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Protected Areas

Boulder Creek Watershed

Key Statistics

Size (acres) 19,476
Percent public ownership 100
Miles of anadromous salmonid streams 5
Highest elevation (feet) 6,129
Lowest elevation (feet) 1,600

Location and Size

The Boulder Creek fifth-field watershed is located in the eastern portion of the Umpqua Basin. The watershed is 19,476 acres. Its namesake stream empties into the North Umpqua River approximately two miles downstream of PacifiCorp's Soda Springs Dam. The Boulder Creek Watershed stretches a maximum of seven miles north to south and seven miles east to west.


E&S Environmental Chemistry
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Landscape and Features

Situated on the south side of the Calapooya Divide between the Willamette and Umpqua basins, the Boulder Creek Watershed has fairly steep topography. Elevations range from 6,129 feet at Balm Mountain on the northeastern edge of the watershed to approximately 1,600 feet where Boulder Creek empties into the North Umpqua River. Other high-elevation areas include Illahee Rock (5,382') and Harding Butte (5,637'). Streams within the watershed deeply dissect the landscape.

Nearly all of the Boulder Creek Watershed is managed as the Boulder Creek Wilderness. Established in 1984, this wilderness area encompasses all but a small area along portions of the perimeter of the watershed. These non-wilderness areas are managed as late successional reserves or matrix lands. Late successional reserves are areas managed to protect and enhance conditions of late-successional and old-growth forest ecosystems. Matrix lands are those available for timber management at varying levels. There are no residents, towns, or major roads within the watershed, and only trails within the wilderness area.

Land use in the Boulder Creek Watershed is as congressionally-designated wilderness. Management practices within the wilderness are consistent with the wilderness character. Land ownership is solely federal and is administered by the U.S. Forest Service's Umpqua National Forest.

Current Conditions

The Boulder Creek Watershed provides habitat for summer and winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, and coho salmon. Young spring chinook salmon may use the lower reaches of Boulder Creek for refuge before migrating to the ocean. Other native fish in the watershed are rainbow trout, Pacific lamprey, brook lamprey, largescaled sucker, dace species, and sculpin species.

Boulder Creek, the major stream in the Boulder Creek Watershed, is on the final 2002 ODEQ 303(d) water quality limited streams list for spring and summer stream temperatures.

Riparian reserves and stream conditions remain in a near-natural condition. Prior to designation as a wilderness area, timber harvesting occurred only on the fringes of the watershed. These 480 harvested acres have been reforested and are considered to be in a free-to-grow condition. The Boulder Creek trail system has a minor impact upon the watershed's riparian areas. The 1996 Spring Fire consumed the forest canopy on 7,700 acres of the watershed. Though not formally inventoried, the fire did damage riparian vegetation. Under wilderness guidelines, any damage will heal without management assistance.


ODEQ 303(d) list: Accessed on-line on January 13, 2006.

Boulder Creek Wilderness Plan, Diamond Lake Ranger District, Umpqua National Forest, 1990.