National monument (United States)
In the United States, a national monument is a protected area, similar to a national park, but can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government by proclamation of the President of the United States. National monuments can be managed by one of several federal agencies: the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; some national monuments were managed by the War Department. National monuments can be so designated through the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Theodore Roosevelt used the act to declare Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first U. S. national monument. The Antiquities Act of 1906 resulted from concerns about protecting prehistoric Native American ruins and artifacts on federal lands in the American West; the Act authorized permits for legitimate archaeological investigations and penalties for taking or destroying antiquities without permission.
Additionally, it authorized the president to proclaim "historic landmarks and prehistoric structures, other objects of historic or scientific interest" on federal lands as national monuments, "the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected."The reference in the act to "objects of...scientific interest" enabled President Theodore Roosevelt to make a natural geological feature, Devils Tower in Wyoming, the first national monument three months later. Among the next three monuments he proclaimed in 1906 was Petrified Forest in Arizona, another natural feature. In 1908, Roosevelt used the act to proclaim more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon as a national monument. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Katmai National Monument in Alaska, comprising more than 1,000,000 acres. Katmai was enlarged to nearly 2,800,000 acres by subsequent Antiquities Act proclamations and for many years was the largest national park system unit.
Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes were originally proclaimed as national monuments and designated as national parks by Congress. In response to Roosevelt's declaration of the Grand Canyon monument, a putative mining claimant sued in federal court, claiming that Roosevelt had overstepped the Antiquities Act authority by protecting an entire canyon. In 1920, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Grand Canyon was indeed "an object of historic or scientific interest" and could be protected by proclamation, setting a precedent for the use of the Antiquities Act to preserve large areas. Federal courts have since rejected every challenge to the president's use of Antiquities Act preservation authority, ruling that the law gives the president exclusive discretion over the determination of the size and nature of the objects protected. Substantial opposition did not materialize until 1943, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Jackson Hole National Monument in Wyoming.
He did this to accept a donation of lands acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. for addition to Grand Teton National Park after Congress had declined to authorize this park expansion. Roosevelt's proclamation unleashed a storm of criticism about use of the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress. A bill abolishing Jackson Hole National Monument passed Congress but was vetoed by Roosevelt, Congressional and court challenges to the proclamation authority were mounted. In 1950, Congress incorporated most of the monument into Grand Teton National Park, but the act doing so barred further use of the proclamation authority in Wyoming except for areas of 5,000 acres or less; the most substantial use of the proclamation authority came in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed 15 new national monuments in Alaska after Congress had adjourned without passing a major Alaska lands bill opposed in that state. Congress passed a revised version of the bill in 1980 incorporating most of these national monuments into national parks and preserves, but the act curtailed further use of the proclamation authority in Alaska.
The proclamation authority was not used again anywhere until 1996, when President Bill Clinton proclaimed the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. This action was unpopular in Utah, bills were introduced to further restrict the president's authority. None of which have been enacted. Most of the 16 national monuments created by President Clinton are managed not by the National Park Service, but by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. Presidents have used the Antiquities Act's proclamation authority not only to create new national monuments but to enlarge existing ones. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt enlarged Dinosaur National Monument in 1938. Lyndon B. Johnson added Ellis Island to Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, Jimmy Carter made major additions to Glacier Bay and Katmai National Monuments in 1978. On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and surrounding areas in Greenwich Village, New York as the Stonewall National Monument, the first national monument commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States.
List of U. S. National Forests List of areas in the United States National Park System List of U. S. wilderness areas Protected areas of the United States List of proposed national monuments of the United States National monument proclamations under the Antiquities Act Congressional Research Service reports regar
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located 30 miles south of the city of Burns in Oregon's Harney Basin. Administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge area is T-shaped with the southernmost base at Frenchglen, the northeast section at Malheur Lake and the northwest section at Harney Lake; the refuge was created in 1908 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt to protect habitat for diverse waterfowl and migratory birds, grew to encompass 187,757 acres of public lands. A popular site for birding, fishing and hiking, the refuge gained widespread attention in early 2016 after its headquarters complex was occupied by armed anti-government protesters. Archaeological research within the Harney Basin region, including near Burns, demonstrates that it was home to Native Americans for about the past 16,000 to 15,000 years; the first recognizable remains of seasonal prehistoric dwellings appear in the Harney Basin at the Dunn Site about 5,500 BP. Around Malheur and Harney lakes, the presence of identifiable remains of numerous settlements and burials of the Boulder Village Period demonstrate that these lakes were utilized by Paiute tribes for hunting and fishing as part of their seasonal nomadic round of the Harney Valley from before 3,000 BP up until historic contact with and settlement of the area by non-Native peoples.
