The District identified nine priority water quality, soil health, and other natural resource concerns in Washington County to guide our efforts.
Overview: Every water body in the Tualatin Basin is contaminated at some level. The problem spans streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, construction sites, clearing and grading areas, and areas with septic systems throughout the watershed. The Tualatin River and tributaries are used for fish and wildlife, irrigation, drinking water, supporting industries, and recreational purposes such as swimming, fishing and boating. All of these beneficial uses are affected by the water quality in the Tualatin Basin.
Goals: Increase the number of stream miles changed to an improved condition by continuing to restore riparian areas and assure they meet state water quality standards. In order to achieve these goals, the District will collect baseline water quality data, identify priority areas and practices, and restore identified riparian areas to an improved condition.
Overview: Water quantity is an important issue. Having both too much, and too little negatively impact farming, residential infrastructure, and stream health. Everyone uses water, so everyone is affected by its supply, accessibility, and cost.
Goals: Increase the number of irrigation systems with no cutoff dates, have fewer days of water restrictions, have the same stream flow rate as 2010, and decrease water use by metered users. In order to achieve these goals, the District will recruit irrigators to sign up and implement water-saving practices. The District will also prepare an outreach strategy to target additional water users.
Overview: Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive pastures, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. Enhancing organic matter, preventing erosion, and avoiding soil compaction are three key components to maintaining healthy soil.
Goals: Improve soil condition index and soil test results for organic matter. In order to achieve these goals, the District will recruit targeted landowners to complete conservation plans that include conservation practices to improve soil health and reduce erosion.
Overview: Many people are affected by invasive plant species and noxious weeds, whether or not they realize it. Non-native plants reduce land productivity, destroy helpful native species, and use up valuable resources for growth, such as soil and water. Additionally, these invasive species and weeds could be hazardous to human health, poisonous to livestock, and reduce the aesthetic and recreation value of public lands.
Goals: Increase the number of acres surveyed and treated for invasive and noxious species, monitor progress towards eradicating the most dangerous species, and increase the number of acres restored back to native vegetation. In order to achieve these goals, the District will focus on survey and treatment of garlic mustard in Gales Creek, continue the process of becoming the Weed Board for Washington County, and expand the already established Early Detection/Rapid Response program.
Overview: Healthy fish and wildlife populations require adequate habitat, which is provided in natural systems and, for many species, in landscapes managed for forestry, agriculture, range, and urban uses. Unfortunately, many species, which were historically abundant in the Tualatin Basin, are declining due to population growth, land-use conversion, and pollution.
Goals: Increase the acres of restored habitat and spawning or population counts for threatened species. In order to achieve these goals, the District will complete population surveys for strategy species and assist landowners with implementing practices aimed at restoring habitat for these species.
Overview: Our daily lives depend on the use of energy. We rely on energy for heating, transportation, lighting, manufacturing, communication, and food production. Almost 72% of electricity in the United States is generated from nonrenewable sources, which are primarily fossil fuels. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to the “greenhouse effect.” An increase in greenhouse gas pollution from human activities is a serious threat to humans and natural resources. This increase can lead to water shortages, crop failures and loss of wildlife habitat. All of these threats can negatively impact the economy.
Goals: Increase the number of site by site energy audits, the number of conservation practices implemented, the acres of afforestation, and the number of farms adopting the new conservation system guide (CSG) for Energy Conservation and Greenhouse Gas Reduction. In order to achieve these goals, the District will focus its efforts on conservation planning and implementation on farm types with the greatest potential to conserve energy, sequester atmospheric carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Overview: Air is one of the most basic human needs, although we might not think about it often. Perhaps we take air for granted because it’s always there, and our bodies use it all the time without our even thinking about it. We don’t really think about air unless it’s a problem made noticeable by odor or negative health effects. Some pollutants we can see, such as dust and smoke. There are many others though that we cannot see or smell. In any case, even if we don’t pay attention to our breathing, we must pay attention to the air we breathe and how it could potentially affect our daily lives.
Goals: Increase the number of conservation practices installed to address air quality issues, the number of days the area meets the federal air quality standard and the days that Mount Hood is visible. In order to achieve these goals, the District will include an air quality plan as a required component in all conservation plans and will recruit landowners to sign up for plans.
Overview: Conservation education is important to teach people of all ages, in both rural and urban areas, to appreciate the country’s natural resources and learn to conserve those resources for future generations. Through conservation education, people develop the skills necessary to understand the complexities of natural resource problems. Conservation education also encourages people to take steps to conserve natural resources and use them responsibly.
Goals: Increase the number of people and audiences contacted, the number of people served, and the number of education materials developed and distributed. In order to achieve these goals, the District will expand the current outreach program to address the education needs and strategies for each of the seven identified natural resource concerns.
Overview: Imagining a world without agriculture is difficult. Farmers supply the food we eat and contribute to many products we use daily. The number of products everyone uses made from corn alone is amazing. The land farmers use to grow products is under constant pressure to be converted to residential or commercial uses. Once this land is converted to non-farm use, it will likely never return to farm production again. The loss of farmland is an extremely important issue globally, but at the local level as well — one the District feels strongly about.
Goals: Maintain the agriculture industry in Washington County to be as strong as or stronger than it was in 2010. In order to achieve these goals, the District will communicate to the urban population about agriculture life and the importance of maintaining a “critical mass” of farm land in the county.