Great Basin

The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America. It spans nearly all of Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, and Wyoming. It is noted for both its arid climate and the basin and range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than 100 miles (160 km) away at the summit of Mount Whitney. The region spans several physiographic divisions, biomes, ecoregions, and deserts.

Great Basin
Greatbasinmap
Relief map with Great Basin overlay
LocationUnited States
Coordinates40°40′N 117°40′W / 40.667°N 117.667°WCoordinates: 40°40′N 117°40′W / 40.667°N 117.667°W[1]
Highest point
 – elevation
 – coordinates
Mount Whitney summit
14,505 ft (4,421 m)
36°34′42.89″N 118°17′31.18″W / 36.5785806°N 118.2919944°W
Area209,162 sq mi (541,730 km2)[2]

Definition

GB-Definition-Map
The hydrographic Great Basin (magenta outline), distinguished from the Great Basin Desert (black), and the Basin and Range Geological Province (teal).[3]

The term "Great Basin" is applied to hydrographic,[3][4]:11 biological,[3] floristic,[4]:21 physiographic,[4]:14 topographic,[3] and ethnographic geographic areas.[4]:34 The name was originally coined by John C. Fremont, who, based on information gleaned from Joseph R. Walker as well as his own travels, recognized the hydrographic nature of the landform as "having no connection to the ocean".[4]:8–9 The hydrographic definition is the most commonly used,[3] and is the only one with a definitive border. The other definitions yield not only different geographical boundaries of "Great Basin" regions, but regional borders that vary from source to source.[4]:11

The Great Basin Desert is defined by plant and animal communities, and, according to the National Park Service, its boundaries approximate the hydrographic Great Basin, but exclude the southern "panhandle".[3]

The Great Basin Floristic Province was defined by botanist Armen Takhtajan to extend well beyond the boundaries of the hydrographically defined Great Basin: it includes the Snake River Plain, the Colorado Plateau, the Uinta Basin, and parts of Arizona north of the Mogollon Rim.[5]

The Great Basin physiographic section is a geographic division of the Basin and Range Province defined by Nevin Fenneman in 1931.[6] The United States Geological Survey adapted Fenneman's scheme in their Physiographic division of the United States.[7] The "section" is somewhat larger than the hydrographic definition.

The Great Basin Culture Area or indigenous peoples of the Great Basin is a cultural classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas and a cultural region located between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. The culture area covers approximately 400,000 sq mi (1,000,000 km2),[8] or just less than twice the area of the hydrographic Great Basin.

Hydrology

TuleHorses
The Tule Valley watershed and the House Range (Notch Peak) are part of the Great Basin's Great Salt Lake hydrologic unit

The hydrographic Great Basin is a 209,162-square-mile (541,730 km2) area that drains internally. All precipitation in the region evaporates, sinks underground or flows into lakes (mostly saline). As observed by Fremont, creeks, streams, or rivers find no outlet to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean. The region is bounded by the Wasatch Mountains to the east, the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges to the west, and the Snake River Basin to the north. The south rim is less distinct. The Great Basin includes most of Nevada, half of Utah, substantial portions of Oregon and California and small areas of Idaho, Wyoming, and Mexico. The term "Great Basin" is slightly misleading; the region is actually made up of many small basins. The Great Salt Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the Humboldt Sink are a few of the "drains" in the Great Basin.[3] The Salton Sink is another closed basin[9] within the Great Basin.

The Great Basin Divide separates the Great Basin from the watersheds draining to the Pacific Ocean. The southernmost portion of the Great Basin is the watershed area of the Laguna Salada. The Great Basin's longest and largest river is the Bear River of 350 mi (560 km),[10] and the largest single watershed is the Humboldt River drainage of roughly 17,000 sq mi (44,000 km2). Most Great Basin precipitation is snow, and the precipitation that neither evaporates nor is extracted for human use will sink into groundwater aquifers, while evaporation of collected water occurs from geographic sinks.[11] Lake Tahoe, North America's largest alpine lake,[12] is part of the Great Basin's central Lahontan subregion.

