BLM Idaho Native Plants Program
In Idaho, lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management support over 5,000 plants. These plants, from a rare riverine orchid to the iconic sagebrush, occupy plant communities within eight ecoregions spanning the driest (less than 10 inches of annual precipitation per year) to the wettest (more than 25 inches) areas throughout Idaho.
Northern Idaho is rugged with a maritime-influenced climate represented by characteristic forest species like Douglas-fir, subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine as well as Pacific Coast indicators like western red cedar. These forests are dominated by shrubs like ninebark, red elderberry and serviceberry.
Central Idaho is comprised of a complex geology of volcanics and the granitic Idaho Batholith ecoregion. Numerous streams have eroded deep canyons in this region and higher elevation forests consist of Grand fir, western larch and Douglas fir with multi-layered shrub communities. These forests grade into lower elevation meadow systems surrounded by conifer communities of Ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine.
The southwest region consists of grasslands and sagebrush steppe where for sagebrush alone there are 36 different kinds – all playing a critical role in supporting the denizens of this imperiled system. This region with its deep loess soils comprises the agricultural heart of the state and is where the majority of the state’s population resides.
The eastern region contains some of the highest elevations and most complex geology in the state. Elevations range from 6,300-10,000 feet with subalpine fir and whitebark pine. Foothills contain shrub and grass dominated communities interspersed with complex riparian areas.
The furthest southeast part of the state is characterized by an intermountain basin with rolling hills and mesas dominated by grass and shrublands with sandy soils – this area includes the Bear Lake ecological section and also contains disjunct plant species more common in Utah like the single-leaf pinyon pine.
Nested within Idaho ecoregions are 500,000 acres of Areas of Critical Environment (ACEC); 745,383 acres of National Landscape Conservation Areas (NLCS) and 46,786 acres of Research Natural Areas (RNAs).