For example, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters lies within a major archaeological site, once a settlement used by Paiute tribes seasonally for thousands of years until historic contact. The arrival of settlers in the region led to restrictions on the use of the land by the Paiute people who were restricted to living in the Malheur Indian Reservation. After it was established, the size of the Malheur Indian Reservation continued to shrink as small areas of it were extracted from it and transferred to local settlers for their private use; the Paiute people were denied the local fishing and hunting rights that were promised them. The Paiute people were forced to leave their Malheur Indian Reservation after joining the Bannock people in Idaho in an uprising, the Bannock War, in 1878, were resettled in Yakama Reservation, 350 miles away in southeastern Washington. About 550 Paiute men and children, of whom many had not engaged in any hostile action, traveled for nearly a month through the snow and over two mountain ranges.
Though supplies were in transit from the Malheur agency, the Paiute people were forced to leave Camp Harney under-equipped. As a result, five children, one woman, an elderly man died along the way and were left unburied as they traveled. During the five years they spent on the Yakama Reservation, historian Sally Zanjani estimates that more than one-fifth of them died during their exile of malnourishment and disease; when they were allowed to leave the reservation in 1883, some of the Paiute people moved to either the Warm Springs Reservation or Nevada. Others returned to the Harney Basin and in 1972, acquired title to 771 acres of land and created the Burns Paiute Indian Reservation. After the removal of Paiute tribes, much of the region's land became public property; the region hosted large livestock operations while the area's water resources were altered by irrigation and drainage projects. The remarkable abundance and diversity of bird life within the pre-irrigation Malheur region was first described by Charles Bendire in the middle 1870s.
Beginning in the late 1880s, the area's bird populations were devastated by the actions of plume hunters who harvested the showy feathers of Malheur's waterfowl for use as hat ornaments. In 1908, wildlife photographers William L. Finley and Herman Bohlman documented the area's unusual diversity of birds, as well as the detrimental impacts of plume hunting. Finley used photographs to lobby President Theodore Roosevelt for federal protection of the region. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was created on August 18, 1908 by a proclamation from President Roosevelt, under a law which allowed the president to declare game preserves on federal public land; the refuge began as a 81,786-acre parcel surrounding Malheur Lake, Harney Lake and Mud Lake, was named the Malheur Lake Refuge. In the years that followed, the refuge grew to its current size of 187,756 acres through federal purchases and acquisitions of surrounding lands. Of its current acreage, 43,665.57 acres were acquired by purchase from various willing sellers.
The creation and expansion of this refuge involved litigation, of which two lawsuits ended in favorable Supreme Court decisions, that provide the legal foundation for its ownership and management by federal agencies. Roads and other infrastructure were built by workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. While cattle grazing was permitted on some portions of the property after 1935, the prioritization of the needs of the refuge's wildlife led to reductions in the number of cattle allowed on the property starting in the 1970s; the number of cattle allowed to graze within the refuge remained at a steady level throughout the 1990s and 2000s. As the need for a comprehensive management plan for the refuge was realized, ranch operators became concerned about the possibility of furt
Newport is a city in Lincoln County, United States. It was incorporated in 1882, though the name dates back to the establishment of a post office in 1868; as of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 9,989, an increase of nearly 5% over its 2000 population. Newport has been the county seat of Lincoln County since 1952, when voters approved a measure to remove the center of government from nearby Toledo to Newport, it is home of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Nye Beach, The Historic Bayfront shopping district, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Pacific Maritime Heritage Center and Rogue Ales. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.59 square miles, of which 9.05 square miles is land and 1.54 square miles is water. Newport has mild, wet weather throughout the year with the heaviest precipitation falling during the winter months; the city averages 0.4 afternoons annually with maximum temperatures equalling or exceeding 90 °F or 32.2 °C and 29 mornings with minimum temperatures of 32 °F or 0 °C or lower.
