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A Disscusion About The Uses And Abuses Of Watersheds And Their Surrounding Areas In Southern Oregon

2709 words - 11 pages

Use and Abuse of Watersheds in Southern OregonIn southern Oregon, watershed dynamics and use are significant to its surroundings, as many issues and problems have come from misuse of streams, rivers, and lakes. Upper Klamath Lake is one of the largest in the region, and is the setting for the Upper Klamath Lake watershed. There are many things to consider for this area, as human interference and the surrounding conditions affect those downstream, as well as the ecosystem and wildlife in the watershed itself.It is because of the problems and issues in the area that makes it stick out more than most of the surrounding watersheds. In it, there are several threatened species, as well as some ...view middle of the document...

While the Klamath Basin covers 15,500 square miles, the Upper Klamath Lake watershed covers only 738, making it one of the smallest in the basin (only the Butte watershed is smaller).There are many environmental issues surrounding this area, including the listing of both endangered and threatened species (which will be addressed later) due to habitat degradation. There is also clear-cutting practiced here, which results in "water quality degradation." (Environmental Protection Agency, 2003) Along with logging, there are many more occurrences of human interference that greatly affect the basin and its ecosystem. For example, irrigation practices, adding of toxic chemicals, and agricultural uses in general all contribute to the problems found in this particular watershed.As for what is being done about these problems, there are several groups devoted to improving/maintaining the ecosystem. The "Klamath Basin Ecosystem Restoration Office" was formed by the Department of the Interior. (EPA, 2003) Located in Klamath Falls, Oregon, it is staffed by the Bureau of Reclamation as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also, the Bureau of Land Management has contributed to the basin by purchasing the Wood River Ranch, which is a good-sized area of land on the north side of Agency Lake.Upper Klamath Lake is regulated on the south end by a dam, which is the reason the lake covers so much area. It is used for numerous purposes, including power generation (for Pacific Power), discharge/flood control, and to create an irrigation source for the many acres of surrounding agricultural land.It is somewhat difficult to know exactly how much water flows through the watershed, because it is regulated by the dam. However, it appears that the average range is between 1,200 and 4,900 cubic feet per second. September is usually the month of the lowest flow, with anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 cubic feet/second, depending on whether or not it is a drought year. Spring months of April and May have the highest flow, ranging upwards of 5,000 cubic feet/second due to the snow melt as well as rain-on-snow events.Endangered/Threatened Aquatic SpeciesAs was mentioned earlier, there are several species that are either threatened or endangered within the Upper Klamath Lake watershed. Two that are endangered are the "Lost River and Shortnose sucker fish, which are both endemic to shallow lakes of the Upper Klamath Basin." (Perkins, Kann, Scoppettone, 2000) These species both live long lives (30-40 years), and have been and important part of this particular area for some time, supporting fisheries in the late 1800s (both commercial and subsistence). They are both listed as endangered now due to several major factors, the most prominent being habitat degradation (caused by eutrophication). Degradation has led to a large number of fish kills in Upper Klamath Lake, which occur primarily in late summer.Along with both species of suckerfish, there is another species that is in danger,...

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