing great conservation work and our public has expressed an interest in joining in these worthy efforts. In August, we invited our passionate public to a Salmon Watch Volunteer Training at Packsaddle Park along the bountiful North Santiam River.  We had 20 people attend the training to learn about the curriculum that is taught to middle and high school age students.  ODFW’s talented Greg Grenbemer lead the Salmon Biology station, teaching volunteers about their lifecycle, habitat needs, economic and ecological threats, and their migration. Marion SWCD’s very own Jenny Meisel lead the Riparian station, teaching native and invasive plant identification, the importance of filtration, shade, erosion control and habitat along our rivers and streams. City of Salem was represented by Deborah Topp who lead the Macroinvertebrate station, teaching about the connectiveness in our aquatic habitats as well as the importance of these bugs as water health indicators. Mark Akimoff, Horticulturalist Extraordinaire, taught water quality testing to our volunteers through hands-on sampling of the North Santiam River.
There is something special about connecting students to resources both wildlife and humans depend on for health.  I cannot explain the pride that comes from watching the proverbial light bulb going off when the water quality, riparian area, salmon biology, and macroinvertebrates synapses are connected in the students.  We are all connected, and we all have opportunities to make a difference. 
The entire month of September is dedicated to Salmon Watch education and we could not provide this outstanding opportunity without the generosity of our volunteers. Our calendar is full for this September and we look forward continuing this outreach and volunteer training long into the future. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Jenny Ammon

Enjoy taking a look at the fun we had at the Volunteer Training.  Cheers to the fall season, beautiful landscapes, learning and the mighty salmon!
Upcoming Produce Safety Trainings in Oregon

For questions about trainings, contact Brittany Mills at 971-218-1409 or at

1-day PSA Grower Trainings
  • October 3, 2019 The Dalles
  • January 15, 2020 Canby
  • January 30, 2020 Ontario
1.5 Day modified PSA Grower Training with Water Workshop
  • October 21-22, 2019 Redmond
  • November 21-22,2019 Eugene
Who should attend? Produce buyers, growers, and others interested in:
• Best food safety practices for growing, harvesting and packing produce
• Key requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule
• Building blocks of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)
• Co-management of natural resources and food safety

What to expect at a PSA Grower Training:
• Worker health, hygiene, and training
• Soil amendments
• Wildlife, domesticated animals, and land use
• Agricultural water
• Post-harvest handling and sanitation
• Water testing (modified trainings only)
• 2-3 pesticide recertification credits (pending ODA approval)

In addition to the completion certificate ($35 value) and the Grower Training Manual ($65 value) that are provided to each attendee, individuals who participate in a certified PSA Grower Training course are expected to gain a basic understanding of:

• Microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they may be found on the farm
• How to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks, and how to begin implementing produce safety practices on the farm
• Components of a farm food safety plan and how to begin writing one
• Requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and how to align your operation with them

Coffee, snacks, and lunch are provided at all of our PSA Grower Training events
The Marion SWCD does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

Marion SWCD is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Copyright © 2019 Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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