The Illinois Valley Soil and Water Conservation District (IVSWCD) was established in 1949 to direct agricultural producers to technical assistance resources, such as our partners with the NRCS. Since 1949 NRCS and the District have partnered to plan and implement conservation practices on private lands in the Basin. In 1994 the District was instrumental in helping to establish the Illinois Valley Watershed Council (IVWC). From that time the Board has remained active in the Watershed Council’s operation.
Working together, the District, the NRCS, and the Watershed Council have compiled a watershed assessment for the entire Illinois basin. Completed in 1999, this assessment lays the groundwork for a basin-wide restoration and management plan. In 2005 and 2006, the IVWC teamed with other watershed councils in the Rogue Basin to develop the Watershed Health Factors Assessment that will be used as a project development and prioritization tool by the IVSWCD and IVWC and as a project funding assessment tool by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. In the past 20 years the district has leveraged funding of over $3 million for restoration projects and technical assistance in the basin.
The agricultural landscape of the Illinois Valley has undergone significant change since the District’s formative years. The area once boasted the state’s largest dairy operation and expansive livestock and hay production acreages. The area has experienced a dramatic gentrification since the early 1990’s, with a rapidly expanding viticulture industry growing to noticeable prominence, and a growth in the number of small hobby ranches and farms. One thing that has not changed for the area and the IVSWCD is the legacy that was developed and continues today of getting projects on the ground.