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Living Laboratory


Prairie is Washington State’s most rapidly disappearing and threatened ecosystem.  Currently, prairie land comprises less than 3% of the original acreage.  Loss of habitat and lack of fire over the past 150 years are major factors.  There is a significant and immediate need to restore prairie in the northwest to protect and enhance the quality of all life.  We all, humans and wildlife, depend on healthy, diverse ecosystems for our very survival.

We are restoring habitat on our 175 acres in Central Whidbey and also support ecological restoration efforts throughout the Puget Sound region. The prairie at PRI contains a precious five-acre remnant that has not been significantly disturbed since colonization.  It contains tremendous biodiversity and a large number of rare native plant species, which in turn support and interact with microorganisms in our soils as well as insects and arthropods, many of whom serve as critical pollinators.

PRI also has rare savanna land and two unique forest zones with trails open to the public which weave among them.

PRI has served as the contact point and administrator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in their golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) Recovery program and hosts one of the largest and most successful recovery populations of golden paintbrush. PRI also partners with US Fish and Wildlife Service on other projects along with several South Sound conservation organizations. Other partners include the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington State University, the University of Washington, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) as well as the National Park Service with whom we have had several Cooperative Agreements to restore land within the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. 

Our habitat restoration work includes:

* producing native plants in our Native Plant Center 

* sourcing and collecting seed from wild and propagated native plants

* processing and storing seeds

* preparing land (mowing, selected herbicide usage, cover cropping, controlled burns)

* out-planting native plants including grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees (like the Garry oak) on our site and throughout the Puget Sound region

* working with interns, students and the general public as volunteers to engage them in the challenges, processes and successes involved

* public education and awareness building

Much of this work is labor intensive and depends largely on volunteers who are committed to enhancing the quality of life in our community

If you would like to join our restoration efforts, call us to learn of volunteer opportunities or give financially to support this important work