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Soil and Water Conservation Commission


Governing legislation
In 1981, the Oregon Legislature established the Soil and Water Conservation Commission under ORS 561.395, to provide for coordination between Oregon's Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the department. Prior to 1981, the commission was an independent agency with agency policy-making authority. When the commission was incorporated into the Department of Agriculture (ODA), its policy-making authority was changed to authority to recommend policy to the director of the department.

Purpose and function
The function of the commission is to advise and develop policy with the department in the administration of its duties. To assist with this advisory role, the chair of the commission, by statute, is also a member of the State Board of Agriculture. The commission also has a major role in overseeing the grant programs to districts, including the technical assistance and administrative assistive funds.

The commission provides assistance and direction to Oregon's 45 conservation districts and coordinates with the department, the Natural Resources Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Oregon State University (OSU), the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB).

The commission consists of seven members appointed by the director of ODA. Each member must be a citizen of the state of Oregon and a director of a conservation district board at the time of appointment. Commission members serve staggered four-year terms.

Commission members each represent different regions of the state and often times a specific natural resource expertise. Commission member are not salaried and serve as volunteers. In addition to per diem, they receive reimbursement for actual and necessary travel expenses as a result of the performance of their official duties.

The commission has non-voting advisory members, who represent various state and federal agencies, and other organizations. Current advisors represent NRCS, the National Association of Conservation Districts, OSU Extension Service, OACD, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and OWEB. The Natural Resources Program provides staff support for the commission.

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SWCC Members

​Barbara Boyer, Chair
McMinnville, Oregon


Term expires:​
November 2016
Barbara Boyer has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2008 and a member of the Yamhill SWCD Board since 2004. Barbara graduated​ from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Plant Sciences and then worked in the Oregon nursery b​usiness for five years. Barbara and her husband farm i​n Yamhill County were they grow hay and have a community suppo​rted organic agriculture operation. Barbara is co-founder of the McMinnville Farmers’ Market and an active supporter of farmland preservation. 

Lower Willamette Area

Benton SWCD
Douglas SWCD
Lincoln SWCD
Siuslaw SWCD
Umpqua SWCD
Yamhill SWCD
Tim Kerns, Vice Chair​

Haines, Oregon



Term expires:
June 2017
Tim Kerns has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2005 and a member of the Baker Valley SWCD Board since 1994. Tim graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Crop and Soil Science. After gradua​​tion, he was a research assistant at OSU for three years. He then returned to the family ranching and farming operation to become the third generation to run the operation. Tim and his wife are cattle ranchers and potato producers in Baker County. Tim is a member of Country Natural Beef, the Baker County Association of Conservation Districts, and the Powder-Brownlee Local Advisory Committee. 

Eastern Oregon Area

Baker Valley SWCD
Burnt River SWCD
Eagle Valley SWCD
Keating SWCD
Malheur SWCD
Union SWCD
Wallowa SWCD
Gary Jensen

Eugene, Oregon 



Term expires: 
July 2016
Gary Jensen has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2012 and a member of the Upper Willamette SWCD Board since 2006. Gary graduated with a degree in Forest Management from Humboldt State University and a degree in Accounting from Linfield College, along with additional studies in Education. He worked over 40 years as an industrial forester in the Northwest, including 20 years for Lane Plywood, Inc., taught high school forestry, and provided forestry consulting services to land owners. He served over 30 years between active and reserve duty as an engineering officer in the United States Marine Corp, retiring as a Colonel. Gary and his wife oversee the stewardship of their family tree farm in Lane County. Gary is president of the Lane Small Woodlands Association.

Upper Willamette Area

Clackamas County SWCD
East Multnomah SWCD
Marion SWCD
Upper Willamette SWCD
​John Morris

John Day, Oregon

jmorris@ortelco.net ​   


Term expires:
June 2014
John Morris has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2010 and a member of the Grant SWCD Board since 1991. He attended Eastern Oregon University, and then transferred to Oregon State University where he graduated with a degree in Wildlife Management. After graduation, John worked for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Animal Damage Control Program, the timber industry, and the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist for 15 years. He then worked for the BLM as a fish biologist until his retirement in 2006. John and his wife live in John Day on the ranch where he was raised and where they continue cattle ranching. 

John Day Area

Gilliam County SWCD
Grant SWCD
Harney SWCD
Monument SWCD
Morrow SWCD
Umatilla County SWCD
Wheeler SWCD​
​Mel Omeg

The Dalles, Oregon



Term expires:
August 2015
Mel Omeg has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2007 and a member of the Wasco County SWCD Board since 2004. Mel graduated from Eastern Oregon University with degrees in Education and Psychology. Mel and his wife developed 350 acres of orchard over 40 years. The orchard produces high quality fresh cherries for the fresh export market. Their son continues the operation on land that has been in his family for over 100 years. Mel has served on the Wasco County Budget Committee, advisory committees for the OSU College of Agriculture Dean, OSU Extension, and is the representative for the Deschutes-Hood River Basin for OACD.

