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Neil Creek SIA

Neil Creek SIA

The Neil Creek SIA, selected in 2016, included properties within the Neil Creek Sub-Watershed of the Bear Creek Watershed in Jackson County.

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Overview Map of Neil Creek SIA Location & Neil Creek Watershed Boundary.

Neil Creek SIA contains approximately 1,750 total agricultural acres, consisting primarily of vineyards, small acreage agriculture, hay, cannabis, and livestock. Primary water quality concerns in this watershed include bacteria, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients.

Types of projects completed in the Neil Creek SIA to address these water quality concerns include: Irrigation Improvement, Manure Management, Fencing, Access Road Improvement, Drainage Improvement, and Vegetated Filter Strip.

Partners involved on the Wagner Creek SIA include: JSWCD, RRWC, ODA, OWEB, and many others.

Interested in specific project examples or before and after photos from our past SIA projects?
Keep reading about the Neil Creek SIA below, and check out the Wagner Creek SIA page for more!

Neil Creek SIA Success Stories & Project Photos

Neil Creek SIA Project #1

Type of Project: Manure management, irrigation efficiency improvement, vegetative filter strip, access road improvement

Lead Organization & Staff:  Sarah Sauter, John Speece; Rogue River Watershed Council

Partner: Paul DeMaggio, Clint Nichols, Jenna Sanford; Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District

Cost: $139,024.96

Funders: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District

Timeline: March 2017 to December 2019

In 2016, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) identified the Neil Creek watershed as a Strategic Implementation Area for water quality concerns related to vineyards, small acreage agriculture, hay, cannabis, and livestock. Neil Creek drains into Bear Creek, a major tributary to the Rogue River.

May contain: ground, nature, outdoors, dirt road, road, and gravel
Before: Large, uncovered, manure piles are a concern for watershed health and may contribte to pollution of  groundwater and waterways through leaching and runoff.

Land management practices on agricultural lands have had deleterious effects on water quality in Neil Creek. Water quality impairments include water temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, nutrients, bacteria, and sedimentation. Conditions contributing to poor water quality include bare ground, exposed manure piles, and livestock management.

The Equamore Sanctuary is located on Neil Creek, two miles east of Ashland in Jackson County. The SIA process, using publicly available information such as satellite imagery and public roadside observations, identified the manure management practices at the Equamore Sanctuary as potentially harmful for water quality. The Sanctuary stockpiled manure and stall bedding, an annual accumulation of 16,000 cu.ft. of material, as best they could to minimize runoff into waterways, placing it in a dry field away from Neil Creek and its tributaries.

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Before: The access road between the barn and manure storage location was impassable in the wet winter season, meaning manure was being stored closer to the barn and Neil creek at some times.

However, Taylor Ditch, a private irrigation conveyance ditch, runs adjacent to the stockpile area and could receive contaminated water from the material. Further, ODA had some concerns that the leaching from the piled manure could impair the local water table, in turn polluting waterways and groundwater sources.

Once on site, Jackson SWCD and the Rogue River Watershed Council identified other water quality concerns and infrastructure needs the Sanctuary could benefit from. An access road to the manure storage area became impassible during the unusually wet 2016 winter storm systems. This meant that the Sanctuary needed to stockpile manure in the lower pastures, much closer to Neil Creek and its tributaries other drainage areas. These drainage areas pass through pasture and sacrifice areas that have constant horse activity, leading to little or no vegetation to stabilize soil and filter out pollutants. Finally, a “wild flood” irrigation system from Taylor Ditch prevented the Sanctuary from evenly spreading irrigation water across the pasture, increasing runoff into a drainage area directly leading to Neil Creek.

May contain: outdoors, countryside, nature, rural, building, and shelter
After: A new 2,800 square-foot manure storage facility and improved access road were installed, and a manure management plan was developed to address the issues accosicated with manure storage and access to the area.