Ecology

Great Basin Ecoregions
Ecoregions as currently delineated by the Environmental Protection Agency[13] and World Wildlife Fund ef name=na1305>"Great Basin shrub steppe". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.</ref>

The hydrographic Great Basin contains multiple deserts and ecoregions, each with its own distinctive set of flora and fauna.[3] The ecological boundaries and divisions in the Great Basin are unclear.[14]

The Great Basin overlaps four different deserts: portions of the hot Mojave and Colorado (a region within the Sonoran desert) Deserts to the south, and the cold Great Basin and Oregon High Deserts in the north. The deserts can be distinguished by their plants: the Joshua tree and creosote bush occur in the hot deserts, while the cold deserts have neither. The cold deserts are generally higher than the hot, and have their precipitation spread throughout the year.[15]

The climate and flora of the Great Basin is strongly dependent on elevation: as the elevation increases, the precipitation increases and temperature decreases. Because of this, forests occur at higher elevations. Utah juniper/single-leaf pinyon (southern regions) and mountain mahogany (northern regions) form open pinyon-juniper woodland on the slopes of most ranges. Stands of limber pine and Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) can be found in some of the higher ranges. In riparian areas with dependable water cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) groves exist.

Because the forest ecosystem is distinct from a typical desert, some authorities, such as the World Wildlife Fund, separate the mountains of the Great Basin desert into their own ecoregion: the Great Basin montane forests.[16] Many rare and endemic species occur in this ecoregion, because the individual mountain ranges are isolated from each other. During the last ice age, the Great Basin was wetter. As it dried during the Holocene, some species retreated to the higher isolated mountains and have high genetic diversity.[16]

Other authorities divide the Great Basin into different ecoregions, depending on their own criteria. Armen Takhtajan defined the "Great Basin floristic province". The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency divides the Great Basin into three ecoregions roughly according to latitude: the Northern Basin and Range ecoregion, the Central Basin and Range ecoregion, and the Mojave Basin and Range ecoregion.

WheelerSnow
Great Basin snowstorm in the Snake Valley of Utah and Nevada

Fauna

Great Basin wildlife includes pronghorn, mule deer, mountain lion, and lagomorphs such as black-tailed jackrabbit and desert cottontail and the coyotes that prey on them. Packrats, kangaroo rats and other small rodents are also common, and are predominantly nocturnal. Elk and bighorn sheep are present but uncommon. Small lizards such as the Great Basin fence lizard, longnose leopard lizard and horned lizard are common, especially in lower elevations. Rattlesnakes and gopher snakes are also present. The Inyo Mountains salamander is endangered. Shorebirds such as phalaropes and curlews can be found in wet areas. American white pelicans are common at Pyramid Lake. Golden eagles are also very common in the Great Basin.[17] Mourning dove, western meadowlark, black-billed magpie, and common raven are other common bird species.

Two endangered species of fish are found in Pyramid Lake: the Cui-ui sucker fish (endangered 1967) and the Lahontan cutthroat trout (threatened 1970).[18]

Large invertebrates include tarantulas (genus Aphonopelma) and Mormon crickets. Exotic species, including chukar, grey partridge, and Himalayan snowcock, have been successfully introduced to the Great Basin, although the latter has only thrived in the Ruby Mountains. Cheatgrass, an invasive species which was unintentionally introduced, forms a critical portion of their diets. Feral horses (mustangs) and wild burros are highly reproductive, and ecosystem-controversial, alien species. Most of the Great Basin is open range and domestic cattle and sheep are widespread.

Geography

Basin range province
Basin and Range topography as seen from the air

The Great Basin includes valleys, basins, lakes and mountain ranges of the Basin and Range Province.[19] Geographic features near the Great Basin include the Continental Divide of the Americas, the Great Divide Basin, and the Gulf of California.

