Poplars in the Pacific Northwest: Old Legacies and New Forests

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Summer 2009


Travelers to the Northwest, expecting a sea of evergreens, might notice something different when driving on the interstate through eastern Oregon, high above the Columbia River. Well before the Cascades and conifers dominate the landscape, a green smudge appears on the horizon beyond the alternating fields irrigated with center pivots and the high desert grassland. Soon, a traveler can hardly fail to notice that several miles of interstate are bordered by row upon row of leafy trees swaying in the desert wind. This new type of forest is composed entirely of multiple species of a deciduous, fast-growing tree, commonly known as the poplar. In the Pacific Northwest, the emergence of these dramatic landscapes is intimately linked to changing social, environmental, and economic contexts, all of which have led to the expansion of poplar plantings in the region.


This article was originally published in Focus on Geography. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Focus on Geography


© 2009 American Geographical Society