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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on local landscape and natural history of Pend Oreille County, Washington. A partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department has allowed us to expand this program through EPA funding to include more classes, a newsletter and this website.

Timing of Spring Runoff

in local tributaries vs. the Pend Oreille River

by Michelle Wingert

Most of the water flowing in the Pend Oreille River through our county originates from Idaho and Montana. The river reaches its highest level during peak spring snowmelt in the Northern Rocky Mountains of those states - usually in mid to late May. Our local tributaries such as Calispel Creek or Leclerc Creek generally contribute less than 10% of the flow measured at Boundary Dam.

This chart depicts the 2004 water year as gaged at Albeni Falls Dam and at the mouth of Leclerc Creek (note the different scales for cfs-cubic feet per second). Spring runoff occurs earlier for Pend Oreille River tributaries than for the main stem Pend Oreille River. Spring runoff peaked at Leclerc on April 14 of 2004 yet didn't peak on the river until May 31. A second peak was observed on Leclerc Creek on June 1 attributable to particularly wet antecedent weather.

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