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Center for Natural Lands Management

The Center for Natural Lands Management conserves prairies, oak woodlands and freshwaters in the South Sound. It coordinates the South Sound Prairie Landscape Working Group and manages this website. Learn more about our South Sound program here.

Volunteer News

Stay warm on the prairie this winter while we burn slash piles to open up space for native plants to grow. Join in on the fun every Tuesday, Friday and second Saturday at our volunteer days.

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Connect With Us

For more information contact:

Audrey Lamb
Center for Natural Lands Management
Phone/Fax : 360.357.6280

Technical Information

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 at

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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Riparian Restoration

The CNLM Knotweed Abatement and Riparian Restoration Program has been working with landowners in the Chehalis Basin to control knotweed on their property since 2004.  All of our services are provided at NO COST to landowners and require only an agreement that allows us access to private property.  For further information, please contact Dave Geroux by email at or by phone at (360) 280 8304.


CNLM Protects New Prairie Site in the South Sound

The Deschutes River Preserve will be restored to native prairie.The Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) has purchased 140 acres in South Thurston County to protect native habitats and wildlife. Known as the Deschutes River Preserve, the property is home to a population of Mazama pocket gophers, recently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Restoration efforts on the preserve could support more rare plants and animals, such as the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, streaked horned lark, and golden paintbrush.

The Deschutes River Preserve includes grassland, oak woodland, riparian habitat, and is bordered by the Deschutes River. Located near the town of Rainier, the preserve was previously the Northwest Equestrian Center.

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Mazama Pocket Gopher Granted Federal Protection

The Mazama pocket gopher, a prairie species found in Thurston County and throughout the Cascadia The Mazama Pocket Gopher is now a federally threatened species (photo: WDFW).region is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. On April 9th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated four subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This designation is indicative of the decline of the grassland prairies in south Puget Sound and the plants and animals that depend upon this habitat for survival.

The natural prairies of south Puget Sound help clean our air and water and support a rich web of life, from the Mazama pocket gopher to rare and beautiful butterflies and wildflowers, including the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and the golden paintbrus. Mazama pocket gophers in particular provide very important functions that benefit the entire prairie habitat. Gophers are the “ecosystem engineers” because their tunnels help incorporate air and nutrients into the soil and their  mounds provide bare ground necessary for native plants to grow.

South Sound's prairies clean our water and air, and provide good training grounds for the military (Photo: Adam Martin).In addition, these prairies provide the land our military needs to conduct training maneuvers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord which is vitally important to both our local economy and our nation’s defense. Over the past century our historic prairie lands in Puget Sound have diminished, pushing the pocket gopher to the edge of extinction. Happily, local conservationists, wildlife officials and the Department of Defense have developed a win-win solution that will help shape the future of the county in a positive way. This unique collaborative effort not only provides resources for  farmers and ranchers to protect  prairie lands they own, but also provides critical habitat for  rare plants and animals. Further, this joint-endeavor also helps protect  our military’s important training programs.

Washingtonians live here because of our state’s healthy and abundant natural resources and high quality of life. We deeply value and appreciate the great outdoors and preserving our Puget Sound prairies will help protect our incredibly diverse plant and animal communities, our quality of life, natural heritage. We will no doubt take great pride in bringing one of our most endangered and beautiful ecosystems back from the brink.


Farmers and ranchers with prairie habitat can take advantage of technical and financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For regulatory information including permitting, please visit the Thurston County Planning Department’s website.

For specific information about the listing, including critical habitat and the 4(d) rule, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s website.


Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges--New Perspectives, New Tools

Adam Martin and Emily Phillips from JBLM gained valuable skills during a fire exchange in Florida's longleaf pine ecosystem.During the winter and spring months, members of the South Sound Ecological Burn Team often participate in training exchanges to build firefighter qualifications and leadership skills. For CNLM, this means sending a few firefighters out across North America to other hotspots of prescribed burning, either into the expansive central plains or along the swampy Southern coast to gain new experiences and perspectives on fire in unfamiliar ecosystems. Working in new conditions with new firefighters is invaluable. Adam Martin shares some reflections from his recent trip to Florida to complete firefighter training.

After a week and a half of burning in the humid intense heat of the Longleaf pine, where all plants seemed to be made of thorns, spikes, vines, and gasoline, it was nice to return the foggy grasslands and forests I’m used to. Being a stranger in a strange land taught me a lot about the importance of knowing your burn team, and burning with a new crew helped frame my own experiences in Washington, helping me see what our strengths are and where we can bring in new perspectives from the South. In the evenings around the fire in Florida, while many were chatting about the fires they’ve wrestled using dozers and helicopters, it was fun to preach the gospel of the flapper and backpack pump, or exchange stories with fellow prescribed burners of the joys and lessons in using fire to move and manipulate fire.

Prescribed fire is a very important component of an actively restored longleaf forest.Flying west over Florida, over the few dozen smoke columns along the Gulf Coast, I felt part of something bigger than our prairies and oak woodlands back home. I was eager to share my experience living, eating, and dreaming fire hoses, hose packs, portable pumps, trucks, nozzle combinations, water hydraulics, and Southern fire. Now I just have to wait for the dry days and favorable weather, until I have the chance to put the new experience to task.


“Treat it like an insect, not a grizzly bear” - Takeaways from a Checkerspot Workshop in California

“I can’t stop thinking about my landscape-scale view of the world and how it hasThe Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, shown here at Glacial Heritage is one of three federally listed checkerspots on the West coast. been forever modified by the hilltop landscapes of the Bay and Quino checkerspots” (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mary Linders, speaking about Taylor’s checkerspot recovery and management). In late January, thirty people traveled from as far as San Diego and Vancouver Island to gather in San Jose and talk about one thing and one thing only – Edith’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha).  If you’re familiar with the work CNLM and partners do in the South Sound, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, a subspecies, (pictured at right) is a well-known species. When Taylor’s checkerspot was listed as Endangered in October 2013, it joined two other listed Editha checkerspot subspecies – the Bay and Quino checkerspots.

CNLM partnered with Creekside Science, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and the Xerces Society to plan a three day workshop that brought together the three conservation communities with a goal to strengthen collective recovery efforts by providing a forum for information sharing and catalyzing priority actions between practitioners working on recovery of each sub-species. As the workshop got underway there were hugs from long ago colleagues and first-time meetings of people who had conversed over phone and email for years.

On Day 3, Creekside Science took workshop attendees out to some of their sites, including Coyote Ridge (pictured) to get a feel for the habitat.

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