The most valuable natural resource of North Dakota is its deep, dark, and rich soil. Developed under grass, this soil is among the best in the world and is capable of great agricultural production. Most of the soil is a loam, clay or a silt loam. The soils of the eastern part of the state, classified as udic haploborolls, are darker, deeper, and more productive than the chestnut-brown soils of the unglaciated Missouri Plateau.
North Dakota belongs to the grasslands that extend from the Rocky Mountains to the forests of eastern North America. Tall prairie grasses predominate in the east, especially the Red River valley, but short steppe grasses are dominant in the west.
The central part of the state is a transitional zone of mixed tall, mid, and short prairie grasses. Most of the grasslands have been plowed for crops, but there are still about 6 million hectares (about 15 million acres) of grass in the state, most of it native prairie grass. In draws or hollows scattered brushes or shrubs are found, usually consisting of one or several varieties of chokecherries, Juneberries, wild plums, hawthorns, raspberries, buckbrushes, and wild roses. The wild prairie rose is the state flower.
North Dakota is a grassland state, and native forests amount to only 1.6 percent of its land area. Most of the forests are found in the Turtle Mountains, the Pembina Gorge region, the Missouri, Sheyenne, and Pembina river valleys, and around Devils Lake.
The principal trees are the green ash, elm, quaking aspen, birch, oak, and cottonwood. In the western part of the state, ponderosa pines and cedars (junipers) are found. Most forestry activities in North Dakota are focused on planting. Both state and federal agencies participate in planting programs to establish shelterbelts and windbreaks to prevent wind from blowing away precious topsoil. "North Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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