You are here



Upper South Umpqua River Watershed

Key Statistics

Size (acres) 86,966
Percent public ownership >99
Miles of anadromous salmonid streams 47
Highest elevation (feet) 6,789
Lowest elevation (feet) 1,600

Location and Size

The Upper South Umpqua River fifth-field watershed is located in the eastern portion of the Umpqua Basin. This 86,966-acre watershed contains an eight-mile stretch of the South Umpqua River from just below Buckeye Creek and South Umpqua Falls upstream to the headwaters of Black Rock Fork and Castle Rock Fork, the two main headwater tributaries forming the South Umpqua River. Upper South Umpqua River stretches a maximum of 13 miles north to south and 16 miles east to west.


E&S Environmental Chemistry
View large image | View as PDF

Landscape and Features

The Upper South Umpqua River Watershed contains a mix of steep, well-dissected terrain and gentle- to moderate-gradient, weakly dissected terrain. Elevations range from 6,789 feet at Fish Mountain on the southeast tip of the watershed to 1,600 feet at the low end of the watershed. Other high-elevation areas include Rattlesnake Mountain (6,656'), Weaver Mountain (6,371'), and Jackass Mountain (6,230').

The estimated maximum population of the watershed is two, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. There are no incorporated cities within the watershed. There are many forest roads within the watershed, but no state highways or county roads.

The most common land use in the Upper South Umpqua River Watershed is forestry, with nearly all the land base used for public forestry. Well over 99% of the land base is in public ownership and is administered by the Umpqua National Forest. The balance of the watershed - approximately 150 acres - is in private ownership.

The public lands are managed primarily as late successional reserves, with smaller amounts managed as matrix (lower watershed) and the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness (southeastern portion of watershed). 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 in the western tip of the watershed is managed as the South Umpqua Experimental Forest, including the Coyote Creek Experimental Watersheds.


Photo courtesy of Partnership
for the Umpqua Rivers

Current Conditions

The Upper South Umpqua River Watershed provides habitat for winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, coho salmon, and spring chinook salmon. Other fish species occupying the watershed are Pacific lamprey, sculpins, redsided shiners, large-scale suckers, longnosed dace, Umpqua dace, and the Umpqua pikeminnow.

As with many watersheds in southwestern Oregon, stream temperatures limit water quality in much of the Upper South Umpqua River Watershed. Four of the tributaries of the South Umpqua River are on the final 2002 ODEQ 303(d) list for summer stream temperature.

Approximately 35 percent of the watershed's riparian areas have been modified by timber harvest, salvage logging, road construction, and stream clean out. Recent forest fires have had additional impact upon riparian areas.

Aquatic habitat conditions in the South Umpqua River are marginal. Current fish habitat conditions in the tributary streams within the watershed vary from good to poor. High water temperature, low large wood densities, and limited gravel account for the less-than-ideal conditions.


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

US Forest Service Watershed Analysis: Upper South Umpqua Watershed Analysis, Tiller Ranger District, Umpqua National Forest, October 2003.