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Blue Mountains Human Impact

Ongoing challenges to the native biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Blue Mountains include:

  • Changes in fire regime. Past forest practices and a century of fire suppression have substantially altered function and composition of the ecoregion’s ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. The loss of mature stands reduce habitat for cavity nesters, such as the pygmy nuthatch and flammulated owl. Overstocked forests of smaller trees increase the danger of large-scale fires.
  • Excessive grazing. Overgrazing of the ecoregion’s grasslands has changed the plant composition dramatically and allowed invasive cheatgrass to gain a hold.
  • Agricultural conversion. Nearly all the remaining interior grasslands have been converted to dryland wheat, irrigated field crops, or hay and alfalfa. Many of the ecoregion’s low-lying wetlands, home to the Columbia spotted frog, have been drained for agricultural uses.

Despite these impacts, natural or semi-natural vegetation is dominant in Washington's Blue Mountains, a tiny piece of a much larger ecoregion. Public-private partnerships and stewardship efforts will go a long way toward conserving the rich native biodiversity here.


For details of this ecoregion within Washington, click a subheading in the left column.

View the more general description of this ecoregion in North America

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