Historic extreme temperatures have varied between 100 °F in summer. The average annual precipitation between 1961 and 1990 was 70.99 inches, with the wettest “rain year” being from July 1968 to June 1969 with 102.15 inches and the driest, like most of Oregon, from July 1976 to June 1977 with 38.94 inches. There are an average of 187 days a year with precipitation equalling or exceeding 0.01 inches or 0.3 millimetres. Average annual snowfall is only 0.040 metres. In October 1962, wind gusts at Newport reached 138 miles per hour before the wind gauge stopped working; this occurred during the Columbus Day Windstorm, which the National Weather Service has named one of Oregon’s top 10 weather events of the 20th century. Another top-10 event affecting Newport occurred in December 1964, when a rainstorm caused severe flooding in many parts of the state; the Weather Service rated the storm among the most severe in western Oregon since the 1870s. About 21 inches of rain fell on Newport; this was twice the normal amount expected in December and set a new record for the city.
In the Weather Bureau’s top-10 list for Oregon are the snowstorms of January 1950. Newport saw a total of about 6 inches or 0.15 metres fall during the month, four times its normal annual snowfall. As of the census of 2010, there were 9,989 people, 4,354 households, 2,479 families residing in the city; the population density was about 1,104 inhabitants per square mile. There were 5,540 housing units at an average density of about 612 per square mile; the racial makeup of the city was 84.1% White, 0.6% African American, 2.1% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 7.5% from other races, 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.3% of the population. There were 4,354 households of which about 25% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41% were married couples living together, 11% had a female householder with no husband present, 5% had a male householder with no wife present, 43% were non-families. About 35% of all households were made up of individuals, about 15% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was about 2.2 and the average family size was about 2.8. The median age in the city was about 43 years. About 20% of residents were under the age of 18, 8% were between the ages of 18 and 24, 24% were from 25 to 44, 29% were from 45 to 64, 19% were 65 years of age or older; the gender makeup of the city was 49.1% male and 50.9% female. As of the census of 2000, there were 9,532 people, 4,112 households, 2,495 families residing in the city; the population density was about 1,073 people per square mile. There were 5,034 housing units at an average density of about 567 per square mile; the racial makeup of the city was about 88.6% White, 2.2% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Black or African American, 0.2% Pacific Islander. About 3.9 % were of 3 % from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were about 9% of the population. Of 4,112 households, about 27% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47% were married couples living together, 13% had a female householder with no husband present, 39% were non-families.
About 32% of all households were made up of individuals and 13% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was about 2.3 and the average family size was about 2.8. In the city, the population was spread out with about 22% under the age of 18, 8% from 18 to 24, 26% from 25 to 44, 27% from 45 to 64, 17% who were 65 years of age or older; the median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92 males; the median income for a household in the city was $31,996, the median income for a family was $36,682. Males had a median income of $31,416 versus $26,582 for females; the per capita income for the city was $20,580. About 12.2% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.1% of those under the age of 18 and 8.2% of those 65 and older. In August 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration moved its base for research ships from Seattle to Newport; the base boasts a total of 175 employees.
It provides support for up to two itinerant vessels. NOAA has personnel at the Hatfield Marine Science Center which support the fisheries science centers for Alaska and the Northwest; the ships join the RV Oceanus and RV Elakha research vess
National Park Service
The National Park Service is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior; the NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment. As of 2018, the NPS employs 27,000 employees who oversee 419 units, of which 61 are designated national parks. National parks and national monuments in the United States were individually managed under the auspices of the Department of the Interior; the movement for an independent agency to oversee these federal lands was spearheaded by business magnate and conservationist Stephen Mather, as well as J. Horace McFarland. With the help of journalist Robert Sterling Yard, Mather ran a publicity campaign for the Department of the Interior.
