The Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) is a voluntary association of 23 local jurisdictions, special districts, and education institutions in southwestern Oregon’s Jackson and
Josephine Counties. We have been serving the region since 1968 and act as a catalyst to promote quality of life, effective and efficient services, and leadership in regional communication, cooperation, planning, and action in southern Oregon. Programs include Senior and Disability Services, Transportation Planning, Land Use Planning, Community Development, Administrative Support, and Natural Resources.

The Natural Resources Program has been an active participant in the Rogue Basin Partnership (RBP) and has worked in the region with many of its members and partners for decades to improve the health and vitality of our watersheds and natural systems. A large focus of our work is partnering with local communities to implement programs to meet the goals of the Clean Water Act. We provide specialized technical assistance, regional GIS support, coordination and implementation of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) programs, implement comprehensive water quality monitoring programs, complete on-the-ground restoration projects, and implement educational programs.

An example of a program we implement is the Bear Creek TMDL Water Quality Monitoring Program. RVCOG staff collects water quality samples across the Bear Creek Watershed from streams and storm drains and analyzes them in a lab. The purpose of the program is to monitor the health of the watershed and evaluate any changes over time, especially improvements resulting from the implementation of the TMDL program. We have been monitoring since the mid- 1990s and the data collected represents one of the most comprehensive datasets on water quality in the basin.

We also used a GIS-based process to develop a Regional Ecosystem Framework to identify critical core areas (nodes) and corridors linking these areas. The framework was developed through an extensive process and led to a product that was used in local planning. For example, this framework has been utilized in transportation planning to help protect areas as highways, bridges, and other projects were planned and built.

Most of our work has been focused in urban areas to support local communities who comprise the largest percentage of our membership. As a result, really strong connections with local communities and organizations in the Medford and Grants Pass areas. Partnering with RBP has allowed us to connect with organizations working with other sectors and in other areas of the watershed. This provides for better coordination in managing water quality and watershed health and also has allowed us to partner on programs that have the potential to expand across the entire basin.