The 1995 Oregon Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 3441 that provides guidance in establishing watershed councils, and clarifies that formation of a council is a local government decision, with no state approval required. Watershed councils are locally organized, voluntary, non-regulatory groups established to improve the conditions of watersheds in their local area. Councils are required to represent the interests in the basin and be balanced in their makeup. Bringing together local stakeholders from private, local, state, and federal interests in a partnership, councils plan watershed protection and restoration strategies in a holistic way–from ridge top to ridge top, and from headwaters to mouth. Through this watershed partnership, council members collaborate to identify issues, promote cooperative solutions, focus resources, agree on goals for watershed protection and enhancement, and foster communication among all watershed interests.
State funding for Watershed Councils was originally set to end in 2015. However in November 2010 Constitutional Ballot Measure 76 passed in Oregon , making OWEB’s funding permanent.