They wrote numerous articles that praised the scenic and historic qualities of the parks and their possibilities for educational and recreational benefits. This campaign resulted in the creation of a National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Mather became the first director of the newly formed NPS. On March 3, 1933, President Herbert Hoover signed the Reorganization Act of 1933; the act would allow the President to reorganize the executive branch of the United States government. It wasn't until that summer when the new President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, made use of this power. Deputy Director Horace M. Albright had suggested to President Roosevelt that the historic sites from the American Civil War should be managed by the National Park Service, rather than the War Department.
President Roosevelt issued two Executive orders to make it happen. These two executive orders not only transferred to the National Park Service all the War Department historic sites, but the national monuments managed by the Department of Agriculture and the parks in and around the capital, run by an independent office. In 1951, Conrad Wirth became director of the National Park Service and went to work on bringing park facilities up to the standards that the public expected; the demand for parks after the end of the World War II had left the parks overburdened with demands that could not be met. In 1952, with the support of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he began Mission 66, a ten-year effort to upgrade and expand park facilities for the 50th anniversary of the Park Service. New parks were added to preserve unique resources and existing park facilities were upgraded and expanded. In 1966, as the Park Service turned 50 years old, emphasis began to turn from just saving great and wonderful scenery and unique natural features to making parks accessible to the public.
Director George Hartzog began the process with the creation of the National Lakeshores and National Recreation Areas. Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service has managed each of the United States' national parks, which have grown in number over the years to 60. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the United States. In 1872, there was no state government to manage it, so the federal government assumed direct control. Yosemite National Park began as a state park. Yosemite was returned to federal ownership. At first, each national park was managed independently, with varying degrees of success. In Yellowstone, the civilian staff was replaced by the U. S. Army in 1886. Due to the irregularities in managing these national treasures, Stephen Mather petitioned the federal government to improve the situation. In response, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane challenged him to lobby for creating a new agency, the National Park Service, to manage all national parks and some national monuments.
Mather was successful with the ratification of the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916. The agency was given authority over other protected areas, many with varying designations as Congress created them; the National Park System includes. The title or designation of a unit need not include the term park; the System as a whole is considered to be a national treasure of the United States, some of the more famous national parks and monuments are sometimes referred to metaphorically as "crown jewels". The system encompasses 84.4 million acres, of which more than 4.3 million acres remain in private ownership. The largest unit is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres, it is over 16 percent of the entire system; the smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre. In addition to administering its units and other properties, the National Park Service provides technical and financial assistance to several "affiliated areas" authorized by Congress.
The largest affiliated area is New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve at 1,164,025 acres. The smallest is Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at less than 0.01 acres. Although all units of the Nat
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service is an agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres. Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System and Private Forestry, Business Operations, the Research and Development branch. Managing 25% of federal lands, it is the only major national land agency, outside the U. S. Department of the Interior; the concept of the National Forests was born from Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation group and Crockett Club, due to concerns regarding Yellowstone National Park beginning as early as 1875. In 1876, Congress formed the office of Special Agent in the Department of Agriculture to assess the quality and conditions of forests in the United States. Franklin B. Hough was appointed the head of the office. In 1881, the office was expanded into the newly formed Division of Forestry; the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized withdrawing land from the public domain as "forest reserves," managed by the Department of the Interior.
In 1901, the Division of Forestry was renamed the Bureau of Forestry. The Transfer Act of 1905 transferred the management of forest reserves from the General Land Office of the Interior Department to the Bureau of Forestry, henceforth known as the United States Forest Service. Gifford Pinchot was the first United States Chief Forester in the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Significant federal legislation affecting the Forest Service includes the Weeks Act of 1911, the Multiple Use – Sustained Yield Act of 1960, P. L. 86-517. L. 88-577. L. 94-588. L. 91-190. L. 95-313. L. 95-307. In February 2009, the Government Accountability Office evaluated whether the Forest Service should be moved from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, managing some 438,000,000 acres of public land; as of 2009, the Forest Service has a total budget authority of $5.5 billion, of which 42% is spent fighting fires.
