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Upper North Umpqua River Watershed

Key Statistics

Size (acres) 64,936
Percent public ownership 100
Miles of anadromous salmonid streams 0
Highest elevation (feet) 6,536
Lowest elevation (feet) 1,800

Location and Size

The Upper North Umpqua River fifth-field watershed is located in the eastern portion of the Umpqua Basin. The watershed is 64,936 acres and includes much of the North Umpqua River upstream of PacifiCorp's Soda Springs Dam. Upper North Umpqua River stretches a maximum of 10 miles north to south and 20 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 Upper North Umpqua River Watershed is characterized by rugged high-relief mountain slopes consisting of "V-shaped" canyon walls and sharp-crested drainage divides. Much of the upper end of the watershed consists of low-relief, glaciated mountain slopes. Elevations range from 6,536 feet at an unnamed mountain in the northeast portion of the watershed to 1,800 feet at Soda Springs Dam. Other high-elevation areas include Hills Peak (6,048'), Kelsay Mountain (5,987'), and Elephant Ridge (5,944'). The lower end of the watershed broadens into an alluvial valley floor in the vicinity of Toketee Reservoir.

Though there are no incorporated cities, there are year-round residents within the Upper North Umpqua River Watershed. The watershed's population includes residents of the U.S. Forest Service's Diamond Lake Ranger Station at Toketee and PacifiCorp's hydropower operations at Clearwater Village, Toketee Falls, and other hydropower operations sites throughout the watershed. The only major road within the watershed is State Highway 138, the North Umpqua Highway. Many U.S. Forest Service roads traverse the watershed, including Forest Road 34, the Toketee-Rigdon Road.

The vast majority of the land base in the Upper North Umpqua River Watershed is used for public forestry purposes. A small percentage of the land is comprised of PacifiCorp's electrical power plants, reservoirs, dams, and various other hydroelectric production features. Land ownership is solely federal, with administration by the U.S. Forest Service's Umpqua National Forest. The bulk of the watershed is managed as matrix. Much of the lower watershed, including all of the Slide Creek drainage, is managed as a late successional reserve. 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. A small portion of the Boulder Creek Wilderness extends into the western edge of the watershed, while the upper portion contains a small portion of the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area.

Current Conditions

Anadromous fish and resident fish from the lower North Umpqua River are blocked from access to the watershed by Soda Springs Dam, Toketee Falls, and Toketee Dam. The Upper North Umpqua River Watershed provides habitat for four resident fish species: rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, and tui chub. Of the four species, rainbow trout may have been native to the watershed. Rainbow, brook, and brown trout have been periodically stocked in the watershed. Tui chub have escaped into the watershed when used as bait by fishermen.

As with many watersheds in southwestern Oregon, stream temperature limits water quality in much of the watershed. The North Umpqua River and two of its tributaries are on the final 2002 ODEQ 303(d) list for stream temperature. A third tributary is 303(d) listed for biological criteria. North Umpqua River is also 303(d) listed for dissolved gas and pH.

Located within the watershed is the major part of PacifiCorp's North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project: Clearwater II, Lemolo I, Lemolo II and Toketee reservoir/forebays, canals, power plants, and transmission lines. Water diverted for hydroelectric use has reduced the fish carrying capacity in the bypass areas of the North Umpqua River and several tributaries. Periodic canal failures and blockages have added sediment to the bedload in these bypass areas, modifying the habitat for the resident fish species.

Prior to 1985, riparian areas were harvested in timber sales and logs were removed from some streams. Since 1985, riparian protection has been maintained on streams with year-round flow. Many stream segments within the watershed lack sufficient shade and large woody debris, receive excess sediment, and, in the case of bypass segments, do not have sufficient velocity to scour adequate pools.


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

USFS Watershed Analysis: Upper North Umpqua Watershed Analysis. Diamond Lake Ranger District, Umpqua National Forest, 1996.