Laurance Lake (Hood River)

Reachcode: 17070105019446 | Area: 52.8 acres | Shoreline: 1.6 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Laurance Lake (also known as Clear Branch Reservoir) is a fairly new irrigation reservoir on the Clear Branch of the Middle Fork of Hood River. It lies in a heavily forested valley with steep ridges on both sides; Mt. Hood looms dramatically to the south. The lake and its drainage base are entirely on National Forest land. The impoundment was built by the Middle Fork Irrigation District, a company formed early in the century to solve the irrigation needs of farmers in the upper Hood River Valley. Until the 1960s the normal mode of supplying water in the valley was by rill and flood irrigation. It became obvious that excessive erosion was occurring, and it was not long before application of water by sprinklers was the way of farming. With the sprinklers came the need to supply a reliable source of clean water. Laurance Lake, impounded by the 109-foot high Clear Creek Dam, is the source of this clean water. Funds for the project were borrowed from the Farmers Home Administration, with matching grant funds and technical assistance provided by the Soil Conservation Service. Nearly 8000 acres in the upper Hood River Valley are now irrigated through an underground gravity pressure system.

Recreational use of the lake is important to local residents. Fishing, in particular, is popular both from the shore and on the water, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has used the lake for experimental steelhead rearing. A picnic ground and boat launch site are maintained by the Forest Service on the south shoreline. Use of motors on boats is prohibited.

Laurance Lake has an elongated shape, conforming to the contours of the glacial valley in which it lies. At full pool it is over 150 feet deep behind the dam. Most of the area of shallow water is confined to the western end where Clear Branch Creek (the largest tributary) enters the lake. Full pool is maintained from early spring through early summer, and the water level is gradually lowered during late summer to supply irrigation water to the Hood River Valley. Water chemistry is typical of Cascade lakes and reservoirs. The water is generally quite transparent, although the shallow area near the boat ramp at the southeastern corner of the lake sometimes becomes turbid with suspended bottom sediment. Chlorophyl concentration is moderate and only a small amount of submerged macrophytes develop in the lake. Laurance Lake is, by all indications, mesotrophic.

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