About the McKenzie Watershed

What is the McKenzie Watershed

The McKenzie Watershed encompasses an area of approximately 1,300 square miles in Lane and Linn counties, Oregon. Bounded on the east by the crest of the Cascade Mountains, the McKenzie Watershed drains westward toward the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers. Island on the river
The McKenzie Watershed contains numerous smaller watersheds, all of which drain into the McKenzie River. For example, the Mohawk River is the largest tributary of the McKenzie River.
The Mohawk Watershed is one of many sub-watersheds which make up the McKenzie Watershed. Likewise, the McKenzie Watershed is a component of the larger Willamette River watershed, which is a component of the even larger Columbia River watershed.
Vicinity Map

Within the McKenzie Watershed there are thousands of miles of small and large streams that flow into the McKenzie River. The main stem of the McKenzie River originates at Clear Lake, and flows approximately 90 miles before reaching the Willamette River .

Watershed Map

•The 1,300 square-mile McKenzie Watershed is almost 300 square miles larger than the state of Rhode Island.

•Precipitation within the watershed ranges widely -- from approximately 45 inches annually near Springfield to 130 inches (much of which falls in the form of snow) on some of the higher peaks.

•Elevations in the McKenzie Watershed range from approximately 375 feet at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers to 10,358 feet at the summit of South Sister.

•Approximately 34,000 acres of the McKenzie Watershed is in agricultural use, 9,000 acres is in residential use and 1,000 acres is in industrial use. The majority of the remaining 800,000 acres is in forest uses, including private and public land and wilderness areas.

•There are 225,000 acres of federally-designated wilderness areas in the McKenzie Watershed.

•The McKenzie River and its watershed are the source of drinking water, both in the form surface and ground water, to approximately 200,000 area residents.

•Fishing, boating and picnicking are the three most popular recreational activities in the watershed.

•Several anadromous fish species are found in the McKenzie Watershed. These species begin their lives in fresh water, migrate to the ocean where they may spend a few years, then return to the river or stream in which they hatched. Here the fish spawn and (usually) die. Anadromous fish in McKenzie include spring chinook salmon and summer steelhead. Other fish found in the watershed include cutthroat trout, bull trout, white fish, rainbow trout, brook trout, sculpin, dance and suckers.


•The filbert (or hazelnut) is the top horticultural crop in the watershed, covering approximately 1,200 acres.

•Species of commonly harvested trees in the McKenzie Watershed include Douglas-Fir, Grand Fir, Western Hemlock, Western Redcedar, Noble Fir, Mountain Hemlock and Lodgepole Pine.

•Six major dams have been constructed on the McKenzie River for water storage and power generation.

•Thirteen miles of the McKenzie River are under federal "Wild and Scenic" protection, and approximately 16 miles of the river are designated as "Oregon Scenic Waterway."

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