Author: Hayley White, Oregon State University, Small Farms Program
Publication: Spring 2021
A new house bill designated Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to partner with Department of State Lands (DSL) and Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) create a drainage channel maintenance program. The goal of this new program is to create an effective statewide regulatory process to allow effective maintenance while also protecting the ecological function of the channel.
Drainage of agricultural lands is vital to Oregon, however, that drainage requires maintenance. In the past, that maintenance has required a DSL permit. This new process through the Agricultural Drainage Channel Maintenance (ADCM) program has been simplified to encourage landowner assistance and increase responsible maintenance of agricultural drainage channels.
What channels qualify?
The channels that qualify for the program include “traditionally maintained” channels, which include ditches and some streams. These channels must have provided drainage in the past 5 years, not be designated an essential salmonid habitat (ESH), and must be dry during the maintenance event.
Instead of needing a permit, the ADCM program has changed the process to an ODA notification with a 45 day process. This means that if ODA has not responded to the official submission within 45 days, the applicant is allowed to carry through with the maintenance as it is stated in the application.
This program also allows for the temporary storage of spoils along the channel. If approved, the landowner can remove spoils from the channel using equipment and hold it next to the channel for up to one year. Some regulations apply, and it is not allowed in natural, undisturbed wetland areas.
In the past, any maintenance on deposits over 100 cubic yards required a DSL permit. The new ADCM program allows up to 3,000 cubic yards per linear mile of channel. If you would like to dig a new channel or plan to widen or deepen the drainage, a DSL permit is required.
What is required?
The notification itself only requires basic information and has been designed to be user friendly. Some
of the requirements to be approved include the timing of the work, streamside vegetation, habitat protection, and equipment type. There is a variance request for landowners who might be unable to meet all requirements that can be discussed with ODA and ODFW. Additionally, landowners should take into account other state and federal regulations, tribal cultural resources, fish passage, or rain during the maintenance activity.
ODA hopes that the new ADCM program will simplify the regulatory process, improve awareness and compliance, and encourage landowner assistance.
For more information please visit oda.direct/agchannelmaintenance
Visit polkswcd.com and the “Past Meetings” tab to view the recording of the class by Tyler Manitsas.