The economic and community effects of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board investments in watershed restoration
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Cooperative, community-level approaches to environmental management are emerging in a variety of contexts, in Oregon and elsewhere. The rise of these approaches has led to a new appreciation of the possibility of watershed restoration projects that also foster good jobs and strong local businesses. With millions of dollars to spend on its mission, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) plays a significant role in supporting local economies through grants to watershed councils, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), and other local restoration activities. The aim of this study is to document the level of that support. The specific question addressed by the study is: Did OWEB's 1997-99 grants improve socio-economic conditions in local communities in Oregon? To answer this question, the Ecosystem Workforce Program reviewed a sample of 1997-99 OWEB grants and also conducted telephone interviews with selected grantees. The purpose of the interviews was to help us understand the patterns of expenditure we found while reviewing the files. In conclusion, this study finds that OWEB grants and program expenditures improve or maintain economic stability in Oregon communities.