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Guano Watershed (USGS #17120008)

The Guano watershed consists of 1.6 million acres in Harney and Lake Counties. Its southern tip extends into Nevada. Precipitation in the watershed averages between 9 and 13 inches per year. The watershed supports several ecosystem types, including high desert buttes, high lava plains, and pluvial lake terraces. Major land uses within the watershed include rangeland (84%) and grassland (9%). Resource concerns within the watershed include diminishing water quantity and quality, loss of fish habitat, degraded soils, the invasion of noxious weeds, and erosion.

Several organizations manage and protect the Guano watershed, including the Lakeview and Harney Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Harney County Watershed Council, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). One issue of concern within the watershed is high stream temperature caused by a lack of riparian vegetation. Like in other watersheds with similar problems, the DEQ has established limits known as Total Maximum Daily Loads for each pollutant type, including heat, entering a stream. Efforts are being made to restore riparian vegetation, which will shade streams and reduce water temperature. The DEQ plans to use an adaptive management strategy to manage the watershed, meaning that it will track plan implementation with the intent of revising plans that are not successful.


USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service hydrologic profile for the Guano watershed

The Environmental Protection Agency's Section 303(d) fact sheet for the Guano watershed

USGS water resources links for the Guano watershed

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Strategy for Monitoring Oregon's Waters

Authored by Caitlin Bell, Science Writer, Oregon Explorer