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News Archive
  • Working group partners meet quarterly and the latest meeting in March was an opportunity to discuss “Small Science in the Puget Sound”. Partners shared information and expertise on the issues facing scientists and land managers in the South Puget Sound. After a potluck lunch, the group reconvened at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area to view butterfly enhancement sites. This meeting was well-attended, with nearly 40 participants. Presentations will soon be available for download - stay tuned. Please contact Hannah Anderson at handerson@tnc.org for more information.

  • South Puget Sound Featured on LandScope Website. NatureServe and National Geographic Society have joined together to create a website highlighting different landscapes throughout the United States.  The online resource is not only for those working in conservation but also for the public, offering maps, data and stories from around the country.  The South Puget Sound Prairies is fortunate to be one of the featured landscapes in Washington State. The site offers excerpts from interviews with local partners including The Nature Conservancy, Washington Department of Natural Resources and loyal volunteers. Click here or visit the website:  http://www.landscope.org/washington/places to learn more.

  • Fall Prairie Enhancement Work Begins in the South Sound.Partners across the South Sound have begun their planting season in efforts to restore the prairie landscape.  Staff and volunteers are busy working on a variety of lands as fall is the planting season for our native plants. Through these projects, partners are researching how best to improve the native prairies and eventually reintroduce rare species to the restored habitats.  In late September a dozen soldiers from Fort Lewis joined regular volunteers at Tenalquot Prairie on a beautiful Sunday to control invasive conifers and to collect seeds from rare prairie wildflowers.  Members of the 67th Medical Brigade participated in community outreach through the Fort by organizing a "Green Project" near their adopted community of Rainier, WA with The Nature Conservancy.   Prominent and welcome first time visitors to the prairie included several soldiers' families as well as the battalion commander.  Everyone involved was eager to continue taking care of the prairies together.

  • Prescribed Fire Program Completes Its First Season. After two years of preparation, The Nature Conservancy's South Sound Prescribed Fire Program has successfully completed its first burn season.  Last year we were granted an ecological exemption to burn within the burn ban.  Over the past nine months we have built our own infrastructure of fire equipment and trained firefighters.  With the help of ACUB, we now have four “slip-on” fire engines and a water trailer, all the necessary tools and safety gear and a pool of more than 30 wildland firefighters to draw from.  We also joined the Fire Learning Network, which has proven to be a critical resource for training and information.  In another breakthrough, we received permission to conduct burns on Ft. Lewis, and expect to be able to begin in 2009.  During the month of September, we were able complete all but two of our scheduled burn projects in spite of air quality and high fire danger shut downs.  In total, we participated in 21 burn projects on 14 different days.  Nine of these burns were research projects and the remainder ranged in size from 1/4-acre trial burns to 100-acre units.  In total, 316 acres were burned this year in Thurston County, Ft. Lewis and Yellow Island.

  • Wolf Haven and the Nature Conservancy Work with YWCA Girls Camp. Wolf Haven recently led girls from a YWCA camp on a tour to learn about wolves and their habitat. The afternoon was spent learning about prairie restoration and collecting seeds on the prairie with the Nature Conservancy's South Sound Program. The camp's theme this year focused on how the girls can take care of themselves, the environment, and their community.

  • Mima Mounds Butterfly Guide Now Available. As part of her Americorps volunteer position with the Nature Conservancy in 2007-2008, Colleen O'Shea created a butterfly guide for Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. Dowload the guide here.

  • Intership Links South Sound Program with Climate Change Team. During his internship with TNC’s South Sound Program in Olympia, Christophe Cassen worked with Dominique Bachelet, Director of Climate Change Science for the Conservancy. His work analyzed trends in development and urbanization as well as linked the latest climate models and forecasts to the basic ecology of the prairies. 

  • An Update on Roemer's Fescue Seed Production. Peter Dunwiddie and Eric Delvin of The Nature Conservancy recently visited Fourth Corner Nursery in Bellingham which has approximately two acres of land currently producing fescue seed collected from several South Sound prairie sites (Glacial Heritage, Upper and Lower Weir, Johnson Prairie). The efforts appear successful in assuring the purity of the production stock.

  • Dave Hays Receives US Fish & Wildlife 2007 Endangered Species Recovery Award. Every year the US Fish & Wildlife Service awards its employees and their partners for outstanding efforts toward the recovery of threatened and endangered species in the United States. This year Dave Hays received this award for his work with the Columbia River pygmy rabbit. Read more about this at the Endangered Species Program website: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/recovery/champions/index.html. Congratulations Dave!

  • Streaked Horned Lark Population Declining.Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just released a report titled "Streaked Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata) Fecundity, Survival, Population Growth and Site Fidelity" by Scott F. Pearson, Alaine F. Camfield, and Kathy Martin. Research indicates the population declining rapidly at 40% per year in the Puget lowlands, lower Columbia River and Washington coasts. 

  • Taylor's Checkerspot Workshop, January 7th & 8th in Olympia. The two-day workshop successfully brought together a variety of participants across the geographic range of the subspecies including biologists, conservationists, funding agencies, and land owners working toward restoring the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and its habitat.  Participants presented up to date information regarding natural history, status, and conservation and restoration efforts from California all the way to British Columbia, Canada.  Gaps in knowledge and steps needed to move forward were identified.  The workshop provided a venue for information sharing, discussion, problem solving, and planning.  Proceedings and materials from this workshop will be available through this website soon. 

