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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on place-based stewardship education. Since 2001, a partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department (KNRD) has supported this newsletter and allowed us to expand class offerings through EPA funding. Further staff support comes through Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA). Many thanks to our partners and to you, our readers, for your continued enthusiasm for "digging" into the natural history and culture of this part of the world.

Thinking like a Watershed

by Carol Mack • WSU/Pend Oreille County Extension

The Pend Oreille River watershed (all the land that drains into the river) encompasses almost 26,000 square miles (16 million acres) with tributaries extending into Canada, Montana, and Idaho. It lies within two regions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, three states, fourteen counties, and several Indian reservations. The watershed includes Montana's largest river, the Clark Fork, which begins along the west slopes of the Continental Divide near Butte and drains most of western Montana before entering Idaho's Pend Oreille Lake. It contains the nation's largest lake west of the Mississippi River, Flathead Lake. Other tributaries include the Priest, Salmo and Bitterroot Rivers, and many smaller lakes, rivers and creeks. All of these water bodies, fueled by the rain and snow falling over this entire landscape, eventually feed into the Pend Oreille River which flows for 130 miles before entering the Columbia River near Northport, Washington. The full drainage basin of the river and its tributaries accounts for 43% of the entire Columbia River Basin. In a watershed this size, planning and management must take place on many scales. Our Pend Oreille County portion of the watershed totals about 1,300 square miles and is one of 62 designated Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA's) in Washington State. Local planning efforts for our WRIA (WRIA 62) have been led by Pend Oreille Conservation District which coordinates a council representing over 20 local and state entities and interested citizens. The Pend Oreille County Board of Commissioners adopted the WRIA 62 Watershed Management Plan in June 2005 (available on line at http://www.pocd.org/wria.html). The council then became the Watershed Implementation Team (the WIT) and participants have worked together to transform the plan into reality. They have provided a forum for communication and directed Washington State Department of Ecology funding to projects that improve water quality and habitat, determine water quantities in sub-basins, and provide public outreach. A few of the WIT's 2009 projects are highlighted in this issue of Diggings. More information about our watershed (at various levels of scale) can be found at:

Tri State Council

WRIA 62 Watershed Planning

Pend Oreille River Elevations

WA Ecology Water Resources

WA Ecology WRIA 62

Pend Oreille Water Quality Database

Surf Your Watershed

National Weather Service River Forecasts

Clark Fork Coalition

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