Pamplin Media Group – Irrigation district hires Bettencourt for strategy session



Jefferson County provides $ 25,000 to NUID for strategy and lobbying efforts

Northern Unit Irrigation District Directors hired Aubrey Bettencourt to develop a fundraising strategy for future projects in the district. It will meet on Monday, October 18 in a focused working session with members of the NUID board and some from the wider farming community.

Bettencourt was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science in the US Department of the Interior.

“I think she has the right connection in Washington to start the Lake Billy Chinook Project,” says JoHanna Symons of the Symons Beef Company.

Last August, under the auspices of his nonprofit Perfect Balance USA, Symons brought Bettencourt and three other experts to central Oregon to speak to more than 500 farmers about irrigation issues in the Deschutes basin.

“We are trying to find someone who Perfect Balance and the district think can help,” says Mike Britton, executive director of NUID. “Whether it’s with the strategic plan or with the relationships between partners. That’s really what we think it can bring.”

The Northern Unit is facing a huge demand.

The district wants to build a pumping station in Billy Chinook Lake to compensate for the water it releases from the Wickiup Reservoir to protect wildlife habitat.

Price to pay: $ 400 million.

Farmers in Jefferson County are asking the federal government to foot the bill.

Britton is hoping Bettencourt can unite disagreeable groups on whether the unit should release water for Spotted Frog and Bull Trout habitat.

“Our delegation from Oregon has made it clear that we all have to row in the same direction or they won’t go out of their way to help us,” said Britton.

At their August 6 meeting, Jefferson County commissioners targeted $ 25,000 towards NUID’s fundraising efforts.

The district hired the Ferguson Group as a lobbying partner in Washington, DC

The October 18 meeting will establish how Bettencourt fits into the overall process.

“She’s working lightning fast in everything she does and that’s what we need right now,” says Symons. “I plan a lot of good to come out of this.”

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