Mission, Vision, History

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District

What is a soil and water conservation district?

A soil and water conservation district is a publicly-funded organization that helps guide conservation efforts on privately held land for the benefit of wildlife, ecosystems, and the public.

On this page:

    Our mission


    Our mission is to provide resources, information, and expertise to inspire people to actively improve air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and soil health.

    Our vision


    Our vision is that all people in our district are informed and confidently engaged in the long-term caring for and giving back to the land. Everyone has the opportunity to connect or reconnect with the land, especially those who have been displaced from or deprived of land. People’s engagement and connection to the land ensures clean water, clean air, healthy soil, and diverse habitats, for thriving communities, fish and wildlife.

    Guiding values

    • 1 Clean water is vital to people and wildlife.
    • 2 Good soil is a life-sustaining, non-replaceable resource.
    • 3 Healthy ecosystems are essential to humans and native wildlife.
    • 4 Humans have a responsibility to, and self-interest in, being good stewards of the natural world.
    • 5 A steady supply of locally-produced food is important to the quality of life, sustainability and economy of our District.
    • 6 Well-managed agricultural and forest operations can co-exist with wildlife.
    • 7 Informed and engaged board, staff and landowners are key to the success of our mission.
    • 8 Our community conserves natural resources most effectively when all stakeholders are engaged and welcomed.
    • 9 The strength and vibrancy of our District rests on its diversity

    Guiding principles


    Our history



    Oregon passed a law enabling the creation of soil and water conservation districts.


    A petition signed by 32 landowners was filed in 1943 for the creation of the Sauvie Island Conservation District. In 1944, the District was formally established by the State Soil Conservation Committee. The initial boundaries were the same as those of the Sauvie Island Drainage District, covering 13,636 acres.


    The district expanded four times to include all of Sauvie Island and Multnomah County west of the Willamette River. After the final expansion, the district covers 74,502 acres in total.


    The first year that board directors were elected on the General Election ballot.


    The name of the Sauvie Island Conservation District was changed to the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District.


    West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District hires its first conservation planner to provide conservation planning assistance to landowners.


    Voters approved a permanent tax rate, allowing the District to collect property taxes for the first time.


    The interests of soil and water conservation districts, and the public’s expectations for their services, has broadened to include invasive species, noxious weeds, wetlands, open spaces, urban conservation, endangered species, among other concerns. As a result, the increased responsibilities have caused district officials to assume a greater leadership role in natural resource management in their communities.