Press release—Oregon Farms & Ranch Lands Receive Critical Investment This Session


Karsyn Kendrick
Conservation Program Manager, Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts

More than $5 million will help protect thousands of acres of Oregon agricultural lands

Salem, OR—Last Friday, the Oregon legislature approved $5.8M for the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP) as part of the Capital Construction Bill (HB 5701), which will protect Oregon’s critical farm and ranch lands.

The funding secured for OAHP is estimated to help protect thousands of acres from development and fragmentation, and allows Oregon farming families to pay down their mortgages and buy new farm equipment—reducing the cost of farmland and improving access for the next generation of farmers.

We’re grateful to the legislature for recognizing the urgent need to protect Oregon’s agricultural land and the rural economies and habitats it supports,” said Nellie McAdams, Executive Director of the Oregon Agricultural Trust. “Funding for this program is a game changer for farm and ranch businesses, who are compensated for protecting their land from development and implementing conservation strategies. These tools also make land more affordable for future generations of diverse land stewards.”

OAHP funds 4 grant programs: working land conservation easements and covenants, conservation management plans and activities, education on transferring working land to the next generation, and technical assistance for support organizations. 

Additionally, this funding allows Oregon to leverage up to $7.2 million in federal matching dollars for working land conservation easements—voluntary legal agreements that remove development rights and help protect soil health and water quality while keeping land in farming and ranching. 

“The critical investment in the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program will have a major impact on the future of Oregon’s farms and ranches, keeping working lands in production for generations to come,” said Oregon Representative Mark Owens. “Continued state support will help us pull down even more federal funds and make the most of every dollar invested in the program.”

In 2022, the Oregon Legislature approved OAHP’s first appropriation of $5 million since it was signed into law in 2017. In just one round of grant funding, OAHP funded permanent protection of 12,480 acres of farm and ranch lands across the state in 2023. This includes two ranches in central Oregon.

Deschutes Land Trust is thrilled that the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program has once again received funding from the legislature. We now have state matching funds to complete protection of two ranches in Central Oregon,” said Natasha Bellis, Conservation Director at Deschutes Land Trust. 

“As population growth continues in our region, protection of agricultural lands is vital to protecting our local food supply, clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and preserving our region’s rural heritage.  We look forward to working with COLT on advancing permanent funding of OAHP.”

About the Coalition for Oregon Land Trusts
The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT) serves and strengthens the land trust community in Oregon. At COLT, we build connections and advance policies that help protect our natural world—our water, wildlife and open space—for all people, forever. This work helps our coalition members—31 conservation organizations around the state—do what they do best: protect wildlife and wild places, defend working farms and forests, provide recreation and parks, drive climate solutions and science, champion clean water for all and engage communities to protect our natural world.

Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey is COLT's Communications Manager.

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