US west coast physiographic regions map
Map showing the Great Basin physiographic section (shown as 22a)

Great Basin physiographic section

The Great Basin physiographic section of the Basin and Range Province contains the Great Basin, but extends into eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and the Colorado River watershed (including the Las Vegas metropolitan area and the northwest corner of Arizona).[20] The Basin and Range region is the product of geological forces stretching the earth's crust, creating many north-south trending mountain ranges. These ranges are separated by flat valleys or basins. These hundreds of ranges make Nevada the most mountainous state in the country.[3]

Settlements and roads

The Great Basin's two most populous metropolitan areas are the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area to the west and Wasatch Front to the east. The region between these two areas is sparsely populated, but includes the smaller cities of Elko, Ely, Wendover, West Wendover, and Winnemucca. To the north are; in California Susanville, in Oregon Burns and Hines, in Idaho Malad and in Wyoming Evanston. To the south are Cedar City, Tonopah, and Bishop and the very southern area of the basin has the communities of Pahrump, Palmdale, Victorville, and Palm Springs. Interstate Highways traversing the Great Basin are Interstate 80 (I-80) and I-15, and I-70 and I-84 have their respective endpoints within its boundaries. Other major roadways are U.S. Route 6 (US 6), US 50, US 93, US 95 and US 395. The section of US 50 between Delta, Utah, and Fallon, Nevada, is nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America",[21] and Nevada State Route 375 is designated the "Extraterrestrial Highway".[22] The Great Basin is traversed by several rail lines including the Union Pacific Railroad's Overland Route (Union Pacific Railroad) through Reno and Ogden, Feather River Route, Central Corridor and Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.

History

Sediment build-up over thousands of years filled the down-faulted basins between ranges and created relatively flat lacustrine plains from Pleistocene lake beds of the Great Basin.[23] For example, after forming about 32,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville overflowed about 14,500 years ago in the Bonneville Flood through Red Rock Pass and lowered to the "Provo Lake"[24] level (the Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake, and Little Salt Lake remain).[25] Lake Lahontan, Lake Manly, and Lake Mojave were similar Pleistocene lakes.

Nordamerikanische Kulturareale en
Native American tribes that inhabited the Great Basin were divided between the "Great Basin" and, in the Colorado desert region, the "California" tribal classifications.

Paleo-Indian habitation by the Great Basin tribes began as early as 10,000 B.C. (the Numic-speaking Shoshonean peoples arrived as late as 1000 A.D.).[26] Archaeological evidence of habitation sites along the shore of Lake Lahontan date from the end of the ice age when its shoreline was approximately 500 feet (150 m) higher along the sides of the surrounding mountains. The Great Basin was inhabited for at least several thousand years by Uto-Aztecan language group-speaking Native American Great Basin tribes, including the Shoshone, Ute, Mono, and Northern Paiute.

European exploration of the Great Basin occurred during the 18th century Spanish colonization of the Americas. The first immigrant American to cross the Great Basin from the Sierra Nevada was Jedediah Strong Smith in 1827.[27] Peter Skene Ogden of the British Hudson's Bay Company explored the Great Salt Lake and Humboldt River regions in the late 1820s, following the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada to the Gulf of California.[28] Benjamin Bonneville explored the northeast portion during an 1832 expedition. The United States had acquired control of the area north of the 42nd parallel via the 1819 Adams–Onís Treaty with Spain and 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain. The US gained control of most of the rest of the Great Basin via the 1848 Mexican Cession. The first non-indigenous settlement was in 1847 in the Great Salt Lake Valley, leading to first American religious settlement effort of the Mormon provisional State of Deseret in 1849 in present-day Utah and northern Nevada. Later settlements were connected with the eastern regions of the 1848 California Gold Rush, with its immigrants crossing the Great Basin on the California Trail along Nevada's Humboldt River to Carson Pass in the Sierras. The Oregon Territory was established in 1848 and the Utah Territory in 1850.

In 1869 the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit in the Great Basin.[29] Around 1902, the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was constructed in the lower basin and Mojave Desert for California-Nevada rail service to Las Vegas, Nevada.

To close a 1951 Indian Claims Commission case, the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act of 2004 established the United States payment of $117 million to the Great Basin tribe for the acquisition of 39,000 square miles (100,000 km2).

The Dixie Valley, Nevada, earthquake (6.6–7.1) in the Great Basin was in 1954.

