Wallowa Resources and SWCD receive OWEB grant dollars

This partially buried French drain supplies water to a trough available to both livestock and wildlife in the Clear Lake area east of Joseph. Submitted photo

Three Wallowa County watershed projects were notified last week week that they will be the recipiencts of nearly $100,000 in grant money through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). Two of the applications were submitted by the Wallowa Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and one through Wallowa Resources.

The dollars were part of $881,000 that OWEB distributed to Region 5 which includes most of northeast Oregon.

The largest of the three grants in the amount of $67,650 is a block grant applied for by the SWCD. It will go toward a cost share program for pre commercial thinning and slash treatment on private woodlands property. The state OWEB dollars will be matched on a 65 percent basis with the private landowners throwing in the additional 35 percent of costs as long as the costs do not exceed a hold down rate based on the difficulty of the job. Hold down rates, determined by the Oregon Department of Forestry, range from $65 per acre to $143 per acre, says SWCD district manager Cynthia Warnock. They are figured separately for both thinning and slash treatment, meaning that a most difficult piece can receive up to a maximum of $286.

Private landowners within Wallowa County who are interested in the plan can contact Dustin Gustaveson at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Wallowa. Gustaveson wrote the grant application and will be determing the hold down rates.

Warnock thought that moneys could become available by the first of 2003 and be dispersed over the biennium. The seasons for thinning are determined to some extent by the nature of the thinning project, whether begun because of bug infestation or for whatever reason.

A smaller project applied for and rewarded to the SWCD is for streambank restoration on the property of one particular landowner. It is in the amount of $7,116 and is being awarded on the premise that the landowner pay 25 percent of the costs. That project will probably not go forward until 2003 when a permit will be needed to be procured to work in the stream.

Warnock did not wish to disclose the name of the landowner until he had been officially notified.

The Wallowa Resource grant goes to Phase II of the Bear Gulch Watershed Restoration Project located on the Big Sheep drainage near Dead Horse Ridge and Clear Lake Ridge, again east of Joseph. The additional $24,650 will go to enhance a project already begun with $35,000 of Bonneville Power Administration dollars, help from the US Forest Service on whose land Phase I was situated and the Ford Foundation.

Wallowa Resources project coordinator Brinda Stanley said that Phase II will go on to private land belonging to the Buhler family and the Hockett family. The goal of the project is to enhance water quality and improve grazing.

Stanley said that Clear Lake and Mud Lake, both shallow, natural bodies of water, have been fenced to keep cattle from grazing on lake shores. The lakes, she adds, are key to several kinds of migratory water birds including the greater yellowleg which has no other known nesting colony in the lower 48 states.

Part of the Bear Gulch project is to build French drains to supply troughs with a reliable source of water. The troughs are equipped with regulators which turn off the water source when the trough gets full. Ponds and snow fences are also being built.

Local contractors who have already been at work at Bear Gulch are Borgerding Construction, BJ's Construction and Dan Martin.

The grant application for Bear Gulch was written by Stanley, Nils Christoffersen of Wallowa Resources and Ralph Anderson of the US Forest Service.

"This is a good example of collaboration between a non profit (Wallowa Resources), the Forest Service and private landowners," said Stanley.

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