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Steens Mountain Wilderness
IUCN Category Ib (Wilderness Area)
Location Harney County, Oregon, USA
Nearest city Frenchglen, Oregon
Coordinates 42°40′N 118°45′W / 42.667°N 118.75°W / 42.667; -118.75Coordinates: 42°40′N 118°45′W / 42.667°N 118.75°W / 42.667; -118.75
Area 170,025 acres (68,807 ha)
Established October 30, 2000
Governing body Bureau of Land Management
Steens Mountain wildflowers
View from the top of Steens Mountain, looking out to Alvord Desert

Steens Mountain Wilderness is a wilderness area surrounding a portion of Steens Mountain of southeastern Oregon, U.S. The Wilderness is a portion of the Bureau of Land Management's Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area (CMPA), and encompasses 170,025 acres (68,807 ha) of the CMPA's total 428,156 acres (173,269 ha).[1] It is Oregon's newest wilderness, designated October 30, 2000. 98,859 acres (40,007 ha) of the Wilderness are protected from grazing and free of cattle.[2]

Contents

Topography

Steens Mountain Wilderness ranges in elevation from 4,200 to 9,773 feet (1,300 to 3,000 m) at the summit of Steens Mountain. The Wilderness comprises a variety of vegetative zones, from the Arid Sagebrush Zone in the Alvord Desert, through the Western Juniper, Mountain Mahogany, Mountain Big Sagebrush, Quaking Aspen, Subalpine Meadow, and Subalpine Grassland Zones, to the Snow Cover Zone.[3]

Steens Mountain is the largest fault block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth's surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse Lakes now stand.[3]

Vegetation

Vegetation in Steens Mountain Wilderness varies greatly according to elevation. Common plants include sagebrush, juniper, various species of bunchgrass, mountain mahogany, aspen, mountain meadow knotweed, and false hellebore.[3] Other vegetation that is endemic to Steens Mountain include Steens paintbrush, moss gentian, Steens Mountain penstemon, Steens Mountain Thistle, a dwarf blue lupine, and Cusick's buckwheat.[4][5]

Wildlife

Redband Trout.

Steens Mountain is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, and the threatened redband trout. Cattle can be found in the Wilderness as well, though they are excluded from grazing 98,859 acres (40,007 ha) on top of Steens Mountain.[1][3]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Steens Mountain - Bureau of Land Management
  2. ^ Steens Mountain Wilderness - Wilderness.net
  3. ^ a b c d Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon - GORP
  4. ^ Sullivan, William L. (2002). Thurman, Paula (Ed.). ed. Exploring Oregon's Wild Areas (3rd ed.). The Mountaineers Books.  
  5. ^ St. John, Alan D. (2007). Oregon's Dry Side: Exploring East of the Cascade Crest. Timber Press.  

External links

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