Climate

Rain in the Wah Wah Valley
Wah Wah Valley, Utah, thunderstorm

Climate varies throughout the Great Basin by elevation, latitude, and other factors. Higher elevations tend to be cooler and receive more precipitation. The western areas of the basin tend to be drier than the eastern areas because of the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada. Most of the basin experiences a semi-arid or arid climate with warm summers and cold winters. However, some of the mountainous areas in the basin are high enough in elevation to experience an Alpine climate. Due to the region's altitude and aridity, most areas in the Great Basin experience a substantial Diurnal temperature variation.

Significant special designations

See also

References

  1. ^ "Great Basin (2087988)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
  2. ^ "What is the WBD?". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2010-10-23. GIS files used for both the acreage calculations and the overlay of the above map.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i  This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "What is the Great Basin?". Retrieved on 2015-07-14.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Grayson, Donald K. (1993). The Desert's Past. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1560982225.
  5. ^ Thorne, Robert F. "Phytogeography of North America North of Mexico". Archived from the original on 2004-03-17.
  6. ^ Fenneman, Nevin Melancthon (1931). Physiography of western United States. McGraw-Hill. pp. 326–328. OCLC 487636.
  7. ^ "Physiographic Regions". United States Geological Survey. 2003-04-17. Archived from the original on 2006-05-15.
  8. ^ Pritzker, Barry M (2000). A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples (Google Books). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
  9. ^ "Salton Sea: California's Everglades" (PDF). Redlands Institute. p. 6. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  10. ^ "Bear River Watershed Description". Bear River Watershed Information System. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-04-28. (an additional ~1% is in the SW corner of WY)
  11. ^ "Great Basin". Geologic Provinces of the United States: Basin and Range Province. nature.nps.gov: National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  12. ^ "Amazing Lake Tahoe". Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  13. ^ Level III and IV Ecoregions of the Continental United States, EPA
  14. ^ Brussard, P.F.; Charlet, D.A.; Dobkin, D.S.; Ball, L.C.; et al. (1998). "Great Basin-Mojave Desert Region" (PDF). In Mac, M.J.; Opler, P.A.; Puckett Haeker, C.E.; et al. (eds.). Status and trends of the nation’s biological resources. 2. Reno, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey.
  15. ^ "Deserts of North American". Encyclopedia of Earth.
  16. ^ a b "Great Basin montane forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  17. ^ Schmitt, Dave N. (Winter 1995). "The Taphonomy of Golden Eagle Prey Accumulations at Great Basin Roosts" (PDF). J. Ethnobiol. 15 (2): 237–256.
  18. ^ Hogan, C.Michael; Papineau, Marc; et al. (1987). Development of a dynamic water quality simulation model for the Truckee River. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Series. Washington D.C.: Earth Metrics Inc.
  19. ^ "Basin and Range Province". Geologic Provinces of the United States. United States Geological Survey. 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  20. ^ "Physiographic regions" (PDF). Tapestry of Time and Terrain. USGS.
  21. ^ Nevada Commission on Tourism. The Official Hwy 50 Survival Guide: The Loneliest Road in America (PDF). Nevada Commission on Tourism. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 30, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2007.
  22. ^ "Tourism Commission Has Really Gone Far Out There". Las Vegas Sun. July 5, 1996. Retrieved January 13, 2009.
  23. ^ Jackson, Richard H.; Stevens, Dale J. (1981). "Physical and Cultural Environment of Utah Lake and Adjacent Areas". Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs (5: Utah Lake Monograph): 5. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
  24. ^ Gilbert, Grove Karl (1890). Lake Bonneville (Google Books). p. 127. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  25. ^ Morgan, Dale L (1947). The Great Salt Lake. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-87480-478-7.
  26. ^ "Archaeology, Cultural Transmission, and the Indigenous Native American Indians of the Great Basin Region of North America". Bauu Institute. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  27. ^ Morgan (1953, 1964), Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West, p. 7
  28. ^ Ogden, Peter Skene, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  29. ^ "Ceremony at "Wedding of the Rails," May 10, 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah". World Digital Library. 1869-05-10. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  30. ^ NPS contributors (2003). The National Parks Index (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. p. 26. Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2008-10-05.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  31. ^ Zarki, Joe. "A Park for Minerva". Joshua Tree National Park, NPS. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  32. ^ "Park History". Joshua Tree National Park, NPS. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  33. ^ "California Desert Protection Act". Joshua Tree National Park. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  34. ^ "Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Act of 2000" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-11-08. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  35. ^ "Join Our Friends". Great Basin National Park. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  36. ^ "Amargosa River Natural Area". U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  37. ^ "Secretary Jewell Applauds President Obama's Designation of Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada". Bureau of Land Management News Release. U.S. Department of the Interior.

