Frequently Asked Questions about Benton Soil and Water Conservation District
Our office is located at 136 SW Washington Avenue, Corvallis 97333. We are located on the 2nd floor, just above Dulce del Alma restaurant, in Suite 201.
We love to meet local residents! Our office hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Please be aware that many staff members work remotely and in the field throughout the week, so we suggest that you call 541-753-7208 before traveling to our office to ensure that somebody is present.
We are a state-designated Special District, one of one of 45 conservation districts in Oregon working to put conservation efforts on the ground. The results include cleaner water, improved crop land, pastures, forests, and restored wildlife habitat. Our job is to provide conservation services to all residents in our service area of Benton County, Oregon.
Our current projects include watershed restoration, soil monitoring, invasive species removal, and more. We work with farmers, ranchers, urban residents, and other environmental organizations and community partners. We also host a number of education and outreach events and programs throughout the year.
If you own or manage farmlands, ranchlands, river or stream areas, or any critical wildlife habitats, we are here to help you plan your conservation projects! We can provide expertise, soil testing, habitat analysis, contractor recommendations, and in some cases, even funding.
The majority of our annual funding comes from Benton County taxpayers. If you are a Benton County resident, you will pay 5 cents ($.05) per every $1000 assessed property value to us on your taxes each year. For example, if you own a home and/or land that is assessed at $500,000, you will pay $25 in taxes annually to support our services. This will show up in your tax forms as BENTON SOIL & WATER.
We also receive annual funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and other state and federal agencies. Some of these grants are for specific projects while other grants are for operating costs. While we recieve funding from these agencies, we are NOT a government agency.
A small amount of funding comes from our two annual native plant sales, which offer native bulbs, seeds, bare-root plants, and more.
We host 2 native plant sales each year: our Bulb and Seed Sale, which takes place in-person at the Corvallis Fall Festival in late September; and our Winter Plant Sale, which takes place online, with an in-person order pickup day in February. Our Winter Plant Sale online store generally opens in late September or early October, and you may purchase plants until early February.
We do not have tools and equipment to borrow. However, you may rent tools such as no-till drills at an hourly rate at Northwest Tractor Services. If you are near Clackamas County, Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District also offers equipment rentals for a small fee to out-of-county residents.
Benton County voters approved a Permanent Rate Levy in 2004 for Benton Soil and Water Conservation District to receive funds through property taxes. For each $1,000 of your assessed property value, the District receives $0.05 to help fund its mission and serve Benton County residents. When you pay your property taxes, this small amount is portioned to BSWCD.
There are many ways to learn about what kind of soils you have. Generally, soils are some mixture of clay, sand, and loam. The proportion of each of these materials determines how heavy, wet, and fertile your soil is. You can conduct some simple home soil assessments to learn about your soil, or check out the NRCS Web Soil Survey - simply type in your address to view or print a soil map with detailed descriptions of the soils in your area.
Benton SWCD is a non-regulatory organization, so we do not investigate cases where inappropriate management might be taking place. If you suspect water pollution or mismanagement in a stream, creek, river, or other waterway, you can file a report with one of the below:
For reports about suspected pollution due to agricultural activities, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
For reports about suspected oil spills, hazardous materials, or other pollutants in waterways, contact the Department of Environmental Quality.
For concerns about forest management: Contact the West Oregon District Office of the Oregon Department of Forestry, 24533 Alsea Highway, Philomath, OR 97370; Phone: 541-929-3266.
If you plan to do any earthwork in or near a waterway, you may need a Removal-Fill Permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands. See this brochure for more information and how to secure a permit.
The Oregon Water Resources Department is the state authority for wells. You can search for well reports, report a dry well, and find information about groundwater on their website.
If you want to conduct water quality testing of your well water, OSU's Well Water Program offers a list of certified drinking water labs, as well as free nitrate screenings at public events throughout the year.