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Southeast Oregon - Region 6

An Overview of Central and Southeast Oregon




Counties in this Region:
 
 Crook
 
 Deschutes

Grant

Harney

Klamath

Lake

Malheur

 This region begins on the east side of the Cascade Mountains just West of Bend and extends all of the way south to Nevada and east to Idaho.   The center of this region includes the north section of The Great Basin, an area known for extreme temperatures and difficult living.  On the east end, in Malheur County, the lower reaches of the Columbia River Basin begin and the climate eases up slightly. Historically, the eastern section of this region has had a prominent Basque population but this has declined as that culture has assimilated and moved toward more urban areas. [1]

Central and Southeastern Oregon has a dry continental climate and the agricultural process and output reflect that.  In Central Oregon, livestock accounts for a majority of agricultural output, and this continues into Harney and Lake Counties to the East.  There is ample rangeland for these animals and few settlements to interrupt the continuity of the grazing.  It is dry enough that most of the haying fields and pastures are irrigated.  Moving further east into Malheur County, the crop types diversify to include onions, potatoes, sugar beets, and seed crops.  Farmers and agricultural workers make up a substantial portion of the workforce in this broad section of Oregon.  Much of the land in this area is owned by the state and federal governments so government employees also account for large portion of employment. [2] [3]

Landform

The Southeast and Central Oregon topography is largely made up of the Columbia Plateau, which stretches from Washington to cover much of Eastern Oregon (World Atlas).  The Plateau was formed by ancient lava flows, which created deep, wide valleys and rugged mountains in the area as well.  These mountains include the Blue and the Wallowa, and a notable mention of this landscape is the famous Hell's Canyon (World Atlas).  The Deschutes River and the Owyhee River flow through the region and a number of deserts also exist within Central and Southeast Oregon. This unique topography is a stark contrast to the mountain ranges and fertile Willamette Valley towards the west. 

Oregon Precipitation

Climate

Typical of the climate in Eastern Oregon, the weather in Central and Southeast Oregon is a drier continental climate.  This region experiences a wider range of temperature, with hot summers and very cold winters.   The most noticeable variation from Western Oregon is the large amount of snow that Central and Southeast Oregon receives in the winter.  The desert climate that exists in this region is due to the rain shadow effect caused by the Cascade mountain range.  A rain shadow effect is the orographic lift of storm clouds by mountain height which causes the release of rain on the windward side of the mountain range, thus causing drier and hotter weather on the leeward side of the mountain range. It is due to the lack of water resources in this region that influences much of the agricultural style of Southeast and Central Oregon.

 

[1] Compean, Mario. “Basque Americans in the Columbia River Basin.” Washington State University. Web. 17 June 2011 http://archive.vancouver.wsu.edu/crbeha/ba/ba.htm 
 [2] Payton, Christiane. Lecture and Tour. 2011 Portland State University. North Valley Farm, Yamhill, OR. 17 June 2011
[3] Shock, Clinton. “Malheur County Agriculture.” Oregon State University. 2008. Web. 17 June 2011 http://www.cropinfo.net/Brochureforweb/Brochure.htm

 

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