External links

Artemisia tridentata

Artemisia tridentata, commonly called big sagebrush, Great Basin sagebrush or (locally) simply sagebrush, is an aromatic shrub from the family Asteraceae, which grows in arid and semi-arid conditions, throughout a range of cold desert, steppe, and mountain habitats in the Intermountain West of North America. The vernacular name "sagebrush" is also used for several related members of the genus Artemisia, such as California sagebrush (Artemisia californica).

Big Sagebrush and other Artemisia shrubs are the dominant plant species across large portions of the Great Basin. The range extends northward through British Columbia's southern interior, south into Baja California, and east into the western Great Plains of New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.Several major threats exist to sage brush ecosystems, including human settlements, conversion to agricultural land, livestock grazing, invasive plant species, wildfires, and climate change.

Sagebrush provides food and habitat for a variety of species, such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, grey vireo, pygmy rabbit, and mule deer. Artemisia tridentata is the state flower of Nevada.

Basin and Range Province

The Basin and Range Province is a vast physiographic region covering much of the inland Western United States and northwestern Mexico. It is defined by unique basin and range topography, characterized by abrupt changes in elevation, alternating between narrow faulted mountain chains and flat arid valleys or basins. The physiography of the province is the result of tectonic extension that began around 17 million years ago in the early Miocene epoch.

The numerous ranges within the province in the United States are collectively referred to as the "Great Basin Ranges", although many are not actually in the Great Basin. Major ranges include the Snake Range, the Panamint Range, the White Mountains, the Sandia Mountains, and the Tetons. The highest point fully within the province is White Mountain Peak in California, while the lowest point is the Badwater Basin in Death Valley at −282 feet (−86 m). The province's climate is arid, with numerous ecoregions. Most North American deserts are located within it.

Clarence Dutton famously compared the many narrow parallel mountain ranges that distinguish the unique topography of the Basin and Range to an "army of caterpillars marching toward Mexico." The Basin and Range Province should not be confused with The Great Basin, which is a sub-section of the greater Basin and Range physiographic region defined by its unique hydrological characteristics (internal drainage).

Black Rock Desert

The Black Rock Desert is a semi-arid region (in the Great Basin shrub steppe eco-region), of lava beds and playa, or alkali flats, situated in the Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, a silt playa 100 miles (160 km) north of Reno, Nevada that encompasses more than 300,000 acres (120,000 ha) of land and contains more than 120 miles (200 km) of historic trails. It is in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan.

The Great Basin, named for the geography in which water is unable to flow out and remains in the basin, is a rugged land serrated by hundreds of mountain ranges, dried by wind and sun, with spectacular skies and scenic landscapes. The average annual precipitation (years 1971-2000) at Gerlach, Nevada (extreme south-west of the desert) is 7.90 inches (200 mm).The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records (Mach 1.02 in 1997). It is also the location for the annual Burning Man event.

The Black Rock Desert is part of the National Conservation Area (NCA), a unit of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The NCA is located in northwest Nevada, and was established by legislation in 2000. It is a unique combination of desert playa, narrow canyons, and mountainous areas.

Humans have been in Black Rock Desert since approximately 11,000 BC. In 1300 BC the area was settled by the Paiute people. The large black rock formation was used as a landmark by the Paiute and later emigrants crossing the area. The landmark is a conical outcrop composed of interbedded Permian marine limestone and volcanic rocks. At its base is a large hot spring and grassy meadow, which was an important place for those crossing the desert headed for California and Oregon. In 1843, John Fremont and his party were the first white men to cross the desert, and his trail was used by over half the 22,000 gold seekers headed to California after 1849. In 1867, Hardin City, a short-lived silver mill town was established (now a ghost town).

