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United States Stream Map

by Jonathan Wright   |  October 24th, 2016 0

stream mapA fantastic new US stream map of the entire stream system in the continental United States has been released on the web. Outside of it’s obvious artistic merit, the map should be an excellent resource for adventurous anglers and those seeking to better understand drainages and species distribution.

As published by the London Daily Mail, the map was produced using open-source software from US Geological Survey data available online, with high resolution prints being made available on the fine arts micro-retail site Etsy. The Mail reports, “Created by Imgur user Fejetlenfej, a geographer and GIS analyst with a ‘lifelong passion for beautiful maps,’ it highlights the massive expanse of river basins across the country – in particular, those which feed the Mississippi River.

The map visualizes Strahler Stream Order Classification, the creator explains, with higher stream orders indicated as thicker lines.”

The Mail goes on to cite,  “There are 18 major river basins in the 48 states of the contiguous US, but much of the map is dominated by the massive catchment area for the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers, as seen in pink. At the top of the map, the Souris-Red-Rainy Basin and the Great Lakes Basin are illustrated in green.

It also shows the basin of the Rio Grande snaking between the Colorado Basin and the Arkansas-White-Red Basin. The Rio Grande is indicated in blue, with this basin reaching all the way down to the bottom of Texas. Along both the east and west coasts, a jumble of rainbow colours reveals the networks of much smaller systems that border the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.”

I personally found the map fascinating not only in the degree ot detail in areas that I was familiar with — sparking ideas for new explorations — but also in illustrating the overall level of connectivity within basins and river drainages.  That there were more than a few closed drainages came as a surprise to me as well. These are typically smaller basins that have no outflow, at least in terms of surface water, with any contributions from precipitation going to aquifers or evaporation. For instance, the Tularosa basin of New Mexico near White Sands National Monument shows as a closed drainage, despite it’s location between the regionally major Rio Grande and Pecos systems. Located nearby, the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery, formerly a Federal facility, raises rare specie of trout — including the Rio Grande Cutthroat — for reintroduction across New Mexico, Arizona and southern Colorado.

Maps are great tools for helping us understand our angling resources, or just for a fun way to dream about fishing.

THE MAJOR US RIVER BASINS

There are 18 major river basins in the United States:

1.) Pacific Northwest Basin
2.) California River Basin
3.) Great Basin
4.) Lower Colorado River Basin
5.) Upper Colorado River Basin
6.) Rio Grande River Basin
7.) Texas Gulf Coast Basin
8.) Arkansas-White-Red Basin
9.) Lower Mississippi River Basin
10.) Missouri River Basin
11.) Souris-Red-Rainy Basin
12.) Upper Mississippi Basin
13.) Great Lakes Basin
14.) Tennessee River Basin
15.) Ohio River Basin
16.) South Atlantic-Gulf Basin
17.) Mid-Atlantic Basin
18.) New England Basin

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