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Silver Lake Watershed (USGS #17120004)

The Silver watershed is located in northwestern Lake County and contains Silver Lake, the terminus of the watershed's rivers and streams. The area includes three main streams: Silver Creek, Bridge Creek, and Buck Creek. All three of these streams drain into Paulina Marsh, a large wetland located to the northwest of the Silver Lake.

The Paulina Marsh-Silver Lake complex is integral to the local community, as well as to breeding birds and mammals. The complex and the streams flowing into it create an area of water-rich lands, and act as the only water source within the Silver Lake Basin during late summer. The entire watershed totals 167,462 acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service own and manage more than half of the watershed, while the remaining land is owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management and private landowners.

The hydrology of the Silver Watershed is integrally tied to the region's high desert climate and geology. The main source of water in the watershed is snowmelt from the nearby Cascade Mountains. The watershed receives between 15 and 40 inches each year. The water itself is used for many purposes, including irrigation, livestock and wildlife watering, wildlife habitat, waterfowl hunting, fishing, recreational and aesthetic uses, and fish spawning and rearing. Of those listed, the primary uses are irrigation and habitat for aquatic species.

Authored by Caitlin Bell, Science Writer, Oregon Explorer and Lake County Watershed Council