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Ochoco Irrigation District highlights board member and longtime Crook County farmer Steve Forrester

PHOTO COURTESY OF OCHOCO IRRIGATION DISTRICT - Board member Steve Forrester

Ochoco Reservoir - 8,796 acre-feet (20% full)

Prineville Reservoir 42,988 acre-feet (29% full)

April showers have been an answer to prayers for many farmers and ranchers in the county. Recent rain and snow improved inflows to reservoirs, and reduced demand for watering has allowed for additional storage in both Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs. Both facilities remain at historic low levels, but the additional water should add a couple more weeks to a very short irrigation season. The OID board has set the allocation from Ochoco at .45 acre-feet with a rate of .7 cfs/100 acres and a start date of May 6. Ochoco Reservoir is 20% full, with 8,796 acre-feet of storage and Prineville Reservoir is 29% full, with 42,988 acre-feet.

This month, we are proud to spotlight Ochoco Irrigation District Board Member Steve Forrester. Steve has devoted his life to maintaining what makes Prineville special while seeking to make it even better. Steve grew up in Prineville and chose to raise his family here and has served on OID's board for four years. Today, he farms 228 acres, owns businesses, serves on numerous boards and serves as Prineville's City Manager. To say he's invested in the community would be an understatement.

Spotlight on OID board member Steve Forrester

How long have you lived in Crook County?

I have deep roots in Crook County. My Grandmother Forrester's parents homesteaded on the Crooked River below Bowman Dam in the early 1900s. I was raised in Prineville, attended Crook County schools and graduated from Crook County High School in 1978. I returned to Crook County in 1986, after attending Oregon State University and working as a plant controller for a green-end plywood mill in Eugene.

Can you tell us about your family?

Kim and I have been married for 30 years. We raised our three boys and daughter here. We have two young grandkids.

What inspires you to farm?

I started changing sprinkler pipes for potatoes and alfalfa at an early age and knew then that I wanted to farm and ranch. Farming is foundational to our way of life and the success of our country. It is a renewable resource that gives back, and we need to protect it.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing farmers?

I view the increasing societal pressures from endangered species and water quality as some of the most significant challenges farmers face. We are responsible for effectively and efficiently managing conservation projects and land to make it productive and profitable while being environmentally responsible. It's easy to say but hard to do.

What are your goals as an OID board member?

I want to see OID move through the transition of upgrading our current system and complete the McKay Creek Water Rights Switch. Both of these projects have long-term benefits for farmers and the environment. I'm committed to helping the district move forward with piping open canals and providing on-farm support for commercial farmers to help best manage our water resources.

What would you like community members to know about local agriculture?

We have a significant percentage of commercial farms in our district. Agriculture is a big part of our local economy and very important to our way of life.

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