Project Timeline

Project discussions began with the first site visit to the property by the Union SWCD and the landowner in August of 2018. The project scope of work began development in March 2019 and a technical planning team was formed. As the planning team began to develop ideas for restoring stream and floodplain conditions, investigations of the existing site and surrounding areas were necessary. The Union SWCD and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contacted and met with many of the landowners and managers of neighboring properties or managers for existing infrastructure such as the City of Union, Oregon Department of Transportation, Union County Roads Department, electric company, irrigation ditch groups, and neighboring landowners. The technical planning team has completed several different types of surveys and site assessments during the past four years to collect data and information and better understand the project site.

Public Outreach Objectives

Public engagement for this project will focus on informing the public about project goals, project design, and anticipated environmental effects, while seeking to understand and alleviate public concerns related to downstream flood risk and other perceived potential impacts. It is understood that while members of the public cannot dictate professional engineering practices and application of science, members of the public can and will be concerned with how the project may affect them, their families, their financial interests, and their community. While this project occurs on private land and is, therefore, not subject to public decision-making, it is a project that seeks to alter the floodplain and improve fisheries habitat. As such, the public has a genuine and legitimate interest in how this project affects them as it is implemented, and as these waters leave private lands.

Communications and outreach activities achieve the following external communication goals:

  • Clearly communicate project goals for this private land project and how project decisions are made.
  • Provide meaningful, accessible,and equitable opportunities for the public to provide constructive feedback and concerns to the project sponsor
  • Proactively communicate project milestones and progress to the public with opportunities for questions and timely follow up responses to minimize concerns raised due to misinformation.
  • Establish the project sponsors as trusted sources of project information, and ensure information is communicated to the public in the clearest way possible.
  • Demonstrate how decision-makers considered public concerns in project design and implementation.

Public Outreach Opportunities

When the project approaches the milestones in the timeline above there will be public engagement opportunities. Previous opportunities included a public meeting in January 2020, a Focus Group meeting in September 2021, and a Focus Group meeting for the 30% design in February 2023. Learn more about the focus group meeting below.

Upcoming opportunities will be listed on this page.

Focus Group

We have identified specific community members to be part of the Buffalo Flats Focus Group to engage in two-way communication about this project. The Focus Group is not a formal advisory committee, rather, its purpose is to allow the sharing of information about this private land project with a voluntary set of community representatives and landowners, and to receive feedback from this group as the project progresses. The Focus Group will meet as determined by Union SWCD, and periodically in conjunction with public information meetings.


  • Mike Becker, President, State Ditch Company
  • Donna Beverage, Union County Commissioner 
  • Dave Dahlstrom, Union Sportsman Club
  • Jeff Friesen, Community Member
  • Cassie Miller-Petersen, Eastern Oregon Livestock Show
  • Bryan Endress, OSU, Union Experiment Station
  • Jake Kimbro, Community Member
  • Andrea and Tony Malmberg, Landowners, Buffalo Peak Land and Livestock
  • Willard Bertrand, Community Member
  • Jay Blackburn, Union City Councilor
  • Dick Middleton, Union City Councilor
  • Cathy Nowak, Community Member
  • Paul Phillips, President, Prescott Ditch Company
  • David Ricker, Community Member
  • Wade Titus, President, Swackhammer Ditch
  • VACANT, Administrator, City of Union
  • Anthony Pagliarulo, Community Member
  • Kathy Kirby, Community Member

Focus Group Meetings

Focus Group meetings are intended to be an opportunity for useful conversation and sharing of information amongst only the project planning group and Focus Group members. Interested public that are not Focus Group members may use the virtual meeting opportunities provided to listen to the meetings. These meetings do not meet the definition of a public meeting and are not required to meet public meeting laws.

Focus Group meeting #1 was held as a virtual meeting on September 28, 2021 from 6:00-8:30pm via Zoom. This Meeting provided a project update to Focus Group members affirming the project area, project timeline and activities currently anticipated for the project, along with addressing Focus Group questions.

Focus Group meeting #2 was held on February 23, 2023 from 6:30-8:30pm at the OSU Extension Conference Room in Island City, OR. Due to inclement weather, a remote meeting option was provided, and several members of the group attended virtually. The 30% Design was presented and discussed. The meeting agenda and meeting notes are provided below.