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Intermountain West

Intermountain West The Intermountain West includes the Columbia River Basin and Snake River Plateau in the northwest, the Great Basin in Nevada and western Utah, and the Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners area of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. In addition to large areas of forest, this region has the highest proportion of Federal lands.

Stretching from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains westward to the Sierra Nevada of California, to the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest and into Alaska, is the largest area of sparse population in America. Its low average population density is the key identifying feature of this region. Indeed, there is much variation in other elements of the territory's geography. Portions have rugged terrain interspersed with a series of plateaus, many of which contain extensive flat areas. Annual precipitation ranges from more than 125 centimeters in northern Idaho to less than 25 centimeters in the plateau country.

The population of the region is mostly of European origin, although Hispanic-Americans and American Indians are found in significant proportions in the south. Irrigated agriculture is important in some areas, as is ranching, whereas in other areas, lumbering, tourism, and mining are dominant.This massive expanse of land contains some of America's most strikingly scenic portions. The impact of humans on the region, although locally important, has been overshadowed to a great degree by the varied splendors of the natural environment.

Intermountain WestIn Intermountain West vegetation, a shrub canopy zone often exists with a dominant shrub, an understory and interspace area consisting of smaller shrubs, bunchgrasses, forbs, and biological soil crusts (lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria at the soil surface). Intermountain West plant communities are especially susceptible to non-native exotic plants due to a combination of disturbances such as heavy grazing, frequent wildfires, and vehicular traffic. Exotic annual grasses can negatively impact biotic integrity, ecosystem stability, composition and structure, natural fire cycles, diversity, soil biota, vegetation production, forage quality, wildlife habitat, soil physical properties, organic matter dynamics, carbon balance, ,nutrient and energy cycles, and hydrology and erosion dynamics.

National Historic Trails are designated to protect the remains of significant overland or water routes to reflect the history of the nation. They represent the earliest travels across the continent on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail; the nation's struggle for independence on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail; epic migrations on the Mormon & Oregon Trails and the development of continental commerce on the Santa Fe Trail.

Historic US Highway 66 spans the heart of America, symbolizing mobility, freedom, and pursuit of the American Dream. Highly celebrated through literature, film, and song, Route 66 is of national significance as a symbol of America's transportation history and the impact of the automobile. Perhaps more than any other highway, Route 66 has come to symbolize hope, progress, and the spirit of adventure. In 1985, US Highway 66 was decommissioned as a federal highway, but continues to live on in the American consciousness as “Route 66.”

Route 66 had its official beginnings in 1926 when the Bureau of Public Roads launched the nation’s first Federal highway system. Like other highways in the system, the path of Route 66 was a cobbling together of existing local, State, and national roads. The highway quickly became a popular route because of the active promotion of the U.S 66 Highway Association, which advertised it as “the shortest, best and most scenic route from Chicago through St. Louis to Los Angeles. Route 66 facilitated perhaps the single greatest wartime mobilization, as thousands of jobseekers headed to California, Oregon, and Washington to work in defense plants.

With the heavier traffic, businesses along the highway boomed, and the image of Route 66 as a Dustbowl migration route changed to one of freedom and kicks. The bleak image of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath faded as the upbeat lyrics of Bobby Troupe’s “Route 66” hit the airwaves. The adventures of two young men seeking their kicks in the 1960s television series, Route 66, further immortalized Route 66 as a highway of thrills.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:24:02 ZULU