Mazama Pocket Gopher

Mazama pocket gophers are an important component in South Sound prairies. While still found in Thurston and Pierce Counties, they are globally rare and considered threatened with extinction by the State of Washington.
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Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership brings together professional conservationists and restorationists from throughout the Northwest. If you would like to reference scientific papers about prairies or network with the professional conservation community please contact Hannah Anderson.

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Susan Waters joins CNLM to aid in the recovery of native pollinators 

A Taylor's checkerspot on a lomatium flower. Susan joined the Center for Natural Lands Management in August 2015 as a Rare Species Ecologist. Her work at CNLM will focus on the recovery of native butterflies and pollinators throughout the South Sound Prairies. Susan’s work will include helping with the recovery and reintroduction of endangered Taylor’s checkerspots with the goal of defining habitat requirements and creating conditions necessary for re-establishment and persistence of multiple populations of this special butterfly. She earned her BA in Ecology from Hampshire College, her MEd in Secondary Science Education at the University of Massachusetts, and her doctorate in Ecology from the University of Washington.

Susan Waters, CNLM's new Rare Species Ecologist.Susan has been involved in ecological research in prairie-oak ecosystems since 2008, when she first encountered the spring blues and yellows of Camas and native buttercups as a newcomer to the Northwest. Susan's interests in ecology and restoration are centered on the importance of species interactions---the interactions between organisms, which affect the structure of ecological communities.

Susan’s recent research focuses on a key ecological interaction: pollination. Pollination is necessary for reproduction of more than 85% of Earth’s plant species, and plant communities are intimately interlinked with their pollinators.  As a pollination ecologist, Susan explored how two globally Mining bee on a slender cinquefoil.important agents of change, invasion of exotic plants and climate change, are influencing our South Sound Prairies. First, she investigated how exotic plant species influence the way pollinators respond to native plants. She found that having high densities of exotic flowers surrounding a native plant can increase or decrease how often pollinators visit native flowers (depending on the native plant species and conditions of the site) affecting how much seed a native plant can produce. Second, she explored how exotic plants blooming earlier, due to climate change, altered the interactions between pollinators and native plants (which are not expected to shift their blooming dates earlier to the same degree as exotic species). She found that when exotic plants bloom earlier, the amount of seed produced by native plants increases or decreases dramatically depending on the native plant species.

Yellow-faced bumblebee on lupine. Photo by Will Petersen.In addition to her prairie-based work, Susan founded and currently directs Seattle’s Urban Pollination Project (UPP), a citizen science initiative in Seattle. UPP collaborates with gardeners in urban community gardens, and asks whether urban land use around the gardens affects bumble bee diversity, and ultimately, the amount of food that can be produced in those gardens. UPP’s goal is to determine whether specific areas of Seattle could benefit from restoring bumblebee-nesting habitat, leading to improved local food production through increased pollination.

Bumblebee moth foraging at Wold Haven Prairie.Susan’s incorporation to the CNLM-South Sound Prairies Program comes at a critical time. The populations of many bees and butterflies have declined over the last 30 years so much so that the White House recently released the Pollinator Research Action Plan and developed the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators to support the recovery of many pollinator species. While CNLM has been working collaboratively with federal and state agencies for more than 10 years creating and restoring habitat for native pollinators, we are very excited to have Susan on board so we can continue to support native pollinators and ensure that our prairies remain healthy and with beautiful native blooms during each spring.



CNLM's Sound Sound Program Quarterly Highlights

April-June 2015

CNLM’s South Sound Program has been working on prairie conservation for almost two decades. We work with a wide-range of public agencies and private landowners assisting with protection and restoration of prairies.

Flowers, fires and farms

Springtime was busy and beautiful at the native seed farms.  While we did not  have much time to stop and smell the flowers, we definitely appreciated them as we weeded, planted, and harvested seed around them.

This spring and summer, our productivity for chickweed and other plants at Violet Prairie...

Prairie Partners celebrate the 20th anniversary of Prairie Appreciation Day!

 Prairie Appreciation Day is a yearly event organized every spring at Glacial Heritage Preserve to celebrate the natural beauty of the South Sound Prairies.The event is organized by Friends of Puget Prairies in collaboration with multiple federal, state, and local organizations working on prairie conservation. The 2015 event was held on May 9th, when we celebrated the...

Release the camas!

 The 13th Division Prairie on Joint Base Lewis-McChord is at peak flower season, and you can hardly tell that the land stretching before you along the meandering South Creek was once choked with Scotch broom just two seasons ago. In close cooperation with JBLM Fish and Wildlife, CNLM has been conducting extensive habitat enhancements on a portion the 13th Division...

The Prairie Quality Monitoring team is ready to quantify our restoration success!

This summer, CNLM’s Prairie Quality Monitoring (PQM) team has been devoted to assessing prairie quality and habitat on protected prairie sites throughout Thurston County. These sites were initially monitored between 2007 and 2009, when restoration efforts were in earlier stages. Now, after many years of working collaboratively with South Sound Prairie partners to restore the prairies, we are working to quantify how our actions have improved...