Restoration Groups / Volunteer

The Nature Conservancy

WWOOF Organic Farms

Sierra Club

Restoration Projects
Regional Languages/Dialects

Chinook Wawa

Pacific Northwest English

Bioregion Description

The Cascadian bioregion encompasses the collective watersheds which flow through the temperate rainforests of the western coast of the North American continent, otherwise known as Turtle Island. These rain forests stand out as perhaps the most prominent biological feature of the region, and the three mountain ranges – the Rockies, Cascades, and Coastal ranges – of the region capture the rain which allow these forests to thrive. It is in these mountains that the region’s scenic beauty is most elegantly represented. Geologically these mountain ranges each have a somewhat different history, but all are a result of the movement of tectonic plates. Cascadia rests upon the “Cascadia Subduction Zone”, where the tectonic plate of the Pacific ocean is slowly being pushed under the continental plate, forcing upwards the mountains and creating the volcanoes which display themselves so prominently throughout the region.

Other ecological commonalities of the region include:
• weather patterns – opposing atmospheric pressure cells of the Aleutian low and Pacific high create powerful mid-latitude jet streams that give birth to storm fronts which are the cause of so much rain in wet parts of Cascadia;
• ocean currents migrate from North to South and back again, feeding the weather patterns as they do and influencing the characteristic wet winter / dry summer seasonal changes of the region;
• river systems which share similar salinity and temperature as they cascade down young mountain systems, birthed from glaciers that carve out drastic valleys and dramatic escarpments in rock faces;
• a similar flora in the west – giant moss and fern covered trees, berry laden shrubbery, diverse riparian communities, costal salt-spray tolerant species, fragile grasses and shrubs of the prairies and high mountains;
• chaparral, sages, pines, and prairies grasses of the dry interior;
• fauna too diverse and numerous to cover in less than a book, but probably best represented by the enigmatic salmon whose awesome numbers of the past helped bring the vast resources of the ocean back to the landscape as nutrients which have spurred such ecological diversity as is now found in the region.

Borders of Cascadia are fluid and transparent, but nonetheless can be casually defined by the limits of ecological commonalities. In the south one can find the region’s southern most Cedar groves, near Cape Mendocino, where the San Andreas Fault leaves land to venture out to sea. In the east the ridgelines and hilltops which define the edges of westward flowing watersheds also define many of the regions ecological borders and form the beginnings of the headwaters of Cascadia’s great river systems. The northern edge of the bioregion sits perched along the edge of narrow coastline between high glaciated mountains and frigid ocean where many of the region’s tree species find their growth limited by lower temperatures and more dramatic seasonal changes. The western edge of Cascadia of course is the Pacific Ocean, though one would be hard-pressed to call the edge of land the edge of the bioregion. Just as inter-tidal species are not limited to the waterline, the region itself fades out into the distant ocean horizon eventually ending as does the setting evening sun.

Humanity begins its origins in the region thousands of years in the past. Over an unknown amount of time, and through unknown circumstances, a language family called Salish developed in the region, matching quite curiously with the bioregional boundaries of Cascadia. These people adapted well to their surroundings as was, and is evident in the variety of customs, cultures, lifestyles, and traditions found throughout the various tribal groups. Commonalities include the Totem, a carving which tells a story and is used for family identity. The use and dependence upon salmon and the rituals that accompanied their harvest was shared by many tribes, as was a vast network of trade routes that spread the influence of salmon inland. Forms of basketry, clothing, shelter, and body décor were all of similar character in the region, more strongly so in groups of related ecoregions.

“Modern” cultures derive from invaders which quickly and systematically replaced many of the indigenous peoples who were subsequently forced into reservations or the outskirts of cities in slums. These “moderns” were mostly of European descent, though many came as slaves or hired servants from Asia and points beyond to carry out the beginnings of infrastructure building which would shape human inhabitation in the region into what it is today.

The modern history of the human relationship to land in the region began as a plunder. It followed the same boom and bust patterns as the westward expansion of humans from the east of the continent. This has left fragmented and in shambles the ecosystems once so rich in diversity and extent. Fortunately this legacy has also created one of the most environmentally conscious cultures of the continent. The jury is still out concerning the future of the region, but restoration efforts and more sustainable resource usage are becoming increasingly popular through Cascadia.

The population centers form the economic hearts of the region. A transportation corridor runs from the northern stretches of the Salish Sea down to the southern tip of the bioregion, and upon and around it sit many of the regions human communities. A growing allegiance between them shows encouraging signs of regional cooperation in the spirit of shared regional destiny. The coastal areas north of Vancouver are connected not only through culture, but also by the Northwest Passage, a nautical route which makes port at many of the ocean side communities and which allows them to work towards shared goals and cooperative regional alliances as well. This network of human travel corridors in the region help foster local trade relationships and associations, and will hopefully assist residents in understanding better their collective impacts upon the region’s ecology.

Community Discussion Board

Feel free to discuss the map of this location (how it is depicted), the contents of the side boxes, or the bioregion description as it appears in the box above.

Regional Currency / Barter

Life Dollars

CAS Barter Faire Calendar

Cascadia Hour Exchange

Public Transportation

Amtrak Train

Greyhound Bus

Social Services / Volunteer
Willamette Ecoregion