Project Description:
Our project helped Equamore implement best management practices to curtail nonpoint source pollution generated from the property. Activities included a 2,800 square-foot manure facility, 580 feet of improved road surface, 480 feet of gated pipe and a distribution box, 906 ft. of fence, and 0.24 acres of vegetated filter strip. Partners included the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District (Jackson SWCD, technical assistance, funding), Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC, project management), the Equamore Horse Sanctuary and Foundation (funding, in-kind match), and Rogue Riverkeepers (monitoring). OWEB and Jackson SWCD funds were used for project management, labor, materials, and travel to and from the site, and fiscal administration. Match was provided by RRWC, Jackson SWCD, and Equamore.

Ecologic Impact: Improved water quality in Neil Creek, its tributaries, the Taylor Ditch, and groundwater sources; reduced pasture erosion and road erosion.

Economic Impact: Easier access to store and sell manure material; reduced road maintenance costs; increased pasture yield; reduced healthcare costs for horses.

Access Road Improvement

May contain: ground, soil, nature, outdoors, land, and slope
Before: Deep ruts in the muddy access road between the barn and manure storage location made it impassable in the wet winter season, meaning manure was being stored closer to the barn and Neil creek at some times.
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During Construction: The access road surface was hardened to allow for year-round access between the barn and manure storage facility.










May contain: gravel, road, dirt road, asphalt, tarmac, human, and person
After: An improved gravel road surface replaces the old muddy access road. Vegetation was removed from the overgrown ditch, and the irrigation ditch was converted to a gated pipe system, which improved irrigation efficiency and water quality.






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Before: View of  the dirt access road, and the irrigation ditch on either side, which is overgrown with vegetation.








Vegetated Filter Strips

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Before: Water can be seen pooling up, flowing out of the ditch and through the horse enclosure due to a failing culvert.


May contain: outdoors, nature, horse, mammal, animal, field, and ground
After: A new culvert crossing restores the flow of water while maintaining access, and a new fencing exclosure protects the ditch, culvert, and vegetated filter strip from horses' hoof traffic. These improvements will help keep sediment, manure, and other pollutants, out of the ditch and Neil Creek.









May contain: outdoors, nature, soil, and plant
After: New culvert crossings, exclosure fencing, and a vegetated filter strip, were installed to reduce erosion and pollution of water in the ditch flowing to Neil Creek, while maintaing access across the ditch  between the barn and pastures.
May contain: ground, nature, outdoors, soil, and road
Before: Horses were able to directly access this drainage ditch, creating a water quality concern due to manure deposition and erosion from hoof traffic.















​Irrigation Efficiency Improvement - Gated Pipe

May contain: nature, outdoors, field, grassland, land, plant, vegetation, and water
Before: A  mucky section of Taylor Ditch heavily impacted by direct horse access. Damage from hoof action and an overgrowth of vegetation impede the flow and even distribution of irrigation water.


May contain: nature, outdoors, field, grassland, horse, animal, mammal, farm, countryside, and rural
Before: Taylor Ditch was overgrown, making maintenence difficult. Direct assess to the ditch by horses exposed the water to pollution from manure deposition and soil erosion.




May contain: ground and soil
After: Newly installed gated pipe and irrigation diversion structure replace the mucky section of Taylor Ditch in the horse pature, improving irrigation efficiency. Vegetation was removed, improving ease of access and maintenence.
May contain: ground, mammal, cow, cattle, animal, soil, outdoors, and nature
After: Taylor Ditch was piped through this portion of the property. The conversion to gated pipe irrigation improved the efficiency of flood irrigation on the propery, reduced maintenence labor, and protected the ditch from use by livestock.. Note: the landowner covered the gated pipe with scrap wood to protect it from the horses' hoof traffic.






















Manure Management - Storage Facility

May contain: road, gravel, dirt road, ground, nature, and outdoors
Before: Large, uncovered manure piles may pollute groundwater and waterways through leaching and runoff.
May contain: countryside, outdoors, shelter, rural, nature, building, and housing
After: A manure storage facility and hardened access road were installed to simplify manure management for the landowner, while preventing erosion and pollution through runoff or leaching.









May contain: person and human
During Construction: A 70ft x 40ft manure storage facility, hardened access road, and improved drainage were installed.
May contain: porch, patio, walkway, path, outdoors, and pergola
After: The new manure storage facility can hold about 400 cubic yards of material, and is easily accessible year-round.