This Soils Atlas is intended to be a dynamic document. There are continual updates and additions.
Please check back often for most current materials.
This Washington Soils Atlas is designed to present information about Washington State soils in an organized format to a nontechnical audience. The intention is to assist readers understand the importance of soil. Soil is a vital natural resource to residents of Washington because it serves numerous functions that assist residents to live and to earn an income. It also produces food and fiber for populations of the world.
Soil serves to regulate, partition, and filter air and water, it supports the projects built into and onto it and serves as a building material for other projects, it nourishes the plants that produce food and fiber for animal and human consumption, it assists in decomposing and recycling organic materials, and it preserves natural and cultural history. Therefore, soil is complex and it is also a fundamental material for all life.
The soils presented in this atlas were selected from several hundred soil series recognized, mapped, and correlated in Washington State. Each of the soil series has a distinctive set of characteristics that make it a unique individual just as each person is a unique individual. The selected group of soils represents most of the unique soil features that occur within Washington. This was done because it is impractical to demonstrate each mapped and correlated Washington soil but the soils of this atlas can represent most all Washington State soils. Soil series are named after geologic formations, geographic locations, and some soil names are “coined” or made up by soil scientists who describe, map, and correlate soils from within the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) program.
Other information that is included for each soil series contained in the Washington Soils Atlas is the soil classification at the family level for each soil series. It includes several items which describe soil depth, drainage class, parent material, arrangement of soil horizons, and other information. Also included is information on climate, topography, elevation, natural plant community, soil use(s), and management considerations. Management considerations are based on soil properties that impact the soil’s use. In many cases, mitigation measures must be used modify the soil to modify it for a specific purpose. A map that shows where the soil series is located within the state is also included for each soil series. A link is also provided for the official soil series description that is maintained for each soil series in the NCSS database.
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