In addition to serving the county more broadly, at times certain areas of the county arise as priority areas for JSWCD. These areas have a significant natural resource need and offer a significant public benefit from improvement. Achieving the natural resource improvement requires a focused, long-term investment in the area from JSWCD and other conservation partners.
The district currently has two priority areas: Little Butte Creek for water quality and the northeastern portion of the county for forest health and wildfire resiliency.
Little Butte Creek Water Quality
Little Butte Creek is a very important waterbody for local public drinking water, salmon and steelhead habitat, and irrigation supply. Little Butte Creek enters the Rogue River immediately upstream of a major seasonal drinking water intake for the Medford Water Commission, which provides water to the majority of communities in Jackson County.
Little Butte Creek is water quality limited for a variety of factors including sedimentation, bacteria, pH, and temperature, issues that are magnified at low flows such as during the summer irrigation season. These water quality impacts also affect local recreation in the creek, in addition to drinking water, aquatic life, and agriculture.
JSWCD works on improving agricultural and residential water quality in the Little Butte Creek watershed. At times this work also offers opportunities for water conservation, soil health, and riparian area improvements.
Forest Health and Wildfire Resiliency
The northeastern part of the county is a priority area for forest health and wildfire resiliency. This became a priority focus for JSWCD following the S. Obenchain fire of 2020. JSWCD has led efforts to support residents with post-fire forest restoration and resiliency.
Since this time our work has expanded out from the S. Obenchain fire footprint to the broader northeastern quadrant of the county. This area of the county is one of the most at-risk for severe wildfire. Severe wildfire would not only have devastating impacts on the residents in the area, but the rest of the county as well from air quality, recreation, and economic impacts, as well as degradation of forest, woodland, and aquatic habitats that hold exceptional ecological value. Reducing wildfire risk in this area is also critical for protecting public drinking water supplies, as the primary source of Medford Water Commission water originates in this area and the Rogue River and tributaries flow through it as well. This area of the county also has many elderly and low-income residents and has historically been underrepresented in public investment in forest restoration and wildfire mitigation.
At times this work also offers opportunities for riparian area improvements.