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North Pacific Dry-Mesic Silver Fir-Western Hemlock-Douglas-fir Forest

This forested system occurs only in the Pacific Northwest mountains, primarily west of the Cascade Crest. It generally occurs in an elevational band between Pseudotsuga menziesii - Tsuga heterophylla forests and Tsuga mertensiana forests. It dominates mid-montane dry to mesic maritime and some submaritime climatic zones from northwestern British Columbia to northwestern Oregon. In British Columbia and in the Olympic Mountains, this system occurs on the leeward side of the mountains only. In the Washington Cascades, it occurs on both windward and leeward sides of the mountains (in other words, it laps over the Cascade Crest to the "eastside"). Stand-replacement fires are regular with mean return intervals of about 200-500 years. Fire frequency tends to decrease with increasing elevation and continentality but still remains within this typical range. A somewhat variable winter snowpack that typically lasts for 2-6 months is characteristic. The climatic zone within which it occurs is sometimes referred to as the "rain-on-snow" zone because of the common occurrence of major winter rainfall on an established snowpack. Tsuga heterophylla and/or Abies amabilis dominate the canopy of late-seral stands, though Pseudotsuga menziesii is usually also common because of its long life span, and Chamaecyparis nootkatensis can be codominant, especially at higher elevations. Abies procera forests (usually mixed with silver fir) are included in this system and occur in the Cascades from central Washington to central Oregon and rarely in the Coast Range of Oregon. Pseudotsuga menziesii is a common species (unlike the mesic western hemlock-silver fir forest system) that regenerates after fires and therefore is frequent as a codominant, except at the highest elevations; the prevalence of this species is an important indicator in relation to the related climatically wetter North Pacific Mesic Western Hemlock-Silver Fir Forest (CES204.097). Abies lasiocarpa sometimes occurs as a codominant on the east side of the Cascades and in submaritime British Columbia. Understory species that tend to be more common or unique in this type compared to the wetter North Pacific Mesic Western Hemlock-Silver Fir Forest (CES204.097) include Achlys triphylla, Mahonia nervosa, Xerophyllum tenax, Vaccinium membranaceum, Rhododendron macrophyllum, and Rhododendron albiflorum. Vaccinium ovalifolium, while still common, only dominates on more moist sites within this type, unlike in the related type where it is nearly ubiquitous.

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