January 28, 2003 11:00 pm

Jeff Oveson, director of the Grande Ronde Model Watershed Program, has received the Governor's Spirit of the Oregon Plan award for his Wallowa County ranch's conservation practices.

He was one of 19 recipients honored during the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board meeting in Florence.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber established the annual award in 2000 as part of the statewide Oregon Plan for salmon and watersheds.

Wendy Hudson, grant program specialist for the board, said about Oveson: "(He) has been instrumental in promoting and implementing watershed enhancement projects in Wallowa County."

In addition to his duties with the model watershed, Oveson serves on the Blue Mountain Demonstration Project and is the former director of the Wallowa Soil and Water Conservation District.

"Jeff has implemented many best management practices on the family ranch, including off-stream water developments, a rotational grazing system with improved cross fencing and separate pastures, and irrigation efficiencies," Hudson said.

"These practices have led to improvements in water quality and a substantial increase in streamside vegetation."

Oveson has led tours on the family ranch near Wallowa, explaining the ranch's conservation practices.

"With his gregarious nature and outgoing personality, Jeff is able to bring to life for his visitors the many accomplishments of his ranch and conservation operations,'' Hudson said.