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Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland

This is a low-elevation riparian system found on the periphery of the mountains surrounding the Columbia River Basin, along major tributaries and the main stem of the Columbia at relatively low elevations. This is the riparian system associated with all streams at and below lower treeline, including permanent, intermittent and ephemeral streams with woody riparian vegetation. These forests and woodlands require flooding and some gravels for reestablishment. They are found in low-elevation canyons and draws, on floodplains, or in steep-sided canyons, or narrow V-shaped valleys with rocky substrates. Sites are subject to temporary flooding during spring runoff. Underlying gravels may keep the water table just below the ground surface and are favored substrates for cottonwood. Large bottomlands may have large occurrences, but most have been cut over or cleared for agriculture. Rafted ice and logs in freshets may cause considerable damage to tree boles. Beavers crop younger cottonwood and willows and frequently dam side channels occurring in these stands. In steep-sided canyons, streams typically have perennial flow on mid to high gradients. Important and diagnostic trees include Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa, Alnus rhombifolia, Populus tremuloides, Celtis laevigata var. reticulata, Betula occidentalis, or Pinus ponderosa. Important shrubs include Crataegus douglasii, Philadelphus lewisii, Cornus sericea, Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra, Salix eriocephala, Rosa nutkana, Rosa woodsii, Amelanchier alnifolia, Prunus virginiana, and Symphoricarpos albus. Grazing is a major influence in altering structure, composition, and function of the community.

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