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Upper Quinn Watershed (USGS #16040201)

The 348,000-acre Upper Quinn watershed is located within the Owyhee Basin and in southern Malheur County and Humboldt and Pershing Counties in Nevada. Most of the land within the watershed is publically-owned, while a small amount is privately- and tribally-owned. The Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation is located in the southeastern part of the watershed, and is home to the Paiute and Shoshone tribes.

The geography of the watershed is diverse, stemming from its wide range of precipitation. The central portion of the watershed receives less than 9 inches of rain per year, but precipitation increases moving east and west. The outer edges of the watershed receive more than 21 inches of rain each year. The variation in precipitation and geology results in a diverse array of ecosystem types within the watershed. Ecosystem types include high lava plains, pluvial lake terraces, semiarid uplands, salt shrub valleys, and high lava plateaus.

Land use within the watershed is characterized by rangelands (70%) and pasturelands (30%). Only twelve ranchers live on seven ranches within this watershed. While the small community has an interest in protecting the land within the upper Quinn watershed, the remoteness of the area limits the ability of conservationists to provide assistance to community members, and increases the costs of many restoration projects. However, assistance is provided by the Ontario Natural Resources Conservation Service center, the Malheur County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Owyhee Watershed Council.


USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service hydrologic profile for the Upper Quinn Watershed

The Environmental Protection Agency's Surf Your Watershed for the Upper Quinn Watershed

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

Authored by Caitlin Bell, Science Writer, Oregon Explorer