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Disappearing Landscapes

Population in western Washington has expanded substantially, resulting in conversion of the South Puget Sound Prairies to housing developments and commercial properties.  In southeastern Washington, farming (much of it irrigated) and grazing have replaced or impacted the native vegetation.  Fire suppression has led to significant changes in structure and composition of many other types of vegetation that, at first glance, seem to be in a more natural state.

Imperiled Ecosystems in Washington

  • South Puget Sound Prairies

    High-quality prairie grasslands and oak woodlands near the south end of Puget Sound have nearly disappeared. Development pressure and invasive species have had a severe impact.

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  • Shrub-steppe

    Much of southeastern Washington is dry and is dominated by sagebrush and grasses. More than half of this shrub-steppe vegetation has been converted to agriculture.

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  • Ponderosa Pine

    The forests on the eastern flank of the Cascades at one time were more predominantly Ponderosa pine. Today, as a result of fire suppression and harvest activities, the once open, park-like forests have all but disappeared.

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  • Palouse

    The grasslands of the rolling hills of southeastern Washington have largely been converted to cropland. Only small slivers of the native prairies remain.

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