South Sound Prairies, Western Washington Grasslands

A small area in Thurston County, western Washington, contains a treasure – a native grassland prairie. This region, maintained by many volunteers and the Center for Natural Lands Management, is being meticulously restored through prescribed burnings, planting native plants, weeding, and careful soil management. And, it is open to visitors one day each year. (A short distance away is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve – another beautiful prairie landscape, open year-round.)

This year all things came together for us to visit this unique part of Washington state. The following pictures will give you an idea of the immense natural beauty – and importance – of a prairie landscape. To learn more about this area and the work being done to restore prairie lands, use this site:

Castilleja levisecta, Golden Paintbrush. A very rare prairie plant that we were lucky to see.
Camassia quamash as far as the eye can see. The landscape consists of mounds.
Desert parsley, Lomatium utriculatum

Correction: this is Collinsia parviflora
Balsam root or Arrowleaf, Balsamorhiza sagittata
A very blurry Fritillaria affinis, Chocolate lily. And a very windy day!
Cladina mitia, Costal reindeer lichen
The cause of the mounds is unknown, but at this time scientists are certain that the mounds were not caused by glacial action – or giant, prehistoric gophers.
Viola sempervirens
The last of Dodecatheon pulchellum for the season. This bulb blooms early in spring. We were lucky to see it.
The prairie in all its beauty.

I hope that these pictures spike your interest in learning about our vanishing, rare, and valuable American prairies. Be sure to click on the link I provided above for additional information, and a short video provided by the Center for Natural Lands Management.

And, as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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