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We honor with gratitude the land itself and the people, who today are represented by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, whose relationship with the land continues to this day.
Benton County was created on December 23, 1847 by an act of the Provisional Government of Oregon. At the time of its formation the county included all the country west of the Willamette River, south of Polk County and running all the way to the California border in the south and the Pacific Ocean in the west. The county was created out of lands originally inhabited by the Klickitat, who rented it from the Kalapuyans for use as hunting grounds. All aboriginal claims to land within Benton County were ceded in the Treaty of Dayton in 1855. Portions of Benton County were taken to form Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane and Lincoln Counties, leaving Benton County in its present form.
Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection, 1985-061.0046
illustration drawn by J. T. Picket, circa 1885. Benton County Historical Museum, 1979-256.0003
Much of the flour produced went to foreign markets. Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection, 1994-038.
With the turn of the century the flouring mills domination of Corvallis industrial output gives way to timber industry.
Benton County Historical Museum, Corvallis Public Library Collection, 1985-032.0026BM
Benton County Historical Museum, Justina Newton Thomas Collection, 1996-064.0055
Benton County Historical Museum
Top: harvest crew with steam-powered thrashing machine, Bellfountain. Bottom: harvest crew with chuck wagon. Photo Submitted by Alvah Hinton, GT 16.
A postcard-worthy musk melon harvest. Benton County Historical Museum, Andrew and Wilma Ayers Collection 1980-30.0009
George M. Weister, photographer. Benton County Historical Museum, Corvallis Commercial Club Collection, 1985-032.0025
Rhubarb field in foreground. Circa 1910.
Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection, 1994-038.0582
Benton County Historical Museum, Frank Groves Collection, 1980-088.0065
This display from 1912 won first prize too.
Benton County Historical Museum, Frank Groves Collection, 1980-088.0065
Jess A. Hanson begins a poultry breeding business and will become the world’s pre-eminent breeder of White Leghorn chickens for egg production.
Benton County Historical Museum, 1981-002.00
Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection, 1982-004
Benton County Historical Museum, The Caryl Croisant and Greta Gilmour Collection, 1985-165.0013
Fischer Brothers Milling Company reopens with an emphasis on feed and seed rather than flour in 1924.
Sam H. Moore opens the Benton County Hatchery on the corner of Eleventh and Taylor streets, at that time the largest electric hatchery on the west coast.
Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection
Benton County Historical Museum, James Baggett Collection, 2006-016.0029
Photograph by Ball Studio. Benton County Historical Museum, Harriet Moore Collection, 1982-004.
Benton County Historical Museum.
Photo submitted by George Stovall (pictured at right), GT 29.
Benton County Historical Museum, Oregon State University Botany Department Collection, 1982-015.0005P
O.S.C. Extension Service, Extension and Experiment Station Communications, P120:1050
Oregon led hop production in the U.S. for decades. Benton County Historical Museum, Harland Pratt Collection, 1981-056.001P
While testifying on Capitol Hill on April 2, 1935, soil scientist Hugh Bennett threw back the room’s curtains to reveal a sky blackened by dust. Congress immediately declared soil and water conservation a national policy and priority. The idea for soil and water conservation districts was born.
“The dust storms and floods of the last few years have underscored the importance of programs to control soil erosion. I need not emphasize to you the seriousness of the problem and the desirability of our taking effective action, as a Nation and in the several States, to conserve the soil as our basic asset. The Nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Benton County Historical Museum, Benton County Historical Society Collection, 1982-059.0238CS
O.S.C. Extension Service, Extension and Experiment Station Communications, P120:2391
O.S.C. Extension Service, Harriet’s Collection, HC0972
Nozzle held close to get skin deep penetration with the DDT solution.
R. G. Fowler, Jr., photographer; O.S.C. Extension Service, Extension and Experiment Station Communications, P120:3257
R. G. Fowler, Jr., photographer. O.S.C. Extension Service, Extension and Experiment Station Communications, P120:3257
Second cutting of alfalfa; plants on the left without Borax added to the soil, plants on the right show what growth has occurred with borax.
