Tillamook County Soil and Water Conservation District

Conservation District Directors Responsibilities, Eligibility and Elections

“Director” is the title given to a person who is elected or appointed to serve on a conservation district board. In some states directors are called supervisors or district officials. In Oregon, conservation district directors are elected in the November General Election held in even-numbered years. Directors serve four-year terms. Director terms are staggered so that all positions are not typically elected simultaneously. Staggered terms help provide continuity on the board and maintain operational consistency. A conservation district board may appoint a
person to fill a vacant director position between elections.

Roles and Responsibilities of Directors and Boards
ORS 568.550 outlines the general statutory powers granted to conservation district boards (see Chapter 2). Individual directors do not have individual powers and authorities under statute, unless granted by the conservation district board. Individual directors may
be given authority or power to act on behalf of the board for specific limited tasks. This authority or power is granted through board action (resolution, motion, policy) and must be recorded in the conservation District board meeting minutes. Conservation district boards may
choose to limit or grant authorities to individual directors relating to different actions, such as:

  • Staff Supervision
  • Obligating conservation district funds
  • Serving as a conservation district spokesperson for public presentations, media.
  • Managing projects.
  • Obligating or committing conservation district staff time or other conservation district resources.
  • Signing documents.

Effective boards work cooperatively as a unit to plan and oversee the implementation of their conservation district’s programs. As a representative of the conservation district board, opinions expressed publicly by individual directors should be consistent with established
board policy, regardless of the individual’s personal agenda or opinions.

Director Position Descriptions and Policy
Although conservation district directors do not have individual powers and authorities under statute, unless granted by the conservation district board, it is in the best interest of the conservation district to identify the duties and responsibilities expected of individual directors.
This can be accomplished by establishing conservation district director position descriptions or conservation district policy. Some customary duties and responsibilities of individual directors include:

• Attend and actively participate in all board meetings.
• Come to meetings prepared.
• Carry out committee responsibilities.
• Stay abreast of local conservation issues.
• Attend area and state meetings of the various state associations and other conservation partners.
• Participate in training opportunities.
• Promote the conservation district’s work to local landowners.
• Promote the conservation district’s work to its constituency.
• Promote the conservation district’s work to agencies and organizations.
• Promote the conservation district’s work to legislators and other decision makers regarding the conservation district’s funding.

Conservation District Board Responsibilities
In order to effectively exercise the powers and authorities as stated in ORS 568,  conservation district boards should:

• Identify local conservation needs, programs, and services.
• Keep its conservation district’s mission (“reason for being”) in focus.
• Work effectively with conservation district staff, cooperating agencies, and partners.
• Implement conservation district programs effectively
• Be knowledgeable about laws that govern board operations, such as budget, audit, public meetings, and contracting.
• Develop and implement a long-range plan and an annual work plan.
• Report to the public on conservation district programs and accomplishments.
• Inform legislators and local government officials of conservation district  accomplishments.
• Recruit, train, and utilize volunteers and associate directors.
• Participate with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) in a periodic review of conservation district operations.
• Recruit new conservation district directors and associate directors.
• Seek new partners in conservation efforts.

Director Positions and Eligibility
ORS 568.560(2) and (3) describes the eligibility requirements for a person to become a conservation district director. ORS 568.560(1) requires that conservation district boards shall have either five or seven directors, who are elected at the November General Election in even-numbered years. Each conservation district is certified by ODA as having a five-director board or a seven-director board. A board must follow the processes described in ORS 568.565 to change its number of positions.

District Zoning
To ensure proper representation in a conservation district, each conservation district is divided into legally-defined zones. A five member board must have three zone director positions and two at-large director positions. By statute, a seven-member board must have five zone director positions and two at-large director positions. The term of
office of each position is four years.

Zone Director Eligibility
To become a zone director, two options are available. All requirements listed under each option must be met to be eligible.

Option #1:
An individual may qualify for a zone position if the land ownership or land management requirements are met. For Option #1, a zone director must:

• Own or manage 10 or more acres of land in the district. Zone
directors may either:
• Reside within the zone that is represented, and own or manage
10 or more acres in the conservation district boundaries.
• Reside within the conservation district boundaries, and own or manage 10
or more acres within the zone that is being represented.
• Be involved in the active management of the property.
• Be a registered voter.

Option #2:
An individual may qualify for a zone position in lieu of the land ownership or management requirements in Option #1. For Option #2, a zone director must:

• Reside within the zone that is represented.
• Have served at least one year as a director or associate director of a conservation district.
• Have a conservation plan approved by the conservation district board.
• Be a registered voter.

At-Large Director Eligibility
There are no land ownership or management requirements for at-large positions. At-Large Directors must:

• Reside within the boundaries of the conservation district.
• Be a registered voter.

Director Elections
Conservation district director elections occur during the General Election in November on even-numbered years. ORS 568 and ORS 255 outline the basic process for director elections. Where ORS 568 is incomplete, election law under ORS 255 is followed. There are also a number of other election laws that apply to director elections such as ORS 260 for Campaign Finance Regulation and Election Offenses, and ORS 251 for the Voters’ Pamphlet.

ODA is the filing officer for conservation district elections. Conservation districts and candidates must follow specific guidelines to have candidate names placed on the ballot. ODA notifies each conservation district which positions are up for re-election, procedures
for candidates and conservation districts, applicable laws and rules, and timelines. Conservation districts and candidates are responsible to submit the required forms and information to ODA and county clerks before the deadlines. Candidates are responsible for publishing their information in the local Voters’ Pamphlet.

Director Election Procedures
Election laws are enacted and modified by the Oregon Legislature. The Secretary of State, Elections Division publishes several resources prior to each General Election that reflect any changes in election law. Prior to the beginning of the election process, ODA provides each conservation district a packet with candidate instructions and filing forms, positions on the ballot, and information about law changes and procedures for conservation district director elections. Director positions that will be on the General Election ballot are:

• Positions with the term ending that election year.
• Appointed positions since the last General Election.
• Positions that are vacant.

It is the responsibility of the conservation district and candidates to make sure election deadlines are met. Most counties publish a Voters’ Pamphlet. Contact the local county clerk to get the instructions and deadlines to be listed in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

Selected Items on this webpage were Sourced from: :Oregon Soil and Water Conservation Guidebook – A Guide to Operations and Management 2016″ by the Oregon Department of Agriculture Soil and Water Conservation District Program.