A watershed is a component of the landscape that is drained by a distinct stream or river system. It is separated from other watersheds by ridge top boundaries.
Often called a drainage basin or hydrologic unit, a watershed can cover a large multi-state area like the Columbia River watershed or a relatively small area, like the watershed of a small stream, pond, or wetland. Larger watersheds are made of numerous smaller watersheds, often called sub-watersheds or sub-basins. No matter where you stand, a watershed surrounds you.
Most watersheds are composed of a mixture of landscape types from riparian areas (the vegetated areas adjacent to or near the river), wetlands, lakes and streams, to the uplands (those areas extending from the riparian area up to the ridge tops). In a healthy watershed, native vegetation and wetlands intercept snow and rain that falls, slowing the flow of water as it travels through the watershed. This natural filtration process removes pollutants and allows water to percolate into the ground, recharging groundwater supplies.
The Crooked River Watershed is a sub-watershed that covers approximately 2.9 million acres in parts of 7 counties in Central Oregon. Communities in the watershed include Prineville, Post, Paulina, Brothers, Powell Butte, Terrebonne, and Culver.