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Upper John Day restoration garners State Land Board Award
04/13/2010
 
For immediate release                                                              10-07
 
More information:                                                                                      
 
Jason Kehrberg, Grant Soil and Water Conservation District – 541-575-0135, ext. 110; jkehrberg@centurytel.net 
Julie Curtis, State Lands – 503-986-5298; julie.curtis@state.or.us 
 
 
Grant soil and water district praised for long-term vision 
 
Salem – The State Land Board today recognized the Upper John Day Watershed Restoration Program in an awards ceremony honoring exemplary efforts to promote responsible stewardship of Oregon’s natural resources.
 
The 2009 Stream Project Award program was presented to the Grant Soil and Water Conservation District and their many partners.
 
Secretary of State Kate Brown, who chaired the meeting, praised the district and their project partners for their efforts over the past 16 years to replace historic gravel push-up dams that impede fish passage. "They've implemented solutions that bring positive results and long-term benefits to both fish and agriculture," she said. 
 
The district marked their 100th irrigation diversion replacement in 2009, and plans to tackle another 60 projects over the next 10 years.
 
Since the 1880s, push-up dams have been used to divert water for agricultural purposes. This type of dam requires reconstruction each season, using excavation equipment that reduces water quality and damages stream banks.
 
Staff from the conservation district worked with landowners to install new "lay-flat stanchion" dams that allow for fish passage and require little or no maintenance with excavation equipment. "By meeting both the irrigation needs of the landowner and the resource needs of the watershed, these projects have created acceptance, support and increased interest in restoration projects across the basin," said Jason Kehrberg, the district's manager. "The Grant Soil and Water Conservation District has developed the credibility necessary to attract voluntary participation at an extraordinary scale," he said.
 
Kehrberg estimates that nearly three million dollars in economic impact resulted in 2009 alone from the District's Watershed Restoration Program and its related benefits. State and federal grants totaling $1,276,460 were spent last year in Grant, Malheur, Baker, Union and Harney counties.  
 
The key partners who have helped with the program include the private landowners of the John Day basin, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration.
 
The State Land Board consists of Governor Theodore Kulongoski, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. The Department of State Lands administers diverse natural and fiscal resources. Many of the resources generate revenue for the Common School Fund, such as state-owned rangelands and timberlands, waterway leases, estates for which no will or heirs exist, and unclaimed property. Twice a year, the agency distributes fund investment earnings to support K-12 public schools. The agency also administers Oregon's Removal-Fill Law, which requires people removing or filling certain amounts of material in waters of the state to obtain a permit.
 
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