A Word from Your Local NRCS Representative

For over 75 years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been a pioneer in conservation, working with landowners, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes. Proven outbound outreach that educates and you can learn about it with better health decisions – saving costs across the board

The NRCS was previously named the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and was established in 1935 to control the soil erosion occurring during the Dust Bowl.  In 1994, Congress initiated a major reorganization of the USDA and renamed SCS the NRCS to better reflect the broad scope of the agency’s mission.  Also, in 1935, USDA managers began to search for ways to extend conservation assistance to more farmers. They believed the solution was to establish democratically organized soil conservation districts to lead the conservation planning effort at the local level.  The NRCS and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts were created at nearly the same time to work as partners to address natural resource concerns.  Both the NRCS and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) continue to work together collaboratively to find creative solutions to today’s natural resource concerns.

The NRCS strives to be a locally led federal agency.  Annually the NRCS District Conservationists hold Local Work Group Meetings to ask partners and landowners, what are the local priority resource concerns.  Currently the Local Work Group in Benton County has identified that the loss of rare and declining habitat and habitat connectivity should be the local conservation priority.  Within the Willamette Valley wet prairie habitats have seen the greatest decline.  NRCS continues to focus on declining wet prairie habitat through the Wetland Reserve Program.  Priority has been placed on projects that provide connectivity to the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge within the Muddy Creek Watershed.  Oak savannah and oak woodland habitat loss comes in a close second to wet prairie habitat losses.  Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program NRCS is focusing on restoring oak habitats.  Oak habitats occur in uplands along the foothills where valley prairie habitats transition into forest/timber land.  The Benton County Local Work Group has also identified that the high nitrate levels in the Ground Water Management Area along the Willamette River needs to be addressed.  NRCS has been working closely with the Benton SWCD and other partners, to develop a strategy to reduce nitrate infiltration.  Starting in 2015 NRCS will begin to transition to a primary focus on reducing nitrate infiltration into drinking water.

A relatively new focus for NRCS is to work with organic farming operations.  NRCS has programs for agricultural operations that would like to transition to organic production systems as well as established organic operations.

Your local Benton County Natural Resources Conservation Service Contact is:

Thomas Snyder

39178 North Lake Creek Drive

Tangent, OR 97389

(541)967-5925×118

thomas.snyder@or.usda.gov

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