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Voters approve Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District

        When the election results were posted on Tuesday, Nov. 8, John McDonald had no idea whether he had

“How did we do?” Mcdonald, the executive director of the Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District, asked reporters on Tuesday evening. “Did we win?”

Measure 34-269 would impose a permanent tax on Washington County property owners in order to fund the Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District

Unofficial election results on Tuesday, Nov. 9 show the levy passing with 59 percent voting in favor and 40 percent opposed.

The measure would add tax property owners up to 9 centers per $1,000 of assess value. About $21.60 a month for a $240,000 home.

TSWCD was founded in 1955. The agency works to prevent soil erosion and protect streams in rural Washington County, but says that it would use tax levy money to bring its services into more urban parts of the county.

McDonald said that the results show how serious Washington County residents are protecting the area’s natural resources.

“I’m extremely excited and pleased,” McDonald said.

Advocates for the measure have said that it’s the only way to properly fund the Soil & Water Conservation District.

“We were kind of up against the barrier,” McDonald said. “Our money was coming from the federal government, Clean Water Services and others, who were giving us specific projects to do in a particular areas of the county. We had no ability to go anywhere else. … People would tell us that they love what we’re doing in the rural areas and ask for stream planting in the forest areas because they had nobody to provide technical assistance. But we didn’t have the money to do it.”

TSWCD is one of four districts conservation districts in the Portland area, all of which have similar levies on the books.

The district works with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which fund them through grants.

The district had previously sought a levy in 2004, which voters rejected.

McDonald said that the district already has a five year plan for how it will use the levy money to expand its operations across the country.

“I’m very humble about it, but we’re the best people to go about doing it,” McDonald said. “Our focus is getting stuff on the ground. We aren’t the kind of people who say, ‘Gee, somebody ought to do something.’ We say, let’s get out there and get working.”