EMSWCD helps protect Shaull property

A grove of Douglas fir trees and a future access way at the Former Shaull property

EMSWCD was pleased to partner with the City of Gresham and Metro to acquire and preserve the former Shaull property in the Grant Butte area! This 8-acre property builds upon our previous investments in the surrounding area and further protects the water quality of the adjoining Fairview Creek headwaters and wetlands complex. It will also set the stage for improved access to the adjacent Southwest Community Park.

Learn more about this project here!

Equity-focused evaluation of the PIC grant program

A new report on our equity initiatives is now available!

EMSWCD recently conducted an evaluation of the Partners in Conservation (PIC) grant program focused on our efforts to address equity through the grant funding we provide to local organizations. The evaluation was conducted by an independent consultant. We are pleased to share the final report: “EMSWCD Partners in Conservation (PIC) Grants Program Evaluation Report” by Jamie Stamberger, which can be found here. This report is the product of an online survey and interviews that were conducted in spring of 2021 with the participation of recent PIC grantees and other partners. Read more

One year update: solar power at Headwaters Farm

aerial angled view of two structures at Headwaters Farm, including a barn in the foreground and a storage shed in the background, with solar-panel-covered roofs visible on both structures

Thanks to a 2019 Renewable Development Fund grant (RDF) from Portland General Electric, EMSWCD was able to purchase and install a 70kW photovoltaic system at Headwaters Farm. The solar panels were installed on two structures on the farm and began feeding electricity into the grid in April of 2020. In its first year of solar production, the renewable energy system generated 84 megawatt-hours, or enough to offset around 90% of the farm’s annual electricity consumption! This equated to a savings on the farm’s electricity bills of just under $10,000 for the year.

The Headwaters solar project was made possible with support from the PGE Renewable Development Fund, which contributed $55,566 towards the $155,374 total project cost. The Energy Trust of Oregon also contributed $23,715. Together over 50% of the project’s cost was covered by the Energy Trust and PGE’s RDF funds, with the balance coming from EMSWCD.

Nancy Hamilton, EMSWCD’s Executive Director, said of the project: “We are excited to be generating electricity at the farm and reducing our carbon footprint. And we are very grateful to PGE and their Green Future customers, as well as the Energy Trust of Oregon, for helping to make this solar project happen. The Headwaters Farm solar installation is an important demonstration opportunity for our farmers and visitors to Headwaters Farm, and the wider community we serve. The project also made a lot of sense for us financially.”

With the generous support of PGE and the Energy Trust, the Headwaters Farm solar system is anticipated to pay for itself within eight years. The solar panels are under warranty for 30 years and could be productive well beyond that.

“EMSWCD is committed to addressing the climate crisis,” says Rowan Steele, Headwaters Farm Program Manager. “Like many other farms, the barns at Headwaters have large roof surfaces facing south with great solar exposure. Between the two roofs we were able to accommodate a solar system that off-set almost all the electricity used on site, including for the irrigation pump, walk-in coolers, and a residence. That means we could generate power without impacting our farmland, which can be used to sequester carbon through cover cropping and other conservation farming practices. The solar system has also spurred investment in an electric UTV that replaced an old gas guzzling farm truck, and we are now exploring the exciting possibility of getting an electric tractor that will reduce our use of fossil fuels even further.” Read more

Our StreamCare program has planted half a million plants!

staff and contractors staking native plants at a site along Johnson Creek

On February 9th, EMSWCD planted its 500,000th native plant through its StreamCare program, marking twelve years of planting native trees and shrubs to improve stream health and help salmon throughout eastern Multnomah County!

StreamCare has been plugging away planting native trees and shrubs along streams in Gresham, Corbett and Troutdale since 2009, working together with more than 200 landowners that have voluntarily enrolled in the program. Our Executive Director Nancy Hamilton says of the program: “Our crews are able to transform stream fronts from blackberry brambles to thriving native forests that attract wildlife, protect water quality, and build more resilient communities.” Watch our brand new video below highlighting the milestone planting!

The main goal of StreamCare is creating shade. As the trees mature, they cast their shadows over the stream, lowering the temperature of the water. “It’s mostly to benefit salmon,” says Lucas Nipp, our StreamCare program manager. “Salmon need cool water. Most of the streams in our area are far too warm for healthy salmon.” Read more

EMSWCD has a new Executive Director!

The entire Board and staff at East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) are thrilled to announce the selection of our new Executive Director, Nancy Hamilton!

our new Executive Director, Nancy Hamilton

Nancy Hamilton comes to EMSWCD from eight years managing a private consulting practice, and previously held leadership positions in the administrations of Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Portland Mayor Tom Potter. Nancy brings rich experience in the public and private sectors, the knowledge to champion expanding programs around climate change and equity, and the management and leadership experience to bring people together around our mission to help people care for land and water.

“I could not be more honored to work with the extraordinary team of professionals at the EMSWCD,” said Nancy Hamilton. “The organization is doing critical work across such a broad spectrum of priorities, and with a strong commitment to seeing how we can contribute to addressing the looming climate crisis, I’m looking forward to getting started.”

“The board has full confidence in Nancy’s ability to lead the organization.” said Board Chair Carrie Sanneman, “District staff have continuously shown their resilience, creativity, and compassion through the COVID pandemic. We know they will continue to thrive with an experienced and empathetic leader like Nancy.” Nancy will start work with EMSWCD on November 16th.

Please join us in welcoming Nancy to EMSWCD!

New activity book – The Great Gorge Adventure

Rana, Lars and Max, the three characters from The Great Gorge Adventure activity book

Help Rana the Frog, Lars the Salamander, and Max the Slug get back to their home at the base of Larch Mountain!

Download and print this free educational activity book for the kids in your life to enjoy. Available in four languages: English, Spanish (español), Russian (русский), and Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt).



Read The Great Gorge Adventure here!

Illustrated by Jon Wagner, EMSWCD Illustrator and Conservation Specialist.

EMSWCD takes a “strategic pause” for the 2021 PIC Cycle (updated)

Recently-planted red flowering currant at a grant project restoration site

To EMSWCD grantees, partners, and supporters: We know how deeply all of you have been affected this past year by the upheaval and uncertainty that surrounds us. Here at EMSWCD, we have continued to do our work the best we can and to look for ways to support our communities. Ironically, it is in these extraordinary times that we are presented with a rare opportunity to consider how we may want to do things differently, to move in a direction that responds to the weight of this historic moment.

In this vein, EMSWCD has decided to take a “strategic pause” for the 2021 Partners in Conservation (PIC) Grant cycle – suspending the competitive grant opportunity for one year. While we will forgo the normal application process for PIC 2021, EMSWCD is committed to supporting our grantees and partners through this challenging time, and we intend to do this by extending some current grants and offering non-competitive new grants for our regular grantees for the fiscal year 2021/22. We have developed our initial criteria for this continued funding (please see below). The SPACE grant program will continue to operate as usual.

During this time, our staff will have the opportunity to address many aspects of our grant funding program with an eye toward greater equity and more strategic funding. We plan to conduct an evaluation of EMSWCD’s grants program in light of changes in the context of our regional funding, to implement new DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and other strategic initiatives, and to more fully engage with partners, grantees and other stakeholders about the future of our grants program. Read more

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