Palouse Grasslands, Part 2

Part 2 includes reservoirs, national trail system, national wildlife refuge system, and national wilderness areas. Reservoirs that are owned or licensed by the federal government are described below. In the Palouse grasslands, there are 15 reservoirs in this category.

On tributaries of the lower Columbia River, Willow Creek Lake, USACE, Oregon (N45˚21’ W119˚33’), is a flood control reservoir located one mile south of Heppner. McKay Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N45˚36’ W118˚47’) is six miles south of Pendleton on U.S. Route 395 on McKay Creek; this reservoir stores irrigation water for the Umatilla Project.  Project lands are managed as the McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge for migratory waterfowl. Mill Creek Project, USACE, Washington (N46˚4’ W118˚16’), consists of Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake along with diversion structures. The reservoir is east of Walla Walla and is an off-reservoir flood storage project. The Bennington Lake Trail system is a National Recreation Trail (see).

In the Snake River watershed of the Palouse prairie, Ice Harbor Lock and Dam/Lake Sacajawea, USACE, Washington (N46˚15’ W118˚53’) is on the Snake River just upstream of Pasco. The lake extends 30 miles upstream. Next upstream is Lake Herbert G. West/Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, USACE, Washington (N46˚34’ W118˚32’), on State Route 263 (Devils Canyon Road) south of Kahlotus on the Snake River. The lake extends upstream for 30 miles and includes the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. Little Goose Lock and Dam and Lake Bryan, USACE, Washington (N46˚35’ W118˚2’) is located on the Snake River east of Starbuck, Washington and extends upriver for 35 miles to Lower Granite Dam. The dam has a fish viewing room. Lower Granite Lock, Dam, and Reservoir, USACE, Idaho-Washington, extends up the Snake River above Lewiston. The dam (N46˚40’ W117˚26’), which has a fish viewing room, is west of Pullman on State Route 194 or north of Pomeroy via Garfield County roads. Hells Gate State Park, Idaho, is on the right bank and the site of Hasotino Village, a unit of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, is on the left. In Idaho upstream from Lewiston, the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation Project of the Bureau of Reclamation diverts water from the high mountains east of the Snake River to irrigation uses. The Sweetwater Diversion Dam (N46˚16’ W116˚51’) sends water into a canal to Mann Lake (Reservoir A), an off-reservoir storage area. Mann Lake, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, Idaho (N46˚22’ W116˚51’), is an Important Bird Area for Ross and greater white-fronted geese, scoters, and swans. Irrigation water is also stored in Lake Waha (N46˚12’ W116˚50’).

On the upper Columbia River and tributaries are a series of reservoirs. Lake Chelan, Chelan County Public Power District, Washington, is a hydroelectric facility that impounds a reservoir more than 50 miles long. The dam is located at Chelan (N47˚50’ W120˚0’). A passenger ferry runs the length of the lake to Stehekin (N48˚19’ W120˚39’). The lake is bordered by the Wenatchee NF, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Lake Chelan NRA. Rufus Woods Lake/Chief Joseph Dam, USACE, Washington (N48º0’ W119º38’), extends 50 miles up the Columbia River to the tailwaters of Grand Coulee Dam (N47˚57’ W118˚59’).  Bridgeport State Park is on the north shore at the dam. The lake is in a deep canyon in the Waterville Plateau. There are giant boulder fields on ridges above the lake. Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Grand Coulee Dam), Bureau of Reclamation, Washington-British Columbia, extends from Grand Coulee Dam (N47˚57’ W118˚59’) upstream to the Canadian border. The lower reaches of this reservoir are in the Palouse Prairie ecoregion. This includes the sections from Grand Coulee Dam to Fort Spokane along the Columbia River and from Fort Spokane to Long Lake Dam along the Spokane River. Recreation is managed by the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (see). To the south of Grand Coulee Dam and impounding water in the Grand Coulee itself, Banks Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, is a unit of the Columbia Project; this facility stores water from Lake Roosevelt in the ice age Grand Coulee flood channel for use in irrigation of the shrub-steppe. This is a holding lake, with North Dam (N47˚56’ W119˚1’) at the upstream end and Dry Falls Dam (N47˚37’ W119˚19’), crossed by US Route 2, at the lower end.  Northrup Canyon, Banks Lake, and Sun Lakes make up the Banks Lake IBA.

