Level III: (10) Columbia Plateau

The Columbia Plateau ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, with small areas over the Washington state border in Idaho.

The ecoregion extends across a wide swath of the Columbia River Basin from The Dalles, Oregon to Lewiston, Idaho to Okanogan, Washington near the Canadian border. It includes nearly 500 miles (800 km) of the Columbia River, as well as the lower reaches of major tributaries such as the Snake and Yakima rivers and the associated drainage basins.

It is named for the Columbia River Plateau, a flood basalt plateau formed by the Columbia River Basalt Group during the late Miocene and early Pliocene.

The arid sagebrush steppe and grasslands of the region are flanked by moister, predominantly forested, mountainous ecoregions on all sides. The underlying basalt is up to 2 miles (3 km) thick and partially covered by thick loess desposits.[1]

Where precipitation amounts are sufficient, the deep loess soils have been extensively cultivated for wheat. Water from the Columbia River is subject to resource allocation debates involving fisheries, navigation, hydropower, recreation, and irrigation, and the Columbia Basin Project has dramatically converted much of the region to agricultural use.[1][2][3]

The Columbia Plateau ecoregion has been subdivided into at least fourteen Level IV ecoregions. The EPA has not yet published an Ecoregions of Washington poster similar to the informational posters for Oregon and Idaho.

Source: Wikipedia

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