The Forest Service employs 34,250 employees in 750 locations, including 10,050 firefighters, 737 law enforcement personnel, 500 scientists. The mission of the Forest Service is "To sustain the health and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations." Its motto is "Caring for the land and serving people." As the lead federal agency in natural resource conservation, the US Forest Service provides leadership in the protection and use of the nation's forest and aquatic ecosystems. The agency's ecosystem approach to management integrates ecological and social factors to maintain and enhance the quality of the environment to meet current and future needs. Through implementation of land and resource management plans, the agency ensures sustainable ecosystems by restoring and maintaining species diversity and ecological productivity that helps provide recreation, timber, fish, wildlife and aesthetic values for current and future generations of people.
The everyday work of the Forest Service balances resource extraction, resource protection, providing recreation. The work includes managing 193,000,000 acres of national forest and grasslands, including 59,000,000 acres of roadless areas. Further, the Forest Service fought fires on 2,996,000 acres of land in 2007; the Forest Service organization includes ranger districts, national forests, research stations and research work units and the Northeastern Area Office for State and Private Forestry. Each level has responsibility for a variety of functions; the Chief of the Forest Service is a career federal employee. The Chief reports to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the U. S. Department of Agriculture, an appointee of the President confirmed by the Senate; the Chief's staff provides broad policy and direction for the agency, works with the Administration to develop a budget to submit to Congress, provides information to Congress on accomplishments, monitors activities of the agency.
There are five deputy chiefs for the following areas: National Forest System and Private Forestry and Development, Business Operations, Finance. The Forest Service Research and Development deputy area includes five research stations, the Forest Products Laboratory, the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, in Puerto Rico. Station directors, like regional foresters, report to the Chief. Research stations include Northern, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Southern. There are 92 research work units located at 67 sites throughout the United States. There are 80 Experimental Forests and Ranges that have been established progressively since 1908; the system provides places for long-term science and management studies in major vegetation types of the 195 million acres of public land administered by the Forest Service. Individual sites range from 47 to 22,500 ha in size. Operations of Experimental Forests and Ranges are directed by local research teams for the individual sites, by Research Stations for the regions in which they are located, at the level of the Forest Service.
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Umatilla National Forest
The Umatilla National Forest, in the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington, covers an area of 1.4 million acres. In descending order of land area the forest is located in parts of Umatilla, Columbia, Wallowa, Garfield, Asotin and Walla Walla counties. More than three-quarters of the forest lies in the state of Oregon. Forest headquarters are located in Oregon. There are local ranger district offices in Heppner and Ukiah in Oregon, in Pomeroy and Walla Walla in Washington; the Umatilla National Forest takes its name from the Umatilla Indian word meaning "water rippling over sand." Explorers Lewis and Clark passed through the area in 1805 on the Columbia River, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman passed through in 1836 to establish a mission at Wailatpu near Walla Walla, Washington. Thousands of emigrants followed the Oregon Trail west, many remained in the Blue Mountain region. Discovery of gold in Oregon in 1851 led to the settlement of the North Fork John Day River area. More than $10 million in gold and silver were mined, remnants of the era are still visible in the National Forest.
Some claims are still being mined. Umatilla was established on July 1, 1908 from part of Blue Mountains National Forest and all of Heppner National Forest. Wenaha National Forest was added on November 5, 1920; the forest was the site of the School Fire, the largest fire in the contiguous United States of 2005. Common wildlife in the Umatilla National Forest include moose, bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain goat, mule deer, white-tailed deer, timber wolf, coyote, Merriam's turkeys, transplanted Rio Grande wild turkeys and ruffed grouse, Franklin's grouse, chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout. More than 20 percent of the Umatilla National Forest is classified as wilderness: Wenaha–Tucannon Wilderness, 177,400 acres, straddles the border between Oregon and Washington. North Fork John Day Wilderness, 121,800 acres, is in the southeast section of the National Forest and located in neighboring Whitman National Forest. North Fork Umatilla Wilderness, 20,200 acres, contains the narrow valley of the North Fork Umatilla River, the source of the Umatilla River.