Fremont culture

The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U.S. state of Utah, where the culture's sites were discovered by local indigenous peoples like the Navajo and Ute. In Navajo culture, the pictographs are credited to people who lived before the flood. The Fremont River itself is named for John Charles Frémont, an American explorer. It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado from AD 1 to 1301 (2,000-700 years ago). It was adjacent to, roughly contemporaneous with, but distinctly different from the Ancestral Pueblo peoples located to their south.

Great Basin Desert

The Great Basin Desert is part of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. The desert is a geographical region that largely overlaps the Great Basin shrub steppe defined by the World Wildlife Fund, and the Central Basin and Range ecoregion defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and United States Geological Survey. It is a temperate desert with hot, dry summers and snowy winters. The desert spans a large part of the state of Nevada, and extends into western Utah, eastern California, and Idaho. The desert is one of the four biologically defined deserts in North America, in addition to the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts.Basin and range topography characterizes the desert: wide valleys bordered by parallel mountain ranges generally oriented north-south. There are more than 33 peaks within the desert with summits higher than 9,800 feet (3,000 m), but valleys in the region are also high, most with elevations above 3,900 feet (1,200 m). The biological communities of the Great Basin Desert vary according to altitude: from low salty dry lakes, up through rolling sagebrush valleys, to pinyon-juniper forests. The significant variation between valleys and peaks has created a variety of habitat niches, which has in turn led to many small, isolated populations of genetically unique plant and animal species throughout the region. According to Grayson, more than 600 species of vertebrates live in the floristic Great Basin, which has a similar areal footprint to the ecoregion. Sixty-three of these species have been identified as species of conservation concern due to contracting natural habitats (for example, Centrocercus urophasianus, Vulpes macrotis, Dipodomys ordii, and Phrynosoma platyrhinos).The ecology of the desert varies across geography, also. The desert’s high elevation and location between mountain ranges influences regional climate: the desert formed by the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada that blocks moisture from the Pacific Ocean, while the Rocky Mountains create a barrier effect that restricts moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Different locations in the desert have different amounts of precipitation, depending on the strength of these rain shadows. The environment is influenced by Pleistocene lakes that dried after the last ice age: Lake Lahontan and Lake Bonneville. Each of these lakes left different amounts of salinity and alkalinity.

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is an American national park located in White Pine County in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border, established in 1986. The park is most commonly entered by way of Nevada State Route 488, which is connected to U.S. Routes 6 and 50 by Nevada State Route 487 via the small town of Baker, the closest settlement.

The park derives its name from the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. Topographically, this area is known as the Basin and Range Province. The park is located about 290 miles (470 km) north of Las Vegas and protects 77,180 acres (31,230 ha).The park is notable for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known nonclonal organisms, and for the Lehman Caves at the base of 13,063-foot (3,982 m) Wheeler Peak, as well as Wheeler Peak Glacier.

President Warren G. Harding created Lehman Caves National Monument by presidential proclamation on January 24, 1922. The monument was redesignated a national park on October 27, 1986. A number of developed campsites are within the park, as well as excellent backcountry camping opportunities. The Highland Ridge Wilderness lies adjacent to Great Basin National Park. These two protected areas provide contiguous wildlife habitat and protection to 227.8 square miles (590.0 km2) of eastern Nevada's basin lands.

Indian colony

An Indian colony is a Native American settlement associated with an urban area. Although some of them become official Indian reservations, they differ from most reservations in that they are placed where Native Americans could find employment in mainstream American economy. Many were originally formed without federal encouragement or sanction.

Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin

The Indigenous Peoples of the Great Basin are Native Americans of the northern Great Basin, Snake River Plain, and upper Colorado River basin. The "Great Basin" is a cultural classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas and a cultural region located between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, in what is now Nevada, and parts of Oregon, California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. The Great Basin region at the time of European contact was ~400,000 sq mi (1,000,000 km2). There is very little precipitation in the Great Basin area which affects the lifestyles and cultures of the inhabitants.

Lake Bonneville

Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric pluvial lake that covered much of the eastern part of North America's Great Basin region. Most of the territory it covered was in present-day Utah, though parts of the lake extended into present-day Idaho and Nevada. (Its counterpart Lake Lahontan occupied much of northwestern Nevada while extending into California and Oregon.) Lake Bonneville existed until about 14,500 years ago, when a large portion of the lake was released through the Red Rock Pass in Idaho. Following the Bonneville flood, as the release is now known, the lake receded to a level called the Provo Level. Many of the unique geological characteristics of the Great Basin are due to the effects of the lake.

