The Board will hear presentations on the impact of western juniper as well as issues facing the the local agriculture industry

The Oregon Board of Agriculture has not met in Prineville for more than 20 years.

Next week, they will finally return to hear updates on the impact of western juniper in Central Oregon as well as issues affecting the local agriculture industry, and take input from the public.

The two-day session will begin on Wednesday at the Crook County Open Campus building, where the board will hear a presentation on the control of juniper and the protection of sage grouse in the region. The discussion will be led by representatives from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Nature Conservancy.

“It’s really more of a learning about the issue itself,” said Bruce Pokarney, director of communications for the Department of Agriculture. “I don’t think we have had any kind of presentation and there has been nothing on the agenda before about the juniper situation. This is a good location for hearing about that.”

Although OSU Crook County Extension Agent Tim Deboodt and Chris Gannon, the Crooked River Watershed Council Coordinator, will not participate in the juniper discussion, they plan to attend the meeting. Both men have studied the impact of juniper in Crook County and consider it an invasive species that is adversely affecting the local water supply and overwhelming the landscape.

“I am pleased that they are bringing these agenda items into the discussion,” Gannon said. “I think they are timely and necessary . . . A topic like juniper fits really well in our area. It matches one of our key issues.”

Wednesday, the board will also provide an opportunity for members of the public to weigh in on their concerns.

“That is wide open,” Pokarney said. “It is open for anybody to talk about anything. It may be issues that are being addressed at the meeting or it could be things not on the agenda at all.”

In addition, the first day will feature a local industry panel who will discuss important agricultural issues facing the Central Oregon region.

“They are very interested in hearing from the local panel of speakers that will be part of the agenda, just to hear what the local issues are in Central Oregon.” Pokarney said

Brian Barney, the chair of the Ochoco Irrigation District board, was invited to join the panel. He anticipates discussing the impact of the recent reintroduction of steelhead into Crooked River and Ochoco Creek. He intends to relay how the District has tried to protect the new species, and address the way it has burdened the local agriculture industry.

“As things are changing, it is just getting more difficult,” Barney explained, adding that he hopes to discuss “how we want the Department of Agriculture to represent agriculture in Crook County.”

On Thursday, board members will receive a final agency budget and legislative summary from ODA Director Katy Coba. They will later conclude the meeting with reports by board subcommittees on land use, natural resources, government relations, and marketing/food safety.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine