One focus for the Upper Willamette SWCD is to address water quality and protection as it relates to humans, fish, habitats, and agriculture.

Riparian Restoration

Do you have property adjacent to a river or stream? The Upper Willamette SWCD can help you restore or enhance the riparian habitat to create a fully functioning riparian. A healthy riparian area is essential for water quality and healthy fish. District staff will work with you to develop a plan that includes removal of invasive species and installation of native trees and shrubs that provide shade for cooling water temperatures and habitat for insects for fish nutrition. The District staff will also work to find funding opportunities for projects to reduce the financial costs associated with your project. Contact us for more information.

The UWSWCD partners with many types of organizations to protect water quality.

Agricultural Water Quality

  • The Camp Creek Strategic Implementation Area (SIA): The Camp Creek Sub-Watershed of the McKenzie River is an area identified by the Oregon Department of Agriculture as having water quality concerns related to both present and historic agricultural practices. The UWSWCD is the project lead tasked with implementing the SIA process in Camp Creek for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The SIA initiative concentrates technical and financial resources into the Camp Creek Sub-watershed to address agricultural water quality concerns and includes three key components:
    • Compliance with Oregon’s agricultural water quality regulations
    • Monitoring to track water quality and landscape conditions
    • Voluntary, incentive-based conservation
  • Camp Creek Water Quality Monitoring Proposal: The Camp Creek Water Quality Monitoring proposal is a strategy to increase water quality monitoring within the Camp Creek Watershed. The goal of this proposal is to depict change over a ten-year period of time. If the Upper Willamette SWCD works with landowners to implement conservation practices, then water quality parameters should improve.
  • Focus Areas: As part of the Upper Willamette SWCD’s partnership with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Upper Willamette SWCD utilizes a portion of its funding to provide technical assistance to landowners in a 6th field watershed focus area. After a desktop and ground truth assessment is completed, the Upper Willamette SWCD works within these focus areas to educate and engage with landowners about agricultural water quality concerns. Upper Willamette SWCD does this by providing conservation planning, project design, and financial assistance for projects that address specific agricultural activities with likely contribution to degraded water conditions. Typically, the Upper Willamette SWCD conducts this work for two years within these focus areas. Following this two-year period, a focus area is often considered for Strategic Implementation Area designation to complete water quality projects.

Drinking Water

  • Maintaining quality drinking water is one of the most important and crucial parts of our work. The Upper Willamette SWCD partners with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance to landowners residing within the state’s designated Groundwater Management Area to address groundwater quality affected by high levels of nitrates.
    • Pure Water Partners
      The District is part of the Pure Water Partners (PWP) program, which is a partnership with private rural landowners designed to protect the water quality of the McKenzie River. This program rewards landowners who agree to protect existing healthy riparian forests along their properties. Rewards for conserving healthy riparian areas include financial incentives, such as cash payments or vouchers for in-kind services, such as landscape planning assistance or riparian area plantings. Landowners who do not qualify for payments for existing healthy riparian areas may be able to obtain assistance in developing a plan for restoration of these areas on their properties. In addition to protecting water quality and a valuable drinking water resource, the program will help to improve fish and wildlife habitat and protect recreational opportunities, which are central to the local economy. The District can help McKenzie River landowners determine if they are eligible for this program and get signed up. For more information, call Lily Leitermann, Conservation Specialist, 804-937-0052. Click here to learn more about Pure Water Partners.

Fish and Habitat

The Upper Willamette SWCD staff works with near-stream landowners to enhance riparian areas by installing native trees to provide stream shade, and native shrubs to provide habitat for insects to enhance the aquatic food supply. The Upper Willamette SWCD staff also conducts in-stream fish habitat projects, such as large wood and boulder placement, as well as culvert replacement to increase stream passage.


In conjunction with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Upper Willamette SWCD office serves as the Local Management Agency for the Agricultural Water Quality Area Management Plan. These plans are developed by agricultural representatives to demonstrate how agriculture is addressing water quality concerns that arise from agricultural activities conducted on their land. These plans are the agricultural sector’s response to the Clean Water Act. Upper Willamette SWCD staff provides landowners technical assistance and administrative support to the two local advisory committees designated in the Upper Willamette SWCD’s boundaries.

Water Health Project Examples:

  • Manure Management
    This project was implemented to address property owner concerns associated with run-off from her livestock operation. A large pond and wetlands surrounded the site. Prior to this project, manure produced by the livestock was stockpiled uncovered within 100 feet of the wetland area and trucked offsite twice a year. The Upper Willamette SWCD worked with the property owner to apply for a small grant and create a plan that would improve water quality and cost-effectively manage the manure. The property owner no longer has to worry about run-off from her property contaminating the adjacent wetlands.
  • Livestock Exclusion
    A small-scale rancher was concerned about the effect his livestock were having on a spring fed creek that ran through his property and drained into Row River. Working with the Upper Willamette SWCD, he was able to get a small grant to fund exclusion fencing for the creek and springs, remove invasive species in the riparian area, plant native vegetation, cross fence, and set up heavy use protection areas and watering stations. Rotation of paddock use has reduced the footprint of this livestock operation, increased wildlife habitat utilization, and addressed water quality concerns.
  • Stream Restoration
    A landowner contacted us about a lack of fish in a stream that ran through his property. Upper Willamette SWCD conducted a site visit and noted a lack of large woody debris in the stream as well as a lack of shade to keep the stream cool enough for fish. A small grant funded the removal of invasive species next to the stream and the planting of a diverse mix of native plants and trees. Logs were placed in strategic areas to slow the flow of water and reconnect the stream to its original floodplain. This reduced flooding, mud sediment, and increased the stream gravel bed formation that is essential to attract spawning salmon.

If you are interested in more information about implementing projects, project funding opportunities, or addressing resource concerns for your property, please contact the Upper Willamette SWCD staff.