Linn Soil & Water

Conservation District


Office Location:
33935 Hwy 99E
Suite C
Tangent, Oregon 97389

Phone: 541-926-2483





& Staff




& Events


& Activities






& Links

Guide for Using Willamette

Valley Native Plants

Along Your Stream


Projects & Activities

Upper Willamette District FFA Soil Judging Contest


The Linn SWCD is the proud sponsor of the Upper Willamette District FFA Soil Judging Contest


Results from the 2011 Contest:

Photos courtesy of Albany Democrat Herald




1st Place

Andrew Miles, Scio

2nd Place

Tyler Roufner, Scio

3rd Place

Zane Leabo, Santiam Christian



1st Place

Mikaylai Manzi, Santiam Christian

2nd Place

Mckenzie Allen, Santiam

3rd Place

Rose Kiel, Santiam



1st Place


2nd Place

Santiam Christian

3rd Place



On October 5, 2011 Linn Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) sponsored the Upper Willamette District FFA Soils Contest
south of Crawfordsville at Pearl Ridge owned by Cascade Timber Consulting. Approximately 139 students from four southern
and mid Willamette Valley High Schools competed this year. Weather conditions were looking for being less than ideal, but as luck
had it our four year run of semi-dry conditions had continued this year as conditions proved to be quite favorable
for students and staff.
"Interest has been growing every year and I was happy to see so many kids competing this year," said Kevin Seifert, watershed technician
for Linn SWCD, who added, "I feel the students had a good time and learning experience."

I would also like to thank Brenda Baird and fellow soil scientists from NRCS for their soil expertise in judging the pits. A special
thanks to Liz VanLeeuwen, our Chair Person, for help giving out the plaques and helping at the soil pits. Also thanks to Dave Furtwangler
who helped arrange the use of the property and access to the pits. And special thanks to Cascade Timber Consulting of Sweet Home who so
graciously allowed the contest to be held on their property. I would also like to thank area farms for donation of supplies.

A big "thank you" as well, to all the others who came, for their time and effort in making this a great event for the kids. Without all
the volunteers, it would be hard to have this quality of a contest for the students to experience.

We look forward to next year and encourage area farmers and landowners to be involved; we are always looking for new sites and soil types
to look at. If you would like to be a volunteer at the annual Upper Willamette District FFA Soils Contest next year, please
contact us at 541-926-2483.


Program Benefits Producers, Streamside Areas

Written by Stephanie Page of the Oregon Department of Agriculture

John Marble, Mike Powers (ODA) and Kevin Seifert (Linn SWCD)

As curious cows watch from the other side of the fence, John Marble gives a tour of part of the streamside area on his property near Crawfordsville. John and his wife, Cris, have protected a large section of stream on their land for many years, and recently restored an additional 50 acres of streamside area with assistance from the Oregon Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). “We used to spend a lot of time driving the cows out of this area,” he explains. “Now we spend a lot less time moving animals around. It's easy to get into the mindset that chasing animals is just part of ranching, but it doesn't have to be.” More of John's time in recent years has been occupied with planting trees and shrubs, building fence, and installing off-stream livestock watering in the two pieces enrolled in CREP. The program provides cost-share for these activities and also provides rental payments to landowners for the acreage removed from agricultural production. “It is a real pleasure to work with landowners like John,” says Dan Sundseth with the USDA Farm Service Agency in Tangent. “And, it is landowners and operators like John who are making the goals and objectives of CREP a reality.” The program's goals are to work with Oregon's agricultural producers to restore streamside areas, enhancing wildlife habitat and water quality. Through CREP, the USDA Farm Service Agency and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board provide funding for streamside restoration, and state, federal, and local agencies cooperate to provide participants technical advice. To figure out which species to plant, John worked with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Each of the three areas enrolled in CREP on John's property received its own restoration plan to account for each area's unique conditions. “John has a wide variety of terrain on his property, including large streams and small draingeways,” says Sundseth. “He came to our office with an interest in doing conservation work on his land. He had a vision and some ideas of what he wanted to have happen. He was open-minded and willing to consider the advice and input of the technical agencies and, collectively, a restoration plan was fashioned that met CREP requirements without compromising John's goals and long-range plans for his property.” “Overall, I am very happy with the assistance I have received through the program,” John says. “One suggestion for improving the program would be to provide more help on figuring out where to order the seedlings. It was very time-consuming for me to do it, and I am used to ordering forestry seedlings. I think it is probably quite daunting to folks who are new to tracking down trees for planting. Also, if I were to do it over again, I would probably hire a contractor to put in all the fencing and plant the trees, instead of doing it myself and hiring some high school kids.” Other potential challenges for CREP participants include battling deer, elk, mice or vole damage to plantings and controlling competition from weeds. John has experienced few problems with predator damage, and his trees have overtopped competing grasses and broadleafs in many areas of the CREP ground. Canada thistle and grasses are probably still competing with trees in some areas, but generally, John has had few problems with blackberry and other plants that have caused problems on other CREP properties. John thinks this is because of the specific conditions on his property and because he has always tried to proactively prevent weeds by keeping the pasture healthy, and then control weeds that do show up as needed. The plantings are doing very well on some spots, fair in other spots. In one of the enrolled areas, volunteer cottonwood, oak, and ash outnumber the planted hardwoods; in another area, there are few volunteers. “Even if not all of the trees survive,” John says, “there are many other benefits of CREP.” John, who serves on the advisory committee for the South Santiam Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Plan and Rules, is happy with the water quality benefits he's observed on his CREP land. He has seen more birds on the CREP ground because the grasses are higher. The rest of the Marbles' property also demonstrates their commitment to good stewardship. They manage their grazing land as 3 independent grazing cells, and rotate animals between 25 paddocks within each of the cells. The Linn Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) helped the Marbles secure an OWEB small grant for livestock watering in one of the cells. “In intensive pasture management, good water access is a must. It helps in the quality of the pasture, providing viability to the producer and protecting water quality,” says Kevin Seifert with the Linn SWCD. “The OWEB dollars invested on John's property through CREP and the small grant program will provide significant benefits to the watershed.” Marble and Seifert agree that the best way to promote CREP and other stewardship funding programs is to highlight the benefits to the producer as well as the natural resource benefits. They have both observed an increase in interest among their neighbors and customers. “The financial incentives with CREP are hard to beat, especially for livestock and pasture situations,” Marble says. “I've always thought that a program like CREP would be a great idea, and I'm glad to see it growing.”