At more than 1,000 ft (300 m) deep and more than 19,691 square miles (51,000 km2) in area, the lake was nearly as extensive as Lake Michigan and significantly deeper. With the change in climate, the lake began drying up, leaving Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake, and Little Salt Lake as remnants.Lake Bonneville was named by the geologist G. K. Gilbert after Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (1796–1878), a French-born officer in the United States Army, who was also a fur trapper, and explorer in the American West. Bonneville was noted for his expeditions to the Oregon Country and the Great Basin.

Lake Lahontan

Lake Lahontan was a large endorheic Pleistocene lake of modern northwestern Nevada that extended into northeastern California and southern Oregon. The area of the former lake is a large portion of the Great Basin that borders the Sacramento River watershed to the west.

The lake derives its name from Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce de Lahontan, Baron de Lahontan, a French soldier.

Mono people

The Mono are a Native American people who traditionally live in the central Sierra Nevada, the Eastern Sierra (generally south of Bridgeport), the Mono Basin, and adjacent areas of the Great Basin.

Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin ( kə-TAH-din) is the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Maine at 5,267 feet (1,605 m). Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Native Americans, which means "The Greatest Mountain", it is located within Northeast Piscataquis, Piscataquis County, and is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park. It is a steep, tall masiff formed from a granite intrusion weathered to the surface. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those found in northern New England.

Katahdin was known to the Native Americans in the region, and was known to Europeans at least since 1689. It has inspired hikes, climbs, journal narratives, paintings, and a piano sonata. The area around the peak was protected by Governor Percival Baxter starting in the 1930s. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.

In 1967, Mount Katahdin was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.The mountain is commonly called just "Katahdin", though the official name is "Mount Katahdin" as decided by the US Board on Geographic Names in 1893.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers.

Its name was changed in 1994 during the presidency of Bill Clinton to reflect its broader mission. It is a relatively small agency, currently comprising about 12,000 employees. Its mission is to improve, protect, and conserve natural resources on private lands through a cooperative partnership with state and local agencies. While its primary focus has been agricultural lands, it has made many technical contributions to soil surveying, classification and water quality improvement. One example is the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), set up to quantify the benefits of agricultural conservation efforts promoted and supported by programs in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Bill). NRCS is the leading agency in this project.

Pinyon pine

The pinyon or piñon pine group grows in the southwestern United States, especially in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The trees yield edible nuts, which are a staple food of Native Americans, and widely eaten as a snack and as an ingredient in New Mexican cuisine. The name comes from the Spanish pino piñonero, a name used for both the American varieties and the stone pine common in Spain, which also produces edible nuts typical of Mediterranean cuisine. Harvesting techniques of the prehistoric American Indians are still used today to collect the pinyon seeds for personal use or for commercialization. The pinyon nut or seed is high in fats and calories.

Pinyon wood, especially when burned, has a distinctive fragrance, making it a common wood to burn in chimeneas. Pinyon pine trees are also known to influence the soil in which they grow by increasing concentrations of both macronutrients and micronutrients.Some of the species are known to hybridize, the most notable ones being P. quadrifolia with P. monophylla, and P. edulis with P. monophylla.

The two-needle piñon (Pinus edulis) is the official state tree of New Mexico.

Shoshone

The Shoshone or Shoshoni ( (listen) or (listen)) are a Native American tribe with four large cultural/linguistic divisions:

Eastern Shoshone: Wyoming

Northern Shoshone: southern Idaho

Western Shoshone: Nevada, northern Utah

Gosiute: western Utah, eastern NevadaThey traditionally speak the Shoshoni language, part of the Numic languages branch of the large Uto-Aztecan language family. The Shoshone were sometimes called the Snake Indians by neighboring tribes and early American explorers.Their peoples have become members of federally recognized tribes throughout their traditional areas of settlement, often colocated with the Northern Paiute people of the Great Basin.

Utah Territory

The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah, the 45th state.

