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The soil of intermountain basins usually consists of clay, gravel, sand, silt, and volcanic ash, much of it laid down by lakes which covered the region during the Oligocene 33 to 23 million years ago.The glaciated plains are generally covered in clay, gravel, sand, and silt left by the proglacial Lake Great Falls or by moraines or gravel-covered former lake basins left by the Wisconsin glaciation 85,000 to 11,000 years ago.
East and north of this transition zone are the expansive and sparsely populated Northern Plains, with tableland prairies, smaller island mountain ranges, and badlands.Other significant economic resources include oil, gas, coal, hard rock mining, and lumber.The health care, service, and government sectors also are significant to the state's economy. Nearly 13 million tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Highway, Flathead Lake, Big Sky Resort, and other attractions.Montana's water resources provide for recreation, hydropower, crop and forage irrigation, mining, and water for human consumption.Montana is one of few geographic areas in the world whose rivers form parts of three major watersheds (i.e. Its rivers feed the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay.