Jackson SWCD speaks out against taking lands out of production
Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District
573 Parsons Drive, Suite 102, Medford, Oregon 97501
Phone: (541) 776-4270 Ext. 3 FAX: (541) 776-4295
Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s Use of Public Monies to Fund Land Acquisitions and Water Rights
It has come to the attention of the above mentioned Soil and Water Conservation District’s Board of Directors (BOD) that the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) has, through their granting process, funded private 501(c) (3) organizations to purchase private property and/or water rights to meet natural resource conservation goals. It is further understood that OWEB has appropriated $200,000.00 to pay staff to handle past and current land acquisition grants. During the September OWEB quarterly meeting in Roseburg it was stated by two of these private entities that “the only way to ensure that natural resource conservation occurs on private land is to control that land”. We completely disagree with this concept from philosophical, social, economical, and environmental standpoints, as follows:
- Taking away the management that initially permitted a species to establish and thrive, within a particular habitat, is not going to maintain that species.
- Utilizing public monies to fund private 501 (c) (3) organizations is inappropriate financially and environmentally.
- Socially, taking land out of production is counter to the tradition and heritage of the state of Oregon.
- Economically, taking land out of production decreases state revenue by taking lands off the tax rolls and eliminating private sector jobs. Wealth is only generated by the wise management and use of natural resources. Taking land out of production decreases the wealth of individuals, the local economy, the state and ultimately the entire nation.
- Environmentally, taking land out of production and changing or eliminating associated management activities has historically increased weedy species, decreased soil permeability, increased bare ground, and increased the potential for soil erosion.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts and their staffs work tirelessly with landowners through educational activities, technical assistance, and financial assistance to address natural resource concerns while improving the productive potential of the land under their management. Among other authorizations, Oregon Revised Statute 568.225 provides that “Soil and Water Conservation Districts …protect and enhance healthy watershed functions, …, protect the tax base, protect public lands and protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the people of this state.”
This BOD believes that it is extremely difficult to maintain long-term natural resource stewardship without production. It is also difficult to maintain long-term production without stewardship. This BOD and staff continue to work with the citizens of Jackson County to ensure that this philosophy is maintained.
It is the position of the above BOD that the use of public monies by OWEB to fund land acquisitions, while not illegal, are inappropriate and counterintuitive to our mission and goals. Further, it is counterproductive to local and state economies. It is our position that the use of public monies to pay public employees to oversee these transactions is inappropriate.
We strongly request that OWEB reconsider the use of public monies for Land and Water Right acquisition.
December 14, 2011
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