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Lawyer Creek Watershed

Physical and Biological Characteristics

Lawyer Creek Watershed (137,360 acres) is located in Lewis and Idaho Counties. Lawyer Creek is a 4th order tributary, flowing approximately 40.5 miles in an easterly direction to its confluence with the Clearwater River at the town of Kamiah. The lower 35.8 miles are within the Nez Perce Reservation. Elevations range from 1,180 feet at the mouth to 4,480 feet in the uplands. The main tributaries to Lawyer Creek include Willow Creek in the headwaters and Sevenmile Creek in the lower watershed. Talmaks Reservoir, which is about 4 acres, impounds the headwaters of North Fork Willow Creek, which flows five to six months of the year. The BIA created the reservoir in 1964 to increase fishing and recreation opportunities for Tribal members. The towns of Craigmont, Ferdinand, and Kamiah are located in the Lawyer Creek watershed.

Lawyer Creek flows through wet meadows in the upper watershed, courses through a U-shaped canyon for most of its length, and then broadens out for the final 7.7 miles through meadow/pastureland. The lower reach through the City of Kamiah has been channelized and the banks were rip-rapped to reduce flooding potential through the city. The dominant land use in the watershed is agriculture (57 %), with areas of meadow/pastureland (21%), and coniferous forest (15 %). Lawyer Creek supports steelhead/rainbow trout, speckled dace, piute sculpin, Northern pike minnow, chiselmouth, and bridgelip sucker. Fall and spring/summer Chinook salmon also use the lower portion of Lawyer Creek for juvenile rearing, although high summer water temperatures likely preclude this use during warm summer months (BLM 2000).

Sevenmile Creek is approximately 4.6 miles long and discharges into Lawyer Creek at stream mile 3.9. The creek parallels Highway 162 for much of its length. The watershed (11,690 acres) is composed of 95 % cropland, and 4 % meadow/pastureland. Sevenmile Creek contains steelhead/rainbow, bridgelip sucker, and very abundant speckled dace and piute sculpin.

Willow Creek flows mainly through meadow/pasturelands for approximately 3 miles, crossing the southern boundary of the Nez Perce Reservation several times before discharging into Lawyer Creek. The watershed (14,910 acres) is predominantly agricultural (91 % cropland), with areas of meadow/pasture (6 %) and coniferous forest (3 %). Fish species in Willow Creek include steelhead/rainbow, and speckled dace.

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Studies, Plans and Reports

Lawyers Creek Study Water Quality Summary No. 4 , Lewis County (October 1980)
Department of Health and Welfare Division of Environment Statehouse Boise, Idaho 83720