  • Golden Paintbrush Planted at Glacial Heritage. On Wednesday, October 31st a group of Nature Conservancy employees, AmeriCorps volunteers and partners from US Fish and Wildlife Service and WSDOT met at Glacial Heritage Preserve to plant the federally threatened golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta).  This event prompted TNC employees from as far away as Seattle to join in and it was a welcome opportunity for those who normally do not get a chance to spend time in the field.  Approximately 940 plugs, grown from four different seed sources at two different nurseries were planted.  Prior to planting, invasive plants at Glacial Heritage were controlled through a combination of herbicide and burning in order to increase C. levisecta’s chances of survival.  Recovery efforts for golden paintbrush include improving prairie ecosystem health as well as actually cultivating new plant populations.   Glacial Heritage is one of six sites involved in this project funded by US Fish and Wildlife Service and WSDOT. At each prairie site, individual plants from different seed sources are planted in the same pattern along a transect, minimizing the need for extensive flagging. In ensuing years, plant growth and survivorship will be monitored to determine microhabitat preference and seed-source reliability of this rare wildflower.  Hopefully the results of the outplanting protocol of this significant study will illuminate the effects of seed source, associated species, and topography on the performance of C. levisecta.   

  • Quarterly Meeting of the South Puget Sound Prairie Landscape Working Group.  On October 3, 2007, working group partners gathered at the Posse Hall in Littlerock, WA to discuss plant propagation.  Mary Chramiec and Erika Ressa from Ft. Lewis presented information about their program and propagation facility.  The Nature Conservancy's Eric Delvin and Daeg Byrne followed with presentations about Shotwell's Landing and the Native Plant Nursery.  After a potluck lunch, the group reconvened at Shotwell's Landing for a site tour.  Daeg led the tour for about 20 people with some of the group then splitting off and accompanying Eric to Glacial Heritage to view the latest burn site.  This quarterly meeting was well-attended, with nearly 30 participants.

  • Successful Streaked Horned Lark Workshop, September 28th in Vancouver, WA. Partners from around the region were brought together for this one-day workshop focused on the conservation of the streaked horned lark.  Information regarding the natural history, conservation status, conservation and restoration efforts were presented.  Participants identified gaps in knowledge and research and began working toward generation of a conservation action plan.  Attendees included representatives from state and federal agencies, landowners, biologists, and conservationists from a wide geographic range.  Link to the proceedings by clicking here or contact Hannah Anderson at handerson@tnc.org.

  • Blue toadflax found at Fort Lewis - After earth moving at the pipeline restoration site, a surprising discovery...a new population of blue toadflax.  The flower has not been seen in this area before.

  • New prairie preserve in the Willamette Valley - Good news for prairies across the eco-region! A conservation minded couple and The Nature Conservancy have agreed to protect 1,244 acres of rare native prairie and oak woodlands near Eugene, creating the largest privately-owned nature sanctuary in the Willamette Valley.  The project is funded by John and Robin Jaqua, the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  Read about the new preserve here.

  • State's first captive-reared, endangered butterflies emerge as adults in the wild - Update! The first captive-reared butterflies to emerge as adults in the wild flew in the Sough Puget Sound area this month, signaling the start of success in a cooperative effort to recover the endangered species.  Read the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife press release here.

  • North Sound Prairie Working Group launches website - The Whidbey Camano Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy have developed a working group focused on preserving and restoring prairie and oak woodlands throughout the North Puget Sound.  The hope is that new prairie and oak woodland partnerships, ideas adn information will develop and be shared throughout the eco-region.  Visit the new website at www.northsoundprairies.org.

  • Water Howellia - Fort Lewis Fish and Wildlife worked together with The Nature Conservancy to establish a new method of treating yellow flag iris on seasonally dry kettle wetlands where water howellia, a federally threatened winter annual, is present. The hope is that removing the invasive irises will aid in the survival of water howellia and encourage the species to thrive. Read the article about this new methodology, written by The Nature Conservancy's invasive species biologist, Cliff Chapman, here.

  • Fort Lewis Fish and Wildlife worked together with The Nature Conservancy to establish a new

    method of treating yellow flag iris on seasonally dry kettle wetlands where water howellia, a federally threatened winter annual, is present. The hope is that removing the invasive irises will aid in the survival of water howellia and encourage the species to thrive. Read the article about this new

    methodology, written by The Nature Conservancy's invasive species biologist, Cliff Chapman, here.

  • WDFW recently purchased over 800 acres of remnant prairie, oak woodland and wetlands. Known as West Rocky Prairie, the aquisition of this property could potentially provide habitat for a variety of rare or endangered species. Find out more here.

  • A new population of Plectritis congesta, a rare native prairie plant, has been found in Littlerock, WA.   This could be great news for the rare butterfly, Taylor's Checkerspot, as plectritis is one of its larval host plants.  Click here to read more about this exciting discovery.
  • Voices of the Prairie is a one of a kind publication that shares the prairie experiences of landowners in the 'Mima Corridor' - the stretch of land between and surrounding the Mima Mound prairie preserves.  Read about this unique publication and how to get a copy or look at it electronically here.
  • More than 20 conservationists gathered on June 15th to discuss conservation of the Mazama pocket gopher.  The group, gathered from a variety of different agencies and organizations, was addressed by several speakers on subjects including the gopher's status, genetics, identification and threats to the species.  A summary of the findings of that meeting, including the group's preliminary concensus on needed short term conservation actions for the Puget Sound area, (2006 - 2001), is now available.  Read it here.
  • Incentive Programs NRCS is seeking applications for several prairie-related programs. The Grassland Reserve and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Programs have funded significant conservation actions over the last several years. Find out more about these programs here.
  • Have you seen the Bluebird Cam at Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife yet?  Wow! What are those little birds up to now?



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