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Water and Environment :: Natural Resources

Threemile Canyon Farms Environmental Planning and Permitting

Gillian and Morrow Counties, OR

Threemile Canyon Farms is a family-owned, 93,000-acre food and dairy farm on the Columbia River near Boardman, Oregon. Threemile Canyon Farms is recognized as a leader in sustainable agricultural practices and has demonstrated that forward-looking, green farming can be good for both business and the environment. For close to two decades, DEA has managed a diversity of environmental regulatory compliance efforts for the farm.

DEA facilitated an agreement that ended six years of litigation over water withdrawals from the Columbia River and species conservation. Terms of the historic settlement allowed Threemile Canyon Farms to expand operations in exchange for setting aside close to one-quarter of their land (23,000 acres) to protect four threatened species and Columbia Basin grasslands, a unique and irreplaceable part of Oregon’s natural heritage. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior and others praised the agreement as a model for how private interests and public agencies can work together for effective environmental preservation. As part of this agreement, DEA prepared, and continues to monitor, the nation’s first multiple species Candidate Conservation Agreement under the federal Endangered Species Act.

DEA is responsible for obtaining the necessary Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act authorizations to allow for operation of the Threemile Canyon Farms’ Columbia River intake facility. Activities include maintenance dredging and reconfiguration of the pump station and fish screen on the existing intake facility. DEA recently chaired a Technical Advisory Team that consisted of state and federal resource agencies and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to review intake and fish screen design alternatives, and negotiate a design that optimizes the farm’s operations and minimizes impacts to listed fish.

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