WHO WE ARE
Historically, the Powder Basin was home to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians, and later was traversed by settlers along the Oregon Trail. Now the basin supports more than 16,000 residents.
The communities within Powder Basin rely on water, directly and indirectly, and are significantly influenced by periods of drought and contamination. Recognizing a need for more restorative water practices, the Powder Basin Watershed Council was formed in 1991 as the Baker County Water Advisory Board to inform the Board of Commissioners on water issues relevant to Baker County. The Advisory Board reorganized into a Watershed Council in 1995, and became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2008.
At the heart of our organization is the desire to improve the quality and future of our water resources while maintaining economic prosperity. We seek to promote cooperative solutions to watershed issues by bringing together private, local, state, and federal stakeholders. We work closely with landowners, ranchers, local residents, representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, business and industry, and the scientific community to lead activities that enhance watershed conditions while meeting the consumptive needs of our communities. Some of our past activities include restoration projects, water quality monitoring, community event support, and irrigation efficiency projects. Additionally, we provide education and outreach to individuals of all ages; first, because we know that by inspiring stewardship of the environment in our youth, we are promoting responsible use by future residents, and second, because we believe sharing information with our stakeholders is crucial to the current health and vitality of our watershed and its users.
Most of our funding has been provided by the Oregon Water Enhancement Board, but we also rely upon our many partners to support and help fund our projects. Our Board and Council members are all volunteers who are committed to working collaboratively toward watershed health. Our staff oversees projects, and additional volunteers contribute time and expertise for specific projects.
We strive to maintain a diverse membership that reflects the needs of our local communities. Anyone is welcomed to attend our council meetings. Please contact our office if you are interested in becoming a member.
Nestled between the Blue, Elkhorn, and Wallowa Mountain ranges in Northeastern Oregon lies the beautiful and complex Powder Basin Watershed. Draining south and east from the Blue Mountains, the Powder and Burnt Rivers flow to the middle of the Snake River, eventually draining into the Columbia River. This varied topography results in a mix of ecosystems, including shrublands, grasslands and forests, and climates ranging from arid to semi-arid. Receiving an average of 10 to 60 inches of precipitation annually, the area is vibrant with agriculture, wildlife, and forested lands, providing diverse economic, recreational and educational opportunities to the surrounding communities.