The stories in this issue of Oregon’s Agricultural Progress magazine reflect a year-long conversation about water in Oregon.
Our state is a rich laboratory for studying water, from glaciers to estuaries, deserts to rainforests. Oregon’s Agricultural Experiment Station has branch stations in every part of the state, each in a different watershed with its own regional concerns when it comes to water. As I visited OSU researchers across the state, I asked: what are the challenges facing your region in terms of water?
I heard stories about water quality; water allocation; water for homes, crops, or wildlife; water as a force of nature; water as it pulls communities apart or brings them together. In this special issue, we follow OSU researchers as they examine various aspects of water in our lives.
OSU researchers work with many government agencies involved in managing Oregon’s water and with many more individuals who are working to restore streams, improve irrigation, and change the way they use water. Understanding Oregon’s water resources is a critical concern in state government, a strategic initiative at Oregon State University, and a major focus of research by the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“The biggest challenge we face with water is in the future,” one researcher told me.
So how does the future look for Oregon’s water? Five years ago this magazine featured a story about communities in the Klamath Basin torn apart by conflicts over water. Today, these same communities are pulling together. From Gold Beach to Milton-Freewater, I heard stories about communities coming together to talk, listen, and make plans for the future their children will share. OSU researchers are part of that conversation. They are developing new tools and knowledge to share with communities from tribal councils to watershed councils. As one OSU researcher put it, “What we do now becomes our future.”
These are the stories of OSU scientists at work.