North Cascades National Park NPS Arrowhead
Bald Eagle
North Cascades - Homeward Bound NPS
Bald Eagle Forest Carnivores (martens) Kids on the Trail
Salmon and Juveniles
Wind-Blasted Mountain Hemlock
Wind-blown mountain hemlock on ridgeline

Rooted In

Sometimes we just can't walk away from our problems, so it is nice to know there are others out there in similar predicaments. Plants have been rooted in ever since they emerged out of algae-like organisms eons ago. Only when they cast their seeds to the wind, entice a bird to swallow their seeds, or stick a burr to a mammal's fur can plants move about—and usually for only short distances.

Since plants take generations to move, they make easy subjects for scientists to study. Botanists and ecologists have found that groups of plants are found living together in communities. They band together to weather similar environmental conditions: cold winters, dry summers, windy mountaintops, moist river valleys. They root themselves in for the long haul and set up chemical and physical defenses to protect themselves—and sometimes their communities—from environmental difficulties and biological intruders.

Before park scientists can really get to know plants or animals, they must be familiar with the habitat types that exist in the park. North Cascades scientists have classified habitats into 13 general life zones. These zones have been outlined in the following activity. Go for it and see how well you can Zone into Life.


Notes from the Field
  Vegetation/Topo Map (full-size)

ActivityBecome a botanist and Zone Into Life.

Backyard Discoveries
  Activities: Veg Seg, Morph It!
  Critical Thinking: Exotic Errors—How to Repair the Damage

The Eagle Eye
  Herb Robert—an Exotic
  Whitebark Pine and Blister Rust
  Arrowleaf Balsamroot—a Staple


Glossary: botany, exotic, habitat, invasive, life zone, morphology, nonnative, refugia
Lilly (half)
Lilly (half) Lilly
a Natural Resource Challenge education project made possible by Parks As Classrooms