The Columbia River Basin is the Nation’s fourth largest watershed. Originating in Canada and stretching throughout the Pacific Northwest, it covers nearly a quarter of a million miles of mountains, forests, farms, and other lands. The river system supports five species of salmon and other important species, including the steelhead, shad, smelt, and bald eagle, some threatened or endangered.
Wasco, Gilliam, and Sherman Counties sit along several rivers in the heart of the Basin, with agriculture the dominant land use in many places. Numerous Federal and state agencies and non-profit organizations encourage landowners to adopt conservation practices. In areas covered by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), federal agencies are required to employ a lengthy, formal consultation process on landowner conservation plans if the plan might affect endangered or threatened species. These consultations can take months, even years, to complete. Often, the landowner becomes discouraged by the long regulatory process and declines to participate.