On the Spokane River are a series of hydroelectric facilities. Long Lake Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚50’ W117˚50’) is on the Spokane River at the State Route 231 bridge. Monroe Street Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚40’ W117˚25’) is centered on a waterfall in downtown Spokane on the Spokane River. Nine Mile Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚46’ W117˚33’) id downstream from Spokane on the Spokane River.  Recreation facilities are operated by Riverside State Park. Upper Falls Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚40’ W117˚25’) is on the Spokane River in downtown Spokane.

The National Trail System in the Palouse grasslands includes a national geologic trail, national scenic trail, three national historic trails (NHTs), and seven national recreation trails (NRTs). The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail has been authorized but official sites have not been designated; however, numerous sites associated with flooding between Spokane and Grand Coulee in the Palouse grasslands would likely be included.

Lewis and Clark NHT includes two sites in the Palouse Prairie. Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, Washington (N46º17’ W118º4’) is on US Route 12 in the Touchet River valley east of Waitsburg and west of Dayton. Lewis and Clark passed through the site in 1806. There are two miles of trails. Tamastlikt Cultural Institute, Pendleton, celebrates the cultural traditions of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes.

Nez Perce NHT originates in the Palouse Prairie of Oregon and extends to Kooskia, Idaho in the Palouse prairie landscape. Chief Joseph’s Gravesite, Dug Bar, Joseph Canyon Viewpoint, Fort Lapwai, St. joseph’s Mission, Cottonwood, Tolo Lake, and WhiteBird Battlefield are described under Nez Perce National Historical Park. Other sites on the NHT include:

Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Area, Oregon (N45˚20’ W117˚13’), 62 acres on the Wallowa River at the south edge of the town of Joseph and adjacent to Chief Joseph’s gravesite on State Route 82. There is a one-mile trail system. It was acquired with the assistance of the Nez Perce tribe as a sacred site.

Imnaha, Oregon (N45˚34’ W116˚50’) was a winter village on a salmon stream.

Nez Perce-Nee Me Poo (Trail 1727) National Recreation Trail from Forest Road 4260 to Dug Bar, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Hells Canyon Wilderness, Oregon (N45˚47’ W116˚44’) passes Cactus Mountain and Lone Pine Saddle and is a designated part of the NHT. The hiking trail length is five miles.

Indian Village Grove, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚41 W116˚52’) is north of Zumwalt Prairie on  Forest Road 880 south of Forest Highway 46. A trail leads through a ponderosa pine forest used for peeling and eating the cambium layer.

Buckhorn Lookout, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚45’ W116˚49’), provides views of the Nez Perce homelands along the Imnaha River, Horse Creek, Lightning Creek, and Cow Creek areas of the NRA.It is reached from Forest Road 780 off Forest Road 46.

The Wallowa Valley west of Enterprise, Oregon (N45˚26’ W117˚17’) is the traditional homeland of the Nez Perce people. Modern-day State Route 82 traverses the valley. Lostine (N45˚29’ W117˚25’) on State Route 82 was a traditional campsite. The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center is in Wallowa, Oregon (N45˚34’ W117˚32’). Views of the Wallowa Valley are from Tick Hill at Wallowa. The western boundary of the territory was at Minam (N45˚37’ W117˚43’).

Chief Looking Glass Park, Asotin, Washington (N46˚21’ W117˚3’) is on State Route 129. It commemorates the home of a chief who died at the Bear Paw Battle.

Oregon NHT includes three sites in the Palouse Prairie. Deadman Pass, Oregon (N45˚36’ W118˚30’), is at Exit 228 on I-84. This was the last of the arduous trek through the Blue Mountains. The name refers to violent deaths for wagon trains, some of which were at the hands of local Indians. Trail ruts are visible in the area. McDonald Ferry, BLM, Oregon (N45˚35’ W120˚25’) is the site of the John Day River crossing, presently along the John Day National Wild and Scenic River at river mile 21. The Whitman Mission National Historic Site (see) was on a side branch of the Oregon Trail. The Whitmans helped the first parties along the trail and helped blaze the main trail.

Pacific Northwest NST crosses the Palouse grasslands at Oroville. Washington. The trail follows the Smilkameen River (N48˚57’ W119˚29’) through the Palouse habitat.

National Recreation Trails (NRTs) in the Palouse grasslands include a mix of rural and urban trails. Bennington Lake Trail System NRT, USACE, Washington (N46˚4’ W118˚16’) consists of four trails extending 20 miles around the Mill Creek flood control project east of Walla Walla.  The trails offer scenic views of the Walla Walla Valley and Blue Mountains.

Clearwater and Snake River NRT, USACE, ID-WA, extends 19 miles on the shoreline of Lower Granite Reservoir.  On the Washington side of the Snake River, the trail extends from Chief Looking Glass Park in Asotin (N46˚21’ W117˚3’) to Clarkston (N46˚26’ W117˚3’).  ON the Idaho side, the trail extends upstream on the Snake River to Hells Gate State Park (N46˚22’ W117˚4’) and upstream on the Clearwater River levees (N46˚26’ W116˚59’).

Nez Perce-Nee Me Poo NRT, Hells Canyon NHT, Oregon (N45˚48’ W116˚44’), is a five-mile trail connecting Forest Road 4260 to Dug Bar. The trailhead is two miles north of the Cow Creek Bridge. It features views from Lone Pine Saddle and flowering prickly pear cactus in the spring.

Pine Lake Loop NRT, Turnbull NWR, Washington (N47˚25’ W117˚32’) is a one-mile trail offering wildlife and waterfowl viewing opportunities at Winslow Pool and Pine Lake.

Pine Ridge NRT, Kamiak Butte County Park, Whitman County, Washington (N46º52’ W117º10’) is a three-mile loop trail encircling the national natural landmark feature (see Steptoe Butte NNL) north of Pullman, Washington.

Spokane River Centennial Trail NRT and State Park, Washington, begins at the Idaho State Line (N47˚42’ W117˚1’) and continues 37 miles west, ending at Nine Mile Falls (N47˚47’ W117˚33’). The trail is paved for the entire length.

Western Rim/Summit Ridge NRT, Hells Canyon NRA and Hells Canyon Wilderness, Oregon, follows the western rim of Hells Canyon from PO Saddle (N45˚15’ W116˚46’) to Saddle Creek (N45˚24’ W116˚44’) south of Hat Point. It continues northward from Warnock Corral (N45˚29’ W116˚39’) to Dug Bar (N45˚48’ W116˚41’) on the Snake River, passing Somers Point (N45˚37’ W116˚32’) and Lords Flat (N45˚40’ W116˚37’) before descending to Dug Bar.

The National Wild and Scenic River system in the Palouse grasslands includes four rivers.Grande Ronde River, BLM, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for 44 miles from the confluence with the Wallowa River (N45˚44’ W117˚47’) in the Blue Mountains ecoregion downstream to the Washington state line at river mile 39 (N46˚0’ W117˚23’) in the Palouse Prairie. The section in Washington downstream to the Snake River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

John Day River, BLM, Oregon, is the longest undammed river in the northwest. It is a wild and scenic river for 147.5 miles. Terrain is high desert canyons and vegetation is sagebrush. It is listed as a wild river for outstanding scenery, recreation, fish, wildlife, geology, paleontology, archaeology, and history. The Wild and Scenic River designation extends from River Mile 10 at Tumwater Falls (N45˚40’ W120˚30’) in the Palouse Prairie upstream to Service Creek in the Blue Mountains at the junction of State Routes 207 and 19 (N44˚48’ W120˚0’).

Segments 1 and 2 in the river management plan are in the Palouse Prairie. Segment 1 is the lower John Day River, downstream from Cottonwood Bridge (River Mile 40) on State Route 206 (N45˚29’ W120˚28’) to Tumwater Falls. There is an Oregon National Historic Trail crossing at McDonald Ferry (RM 21), and boating access at Cottonwood Bridge. Vertical cliffs along this segment of the river are 500 feet high.

