Valsetz Lake (Polk)

Reachcode: 17100204000797 | Area: 418.0 acres | Shoreline: 7.7 mi | View on Interactive Map

Valsetz Lake is a historical log pond that was drained in 1988.  

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985). Valsetz Lake (also commonly known as Valsetz Pond) was formed by the damming of the South Fork of the Siletz River to create a log pond for timber storage. The community of Valsetz, one of the few remaining "company towns" in Oregon, is situated near the northeast shore. Timber interests have controlled this remote, rugged area of the Coast Range since early in the century. Boise-Cascade now owns much of the forested drainage basin, the town of Valsetz, Valsetz Lake and its entire shoreline as well as the mill standing on shore. The name Valsetz was composed from the Valley and Siletz Railroad which has its terminus here -- Valley from the terrain and Siletz from the name of the nearby river.

Valsetz has received some dubious fame as the wettest town in Oregon (189 inches of precipitation in 1957). The combination of heavy winter rains and impermeable soils leads to heavy runoff to the lake in early spring. Second-growth Douglas fir dominates the terrain throughout the drainage basin and deeply weathered, steep slopes encourage much mass movement of soils. Public use of this privately owned lake has made it a popular fishing site for local citizens. Brown trout, cutthroat trout and largemouth bass are taken and there is a fish ladder at the spillway to encourage the migrating species. However, according to a 1979 report by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, a stunted population of largemouth bass is depressing the potential for trout and salmon production.

The shallow lake is littered with sunken bark, logs and parts of old buildings that have decayed and fallen in -- all a legacy of the original use of the impoundment. Log rafts of various ages, some with vegetation sprouting on them, are moored around the shore. The lake develops a pronounced thermal stratification, especially in the summer, and oxygen is sometimes depleted, probably because of the organic debris present from the decay of sunken logs. Shallow embankments around the shoreline, particularly at the southeast end, support dense stands of surface and submerged macrophytes. Based upon the combination of Secchi disk depth, chlorophyl and total phosphorus Valsetz Lake is classified as mesotrophic.

It should be noted here that Valsetz Lake has been observed to have an interesting biologic assemblage. In particular, species of algae typical of extremely clean habitats are found in the spring. Apparently, the heavy runoff at this time of year dilutes the water in the lake significantly. Later in the year, algal forms representative of enriched conditions are found. In general, the lake has some characteristics common to a log pond, and some common to a Desmid lake (slightly acid, low in calcium and magnesium ions, and rich in humic or organic matter); yet it is abundant in macrophytes and iron bacteria while the number and diversity of plankton are low (McHugh 1972).