THE PALOUSE RIVER WATERSHED
Total Drainage Area
3,300 square miles
83% of the basin is in Washington State
Forested Mountains of Idaho
Less than 1%
The Palouse River flows for 167 miles southwestwards from Northern Idaho into Washington. It is a tributary of the Snake River, and part of the greater Columbia River Basin. Some of the major tributaries off the Palouse River are the South Fork Palouse, Union Creek Flat, Rebal Flat Creek, Cow Creek, and Rock Creek.
While there are several species of ecological and recreational importance in the Snake River, such as the Snake River sockeye, Snake River spring/summer Chinook, Snake River fall Chinook, and Snake River steelhead, none of these species make it upstream to the Palouse River. The Palouse Falls creates a natural barrier to their migratory fish species. The 198-foot waterfall lies on the Palouse River, about 4 mi (6 km) upstream of the confluence with the Snake River in southeast Washington, north of Walla Walla.
Today, the watershed is struggling to recover from erosion, warming temperatures, changing vegetation, septic and livestock waste, and human pollutants. This has caused the Palouse River to have low dissolved oxygen levels, high temperatures and bacteria counts, lingering concentrations of toxic chemicals from historically-used pesticides, and PCBs. Palouse Conservation District is working to combat these stresses on the watershed and several projects, such as water quality monitoring and riparian buffer installation, are currently underway to help improve and protect
Palouse River water quality.