The five interconnecting ecosystems that comprise The Wild Rockies Bioregion
A bioregion is territory that can support healthy ecosystems and provide adequate habitat for keystone species, and may also consist of multiple ecosystems connected by wildlife corridors.
Properly designated and managed bioregions allow for human interaction with the landscape. Bioregions extend beyond political boundaries and therefore require cooperation to protect.
Yellowstone National Park’s world-famous geyser basins, vast forests, abundant wildlife, and blue-ribbon trout streams form the core of this great ecosystem. Glaciers and permanent snowfields cloak the rugged Teton and Beartooth Mountains. Diverse habitats range from cactus deserts to alpine tundra. Wildlife includes the grizzly bear, our nation’s last wild bison herd, endangered trumpeter swans and nearly 50,000 elk.
Greater Hells Canyon – Wallowa
The Hells Canyon of the Snake River — the deepest river-carved canyon in the world — forms the core of this mostly vertical ecosystem. America’s largest elk herd roams the old growth ponderosa pine and larch forests beneath the high peaks of the Wallowa and Seven Devils Mountains. The region abounds in cultural and archeological sites. The Imnaha River Chinook are among the largest salmon in the nation.
Greater Salmon- Selway
This ecosystem is one of the most rugged, remote areas in America. At its heart are the Frank Church-River of No Return and Selway-Bitterroot Wildernesses. Several species of salmon and steelhead trout still swim from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the high mountain tributaries of the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. Biological and landscape diversity is great, ranging from rocky, dry canyons to wet forests of ancient cedars.
Glacier – Northern Continental Divide
The core of this ecosystem is Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. America’s largest bighorn sheep herd scales the peaks here and grizzlies still roam the prairies along the Rocky Mountain Front. Old growth forests in the Swan and Mission Ranges shade pristine bull trout spawning runs. The gray wolf is making a comeback here, alongside the largest grizzly population in the lower 48 states.
The wettest region of the Wild Rockies, this ecosystem contains its last major stands of low elevation ancient forests. The Long Canyon area harbors the oldest living cedars in America. Woodland caribou and grizzly bears still roam these mountains, which are also home to the endangered Coeur d’Alene Salamander. Towering spires and remote, lake-filled basins define the Cabinet, Selkirk, and Purcell Ranges.