History of our Watershed
Although the Luckiamute Watershed Council's history begins with it's official recognition by the Polk County Board of Commissioners in 2001, the story of the human relationship with the Luckiamute and Ash Creek watersheds begins many thousands of years ago. For more than 9,000 years before Europeans first settled in the Willamette Valley, the Luckiamute (Lakmiut) band of Kalapuya Indians lived along the Luckiamute River and its tributaries from Rickreall south to Corvallis. Today, there are an estimated 4,000 Kalapuya descendants, most of whom are enrolled with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Click here to read more about the First Peoples of the Luckiamute Watershed.
- The Luckiamute River watershed drains 315 square miles (201,668 acres), and is bounded by the Willamette River to the east, the crest of the Coast Range to the west, Green Mountain and Marys River to the south, and the Rickreall Creek Watershed to the north.
- Fanno Ridge separates the watershed into two rivers, with the Little Luckiamute to the north (Falls City) and the main stem of the Luckiamute to the south (Kings Valley). Lower-order tributaries include Waymire, Vincent, Plunkett, Maxfield, and Soap Creeks.
- The main stem of the Luckiamute River is about 82 miles long, but due to the abundance of creeks and streams, there are hundreds of stream miles in the Luckiamute Basin.
- In the Luckiamute River watershed, 87% of the land is privately owned. The main land uses are forestry (57%) and agriculture (30%).
Ash Creek Watershed
- The Ash Creek basin is a 36 square mile sub-watershed that lies between the Rickreall Creek and Luckiamute River watersheds.
- Ash Creek starts in the Polk County community of Dallas, travels through Monmouth and Independence, and drains into the Willamette River.
- Before the 1800’s, this entire area resembled a boggy, “braided” marsh with many small creeks spilling into Ash Creek and eventually the Willamette River. Over the past century, residents have drained and leveled wetlands and riparian areas for agriculture, logging, homes and cities.