Smith Reservoir (Linn)

Reachcode: 17090004007103 | Area: 139.6 acres | Shoreline: 4.7 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Smith Reservoir, located in the rugged western Cascades east of Eugene, can be reached by a two-mile gravel road from U.S. Highway 126 at Trail Bridge Reservoir. Part of the Smith-Carmen Hydroelectric Project, this artificial lake was built in 1963 by the Eugene Water and Electric Board to provide storage for power production. Water for the reservoir is first taken from the McKenzie River at Carmen Diversion Dam, delivered to Smith Reservoir by tunnel, and then delivered by tunnel downslope to Carmen Power Plant and Trail Bridge Re-regulating Reservoir.

In addition to inflow from the McKenzie River, the reservoir also receives a significant amount of inflow from Smith River, which drains a deeply dissected area of andesite and basalt. Vegetation cover is a dense forest of Douglas fir and western hemlock and the basin is entirely within the Willamette National Forest. The Wildcat Mountain Research Natural Area lies within the basin. The Northern Spotted Owl, an endangered species, is reported to use this region for nesting. Steep slopes have effectively limited human activity and development in the basin. A 17-unit campground is located at the northern end of the reservoir and is accessible only by boat or on foot. Smith Reservoir is stocked annually with rainbow trout, and boats can be launched from a site near the dam. A 10 mile per hour speed limit for boats is enforced.

Major ion concentrations and conductivity are about average for water bodies in the Cascades. The depth of the reservoir, combined with the short hydrologic retention time, prevents any significant biological growth.  Therefore, chlorophyl concentrations are low and water transparency is very high.  Smith Reservoir is classified as oligotrophic. It is interesting to note that the phosphorus concentration is much higher than in most other reservoirs of the Willamette River Basin, but it is consistent with water bodies in the Upper McKenzie River drainage, e.g. Trailbridge Reservoir, and Clear Lake.


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