More about the East Cascades Ecoregion
The East Cascades ecoregion extends from just east of the Cascade Mountains summit to the warmer, drier high desert to the east. Stretching the full north-to-south length of the state, the East Cascades is narrow at the Columbia River but becomes wider toward the California border.
This ecoregion varies dramatically from its cool, moist border with the West Cascades ecoregion to its dry eastern border, where it meets sagebrush country in some regions. The climate is generally dry, with wide variations in temperature. The East Cascades includes several peaks and ridges in the 6,000-7,000 foot range, but, overall, the slopes on the east side of the Cascade Mountain range are less steep and cut by fewer streams than the Western Cascade Ecoregion. The East Cascades’ volcanic history is evident through numerous buttes, lava flows, craters, and lava caves, and in the extensive deep ash deposits created by the explosion of historical Mt. Mazama during the creation of Crater Lake.
Terrain ranges from forested uplands to marshes and agricultural fields at lower elevations. The northern two-thirds of the East Cascades ecoregion is drained by the Deschutes River, ultimately flowing into the Columbia. Most of the southern portion of the East Cascades ecoregion is drained by the Klamath River, with a small portion draining into Goose Lake, a closed basin. In general, the East Cascades is drier than the West Cascades, with fewer rivers flowing over the mountain slopes. However, the East Cascades is characterized by many lakes, reservoirs and marshes, providing exceptional habitat for aquatic species and wildlife closely associated with water, including waterbirds, amphibians, fish, aquatic plants and aquatic invertebrates. In fact, the East Cascades ecoregion supports some of the most remarkable aquatic biological diversity in the United States.
When compared to Oregon’s other ecoregions, the East Cascades has the second-highest average income (the Willamette ecoregion supports the highest per-capita income). Much of this income is related to tourism and recreation, with forestry and agriculture also important components. Towns include Bend, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, and Hood River; many of these towns are experiencing rapid population growth. Most of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation is found in the East Cascades ecoregion.
text taken from the Oregon Conservation Strategy, 2006, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife