Scatter Creek Watershed
Scatter Creek is a tributary to the Chehalis River that drains a 25,400 acre watershed (43 square miles) in Southern Thurston County. Headwaters drain from gentle hills with timber production, but much of the watershed is covered with excessively drained gravel soils from glacial outwash, historically covered by anthropogenic Prairie and Oak Woodlands. Many small creek flows dissappear into the gravels, only to emerge as seeps and springs along Scatter Creek and the Chehalis. Lower reaches of the creek are surrounded by agricultural and rural residential lands. Scatter creek is a coho salmon stream with spawning and rearing throughout the watershed. The stream gradient is gentle, and beaver likely had a strong historical influence of stream structure. Steelhead use the bottom of the system near where it enters the Chehalis River (at river mile 55.2), and chum have been reported in the past. (Smith & Wenger 2001). The City of Tenino is the largest municipality where the headwaters meet. Rochester looks over the Chehalis valley on the lower reaches. Many areas still bear prairie names, such as Violet Prairie, Grand Mound.
- Thurston County is one of the few Puget Sound counties that signed onto the state Voluntary Stewardship Program (See the Thurston County VSP Homepage
- Parametrix 2003 provides reports associated with a habitat conservation plan, which assembles evidence of ecological conditions.
- The Scatter Creek Watershed is one among a set of sites at the epicenter of dry Prairie and Oak Woodland protection and restoration because of the glacial outwash gravels and historical burning.
- The WDFW Scatter Creek Unit is the largest protected prairie in the watershed.
- Creekside Conservancy manages a large portion of south headwaters of Scatter Creek.
- The Quarry Swimming Pool on the edge of the City of Tenino is a rare gem.
- Scatter Creek Watershed is connected to the Henderson Inlet Watershed by the Chehalis-Western Trial and the Yelm-Tenino Trail (20.5 miles from Chambers Lake to Tenino).
- The listing of Mazama Pocket Gopher by the USFWS under ESA resulted in increased regulation of land use and social-political conflict in Thurston County governance.
Salmon Recovery Notes
- Smith & Wenger 2001 provides an assessment of salmonid limiting factors for the Chehalis Basin including for Scatter Creek. All subsequent quotes are from that source:
- Coho are most abundant, and "spawn from November through January and sometimes into February, and were classified as "healthy" with a mixed origin in the early 1990s (WDFW and WWTIT 1994). The escapement for the total population averaged 18,510 from 1984 to 1991, when the SASSI classification was made. From 1992 to 1998, the coho escapement dropped to a mean of 14,625 adults/year (data from John Linth, WDFW)." (Smith & Wenger 2001)
- "Winter steelhead have been noted in the lower reaches of Scatter Creek. Chum salmon are thought to utilize Scatter Creek (Thurston Conservation District 1999), but specific distribution has not been documented"
- The following documents include information referenced by Smith & Wenger (2001):
- Thurston Conservation District. 1999. Scatter Creek habitat survey 1999. Olympia, Washington.)
- Wampler, P.L., E.E. Knudsen, M. Hudson, and T.A. Young. 1993. Chehalis River basin fishery resources: salmon and steelhead habitat degradations. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. Lacey, Washington.
- Envirovision Corp. and Watershed Professional Network and SAIC. 2000. Chehalis River Basin Level 1 Assessment. Prepared for the Chehalis Basin Partnership.
- Jennings, K. and P. Pickett. 2000. Revised upper Chehalis River basin dissolved oxygenthe level of oxygen gas present in water, indicating its ability to support aquatic life. total maximum daily load. Submittal Report to Washington Dept. Ecology, Lacey, Washington.
- Lunetta, R.S., B.L. Cosentino, D.R. Montgomery, E.M. Beamer, and T.J. Beechie. 1997. GIS-Based evaluation of salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing. Vol. 63, No. 10, pp. 1219-1229.
- "Sediment quantity is rated as "poor" in the Scatter and Prairie Creek sub-basins. Sediment quality is mostly "poor" in Scatter Creek, with four out of five sampled segments containing more than 17% fine sediments. Livestock access is high, with bank erosion. Riparian conditions are generally "poor" along Scatter Creek. Shade conditions along Scatter Creek are generally poor. The mean canopy closure along Scatter Creek is especially low near RMs 1, 5, 8, 9, and 12.5 with values of less than 35% of complete coverage (Thurston Conservation District 1999). Scatter Creek is on the 1998 303(d) List for problems with water temperature, pH, and fecal coliformbacteria associated with feces that indicate the likelihood that drinking water will cause a bacterial infection.. The primary contributor to the warm water temperatures is likely the poor riparian conditions."
- "Of ... concern is the high groundwater pumping rate that exists in the Scatter Creek sub-basin (Envirovision 2000). Groundwater pumping can lower the water table, altering stream flows. The impact of the high pumping rate on salmonids in this sub-basin is not known and needs quantification. However, adequate concern exists that Scatter Creek is not meeting base flow requirements that it has been closed to further appropriations from May 1 through October 31 (Jennings and Pickett 2000)."