Oregon Badlands

August 03, 2006


Provided and copyright by: Stu Garrett
Summary authors & editors: Stu Garrett

This photo was taken in the Badlands Wilderness Study Area, 15 miles (24 km) east of Bend, Oregon. The name "badlands" derives from the poor forage available for livestock grazing. Geologically, this area is a rootless basaltic vent associated with the nearby Newberry Volcano. The surface is a terrain of inflated basaltic lavas mantled with up to about 20 inches (half meter) of high-silica ash from Mount Mazama and the Newberry Volcano. Mount Mazama erupted nearly 7,800 years ago and formed the caldera that today contains Crater Lake.

Western juniper trees (Juniperus occidentalis) grow on the higher areas of the inflated lavas. Protected from fire by the rocky outcrops, they can live to be over 1,000 years of age. The oldest dated tree in Oregon is nearby and is estimated to be over 1,600 years old. Dominant shrubs within the Badlands include big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), and predominant bunch-grasses are Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoregneria spicata). The yellow, spring wildflowers in the foreground are Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum). Native vegetation has had to adapt to the less than 12 inches (400 mm) of rain that falls here each year. The 33,000 acres of the Badlands is protected by the Bureau of Land Management as a roadless area and has been recommended by the Department of Interior as suitable for congressional wilderness designation. Photo taken in June of 2006.

Related Links: