Conservation planning is a natural resource problem-solving and management process. The process integrates ecological (natural resource), economic, and social considerations to meet private and public needs. This approach, which emphasizes identifying desired future conditions, improves natural resource management, minimizes conflict, and addresses problems and opportunities.

Marion SWCD, along with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), provides conservation planning and technical assistance to clients (individuals, groups, and units of government). These Clients develop and implement conservation plans to protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources (soil, water, air, plants, and animals) within their related social and economic interests.

The success of conservation planning and implementation depends upon the voluntary participation of clients. The planning process used by Marion SWCD and NRCS is based on the premise that clients will make and implement sound decisions if they understand their resources, natural resource problems and opportunities, and the effects of their decisions.

Conservation planning helps clients, conservationists, and others view the environment as a living system of which humans are an integral part. It enables clients and planners to analyze and work with complex natural processes in definable and measurable terms. The objective in conservation planning is the sound use and management of soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources to prevent their degradation and ensure their sustained use and productivity while also considering related human social and economic needs.

What is a Conservation Plan?

A conservation plan is essentially two things. First, it is a written record of your management decisions and natural resources, and second, it contains the recommended conservation practices that you choose to implement and maintain on your land. A conservation plan encompasses all of the natural resources on your land which can generally be categorized into soil, water, air, plant, animal, and human considerations. There are many benefits to a conservation plan but two main goals will be achieved through the implementation of a plan: the control of soil erosion and the maintenance of local surface and ground water quality.

Benefits of a Plan

  • Protection of soil and farm productivity
  • Protection of water quality
  • Improvement of soil fertility
  • Management of soil moisture
  • Saves you money over the long term as your land becomes more productive
  • Ensures better natural resource quality for you, your animals and your neighbors
  • Enhances open space and wildlife habitat
  • Improves animal health
  • Contributes to plant health and vigor for desired plants
  • Makes your property more attractive and promotes good neighbor relations
  • Promotes health and safety of your family
  • Helps you comply with Ag Water Quality Plan, SB 1010
  • Increases property value

Starting the Conservation Planning Process

To start a Voluntary Conservation Plan, contact the District to speak with one of the resource conservationists for assistance. We’d be happy to help you complete and implement your voluntary conservation plan.

Be aware that in order for us to help you, there are responsibilities of both the planner and the landowner.

Landowners Responsibilities:

  • Provide access to property
  • Walk the property with the planner
  • Participate in each planning process step
  • Voluntarily follow Conservation Plan
  • Choose and apply conservation practices
  • Monitor effects and re-plan if necessary

Planner Responsibilities:

  • Develop conservation plan with you
  • Provide technical assistance
  • Provide information about possible financial assistance
  • Assist with monitoring progress and providing documentation
  • Evaluate monitoring and provide re-planning technical assistance if necessary


Forest Ecology

Publications from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI)

OFRI works to improve public understanding of Oregon’s forest resources and to encourage environmentally sound forest practices. This is a link to the publication page of OFRI’s website providing a comprehensive list of their documents.

National Forestry Handbook

An in-depth manual for forestry measurements and practices compiled by the US Department of Agriculture National Resource Conservation Service.


Oregon Garden Smart Guide

An excellent guide featuring native and ornamental plants you can use in your garden to replace plants known to be invasive.

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Pacific Coast Forests: A Field Guide for Identification

This new field guide is concise and well-illustrated for novice botanists and managers alike. The 91-page color guide provides detail on each plant in nontechnical language and photos of different stages of plant development are included to allow reliable identification in the field at different times of the year. Compiled by USDA Forest Service.


Introduction to Soils

A comprehensive Power Point presentation on soil ecology and science produced by OSU and Benton Soil and Water Conservation District

Introduction to Sustainable Farming

This link will take you to a pdf slide show featuring the processes and benefits of sustainable farming.  Produced by OSU Extension Small Farms.