Michael Weinberg is Director Emeritus at the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. This honorary position was extended to Weinberg in 2015 in recognition of his long and valued history with the District.
A Director Emeritus acts as an advisor to the board of directors, adding to the board’s knowledge and experience. The position is reserved for a person who previously served as a conservation district director in the United States or its territories where conservation districts exist. A Director Emeritus does not vote on official District decisions.
Service to the District
Weinberg attended his first Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District board meeting in 1994. He was appointed as an Associate Director in 1997. In 1998, Weinberg was elected to the Zone 1 Board Director position representing Boring, Sandy, and northeast Clackamas County.
At the end of his term in 2002, Weinberg chose not to run again for public office, opting instead to remain on as an Associate Director. Much of his energy between 2002 and 2006 was spent developing and executing a successful campaign to secure a tax base for the District.
Community Supported Conservation
“We were unsuccessful in our attempt to secure a tax base for the District on the 2002 ballot,” says Wienberg, “but by 2006, we thought that we could succeed. It was challenging, though. Our board was, and is, mostly made up of conservationists and farmers, not politicians.”
In 2006, the voters of Clackamas County did approve a tax base for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. This was the result of much hard work by many people, including Weinberg who acted as the treasurer of the political action committee that raised money for the campaign. Weinberg notes that acting in this role was “a real stretch for me. I’m not an extrovert, but I went out and stumped to all the different civic groups, attending meetings and forums to talk up our tax base initiative.”
“It is the biggest thing I’ve ever done for conservation,” says Weinberg, who observes that many soil and water conservation districts, then, as now, spend an enormous amount of time trying to secure funds to support their work. “A stable tax base enabled the District to hire more technical staff,” he says. “This allowed us to increase the number and scope of conservation projects here in Clackamas County.”
Love of Outdoors Began Early
Weinberg grew up in Brooklyn, New York but spent all of his childhood summers at a hotel in the Adirondack Mountains owned by his uncle. This is where he first learned to appreciate nature. “Since I was a child, I was always comfortable in two different cultures — the city and the country.” The first time he visited the Pacific Northwest, he knew that he would one day live here and he eventually moved to Oregon in 1976.
While he has always been interested in natural resources, Weinberg initially studied psychology in college, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Columbia College. He received his Master of Arts degree in educational psychology from Columbia Teachers College in 1966. In 1974, after a stint in the Peace Corps, Weinberg returned to school for a Master of Science degree in watershed science from Colorado State University.
A Career in Water Resources
After graduating in 1974, Weinberg worked in water resource management in Florida before making his move to Oregon. He managed the Santiam Water Control District for 7 years, during which time he joined the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District as an Associate Director. In 1980, he ran for an at-large position on their board and won.
After moving to Clackamas County, Weinberg became involved with the Clackamas River Basin Council. He was there since its formation in 1997, serving on their executive committee for several years as chair and vice-chair before leaving in 2013. “I have always been a strong advocate for collaboration between watershed councils and the District,” he shares, “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that truly serves the residents of Clackamas County.”
Weinberg was appointed to the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission in 1998. He served on this advisory council to the Oregon Department of Agriculture until 2003.
In 2010, Weinberg chose to run once again for the Zone 1 director position on the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation Board and won. He resigned his position in 2013 to move back to New York to be close to family and friends, just miles away from the site of the hotel he frequented in his youth. He now splits his time between his residence here in Oregon and a home in New York.