© Pete Saloutos/Panoramic Images (Washington Title Image Large)
Ecosystems and Habitats in Washington
Washington has a tremendous diversity of ecosystems: marine waters, tidepools, estuaries, rainforests, dry coniferous forests, subalpine and alpine meadows and parklands, shrub-steppe, grasslands, prairies, sand dunes, riparian areas, and a variety of freshwater wetland types. In fact, most of the American West’s major ecosystem types occur within the state, including a pair found nowhere else in the world: the Olympic rainforest and the channeled scablands of the Columbia Plateau.
Healthy, functioning ecosystems provide us with clean water and clean air, which would otherwise require the application of expensive technologies to produce. Ecosystems also provide natural flood control, pollination, natural pest controls, carbon storage to help buffer against climate change, and habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant species.
Washington is fortunate to have a number of strong conservation efforts underway and a public that values a healthy environment. These efforts include acquisition of land from willing sellers, habitat restoration projects, purchase of development rights to retain working forests, and other approaches.