A 1993 Forest Service study estimated. Common recreational activities in the Umatilla National Forest include OHV riding, hiking, hunting, wildlife watching and rafting. Spout Springs Ski Area in Oregon and Bluewood Ski Area in Washington operate under special use permit within the forest. Jubilee Lake has the most popular campground in the forest. List of U. S. National Forests Umatilla National Forest, USDA Forest Service
Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to 4,000 feet deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. Extending from the confluence of the Columbia with the Deschutes River in the east down to the eastern reaches of the Portland metropolitan area, the water gap furnishes the only navigable route through the Cascades and the only water connection between the Columbia River Plateau and the Pacific Ocean, it is thus the route of Washington State Route 14, Interstate 84, U. S. Route 30, railroad tracks on both sides; the gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and is managed by the Columbia River Gorge Commission and the US Forest Service. The gorge is a popular recreational destination; the Columbia River, Klamath River in Northern California, Pit River in Northern California, Fraser River in Southern British Columbia are the only four rivers connecting the east-side watersheds of the Cascade Mountain Range to the Pacific Ocean.
Each river has created a gorge through the Cascade Mountain Range. The Columbia River Gorge marks the state line between Washington; the wide range of elevation and precipitation makes the Columbia River Gorge an diverse and dynamic place. Ranging from 4,000 feet to sea level, transitioning from 100 inches of precipitation to only 10 inches in 80 miles, the Gorge creates a diverse collection of ecosystems from the temperate rain forest on the western end—with an average annual precipitation of 75 to 100 inches —to the eastern grasslands with average annual precipitation between 10 and 15 inches, to a transitional dry woodland between Hood River and The Dalles. Isolated micro-habitats have allowed for many species of endemic plants and animals to prosper, including at least 13 endemic wildflowers; the Gorge transitions between temperate rainforest to dry grasslands in only 80 miles, hosting a dramatic change in scenery while driving down Interstate 84. In the western, temperate rainforest areas, forests are marked by bigleaf maples, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, all covered in epiphytes.
In the transition zone, vegetation turns to Oregon white oak, Ponderosa pine, cottonwood. At the eastern end, the forests make way for expansive grasslands, with occasional pockets of lodgepole and Ponderosa pine. Atmospheric pressure differentials east and west of the Cascades create a wind tunnel effect in the deep cut of the gorge, generating 35 mph winds that make it a popular windsurfing and kitesurfing location, it creates the right conditions for snow and ice storms during the winter months which draws cold east winds at the mouth of the gorge on the west end. The Gorge is a popular destination for hiking, sight-seeing and watersports; the area is known for its high concentration of waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone. Many are along the Historic Columbia River Highway, including the notable 620-foot -high Multnomah Falls. Trails and day use sites are maintained by the Forest Service and many Oregon and Washington state parks; the Columbia River Gorge began forming as far back as the Miocene, continued to take shape through the Pleistocene.
During this period the Cascades Range was forming, which moved the Columbia River's delta about 100 miles north to its current location. Although the river eroded the land over this period of time, the most drastic changes took place at the end of the last Ice Age when the Missoula Floods cut the steep, dramatic walls that exist today, flooding the river as high up as Crown Point; this quick erosion left many layers of volcanic rock exposed. The gorge has supported human habitation for over 13,000 years. Evidence of the Folsom and Marmes people, who crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia, were found in archaeological digs. Excavations near Celilo Falls, a few miles east of The Dalles, show humans have occupied this salmon-fishing site for more than 10,000 years; the gorge has provided a transportation corridor for thousands of years. Native Americans would travel through the Gorge to trade at Celilo Falls, both along the river and over Lolo Pass on the north side of Mount Hood. In 1805, the route was used by the Clark Expedition to reach the Pacific.
Early European and American settlers subsequently established steamboat lines and railroads through the gorge. Today, the BNSF Railway runs freights along the Washington side of the river, while its rival, the Union Pacific Railroad, runs freights along the Oregon shore; until 1997, Amtrak's Pioneer used the Union Pacific tracks. The Portland segment of the Empire Builder uses the BNSF tracks; the Columbia River Highway, built in the early 20th century, was the first major paved highway in the Pacific Northwest. Shipping was simplified after Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam submerged the gorge's major rapids such as Celilo Falls, a major salmon fishing site for local Native Americans until the site's submergence in 1957. In November 1986, Congress made it the second U. S. National Scenic Area and established the Columbia River Gorge Commission as part of an interstate compact; the experimental designation came in lieu of being recognized as a national park, which would require the existing industries in towns along the river to relocate.