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The Intermontane Basins and Plateaus, Economy
Bingham Canyon, Wasatch Mountains, Zion Canyon, Petrified Forest, Great Salt Lake
The region’s economy is based on irrigated farming, livestock grazing, mining, and tourism. The most critical resource for this region is water. Water for irrigation comes from the main rivers or from wells dug into aquifers (natural underground water reservoirs). Despite limited water resources, this region contains a number of major river basins, including the Colorado, Snake, Salt, Columbia, and the Rio Grande. The water of these rivers is used intensively. For example, the water of the Colorado River is so fully utilized for irrigation and urban uses that most of it does not reach its mouth in the Gulf of California. Irrigation in this region supports a variety of crops, including potatoes, apples, cotton, sugar beets, peaches, and cherries. Hay and grains are produced, often to support a scattered livestock trade that includes cattle, sheep, and goats.
Principal minerals found in the Intermontane Region include coal, petroleum, and copper. The open-pit mine at Bingham Canyon, Utah, is the largest copper mine in the world, contributing to the U.S. position as the world’s second largest copper producer, after Chile.
Tourism is also important for this region, which attracts people from all over the world. Dramatic scenery is provided by the highly differentiated landscape, exemplified by the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Mesa Verde, the Petrified Forest, Death Valley, the Wasatch Mountains, and the Great Salt Lake.
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