Pamplin Media Group – OCHOCO IRRIGATION DISTRICT: April Showers Bring… Help for Farmers and Ranchers

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Ochoco Irrigation District Spotlights Longtime Crook County Board Member and Farmer Steve Forrester

Ochoco Reservoir – 8,796 acre-feet (20% full)

Prineville Reservoir 42,988 acre-feet (29% full)

The April showers were an answer to the prayers of many county farmers and ranchers. Recent rain and snow have improved supplies to the reservoirs and reduced watering demand has allowed additional storage in the Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs. Both facilities remain at historically low levels, but the extra water should add a few more weeks to a very short irrigation season. The OID board set Ochoco’s allocation at 0.45 acre-feet with a rate of 0.7 cfs/100 acres and a start date of May 6. Ochoco Reservoir is 20% full with 8,796 acre-feet of storage and Prineville Reservoir is 29% full with 42,988 acre-feet.

This month, we are proud to feature Steve Forrester, Ochoco Irrigation District Board Member. Steve has dedicated his life to maintaining what makes Prineville special while striving to make it even better. Steve grew up in Prineville and chose to raise his family here and served on the OID Board of Directors for four years. Today, he farms 228 acres, owns businesses, sits on numerous boards of directors, and is City Manager of Prineville. To say he is involved in the community would be an understatement.

Spotlight on Steve Forrester, OID Board Member

How long have you lived in Crook County?

I have deep roots in Crook County. My grandmother Forrester’s parents had settled on the Crooked River below the Bowman Dam in the early 1900’s. I grew up in Prineville, attended Crook County schools and got my graduated from Crook County High School in 1978. I returned to Crook County in 1986, after attending Oregon State University and working as a plant controller for a green plywood plant in Eugene.

Can you tell us about your family?

Kim and I have been married for 30 years. We raised our three boys and our daughter here. We have two young grandchildren.

What drives you to cultivate?

I started changing the garden hoses for potatoes and alfalfa at an early age and then I knew I wanted to farm and ranch. Agriculture is the foundation of our way of life and the success of our country. It’s a renewable resource that gives back, and we need to protect it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing farmers?

I consider the growing societal pressures from endangered species and water quality to be one of the biggest challenges facing farmers. We are responsible for the effective and efficient management of conservation projects and lands to make them productive and profitable while being environmentally friendly. It’s easy to say but hard to do.

What are your objectives as a member of the OID Board of Directors?

I want to see OID go through the transition of upgrading our current system and completing the McKay Creek water rights switch. Both of these projects have long-term benefits for farmers and the environment. I am committed to helping the district move forward with open channels and providing on-farm support to commercial farmers to help them better manage our water resources.

What would you like community members to know about local agriculture?

We have a large percentage of commercial farms in our district. Agriculture is a big part of our local economy and very important to our way of life.

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