Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Payette River (South Fork) Subbasin

Subbasin at a Glance

Hydrologic Unit Code 17050120
Size 813 square miles (520,318 acres)
Beneficial Uses Affected Salmonid spawning, cold water aquatic life, primary contact recreation
Major Land Uses Forest
Date Approved by EPA Subbasin assessment only; not subject to EPA approval.

Subbasin Characteristics

The South Fork Payette River near Lowman, Idaho, flows generally from east to west from its origin in the west slopes of the Sawtooth Mountains to its confluence with the Middle Fork Payette River near Garden Valley.

2005 Subbasin Assessment

From the Sawtooth Wilderness Area boundary to the confluence of the Middle Fork Payette River, the South Fork Payette River is listed on the 1998 §303(d) list for fine-grained sediment.

The subbasin contains Bull Trout, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The South Fork Payette River is a key Bull Trout watershed in Idaho. Fine-grained sediment is one of the factors identified as limiting Bull Trout habitat.

Suspended sediment data for the South Fork Payette River show that during years of normal flow, the water column sediment levels are well below the suspended sediment target; however, during years of high flow, when erosion can be significant, the sediment target is exceeded.

DEQ does not recommend developing a sediment TMDL for the South Fork Payette River and recommends delisting the segment from the §303(d) list. However, because anthropogenic sources of sediment (primarily from forest roads) exist within the subbasin and exceedances of the target are documented in high flow years, road management activities should be prioritized to reduce erosion.

2005 Summary of Assessment Outcomes

The segment of the South Fork Payette River extending from the wilderness boundary to the Middle Fork Payette River is proposed for delisting during the next §303(d)-listing cycle. Four unlisted creeks in the subbasin (Wash Creek, Chapman Creek, Horn Creek, and Smokey Creek) show impairment; however, naturally occurring events are likely the major causes of this impairment. It is recommended that monitoring continue on these streams.

Subbasin Documents


Staff Contacts

Watershed Coordinator
Melissa Hill
DEQ Boise Regional Office
1445 N. Orchard St.
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0550
melissa.hill@deq.idaho.gov

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