Deschutes Area

Crook County SWCD
Deschutes SWCD Hood River SWCD Jefferson County SWCD
Sherman County SWCD
Wasco County SWCD​​​
Marilyn Bohnert Rice

Central Point, Oregon



Term expires:
June 2016

Marilyn Rice has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2008, when she learned her Uncle Otto Bohnert had been a member in 1954, and a member of the Jackson SWCD Board since 2003. She graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Animal Science and from Southern Oregon University with a Bachlor and Master of Science degrees in Elementary Education. Marilyn taught in Washington, Virginia, and Medford for over 30 years. She is a native of Jackson County and the third generation to farm and participate in agriculture and community activities. She, along with her husband, two daughters and their families manage the acreage. Marilyn has worked with the Water for Irrigation, Streams and Economy (WISE) Project and is passionate about youth activities including 4-H, FFA, and Envirothon.

Southern Oregon Area

Curry County SWCD
Ft.Rock/Silver Lake SWCD
Illinois Valley SWCD
Jackson SWCD
Josephine SWCD
Klamath SWCD
Lakeview SWCD
​Jerry Ward

Newberg, Oregon



Term expires:
June 2015
Jerry Ward has been a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner since 2011 and a member of the Tualatin SWCD Board since 2006. Jerry has a degree from Oregon State University in Agriculture Business Management. He has 36 years of experience in banking focusing on large commercial loans. He and his wife are farm owners in Washington County where they grow filberts and enjoy working with their horses in Reined Cow Horse and Team Roping activities. Jerry is a member of the Tualatin River Subbasin Local Advisory Committee.​ 

North Coast Area

Clatsop SWCD
Columbia SWCD
Tillamook County SWCD
Tualatin SWCD
West Multnomah SWCD​

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SWCC Advisors

Bob Perry,
(Acting) State Executive Director
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
7620 SW Mohawk
Tualatin, OR 97062
Ron Alvarado, 
State Conservationist
Natural Resources 
Conservation Service
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd
Suite 900
Portland, OR 97232
Bill White,
Partnership Liaison
Natural Resources
Conservation Service
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd
Suite 900
Portland, OR 97232
503-414-3085 ​
Tom Byler,
Executive Director 
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) 775 Summer St NE
Suite 360
Salem, OR 97301
Meta Loftsgaarden,
Deputy Director
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB)
775 Summer St NE
Suite 360
Salem, OR 97301
Mark Saelens, 
Oregon Association of Conservation Districts (OACD)
275 NE San Bay-O Circle
Newport, OR 9736
Karl Morgenstern, 
Oregon Association of Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Councils 
PO Box 10148
Eugene, OR 97440
Jason Faucera,

Oregon Conservation Employees Association Network (OCEAN)
221 Molalla Ave, Suite 102
Oregon City, OR 97045
Jim Cathcart, 
Cooperative Forestry Manager
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)
2600 State St
Bldg. D
Salem, OR 97301
Mike Borman, Interim Extension Ag & Natural Resource Program
Oregon State University (OSU) - Extension Service

Strand Ag Hall 138D
Corvallis, OR 97331


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Upcoming meetings, agendas

The regular SWCC meetings for 2014 have been tentatively scheduled as follows:        
• February 10-11 in Keizer, Oregon
• April 21-22 in Keizer, Oregon
• July 17 in Baker City, Oregon
• November 12-14 in conjunction with the OACD Annual Meeting and Convention in Redmond, Oregon. The date and time to be determined.
Agenda for the following meetings:
          • July 17 in Baker City, Oregon

For questions and/or suggestions for agenda topics, please contact:
Manette Simpson
Soil and Water Conservation Districts Program
Oregon Department of Agriculture
Phone: (503) 986-4715
E-mail: msimpson@oda.state.or.us
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Meeting minutes

February 2014​ (115K pdf)

November 2013 (112K pdf)
July 2013 (133K pdf)
April 2013 (412K pdf)
February 2013 (179K pdf)

November 2012 (119K pdf)
2 (102K pdf)
April 2012 (147K pdf)
January 2012 (90K pdf)

November 2011 (49K docx)
August 2011 (55K docx)
May 2011 (56K docx)
February 2011 (51K docx)

October 2010 (49K doc)
August 2010 (84K doc)
April 2010 (90K doc)
February 2010 (92K doc)

October 2009 (94K doc)
July 2009 (82K doc)
April 2009 (91K doc)
January 2009 (84K doc)

November 2008 (88K doc)
August 2008 (68K doc)
May 2008 (92K doc)
February 2008 (79K doc)

November 2007 (53K doc)
August 2007 (72.5K doc)
April 2007 (70.5K doc)
February 2007 (61K doc)

November 2006 (102K doc)
August 2006 (74K doc)
May 2006 (73.5K doc)
January 2006 (61K doc)

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