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Columbia Basin Foothill and Canyon Dry Grassland

These grasslands are similar floristically to Columbia Basin Palouse Prairie (CES304.792) but are distinguished by landform, soil, and process characteristics. They occur in the canyons and valleys of the Columbia Basin, particularly along the Snake River canyon, the lower foothill slopes of the Blue Mountains, and along the main stem of the Columbia River in eastern Washington. Occurrences are found on steep open slopes, from 90 to 1525 m (300-5000 feet) elevation. Annual precipitation is low, ranging from 4 to 10 cm. Settings are primarily long, steep slopes of 100 m to well over 400 m, with soils derived from residuum and having patchy, thin, wind-blown surface deposits. Slope failures are a common process. Fire frequency is presumed to be less than 20 years. The vegetation is dominated by patchy graminoid cover, cacti, and some forbs. Pseudoroegneria spicata, Festuca idahoensis, and Opuntia polyacantha are common species. Deciduous shrubs Symphoricarpos spp., Physocarpus malvaceus, Holodiscus discolor, and Ribes spp. are infrequent native species that may increase with fire exclusion.

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