Natural Resources of Ferry County, Washington

From the Folks at Hansen Woodland Farm....

Copper Butte, Ferry County's highest peak at 7,140 ft Ferry County is extremely rich in natural resources, from numerous rivers, streams, and lakes to great forests of pine, larch, and other trees, and including all the precious metals and minerals. The county is considered a geological phenomenon.

Land/Geology of Ferry County

All of Ferry County is rich in geological phenomena.

The entire north part of Ferry County has been seriously influenced by the advances of at least two continental glaciers that covered all but a few mountain peaks a half a million years ago. Known as the Okanogan Highlands, it's an area characterized by rounded mountains with elevations up to just above 7,000 feet above sea level (Copper Butte is the county's highest peak, at 7,140 ft.), and deep narrow north-trending valleys that drain into the Columbia River.

A dominant geologic feature of the area is the Republic Graben. (A graben is a down-dropped block that is the result of tensional forces and crustal stretching.) The Republic Graben averages about 10 miles wide and extends from the Canadian border south to near Lake Roosevelt, a distance of about 52 miles. The graben was formed during the Eocene Epoch roughly 45 to 55 million years ago. The graben is bounded by the Bacon Creek fault on the west side and the Sherman and associated faults on the east side.

As the Cordilleran ice sheet began to recede 13,000 years ago, stream gravels and other unconsolidated sediments was left behind. In the area of Curlew Lake, these can be seen as 100 foot thick terraces at the sides of the lake. These deposits are used locally for their sand and gravel.

Waterways of Ferry County

The two main bodies of water along the Rail-Trail in Ferry County are Curlew Lake and the Kettle River. In total, Ferry County has about 40 small lakes.

Curlew Lake, Ferry County, WA Curlew Lake, the largest lake in Ferry County, is a spring- and stream-fed lake just north of Republic that is home to an abundance of native trout, longnose suckers, northern squaw fish, peamouth, and wide-mouthed bass. Curlew Lake has a net-pen program to raise rainbow trout. In 2011, volunteers, in cooperation with the Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife, accepted 170,000 fingerlings into the net-pens. An additional 57,000 fingerlings were brought in from the Spokane hatchery. The fingerlings were released into the lake in November when 9" long. When fishing starts up in the spring they will be 12." All methods of fishing are successful in Curlew Lake, including still fishing with bait from the shore, casting spinners and softbaits, jigging to trolling hardware and flies and fly fishing. Curlew Lake is a year-round lake with some fairly good ice fishing in the winter.

The serene, seven-mile lake also provides visitors with wonderful opportunities for kayaking, boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, canoeing, and sailing. Along the lake are three resorts and a state park. A public boat ramp is available both at the state park and at Miyoko Point. Just to the south of Curlew Lake, and connected by a shallow passage, is Roberta Lake -- which is frequently considered part of Curlew Lake, and when the two lakes are combined, they have total surface area of 870 acres.

The Kettle River, which experts call one of the best rivers in Eastern Washington, is a 175-mile long tributary of the Columbia River in northeastern Washington and southeastern British Columbia that once supported salmon and other migrating fish. The river is now primarily a trout fishery, although some anglers target whitefish. Rainbow trout are the mainstay but some large brown trout are also caught. The river is a selective gear fishery from the Saturday before Memorial Day to the end of October with a two fish limit and 12" minimum size. The Kettle River is easily wadeable.

Vegetation (Native) of Ferry County

Given the rural area that is Ferry County, it's not surprising that there is a great diversity of plant life that can be found, including: Trees in Colville National Forest, Ferry County, WA
  • Ponderosa Pine trees
  • Douglas Fir trees
  • Alder trees
  • Ash trees
  • Birch trees
  • Dogwood trees
  • Maple trees
  • Oak trees
  • Poplar trees
  • Quaking Aspen trees
  • Willow trees
  • Black Hawthorn
  • Chokecherry
  • Serviceberry
  • Snowberry
  • Arrow-Leaf Balsamroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Daisy
  • Fern
  • Lupine
  • Oysterplant
  • Showy Fleabane
  • Wild Rose
  • Yarrow
  • Blue Bunch Wheatgrass
  • Fish and Wildlife of Ferry County

    Throughout the county, one can find a wide variety of mammals and birds, as well as a variety of fish in our lakes, rivers, and streams.

    Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of birds near our waterways, including bald eagles, hawks, and falcons, as well as heron, osprey, swans, ducks, and geese.

    Other birds visitors can expect to see include barn swallows, chukars, crows, doves, flickers, hummingbirds, Stellar jays, turkeys, western and mountain bluebirds, and woodpeckers.

    Finally, visitors along trails in the county might expect to see these mammals (some at a distance): Black Bear and cub, Ferry County, WA
  • Black Bear
  • Beaver
  • Bobcat
  • Chipmunk
  • Cougar
  • Deer (White-tail and mule)
  • Elk
  • Fox
  • Marmot
  • Moose
  • Muskrat
  • Rabbit
  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Squirrel

  • State Parks, National Forests, Conservation District, and Other Nearby Natural Resources Within Ferry County

    Besides Curlew Lake and the Kettle River, numerous other natural resources can be found throughout the county.

    Curlew Lake State Park is a 123-acre camping park along the shores of Curlew Lake that includes green lawns and shade trees, offering beautiful lake vistas of pine-covered hills for visitors who enjoy the warm summer days and cool summer nights. Interestingly, an area of the park once was a summer camp for Native American tribes in the region, and discoveries include an indigenous people's pestle and the discarded shells of freshwater clams near an ancient fire ring. The park offers a variety of recreational activities, from bird-watching, wildlife watching, and fishing -- to boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming and picnicking.

    Ferry County Conservation District owns about 90 acres of land at the south end of Curlew Lake; half of it is hay meadow and half is wild land. One of Conservation District's goals for the property is to establish a wildlife passage corridor across the property from one side of the valley to the other, which would then connect it to Curlew Lake State Park.

    Lone Ranch Park is a county-owned park located south of Lone Ranch Creek Road along Highway 21, approximately 3 miles south of the Canadian border, and located just off the Rail-Trail. The park has eight camp sites and access to the river for canoe or kayak launching. There is no potable water available, and campers are required to pack out their own garbage. At the south end of the park is a small piece of land that is owned by the Ferry Conservation District. -- and is maintained as a natural reserve, although people are welcome and encouraged to explore the area. The area is home to a small grove of old growth fir and cedar trees. Cool, damp and shady, the area is a refreshing contrast to the semi-arid conditions along much of the rest of the trail.

    Colville National Forest is an 1.1 million acre forest located in Ferry County, as well as parts of Stevens and Pend Orielle counties, with almost half a million acres (476,488) located in Ferry County. The forest contains the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, and the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail passes through it. The Kettle River mountain range is within the forest, and numerous animals can be found within the reaches of the forest, including mule and white-tailed deer, grizzly and black bears, grey wolves, cougars, lynx, and bald eagles. The forest contains numerous lakes, rivers, and streams, as well as hiking trails (486 miles), off-road vehicle trails, horse trails, and unlimited mountain biking.

    The Sanpoil River originates near Republic, and flows south through the Colville National Forest, Okanogan National Forest, and the Colville Indian Reservation, ending at Lake Roosevelt above Grand Coulee Dam. Anglers can expect to find rainbow, brown, and brook trout, while birdwatchers can expect to find numerous native and hard-to-find birds, such as the Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart. The U.S. Forest Service maintains the Ten Mile Campground along the San Poil River.

    Swan Lake is a clear-water lake located in the Colville National Forest, just off Highway 21, south of Republic, the largest lake situated in a cluster of small lakes (which include Ferry, Fish, and Long Lakes). In the late spring and summer months, the lake is frequented by local anglers and fly fishers after brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. The mid- to late-summer months attract campers, hikers, and bicyclists to the warm lake waters and hiking-biking trails. In the cooler fall months, hunters take advantage of the campground's proximity to deer which frequent the fir- and spruce-lined hills of the national forest

    Lake Ellen is a sping-fed lake located about 14 miles north of Inchelium, and located in the Colville National Forest. The lake is about 78 acres, and includes camping sites on both the north and south shores. Anglers can expect to catch rainbow trout.

    Continue reading the story of Ferry County...

  • Other Resources Unique to Ferry County
  • Cultural and Historical Heritage of Ferry County
  • Railroad and Rail-Trail History of Ferry County
  • Go back to ... History of Rural Ferry County, WA: A County Without Traffic Lights

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