“From Sagebrush to Subalpine: Exploring the Diversity of Eastern Washington Landforms & Flora”
The Northeast Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society is looking forward to showing off the east’s diverse botanical and geological landscape during a weekend of lectures and field trips. Much of our region has been shaped by massive prehistoric floods that occurred as glacial ice dams repeatedly formed lakes covering as much as 3,000 square miles. These dams then broke apart sending as much as 600 cubic miles of water blasting through what is now northern Idaho and eastern and central Washington before finding its way through the Columbia River drainage to the Pacific. The floods left behind a terrain stripped bare of topsoil, exposing the underlying basalt bedrock, interspersed with dramatic basalt cliffs and outcrops, and vibrant wetlands and lakes that serve as major resting points for migratory waterfowl and host a variety of resident wildlife. To the north, the westernmost extent of the Rocky Mountains rise a few thousand feet above the basalt floodplain, and to the south are the rolling hills of fertile loess that escaped the flood water’s path and formed the Palouse Prairie.
Each of these unique landscape is within a few minutes to an hour’s drive from the Eastern Washington University (EWU) campus, which will serve as the home base for our weekend.