What is a Watershed?
Watersheds are interconnected systems of land, water, air, and the plant and animal species they support—including humans. A watershed is an area of land that is bound by ridges or hills (watershed divide) and creates a basin in which water drains to a common point (river, lake, ocean, etc). Watersheds can be as small as a depression from a footprint in the mud, to the size of the Mississippi River watershed which drains over one-third of the land in the United States!
Why Do We Need Healthy Watersheds?
We are all citizens of a watershed. In many ways, your own health depends on the heath of the watershed.
A healthy watershed is a well-balanced system that provides clean air, water, and soil to the people, plants and animals who live in the watershed. Watersheds perform very important functions such as water and nutrient cycling, groundwater recharge, and collection of rain and snow melt. They also play an important role in the absorption of greenhouse gas emissions, providing healthy soils and habitats for plants and animals, and providing natural areas for people to recreate and enjoy nature.
When our watershed is polluted, the water we rely on for drinking, irrigation, recreating, and more, is put at risk. Animal species, like the fish we eat, can become contaminated and sick from polluted water. Air pollution affects human health but it also effects the health of the soil, vegetation communities and animals who depend on clean air for life.
What you do upstream effects your neighbors downstream and all the ecosystems along the way. If we pollute our water high in the mountains and reaches in between, eventually, this pollution will reach downstream into urban centers and larger river systems.
Your everyday actions can directly affect not only your neighborhood, or your community but also your entire watershed! When a watershed is unhealthy, everything living in it suffers. If we take action to protect our watershed then everything living in it can have access to clean and healthy resources.
About the Crooked River Watershed
The Crooked River, in central Oregon, is a large tributary to the Deschutes River. It runs for approximately 155 miles and the basin drains nearly 4,300 square miles.
The Crooked River has three major headwater tributaries, the North Fork, South Fork, and Beaver Creek which join to make the mainstem as it flows through Paulina Valley. Further down, Bowman Dam, creates Prineville Reservoir. Below Bowman, eight miles of the river are designated Wild and Scenic as it traverses a steep desert canyon.
In Prineville it is joined by Ochoco Creek, soon to collect McKay Creek and several smaller tributaries. It empties into Lake Billy Chinook, a large impoundment on the Deschutes created by Round Butte Dam.
Click to Learn More on Wikipedia
Click to Learn More on the Basin's history at Oregon Encyclopedia