Tenalquot Prairie Preserve
Tenalquot Prairie Preserve was purchased by The Nature Conservancy to establish a preserve dedicated to conserving the rarest prairie species. Initially, the habitat at Tenalquot was degraded by long-term grazing, but restoration efforts have improved much of that habitat and Tenalquot is rapidly becoming a high-quality prairie. Already, Tenalquot has become one of the best locations in WA for golden paintbrush, a federally threatened species. With good establishment of paintbrush from seed at Tenalquot, the site should officially qualify as a recovery population soon. Tenalquot is also habitat for a thriving population of mazama pocket gophers. Tenalquot supports one of the largest populations of pocket gophers on lands protected for conservation. The population is likely augmented by gophers from the adjacent Joint Base Lewis-McChord prairies. Finally,the Taylor’s checkerspot habitat team just visited the Preserve and determined that it is a priority site for reintroduction of that butterfly. CNLM biologists will work to prepare the habitat for introduction of this rare butterfly over the next couple of years.
Plant and Seed Production Expanding
The need for native plants and seed to enhance South Sound prairies has increased dramatically over the last few years. To meet this need CNLM has been increasing the infrastructure and effort associated with plant and seed production. We have partnered with the Sustainability in Prisons Project to produce upwards of 500,000 plugs of prairie plants at Stafford Creek Correctional Center and our Shotwell’s Landing Nursery. Native seed production has also increased, with a goal for this year of more than 800 lbs from at least 20 key species. We are producing seed for many of the species on 10-acres at the WA Dept. of Natural Resources Webster’s Nursery, but have also expanded contract growing with both local producers and those in eastern WA. We are hopeful that these production numbers will continue to increase over the next few years, allowing us to restore hundreds of acres of prairie each year.
Conservation Intern Program – CNLM recruits the best and brightest college students and graduates to help the South Sound Program. These students fill critical needs, helping with everything from vegetation monitoring and data entry to prescribed fire and native seed collection. Several conducted independent research projects, answering critical questions related to prairie conservation. This summer, we have six interns helping with research and restoration projects. They are also receiving leadership and communications training from our four Americorps members, who have honed their skills recently under the guidance of business consultant Lynette Ritchie. If you see Robyn, David, Deirdre, Patrick, Tim or Ian, please welcome them to the CNLM team!
Checkerspot Habitat Study - CNLM, along with WA Depts. of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, were awarded funding by the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program to strengthen the scientific underpinnings of Taylor’s checkerspot habitat restoration. Scientific information that elucidates important habitat characteristics to aid species’ recovery is generally very difficult to obtain, especially for rare species with few remaining populations. This challenge is common to many programs designed to conserve at-risk species in preserves altered by degraded habitat. To meet this challenge, an outside consultant is being sought to devise a cost-effective and timely strategy that meets the conservation partners’ information needs for: 1) land management planning, and 2) evaluation of site-readiness for reintroducing checkerspot butterflies. Several very strong proposals are currently under review.
Prairie Appreciation Day
PAD 2012 was another great success. Perfect weather, fun booths and a gorgeous prairie all contributed. This may have been the best attended PAD ever, with more than 1,200 attendees. Thanks to Friends of Puget Prairies and the conservation partners for their contributions to such a wonderful festival. As CNLM staffer Marnie Lassen’s two preschoolers commented, “Mom can we come next year? That was fun!” Hopefully next year’s Prairie Appreciation Day will be even more fun.
You might not immediately associate bats with prairies, but our conservation partner Wolf Haven does. In fact, "Wolf Haven International is taking 2012's International Year of the Bat seriously." With the help of CNLM’s biologist Sanders Freed and bat specialist Greg Falxa of Cascadia Research, Wolf Haven has erected several bat houses to help the eleven species that use the prairie, oak woodland and wetlands at Wolf Haven. The best part is that the boxes are already being used by bats. Visit Wolf Haven to see their prairie and bats!