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Lake Abert Watershed (USGS #17120006)

The Lake Abert watershed is located in Lake County and contains Lake Abert and the Chewaucan River. Lake Abert, the terminus of the watershed's thirteen rivers and streams, is a defining feature for the Lake Abert watershed. The lake covers approximately sixty square miles and is only eleven feet deep at its deepest point. The Chewaucan River, one of the largest rivers in Lake County, enters the lake at its southern tip. The Lake Abert watershed drains more than 820 miles.

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover (Tyler Barns, Oregon Explorer)

Lake Abert is Oregon's only saltwater lake. Because the lake is cut off from the ocean, the only way for water to escape is through evaporation. Water that evaporates leaves behind salt deposits that dissolve in the remaining water, making it saline. Because of its high salinity, swimming is prohibited, and fish cannot survive in the lake. However, the harsh environment is an ideal habitat for brine shrimp, which attract thousands of migrating shorebirds, including the endangered snowy plover.

The Lake Abert watershed is protected and managed by several state, private, and non-profit organizations including the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, Environment Oregon, Solv Watershed Programs, the Oregon Conservation Network, the Oregon State University Watershed Extension Program, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Oregon Watershed Land Trust. Several restoration projects are ongoing in the area, including riparian restoration, the installation of culverts and weirs to facilitate fish migration, and the removal of juniper.


USGS water resources links for the Lake Abert watershed

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

Fish and Wildlife Service Chewaucan River Watershed

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

Oregon Public Broadcast video about Lake Abert

Authored by Caitlin Bell, Science Writer, Oregon Explorer