The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains region is climatologically and ecologically diverse, and although each national forest has a specific cultural and political context, similarities in historical resource use, recent ecological disturbance, and management objectives define a relatively coherent biogeographic region. The BMAP is focused on the federal land base within the Blue Mountains. The area, covering 2.14 million hectares, includes the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla, and Malheur National Forests. The three administrative units include seven wilderness areas and hundreds of kilometers of wild and scenic rivers.

Similar geologic, cultural, and ecological histories unite the region. The geomorphology of the Blue Mountains was strongly influenced by glaciation and volcanic deposition. Native Americans historically inhabited and used the area. Following Euro-American settlement, the Blue Mountains experienced extensive sheep and cattle grazing and, later, a strong timber economy. Elevation gradients (3,000m range), soil type, and ecological disturbance have fostered ecological communities ranging from ponderosa pine and woodlands to dense true fir stands and high alpine meadows. Periodic and extensive outbreaks of mountain pine beetle, spruce budworm, and tussock moth occurred throughout the region in the 1900s. Management across the three administrative units has sought to respond to ecological disturbances and restore fire-prone ecosystems. Congressional designation of seven wilderness areas within the three national forests has further coalesced management objectives. In addition, the shared Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision (in press) unites the three national forests.