Introduction to the South Sound Prairies
The South Puget Sound Prairies are...
Created by retreating glaciers
Sustained by Native Americans
Unique to the Northwest
Dependent on us for their conservation
South Puget Sound's prairies and oak woodlands lie hidden among the region's forests, farms and homes. Here, wide-open skies arch over rolling expanses of bunchgrasses, wildflowers, and gnarled oaks. Butterflies found in few other places in the world spangle the sun-washed grasslands, and blue birds and meadow larks serenade the quiet visitor.
One of the rarest ecosystems in the country, these open savannas were created by retreating glaciers 15,000 years ago, which left behind gravelly soils that dried out quickly during summer droughts. Native Americans sustained these grassy plans for thousands of years using fire to keep the encroaching forests at bay so that tribes could harvest the prairie's bounty of wildflowers and bulbs. Today conservationists maintain our prairies through active management and restoration.
Students at The Evergreen State College produced an informative 15 minute documentary about the Northwest prairies. View their documentary here.