Central California Foothills and Coastal Mountains

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The primary distinguishing characteristic of this ecoregion is its Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and cool moist winters, and associated vegetative cover comprising primarily chaparral and oak woodlands; grasslands occur in some low elevations and patches of pine are found at high elevations. Surrounding the lower and flatter Central California Valley (7), most of the region consists of open low mountains or foothills, but there are some areas of irregular plains and some narrow valleys. Large areas are ranchland and are grazed by domestic livestock. Relatively little land has been cultivated, although some valleys are major agricultural centers such as the Salinas Valley or the wine vineyard centers of Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Natural vegetation includes coast live oak woodlands, Coulter pine, and unique native stands of Monterey pine in the west, and blue oak, black oak, and grey pine woodlands in the east. (USEPA 2013)

Level IV Ecoregions

Source: Griffith el al. 2016. Ecoregions of California (poster): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1021. http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161021

Tuscan Flows

Northern Sierran Foothills

Southern Sierran Foothills

Camanche Terraces

Tehama Terraces

Foothill Ridges and Valleys

North Coast Range

Eastern Slopes

Western Valley Foothills-Dunnigan Hills

Clear Lake Hills and Valleys

Mayacmas Mountains

Napa-Sonoma-Lake Volcanic Highlands

Napa-Sonoma-Russian River Valleys

Sonoma-Mendocino Mixed Forest

Bodega Coastal Hills

Marin Hills

Bay Flats

Suisun Terraces and Low Hills

East Bay Hills-Western

Diablo Range

San Francisco Peninsula

Bay Terraces-Lower Santa Clara Valley

Livermore Hills and Valleys

Upper Santa Clara Valley

Monterey Bay Plains and Terraces

Leeward Hills

Gabilan Range

Diablo Range

Eastern Hills

Pleasant Valley-Kettleman Plain

Temblor Range-Elk Hills

Grapevine Transition

Tehachapi Foothills

Salinas Valley

Northern Santa Lucia Range

Santa Lucia Coastal Forest and Woodland Interior Santa Lucia Range

Southern Santa Lucia Range

Paso Robles Hills and Valleys

Salinas-Cholame Hills

Cuyama Valley

Carrizo Plain

Caliente Range

Solomon-Purisima-Santa Ynez Hills

Santa Maria-Santa Ynez Valleys

Upper Sacramento River Alluvium


US Environmental Protection Agency. 2013. Primary distinguishing characteristics of level iii ecoregions of the continental united states. https://www.epa.gov/eco-research/level-iii-and-iv-ecoregions-continental-united-states

Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Smith, D.W., Cook, T.D., Tallyn, E., Moseley, K., and Johnson, C.B., 2016, Ecoregions of California (poster): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1021, with map, scale 1:1,100,000, //dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161021.