Wasco, Sherman districts win recognition

The Wasco and Sherman Soil and Water Conservation Districts USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service received the District Partnership Award at the 2019 CONNECT conference  in April. Pictured are, left to right, Shilah Olson, district manager for the Wasco Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); Dan Esposito, district conservationist for Wasco County with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Amanda Whitman, district manager for the Sherman SWCD; and DelRae Ferguson, acting district conservationist for Sherman County with the NRCS.

The Wasco and Sherman Soil and Water Conservation Districts USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service received the District Partnership Award, and Chase Schultz from the Wheeler Soil and Water Conservation District received the District Employee Partnership Award, at the 2019 CONNECT conference hosted by the Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network in Sunriver in April.

The Wasco and Sherman SWCD were recognized for providing outstanding assistance during fiscal year 2018 to help farmers and ranchers impacted by catastrophic wildfires.

According to a press release, the Wasco and Sherman SWCDs “provided exemplary partnership to NRCS to provide outreach, contracting and field support for post-fire recovery activities in Wasco and Sherman counties. For example, they coordinated the contracting of seed and scheduled aerial seeding applications with participating landowners in a timely manner.”

More frequent and severe occurrences of wildfire across Oregon and the West is a critical concern facing both rural and urban communities, especially considering recent trends in weather extremes and drought. Multiple fires throughout July and August burned nearly 200,000 acres of Oregon’s wheat country. Due to the timing of the fires in late summer, staff worked on a very rapid timeline to mobilize a cost-share program and obligate funds before the end of the fiscal year, successfully obligating nearly $7 million in financial assistance for Wasco and Sherman county producers within only a few weeks.

Chase Schultz of the Wheeler SWCD was recognized for his exemplary support for the North Slope Ochoco Holistic Restoration Project, an effort funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The project is improving water quantity and quality, restoring fish and wildlife habitat, improving forest and rangeland health, and sustaining agricultural productivity in Wheeler County. Chase was a key contributor, coordinating cultural resource work on more than 20 contracts, working with NRCS archaeologists to arrange for surveys, submitting paperwork on time, and communicating with the landowners to ensure the surveys were successful. He also worked diligently to inventory, layout and certify upland practices including juniper cuts, range seedings and livestock water developments.

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