The Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program

Apr 25, 2019
Keep your eyes on the legislative Joint Ways & Means Committee to find out if this critical program will be funded this year.


It’s been a busy legislative year for the Land Trust and all eyes are on the legislative Joint Ways & Means Committee to see what will happen with the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP). OAHP is a new program designed to help land trusts work with farmers and ranchers to create “working lands” protection agreements.

OAHP has the ability to protect elk habitat in Oregon. Photo: Brian Ouimette.
OAHP has the ability to protect elk habitat in Oregon. Photo: Brian Ouimette.
With the average age of Oregon’s farmers and ranchers above 60 years and development pressures increasing, a growing number of agricultural properties are at risk of disappearing or being fragmented. OAHP was passed in 2017, but never fully funded. If adequately funded this session, OAHP funds could be utilized by land trusts to match available federal funds to purchase the development rights from the landowners and keep these vulnerable farms and ranches in production. 

A prime example of a working lands conservation easement is the Land Trust’s Aspen Valley Ranch project on the upper Crooked River near Post, Oregon. While Aspen Valley Ranch is nearly 16,000 acres in size, the Land Trust has divided the project into smaller components, and is working to conserve 3,800 acres of prime Rocky Mountain elk migration habitat. This piecemeal approach is time consuming and inefficient, but it’s currently the only course available to protect this beautiful valley, the working ranches that comprise it, and the mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk that depend upon it.

OAHP has strong bi-partisan support, but it’s unclear what the legislature will do. In the meantime, we’ll continue to encourage our legislators to fund OAHP to protect the best of Oregon’s farms and ranches.


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