With ponderosa forests at the foot of the Cascade Mountains and Western juniper forests to the east, the Deschutes River serves as a rough boundary between the two. Most towns are built on the riverside plain and between the surrounding foothills.
The central part of the state is well-known for its dry and sunny climate, averaging 300 clear days each year. With so much sunshine, the main industries are agriculture, forest products, and recreation. Much of Central Oregon is covered by forest, and logging remains an important part of the regional economy. Irrigation development has made the arid flatlands useful for extensive hay production, farming, and livestock raising.
The eastern part of Central Oregon has dry wheat farming and grazing land for cattle, while the western area is primarily a timber country. The Willamette Valley in West Central Oregon was settled by pioneers who came out on the Oregon Trail and has since become an agricultural center. While some of the primary agriculture includes wheat, barley, horticulture, and dairy farming, the area is also known for its abundant orchards and wineries.
The Columbia Gorge is an 80-mile stretch of the Hood River Valley that forms the border between Northern and Southern Oregon. The principal industries are agriculture, timber, hydroelectric production, and recreation. High winds make the area an ideal setting for wind farms, and windsurfing on the Hood River is a popular recreational sport. This valley is an ideal climate for the production of apples, cherries, peaches, and pears, and is responsible for over half of the nation’s winter pears. It is home to many breweries and wineries, and potatoes, seed, hay, and mint are also produced here.
Due to the many lakes and rivers in Central Oregon, combined with the high Cascade Mountains, the area has been dubbed an “outdoor playground,” and the economy relies heavily on outdoor recreation along with the agricultural and livestock industries.
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