Balancing Agricultural Needs and Natural Habitats

Harney Basin Wetlands

In the Harney Basin, the same practices that support ranches also improve habitat for important species.

A man rides a horse across a flat landscape

The Ranching Life

Ranching is a way of life in Harney County, but, at least in some parts of the country, ranching practices sometimes alter the environment in ways that are incompatible with the needs of native animals and birds. In the Harney Basin, however, ranchers use flood irrigation systems to help manage their lands and grow their crops. It’s a system results in wet meadow environments that help birds and other species to thrive.

More About Harney Wetlands
A man tends a dam used in flood irrigation.
There’s ways to make flood irrigation more productive, to have higher yields for livestock forage, and that’s the win-win that we’re trying to get to — to be able to make producers more profitable and ensure that the habitat continues to be on the landscape.
— Ed Contreras, SONEC Conservation Delivery Coordinator

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board LogoYour Lottery Play Helping Oregon

Lottery dollars, distributed by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), play a vital role in supporting projects that restore and preserve sensitive habitats across the state. OWEB has granted more than $6.3 million to the High Desert Partnership since 2015 to improve and replace Harney Basin Flood irrigation systems as well as fund research and projects at Malheur Lake and at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — work that will benefit both the human economy and wildlife habitats for decades to come.