Yamhill and Polk Oak Restoration Garners National Attention

Oak restoration in Yamhill and Polk counties is gaining national attention as a model for success under USDA’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

RCPP is a highly-competitive partnership program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The program leverages federal investments with contributions from public and private partner organizations to achieve landscape-scale conservation results.

Members of the national RCPP review team toured oak restoration sites in Yamhill and Polk counties June 13 to see how RCPP funding is put into action by partners and landowners. Each year the RCPP review team evaluates and ranks RCPP proposals from across the country and decides which proposals to fund.

“Native white oak habitat is quickly disappearing in the Willamette Valley, with only one to five percent of historic oak stands remaining,” said Amie Loop-Frison, a habitat conservationist with the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). “This is highly valuable wildlife habitat; more than 200 species depend on it.”

In the first two years of the project, 12 landowners have signed contracts with NRCS to receive financial incentives for oak restoration work. While NRCS provides the financial assistance, SWCD staff are helping landowners with science-based guidance and technical assistance.

The Yamhill SWCD and NRCS serve as the lead partners on the project. Additional partner groups include the Polk SWCD, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Trust for Public Lands, the Greater Yamhill Watershed Council, The Nature Conservancy, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Amie Loop-Frisson can be reached at amie.loop-frison@or.nacdnet.net