Bumphead Reservoir (Klamath)

Reachcode: 18010204002338 | Area: 42.6 acres | Shoreline: 1.1 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985).  Bumphead Reservoir is a small, shallow irrigation reservoir located in the rangeland of southern Klamath County. It was constructed in about 1950 with a 22-foot earthfill dam impounding the waters of a small region in the headwaters of the Willow Valley Reservoir drainage basin. Surface inflow is via intermittent streams from the north and the intermittent outflow is to the south into the larger Willow Valley Reservoir on the California border. The shoreline and drainage basin of Bumphead Reservoir are entirely under management of the Bureau of Land management. This is a barren landscape of sage and cheatgrass, supporting low density cattle grazing. The reservoir thus serves also as a stock watering pond. The water level fluctuates dramatically during the year due to irrigation withdrawals and it dried up completely in 1977.

The most interesting feature of the surrounding landscape, and the source of the reservoir's name, is The Bumpheads, two rimrock hills immediately to the east of the reservoir which stand well above the surrounding landscape. The larger eastern Bumphead slopes gently in two places allowing infrequent, but destructive, visits by cattle. The smaller Bumphead is well protected from such damage due its steep walls, and it supports a pristine herbaceous layer of Idaho fescue. Protection of these hills is strongly encouraged by the Nature Conservancy, specifically a 10-acre tract on top of the smaller, and a 40-acre tract on top of the larger. A recommendation has been made to build a short fence blocking the cattle routes, so that the native bunchgrass community can endure.

The high biological productivity in Bumphead Reservoir has allowed the development of a good warm water fishery, particularly for black bass and crappie. After the drought of 1976-77 restocking was necessary, but this was apparently accomplished successfully. No recreation or boat launching facilites are available and the lake is difficult to reach over rough, gravel roads; but for those who make the effort, there is usually angling success.

Because it is a shallow water body, Bumphead Reservoir develops no thermal stratification. The water is surprisingly low in chemical constituents for this location; the concentrations of major ions and conductivity are less than average for eastern Oregon reservoirs. The ratio of calcium to sodium ions is fairly high, indicating the influence of weathering of sedimentary rocks in the drainage basin. High phosphorus concentrations contribute to the frequent blooms of planktonic algae. On 8/10/82 a bloom of Gloeotrichia echinulata was observed. Water transparency is thus limited and the lake is definitely eutrophic.

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