O.S.C. Extension Service, Harriet’s Collection, HC993
Photo from 1958 shows 8 of the 10 original District Supervisors. Seated around the table from left to right are: Virgil Lance, SCS work unit conservationist; Harold Werth, Benton extension agent; Kenneth Hilderbrand; John Neuman; CY Thompson; Don Hector, board chairman; Herb Seehafer; and Extension Agent S. A. Jackson. Two of the directors, Lester Powell of Kiger Island and Walter Hahn whose place is near Blodgett, were absent.
Some of the District’s first projects included the installation of tile drain systems on farmland. Western Ways Photo.
Many tons of topsoil were washed away into the Luckiamute River.
An 8-inch tile line was installed alongside the waterway to carry the normal run-off flow but during heavy storms the sod waterway will carry the excess run-off safely across the field.
Constructed wildlife pond on Lee Brothers farm near Bellfountain.
Spring-fed irrigation pond on the Nitka farm south of Philomath.
Multiple purpose pond on the George Lowe farm near Monroe 1961
Standing L to R: Darrell Henderson, John Neuman, Herb Seehafer, Harold Werth; Seated L to R: Virgil Lance, Don Hector, C.H. Cy Thompson, Ed Joy, Lynn Clark, Walter Hahn (inset).
This is the first mention of Christmas trees in Benton Soil Conservation District’s records. Photo from H.L Schudel farm on Beaver Creek. Man pruning 5-year old trees.
This 2 ½ ton dump truck was obtained and put into service for cooperators. A rental fee of $10 per day or 15 cents per mile is charged for its use. Supervisor Ed Joy, shown in picture, is in charge of the truck.
Benton County Historical Museum, Alice Rampton Collection, 2006-033.0011.
This is an image of the Van Buren Bridge, looking east.
As a result of the storm in January 1965, a strip up to 70-feet wide was lost from the field adjacent to the Alsea River, shown in this picture.
In an example of agroforestry, this young walnut orchard on Kiger Island owned by Earl and Roy Hathaway and is double cropped to alfalfa.
Benton Soil Conservation District’s 1965 Annual Report
Seated left to right: Keith Crocker, Ervin Jorgensen, Harold Werth, Don Hector, Walter Ziegler, Darrell Henderson, Ed Joy, Gracen Bush, Lynn Clark, Standing: Virgil Lance.
The soil survey for Benton County was completed by the soil scientists assigned to Benton SWCD. The soil survey is now an online tool.
Oregon Forest Practices Act sets standards for reforestation to protect fish and wildlife and watershed health.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
W.V. Environmental Protection and Development Council produces report “Willamette Valley: Choices for the Future”
To learn more, visit the Oregon Explorer’s Willamette Basin resources.
Photograph by Gene Daniels
Also in 1973, Oregon Legislature passed HB 2848 which requires directors to be elected on a nonpartisan ballot at the November general election.
Benton County Historical Museum, Robert Henderson Estate Collection, 2009-086.0181
This signaled the beginning of the wine industry in Benton County.
New terms floating around:
The RCA establishes a national policy that soil, water, and related resource conservation programs shall be responsive to the long-term needs of the nation…
The 1985 Farm Bill aims to reduce soil erosion on highly erodible cropland and discourage conversion of wetlands into non-wetland areas.
District signs were put up at three county lines including Benton-Lane on Hwy 99, Benton-Lincoln on Hwy 20, and Benton-Linn on Hwy 20.
The Agricultural Water Quality Management Act, also known as Senate Bill 1010, was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 1993. The Agricultural Water Quality Management Act requires the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to help reduce water pollution from agricultural sources.
Benton SWCD’s first plant distribution event was in 1993; 1,400 trees were distributed to 21 people. The second one had 69 customers for 5,000 plants and the third one (1995) reached 154 people with 6,311 plants and sales of $4,631. Mostly it was Douglas-fir and Ponderosa Pine and a lot of the trees were donated. The Boy Scouts helped out. Greg Paulson who was a horticulture professor at Linn Benton Community College was the BSWCD Board Chair and he got this going. At later sales his students came and helped.
