Northeastern Plateaus

Northeastern Plateau

The western edge of the huge intermountain Great Basin extends into the northeastern corner of California forming the Northeastern Plateaus bioregion. This is a semi-arid region of mountain ranges separated by lower-elevation basins and includes the Modoc Plateau. Major vegetation types include western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis var. occidentalis) woodland, sagebrush scrub, mixed ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), and Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi) forest, upper montane fir forest, and whitebark pine (P. albicaulis), and sub alpine woodland.

Fire facilitated and maintained stands composed of large, widely scattered Jeffrey and ponderosa pine (Laudenslayer et al. 1989). Native Americans used fire to promote the production of plants for food and fiber, for ceremonial purposes, improve hunting conditions, and enhance human travel through brushfields. In the early 20th century, fire suppression policies were swiftly implemented to protect valued resources such as timber, rangeland, and mining sites. The reduction of fine fuels from grazing, fire suppression, the introduction of highly flammable, non-native annual herbs, and climate change have likely contributed to the increase in fire severity in the bioregion (Riegel et al. 2006). 


Laudenslayer, W.F. Jr., H.H. Darr, S. Smith. 1989. Historical effects of forest management practices on eastside pine communities in northeastern California. Pages 26-34 in: A. Tecle, W.W. Covington, R.H. Hamre, technical coordinators. Multiresource management of ponderosa pine forests: proceedings of the symposium. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-GTR-185. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Riegel, G.M., R.F. Miller, C.N. Skinner, S.E. Smith, C.A. Farris, K.E. Merriam. 2006. Northeastern Plateaus Bioregion. Pages 219-247. In: J.W. Van Wagtendonk, N.G. Sugihara, S.L. Stephens, A.E. Thode, K.E. Shaffer, J.A. Fites-Kaufman, editors. Fire in California’s Ecosystems. University of California Press, Oakland, California, USA.