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Watersheds

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Forest Zones | Plants & Soil | Streams | Water Quality & Fish | Old & Young Forests

A watershed is the area drained by a particular stream or river system.  It is usually called by the name of the stream or river it contains.  For example, the Alsea watershed in northwest Oregon is the area drained by the Alsea River, including its tributaries such as Drift Creek and Lobster Creek.  The smaller tributaries are also considered watersheds— they just shed water from a smaller piece of land.

Recent management practices in forestry, fisheries, and water quality have focused on the watershed as a management unit.   Many people feel that a watershed boundary (a ridgeline or mountain top, for example) makes a more realistic boundary than an imaginary property boundary. They conclude that "watershed management" is a natural and effective way to manage natural resources because of the interconnected nature of plants, animals, and processes within a watershed. 

Knowledge about the watershed and what is going on within it can provide managers and landowners with information for making decisions about various activities, such as cutting, grazing, road building, dam building, and development.  In this way the natural resources can be better managed to meet the needs of people and ecosystems alike, using resources today while still preserving resources for future generations. 

Streams & Riparian Areas