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What We Do

The mission of Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship (PRI) is to equip people and communities to live sustainably and care for creation. We do this through educational and training programs and research, as well as active restoration of our degraded environment. We produce over 50 species of rare native plants and use them in restoring lands throughout the Puget Sound, as well as on our 175-acre glacial-outwash prairie and savanna on Whidbey Island.

Prairie is Washington State’s most rapidly disappearing and threatened ecosystem. There is a significant and immediate need to restore prairie and savanna to protect and enhance the quality of all life. Pacific Rim Institute is a living laboratory, actively restoring prairie, savannah, and forest lands on Whidbey Island, and supporting ecological restoration efforts throughout the Puget Sound region. We work directly with seven tribes, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the WA State Parks and Recreation Commission, WA Department of Transportation and numerous private conservation organizations. PRI also provides hands-on and formal educational and skill-building opportunities to the public including college students, youth, and adults of all ages.

The Prairie/Oak Savanna plant habitats found west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington and Oregon are considered among the most endangered natural systems in the United States due to their limited historical range and precarious status. Although there has been a lot of public awareness about the loss of old-growth forests, the acreage of native prairie land in Washington is much smaller and rarer. The prairie/oak systems were primarily maintained by Native Americans through regular burning to enhance growth of important food plants such as camas and provide open areas for hunting. In the transition from First American to Euro-American land husbandry practices, regular burning ceased, allowing trees and shrubs to become established. Since that time over 90% of these systems have been lost to tree and shrub invasion, agriculture, and housing development. The area of prairie and oak systems in good ecological condition currently comprises less than 1% of the original area.