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Molalla - Pudding Watershed

In the Molalla/Pudding Subbasin (4th field watershed) there are two 5th field watersheds: Molalla river watershed, and the Pudding River watershed.

Molalla River Watershed

In prehistoric times an extensive system of trails existed along the Molalla River. These trails provided a trade route between peoples of the Willamette Valley and those of Eastern Oregon.

The Molalla Indians used one such trail in the early 1800's, now called the Table Rock Historic Trail. During the 1920's this same trail was utilized by Native Americans from the Warm Springs Reservation to reach traditional huckleberry picking areas near the Molalla River and Table Rock (elevation 4,827 ft.).

Euro-Americans began moving into the area during the late 1800's. They were searching for gold and looking for land on which to homestead. As the white settlement grew, so did commercial business. By the early 1900's, logging and mining companies were fully established in the Molalla River watershed.

Today, logging and recreational use are the primary activities in the upper reaches of the Molalla River.

Pudding River Watershed

Northeast of Salem, five large streams flow west out of the Cascade Mountains to join the Pudding River as it meanders north across the broad Willamette Valley and to its confluence with the Molalla River near Canby. The watershed encompasses 528 square miles, much of which is used for farming, timber harvest, manufacturing, and recreation.

There are eleven incorporated communities within the watershed, including the rapidly growing cities of Salem, Woodburn and Silverton, and smaller towns such as Scotts Mills, Aurora and Gervais. Over 92% of the Pudding River Watershed is privately owned. Agriculture and forestry are the dominant land uses within the Pudding River Watershed.

The Pudding River watershed has numerous waterfalls and the 8,360-acre Silver Falls State Park.

Elevations within the watershed range from 4,280 feet at the summit of Panther Rock in the upper end of Butte Creek to 66 feet where the river joins the Molalla River.

The watershed's climate is characterized by cool, rainy winters, and hot, dry summers. Only 5% of the annual precipitation falls from July through September. Winter precipitation usually falls as rain in the lower elevations of the watershed while a transient snow pack can develop at higher elevations.


Compiled by John Ame, Science Writer (2007)