Drainage Concerns




Written by Kevin Seifert & Susan Ortiz

Rain and more rain. The past two winters in Oregon have far exceeded historical rainfall averages. The extra water pools, ponds, and courses across the land, but most of it still needs to drain to our streams and rivers. As we alter our land uses, building house, roads, and other structures, new problems and concerns arise regarding drainage of surface water. These problems and concerns have become more prevalent by the encroachment of urbanization on our rural lands. Recently, several problems have arisen in the urban/rural interface; in one instance, considerable fill soil was brought in before new housing was constructed causing flooding of an existing house. Attention needs to be given to the potential effect the additional fill will have on the natural drainage course. Whose problem is this? How do we come to a resolution? Was there a problem in the first place? Drainage issues can lead to property damage and civil suits. In order to avoid problems we need to understand our drainage rights in Oregon.

The State of Oregon observes the Modified Civil Rule when it comes to assessing liability for flooding, erosion and drainage alterations. Under this rule, adjoining landowners are entitled to have the normal or historical course of natural drainage maintained. This means that a down-gradient owner must accept the surface water that naturally drains onto his land from an up-gradient neighbor. However, the up-gradient owner may not do anything to change the natural system of drainage so as to increase the natural burden across the down-gradient property. The down-gradient owner may not obstruct the run-off from the upper land, if the upper landowner is properly discharging the water.

For a landowner to drain water onto lands of another in the State of Oregon, two conditions must be satisfied initially; first, the lands must contain a natural drainage course; and secondly, the landowner must have acquired the right of drainage supported by consideration.
In addition, because Oregon has adopted the modified civil rule regarding drainage, these basic elements must be followed:

  • A landowner may not divert water onto adjoining land that would not otherwisehave flowed there. “Divert water” includes but is not necessarily limited to:
    • water diverted from one drainage area to another; and
    • water collected and discharged which normally would infiltrate into the ground, pond, and/or evaporate.
  • The upper landowner may not change the place where the water flows onto the lower owner's land. (Most of the diversions not in compliance with this element result from grading and paving work and/or improvements to water collection systems.)
  • The upper landowner may not accumulate large quantities of water, and then release it, greatly accelerating the flow onto the lower owner's land. This does not mean that the upper landowner can not accelerate the flow of water at all; experience has found drainage to be improper only when acceleration and concentration of the water were substantially increased.

If you are concerned that your drainage has been changed by an adjacent property try to document the changes with pictures; historical aerial photos of drainages may also be available. Generally, working with your neighbor is the best way to resolve drainage issues.

Please note that the information in this article is provided as general information and not intended as legal advice.


Ditch Design and Renovation

Ditch Work

By Kevin Seifert


Linn Soil and Water has recently been working on projects relating to erosion in ditches in production grass seed fields. For years farmers have known that to get a successful crop of grass seed you need the field not to be saturated with water for extended periods of time. The problem was how to effectively remove the water from the fields without causing erosion.

This year we have had people from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Mississippi come and visit the Willamette Valley and do some studies on how to shape ditches that will be stable and not erode. These soil scientists were lead by Andrew Simons and brought here by Jeff Steiner from the local ARS. In collaboration with Mark Mellbye, our local extension expert, they were able to work with two local farmers to get studies done on the erosion and sheer factors of our soils. The data was used to create a 3-d model of a design that will fit our field applications. This should help us in future design and hopefully cure some of the problem that we are currently having with ditch bank erosion.

We are also working on some Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects in the valley that use hydro seeding and erosion control mats to get an establishment of creeping red fescue to help stop erosion and also act as big filter strips. The ditch is first reshaped and graded to remove water but not create a trough or a raging gulley. Then we used a process of hydro-seeding the banks with creeping red fescue and annual ryegrass and a soil stabilizer. At this point we spread a layer of straw to retain moisture and help get the grass established. Then we install woven biodegradable erosion control mats that are pinned and stapled with large 8-10 inch staples into the contours of the ditch. This process helps hold the soil against massive flows until the grass has a time to establish itself. Once the grass is established it will hopefully help prevent any further erosion and also help in control of weeds in our ditches by competing with and crowding out weeds.