Pacific Coast Forests Wildlife

The coastal region is damp and fog-shrouded throughout. On Washington's Olympic Peninsula, unusually heavy rainfall has produced North America's only temperate zone rain forest. Mosses drip in festoons from the trees; ferns, mosses, lichens, and other moisture-loving plants blanket the earth. Where a break occurs in the lowering evergreens, an undergrowth of shrubs supplies browse for Elk and deer. Other large mammals (especially the Black Bear and Mountain Lion) are elusive, though their tracks may be visible along national park trails. Nor are birds conspicuous, except for noisy jays and small flocks of nuthatches and chickadees. Sounding to some like a chickadee is the Chickaree (or Douglas' Squirrel), a relative of the Red Squirrel that lives only in the Pacific Coastal Forest.

Farther north, along the coast of northern California, is the redwood forest, where ground cover is sparse and animal life more readily seen. The trees here grow even taller than the spruces and firs to the north; many redwoods top 300ft, and several have been measured at more than 300. Though only scattered groves of these majestic trees have escaped the lumberman's saw, the sight of the huge rust-red trunks, soaring unbroken by brunches above the sun-dappled earth, cannot fail to impress. Places to see this habitat includes: British Columbia Garibaldi, MacMillan, and Manning provincial parks. California Redwood National Park; Six Rivers National Forest; Muir Woods National Monument; Big Basin, Humboldt, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods state parks. Oregon: Cape Lookout, Cape Sebastian, and Saddle Mountain state parks. Washington: Olympic National Park; Beacon Rock, Deception Pass, Larrabee, and Moran state parks.

Pacific Coastal Forest

Animal life includes: Bushy-tailed woodrat, Western Gray Squirrel, Black Bear, Mule Deer, Wapiti (elk), Gray Jay, Steller's Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Varied Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, Dark-eyed Junco and more.

Plant life includes: Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Douglas-fir, Redwood, Western Redcedar, Vine Maple, Bigleaf Maple, Vanilla Leaf, Redwood Sorrel, Western Sword Fern, Deer Fern and more.