A Time of Transition

After five years of service, our Executive Director Jay Udelhoven is leaving. We appreciate his significant contributions to the District and its residents, and wish him well. During his time with EMSWCD, Jay led the organization to be more strategic, productive, effective and accountable. Under his tenure, the District’s Land Legacy program grew into maturity, protecting valuable farmland, parks and natural areas in perpetuity, and the Headwaters Farm Incubator successfully launched many new farm businesses. During this time, the District also partnered with residents to expand both urban and rural green spaces, cleaning our water, providing wildlife habitat, and protecting our soil.

We’re proud of these accomplishments, which are due to our incredible staff and partners. We are now poised to work more impactfully with our partners to protect our valuable land and water resources for the future. We hope you’ll join us.

Starting today, June 20th, our Conservation Program Supervisor, Andrew Brown, will serve as Acting Executive Director until we appoint an Interim Executive Director.

Best,

Allison Hensey
Chair, Board of Directors
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District

2017 Agricultural Census Demonstrates Need for EMSWCD’s Working Farmland Initiatives

rows of vegetables at Headwaters Farm, and a row of greenhouses in the background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final 2017 Census of Agriculture figures in mid-April; statistics for all of Multnomah County are available here. The census findings highlight the importance of EMSWCD’s working farmland protection efforts, as Multnomah County lost 15% of its farmland from 2012 to 2017 – or about 2.5 acres a day.

Farmers in Multnomah County are on average 2 years younger than their peers across Oregon and the US, which is reinforced by our Headwaters Incubator Program for new and beginning farmers. And with the average per-acre value of agricultural land and buildings increasing 75% in Multnomah County to the second highest of any county in Oregon, the importance of our work to improve access to affordable farmland is greater than ever.

Important milestone for the Working Farmland Protection Program

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) is pleased to announce that the working farmland protection component of its Land Legacy Program has closed on the acquisition of its first-ever working farmland easement. This month, EMSWCD secured the permanent protection of a 57-acre farm property in the Gresham area.

The acquisition of the easement occurred in conjunction with the sale of the property, which EMSWCD had owned since 2011. EMSWCD acquired the property when it was listed for sale and at risk of no longer being available for productive use by the local farming community. Proceeds from the sale will be used by EMSWCD to protect additional working farm properties.

A working farmland easement is a legally binding blueprint for the future of the property which ensures it will remain in active and highly productive agricultural use. The recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture underscores the need for these working farmland protection efforts, with Multnomah County losing an average of 2.5 acres of farmland a day during the period from 2012 to 2017.

The easement for this property also seeks to address the growing challenges of farmland access and affordability. Farmland affordability is a challenge in Multnomah County, with the Census of Agriculture finding a 75% increase in the value of farmland and buildings from 2012 – 2017 and the second highest average farmland/farm building values of any county in Oregon. The easement incorporates provisions that ensure the property will remain in the ownership of a farmer and limits residential infrastructure that could make the property unaffordable for agricultural operators. As part of the transaction, EMSWCD also secured an option to acquire a working farmland easement on another 20-acre property owned by the buyers. Read more

Nature Notes 8: Plant Sales, Cultivars and Neonicotinoids, oh my!

Red flowering currant

Welcome to EMSWCD’s Nature Notes series! Nature Notes shares small moments and interesting observations from our property, as well as related natural history tidbits, on a weekly to monthly basis.

March 26thth, 2019

Plant Sales, Cultivars and Neonicotinoids, oh my!

Spring is here and it’s time to get those native plants in the ground! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for that perfect addition to your native plant garden. Read more

New draft Equity Statement and comment opportunity

In 2015 EMSWCD staff began working on awareness building, training and program development around diversity, equity and inclusion. Our communities and workplaces are strengthened by diversity, and more inclusive conservation efforts are necessary to ensure lasting and equitable outcomes. We acknowledge the historical and ongoing disparities in income, education and health in our communities. We also understand that these disparities can impact who has access to healthy land and water. For these reasons, our staff and board are committed to making meaningful changes in the work we do so that all communities can benefit from our programs.

We have recently developed a draft Equity Statement and are seeking input. We hope you will visit our new Equity page, read the draft Equity statement, and let us know if you have any comments, concerns or questions.

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