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Coast Range Ecoregion: Chapter 1 in Status and trends of land change in the Western United States--1973 to 2000

December 1, 2012

The Coast Range Ecoregion, which covers approximately 57,338 km2 (22,138 mi2), is a thin, linear ecoregion along the Pacific Coast, stretching roughly 1,300 km from the Olympic Peninsula, in northwest Washington, to an area south of San Francisco, California (fig. 1) (Omernik, 1987; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997). It is bounded on the east by the Puget Lowland, the Willamette Valley, the Klamath Mountains, and the Southern and Central California Chaparral and Oak Woodlands Ecoregions. Almost the entire Coast Range Ecoregion lies within 100 km of the coast. Topography is highly variable, with coastal mountain ranges and valleys ranging from sea level to over 1,000 m in elevation (fig. 2). A maritime climate, along with high topographic relief, results in substantial, but regionally variable, amounts of rainfall, ranging from 130 cm to more than 350 cm per year. The favorable climate of the Coast Range Ecoregion has supported forests of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) along its northern coast and coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) along its southern coast, as well as Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western red cedar (Thuja plicata), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) inland (Omernik, 1987). Today, however, much of the forest is heavily managed for logging (fig. 3), although the ecoregion still supports some of the largest remaining areas of old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. Agriculture is a minor component of the landscape, present locally in flat lands and valleys near the coast. Urban development is minimal; Eureka, California, is the only urban center in the ecoregion, with a population of over 26,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

Publication Year 2012
Title Coast Range Ecoregion: Chapter 1 in Status and trends of land change in the Western United States--1973 to 2000
DOI 10.3133/pp1794A1
Authors Terry L. Sohl
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1794-A-1
Index ID pp1794A1
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center