Oregon signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with NMFS and earmarked $30 million to implement the Coastal Salmon Restoration Initiative on the condition that Oregon Coastal coho salmon were not listed as threatened or endangered.
Ballot Measure 66 and Funding Ballot Measure 66, approved by voters in November 1998, amended Section 4, Article XV of the Oregon Constitution to dedicate 15 percent of net lottery proceeds; half to improve state parks and half to finance the restoration and protection of native salmonid populations, watersheds, fish and wildlife habitats, and water quality. This became an important funding source for District operations administered through the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Nose pumps for cattle installed to allow access to water while keeping livestock out of streams.
This cooperative effort involved compiling all available fish passage barrier and fish habitat inventory data in Benton County into one GIS database with the goal of identifying, prioritizing and planning fish passage and stream restoration projects throughout Benton County.
In April of 2004, BSWCD entered first agreement with Benton County Public Works Department to improve wildlife habitat and water quality.
In November 2004, Benton County voters granted a permanent property tax rate limit to the Benton SWCD (effective July 1, 2005), making the District a public taxing entity and enabling us to increase staffing levels and expand program offerings.
Pictured from left to right: Eric Horning, Anne Rigor, Dr. Clifford Hall, Tim Dehne, Andy Gallagher, Tom Bedell, and Joe Hinds.
Between 2010-2012, 79 individuals from 27 organizations were involved in a planning process to collectively and collaboratively address invasive species issues – and develop a county-wide plan aimed at early detection and rapid response (EDRR) as well as outreach and education. The group achieved consensus in moving forward as a Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) facilitated by Benton SWCD with four active sub-committees.
The Willamette River won the Thiess International Riverprize, an annual award given by the International River Foundation based in Brisbane, Australia. Riverprize recognizes outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river basin management and is the most prestigious environmental prize in the world. Portland-based Meyer Memorial Trust entered the competition on behalf of the many groups and individuals who are involved in efforts to improve watershed health across the Willamette Basin. Meyer Memorial Trust received a $300,000 award, some of which was used to establish the Willamette-Laja Twinning program with partners from the Willamette Valley in the U.S. and the Rio Laja basin in Mexico.
The Willamette Mainstem Cooperative (WMC) is a collaboration of landowners, organizations, and volunteers, coordinated by Benton SWCD, working together to promote, facilitate, and foster long-term stewardship of Willamette River resources with a focus on the Corvallis to Albany river reach. While significant effort had previously been directed towards improving the condition of tributaries of the Willamette, until the establishment of the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative, no organization had coordinated efforts to improve conditions along the mainstem Willamette River.
Benton SWCD chose Oak Creek and Jackson-Frazier Watersheds as our focus areas during these years. Several water quality improvements were implemented.
In 2015, the board of BSWCD adopted its first-ever five year strategic plan.
In 2016, BSWCD began selling native bulbs and seeds in the fall.
Throughout the state, ODA partnered with SWCDs on Special Implementation Areas (SIAs). Benton SWCD and ODA chose Upper Muddy Creek as an SIA.
Oregon State Parks awarded Benton SWCD a plaque “in appreciation of your outstanding leadership and coordination of the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative” along with the following note:
“Please accept this token of our appreciation and gratitude for your contribution of time and resources to help improve the natural resources of Oregon State Parks. Your efforts help us achieve our mission to provide and protect outstanding natural, science, cultural, historic, and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations.
Thank you so much for your partnership and collaboration with OPRD to ensure the successful coordination of the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative. Your leadership has really paid off as evidenced by improved conditions on the ground and improved collaboration among entities work in this area. On behalf of myself, our former natural resource specialist Andrea Berkley, and park staff, we thank you!”
In April of 2020, Benton SWCD became the county’s Designated Weed Entity under the Oregon State Weed Board with support from Benton County Board of Commissioners.
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