Region 5: The Basin and Range

The Basin and Range covers a vast area of the western United States from northwestern Mexico to southern Idaho. Even though the region is generally arid, the portion of the Basin and Range that extends into southeastern Idaho is cooler and higher in elevation than the Snake River Plain to the north, receiving more moisture and supporting more heavily forested terrain.

Mollisols are the most common soil here, and they support a high-elevation sagebrush steppe, shrubland, and forest. Slopes facing the north support forests consisting of Douglas fi r, subalpine conifers, aspen, and lodgepole pine. Slopes facing to the south support sagebrush and various grasses. In broad open areas, grassland is prevalent, and is often used for grazing. In areas with less topographical relief, Idaho’s Mollisols support dry land or irrigated farming, which is dominated by potatoes.

Inceptisols and Entisols can also be found in this region. Higher elevations support forested slopes with a mixture of conifer species. These soils are commonly associated with the newly formed soils of mountainous terrain and do not lend themselves well to agriculture due to their poor development.