The US Bureau of Reclamation operates the Yakima Project, which supplies irrigation water to most of the basin’s agriculture, approximately 464,000 acres. Water is stored in the 5 large reservoirs (Kecheelus, Kachess, Cle Elum, Rimrock and Bumping Lakes) and released to supply irrigation diversions throughout the basin.
The single largest landowner is the U.S government with 1.5 million acres (38%) of the land area. Most of the federal land is within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Other large federal land holdings include the U.S. Army Yakima Training Center, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and Bureau of Land Management lands. Other public ownership (state, county, and local governments) total over 400,000 acres. The Yakama Indian Reservation covers 1,573 square miles (1,371,918 acres) in Yakima and Klickitat counties, from the summit of Mount Adams to the lowlands of the Yakima Valley.
The mainstem Yakima River, the Naches River and their many tributaries support a wide range of fish species. The many distinct wildlife habitats, ranging from alpine areas and wet mountain forest to dry sagebrush grasslands, support an impressive diversity of plants and wildlife. The basin’s natural resources have sustained local forestry and ranching industries, and the rivers supply the water critical for the area’s agricultural economy. Outdoor recreation is an increasingly important part of the economy, with hunting, skiing, trophy fly fishing, wilderness trails, rafting, snowmobiling and 4 wheeling all popular.