Graduate Student, UW Botany Department
During two summers in east-central Idaho, I saw more mountains and desert lands than many Americans see in their entire lives. This region includes seven major mountain ranges and most of Idaho's top 100 summits. There are hundreds of miles of deep gorges along the Salmon River and its tributaries. To the north, one finds groves of grand fir and alpine larch, while to the south, one finds saltbush, greasewood and desert annuals more typical of the Great Basin. In many areas, local relief is nearly a vertical mile from valley bottom to ridgetop. Whenever I climbed to the top of a ridge or peak, I would look out in every direction where, as far as I could see . . . my study area. Since the project was funded by the Salmon-Challis National Forest, most collections (ca. 11,000) occur on US Forest Service lands. Where species were expected to occur exclusively on low elevation BLM lands, these areas were also surveyed.
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careful driving is necessary in a 2wd.
While many refer to a floristic inventory as descriptive science, there are many subtle questions which one could explore with additional time and motivation. For example, what biogeographic factors influence the occurrence and distribution of the flora? what are the patterns of diversity across environmental gradients? Between patches, localities and regions? In such an inventory, one practically expects to discover new populations of rare plants, but there is also the slight chance of finding an undiscovered species.