West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is governed by an elected seven-member Board of Directors. Five directors represent the District’s five zones and two directors serve at-large. In addition, the board has four appointed Associate Directors. Elected Directors serve a four-year term, after which the position is placed on the November General Election ballot.
The Soil Conservation Service was authorized by Federal Legislation in 1937. The District is one of 45 conservation districts in Oregon, which are defined in Oregon law as political subdivisions of state government.
The District is not a state agency. Rather it is classified as a municipal corporation, a form of local government, which is required to follow many of the same laws that govern state agencies and special districts. It is specifically governed by ORS 568.210 to 568.890 and ORS 568.900 to 568.933.
The Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) that established and govern Oregon’s SWCDs (except the federal tribal Tiicham Conservation District) were significantly revised by the 2009 Legislative Assembly under House Bill 2082. The origin of the House Bill was a collaborative effort among the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, member Conservation Districts, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
It was designed to address the evolving challenges and opportunities presented to today’s SWCDs that were not envisioned when the statute originated, and to eliminate antiquated provisions in the previous editions.
In addition to the general purpose of SWCDs under ORS 568.225 in the previous editions, the following was added: “promote collaborative conservation efforts to protect and enhance healthy watershed functions, assist in the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.”