SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center
SAGE, in much of the western United States the first thought of the word sage is joined with brush. It’s pretty when it’s green, it provides habitat for sage grouse, and multiple other animals. But the sage I am talking about is the SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center in Boardman, Oregon. This I-84 visitors center provides hands on learning, graphics and experiences to visitors about modern agriculture and how western Umatilla and Morrow Counties. This region has grown to be one of the most unique and diverse agricultural regions in the world.
I have been back in eastern Oregon over a year, and have been talking about taking a guided Port of Morrow tour with my friend Anna and making a stop at the SAGE Center for months. Finally, I did it. I wanted to show a college friend who was in town from Texas, and equally as passionate about agriculture what we do in eastern Oregon, and how and what people are doing at the Port of Morrow.
Heather and I loaded up with Anna as she drove us around the port describing the processing facilities, energy resources, wood and ethanol plants, freezing and shipping buildings and grain export terminal that is shared by two local grain marketing cooperatives.
Heather and I taking it all in.
As we are still in the midst of the west coast port crisis, the importance of agricultural product transportation finally slapped me in the face. Have you really ever stopped to think what it really takes to move raw and finished products to the consumers of the world?
View from the Port of Morrow offices looking on to the Columbia River.
The cost for either moving products by truck or train are ridiculous than barge. The Columbia River is a priceless asset to Oregon and Washington agriculture not just for the small trickle of water that is used for irrigation, but for moving products in a timely, cost effective manner. There is an awesome display, that was my favorite part of the SAGE Center tour, unfortunately I didn’t snap a picture of it… Here are the facts though:
Needless to say, I loved the SAGE Center and our personal tour of the Port. (Thanks Anna!) Here are some of my pictures and video from our adventure in Boardman.
Some farmers, ranchers and food production plants are accessing water from the Columbia River currently. There is current plans to utilize more water from the river to support agricultural production in the region. This will only be done with strict management practices. Currently, the river (the gallon jug for visual reference) is flowing at the average annual flow for the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon is approximately 190,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1 cfs = 448.8 gallons per minute). And the amount of water that is removed from the river for irrigation or energy purposes is less than one half of a percent, or represented as just over a tablespoon.
“Generations of our family have cared for this ranch and its natural resources an in turn the ranch as cared for our families, livestock, wildlife while providing quality beef to feed many people. It is a privilege, a challenge, and at times a burden. But we do take a lot pride in what we do and produce. Ranches are an essential part of a successful economy for our county, state, and country.” — Mark and Tami Rietman, Triangle Ranches, Heppner, Oregon
Want to learn how french fries are really made?
So this beauty of a tug boat was one of the last to sail the pre-dammed Columbia River. Check out the movie Sagebrush Sailors for more history of this brave or slightly crazy river cowboys!
Next time you a driving through Boardman, take an hour or so and check out the SAGE Center, and keep supporting Oregon agriculture!