Watershed Councils Enhance Quality of Oregon Water

Jan 23, 2015

In 1995, the Oregon legislature authorized formation of community watershed councils to enhance the quality of water in their catchments or drainage areas.

Southern Oregon has several councils, including the Applegate, Bear Creek and Upper Rogue. Other councils are named the Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers and the Coos Watershed Association.

University of Oregon researchers, Michael Hibbard and Susan Lurie, writing in a 2005 report titled Understanding the Community Economic and Social Impacts of Oregon’s Watershed Councils, said that every dollar invested by the state generates another $5 for watershed projects.  One example is improved fish-spawning habitat in streams.  The researchers estimate 85 percent of the money stayed in the host counties through such examples as the hiring of local contractors.

The authors also reported social benefits, such as increased levels of volunteering, new networks among private and public land managers along streams, stronger partnerships with government agencies, and more extensive education about watershed and community health.

Their report said, “Oregon’s watershed councils are seen nationally as pioneers in community-based natural resource management.”

Hibbard, Michael, and Susan Lurie. "Institute for Policy Research and Innovation." Understanding the Community Economic and Social Impacts of Oregon’s Watershed Councils, IPRI Paper 05-001. Eugene, Ore.: University of Oregon, 2005. Print.