The territory was organized by an Organic Act of Congress in 1850, on the same day that the State of California was admitted to the Union and the New Mexico Territory was added for the southern portion of the former Mexican land. The creation of the territory was part of the Compromise of 1850 that sought to preserve the balance of power between slave and free states. With the exception of a small area around the headwaters of the Colorado River in present-day Colorado, the United States had acquired all the land of the territory from Mexico with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848.

The creation of the Utah Territory was partially the result of the petition sent by the Mormon pioneers who had settled in the valley of the Great Salt Lake starting in 1847. The Mormons, under the leadership of Brigham Young, had petitioned Congress for entry into the Union as the State of Deseret, with its capital as Salt Lake City and with proposed borders that encompassed the entire Great Basin and the watershed of the Colorado River, including all or part of nine current U.S. states. The Mormon settlers had drafted a state constitution in 1849 and Deseret had become the de facto government in the Great Basin by the time of the creation of the Utah Territory.

Following the organization of the territory, Young was inaugurated as its first governor on February 3, 1851. In the first session of the territorial legislature in September, the legislature adopted all the laws and ordinances previously enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret.

Mormon governance in the territory was regarded as controversial by much of the rest of the nation, partly fed by continuing lurid newspaper depictions of the polygamy practiced by the settlers, which itself had been part of the cause of their flight from the United States to the Great Salt Lake basin after being forcibly removed from their settlements farther east.

Although the Mormons were the majority in the Great Salt Lake basin, the western area of the territory began to attract many non-Mormon settlers, especially after the discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1858. In 1861, partly as a result of this, the Nevada Territory was created out of the western part of the territory. Non-Mormons also entered the easternmost part of the territory during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, resulting in the discovery of gold at Breckenridge in Utah Territory in 1859. In 1861 a large portion of the eastern area of the territory was reorganized as part of the newly created Colorado Territory.

The controversies stirred by the Mormon religion's dominance of the territory are regarded as the primary reason behind the long delay of 46 years between the organization of the territory and its admission to the Union in 1896 as the State of Utah, long after the admission of territories created after it. In contrast, the Nevada Territory, although more sparsely populated, was admitted to the Union in 1864, only three years after its formation, largely as a consequence of the Union's desire to consolidate its hold on the silver mines in the territory. Colorado was admitted in 1876.

Washo language

Washo (or Washoe; endonym wáꞏšiw ʔítlu) is an endangered Native American language isolate spoken by the Washo on the California–Nevada border in the drainages of the Truckee and Carson Rivers, especially around Lake Tahoe. While there are only 20 elderly native speakers of Washo, since 1994 there has been a small immersion school that has produced a number of moderately fluent younger speakers. The immersion school has since closed its doors and the language program now operates through the Cultural Resource Department for the Washoe Tribe. The language is still very much endangered; however, there has been a renaissance in the language revitalization movement as many of the students who attended the original immersion school have become teachers.

Ethnographic Washo speakers belonged to the Great Basin culture area and they were the only non-Numic group of that area. The language has borrowed from the neighboring Uto-Aztecan, Maiduan and Miwokan languages and is connected to both the Great Basin and California sprachbunds.

Washoe people

The Washoe or Wašišiw ("people from here", or transliterated in older literature as Wa She Shu) are a Great Basin tribe of Native Americans, living near Lake Tahoe at the border between California and Nevada. The name "Washoe" or "Washo" (as preferred by themselves) is derived from the autonym Waashiw (wa·šiw or wá:šiw) in the Washo language or from Wašišiw (waší:šiw), the plural form of wašiw.

Wheeler Peak (Nevada)

Wheeler Peak is the tallest mountain in the Snake Range and in White Pine County, in Nevada, United States. The summit elevation of 13,065 feet (3,982 m) makes it the second-highest peak in Nevada, just behind Boundary Peak. With a topographic prominence of 7,563 feet (2,305 m), Wheeler Peak is the most topographically prominent peak in White Pine County and the second-most prominent peak in Nevada, just behind Mount Charleston. The mountain is located in Great Basin National Park and was named for George Wheeler, leader of the Wheeler Survey of the late 19th century.

Earth's primary regions
Great Basin watersheds

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