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Ecoregions of Vermont

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About the Ecoregions of Vermont

Vermont is a small state in New England; its borders follow natural ecoregion borders more closely than most of the New England states, due to its north-south orientation corresponding to the orientation of the Connecticut river as well as various mountain ranges. The state can be divided into 13 ecoregions. The entire state has a humid continental climate, but with considerable variability in total precipitation, severity of cold, and length of the growing season. The state's geology is complex, with most regions having a mix of different bedrock types, being covered with glacial till, and often with numerous other glacial features.

Two regions skirt the border of Vermont and are atypical of the state, having a milder climate, flatter topography, and soils more suited to Western agriculture. In the far southeast, the state instersects the northernmost tip of the Connecticut Valley, an agriculturally-fertile region with a milder climate. In the northwest of the state, a much larger area is contained within the Champlain Lowlands.

The rest of the state is all part of the Northeastern Highlands, a broad region of the northeastern US and southeastern Canada characterized by its rugged topography, higher elevations, and colder climate than the surroundings. This region has greater forest cover, with a history of abandoned agriculture typical of much of New England.

The largest region in the state, representing the main mountain range here, is the Green Mountains/Berkshire Highlands, a region that also encompasses what are called the "Berkshires" in Massachusetts. In the northeast, a separate mountain range, the Quebec/New England Boundary Mountains, begins and extends well into Maine and Quebec. The highest peaks of both of these mountains are treated separately, as part of the Upper Montane/Alpine Zone. In the southern half of the state, the slightly lower Taconic Mountains extend north-south near the border with New York state.

Within the portion of the Northeast Highlands in Vermont, there are two distinct bottomland or valley regions. In the east, the Northern Connecticut Valley represensts a long, narrow region along the border with New Hampshire. In the southwestern portion of the state, also oriented north-south, the Western New England Marble Valleys are a much broader lowland region.

The rest of the state consists of various hilly areas intermediate in elevation and topography between these lowlands and the higher mountains. The Vermont Piedmont is a large region lying between the Connecticut Valley and the Green Mountains, and the northern portion of it, with a colder climate, is separated into the Northern (Vermont) Piedmont. A small portion of the Taconic Foothills lie west of the Taconic mountains, with most of this region located in New York state. And in the north, the Green Mountain Foothills lie between the Champlain Lowlands and the Green Mountains. The far southeast of the state has a tiny portion of the Worcester/Monadnock Plateau, which mostly extends outside the state into Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.