Segment 2 in the BLM river management plan is between Clarno on State Route 218 (N44˚55’ W120˚28’) at River Mile 109 and Cottonwood Bridge at River Mile 40. Between these two points there is no public river access, and the river is lined by 1,000-foot-deep canyon walls, some of which are adorned with petroglyphs.

Imnaha River, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregonis a wild and scenic river for 60 miles in the national recreation area from the Eagle Cap Wilderness (N45˚6’ W117˚4’) downstream to the Snake River (N45˚49’ W116˚46’). Its elevation drop is more than 7,000 feet.

Joseph Creek, Wallowa National Forest, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for nine miles from Joseph Creek Ranch (N45˚48’ W117˚11’) downstream to the Wallowa NF boundary (N45˚52’ W117˚15’). It is a 2,000-foot-deep canyon with exposed rimrock.

The National Wildlife Refuge system of the US includes two refuges and one fish hatchery. In Canada, there are two nationally designated wildlife areas. McKay Creek NWR, Oregon, is described under McKay Reservoir under federal recreation lakes.

Turnbull NWR, Washington (N47˚26’ W117˚34’), is 18,200 acres in the channeled scablands near Cheney. There is a diverse mosaic of habitats created by ice age floods, including 10,000 acres of ponderosa pine, 4,000 acres of prairie, 3,000 acres of wetlands, and 130 marshes which provide habitat for waterfowl and mammals. An auto tour route and hiking trails are available. The Pine Lake Loop trail is designated as a NRT (see). Turnbull Pine RNA (N47˚27’ W117˚30’) is a pristine ponderosa pine savanna.

Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚33’) consists of 800 ha in six areas surrounding Vaseux Lake on both sides of Route 97 south of Okanagan Falls. Species protected include bighorn sheep and 30 species using rare grassland plant communities.

Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚32’) is an Important Bird Area for Lewis’ woodpecker, western screech owl, and yellow-breasted chat. This area is south of Okanagan Falls on Route 97.

Winthrop National Fish Hatchery, Washington (N48˚28’ W120˚11’) is in the Methow Valley off State Route 20 and provides Chinook salmon for the Columbia River fisheries management restoration program.

There are three designated National Wilderness areas in the Palouse grasslands.

Hells Canyon Wilderness, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and BLM, Idaho-Oregon, is 218,000 acres along the Snake River. In Idaho, it includes Hells Canyon from Willow Creek at Snake River Mile 228 to Hells Canyon Dam at Snake River Mile 248. In Oregon, it extends from Dug Bar at Snake River Mile 197 southward to Snake River Mile 260 south of Nelson Creek. The Snake River corridor itself is excluded from the wilderness. The Oregon trailhead in the Palouse Prairie is at Dug Bar (N45˚48’ W116˚41’), providing access to the Summit Ridge-Western Rim National Recreation Trail. Bob Creek RNA (N45˚45’ W116˚34’) is a 100-acre area in Oregon near the Snake River with smooth sumac/bluebunch wheatgrass communities. Pleasant Valley RNA (N45˚38’ W116˚31’) is a 1,400-acre area in Oregon near the Snake River with sand dropseed, bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, and smooth sumac plant communities. Bill’s Creek RNA (N45˚26’ W116˚35’) is a 40-acre site in Idaho on the Snake River with sand dropseed, red three-awn and hackberry communities. Alum Beds RNA (N45˚30’ W116˚32’) is a 600-acre area with Snake River greenbush rims and a hot spring community.

Juniper Dunes Wilderness, BLM, Washington (N46˚23’ W118˚51’) contains Washington’s largest sand dunes, 130 feet high, and its largest groves of western juniper, along with rare plants.  To the west of the 7,000-acre wilderness is a 3,900-acre OHV area and an 8,600-acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which also contains dunes. The area is accessed from Peterson Road northeast of Pasco.

Spring Basin Wilderness, BLM, Oregon (N44˚52’ W120˚23’), is 6,400 acres adjacent to the John Day River and south of the Clarno Unit of John Day National Monument. It includes Horse Mountain, Sheep Mountain, and Black Rock. Vegetation is big sagebrush, bunchgrass, and western juniper.

to be continued