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Frequent Questions

Who We Are

Here are some answers to our more common questions.  If you can’t find the information you need please contact us at 360-678-5586.

  1. Are your trails open to the public?

    Yes! We have over 2.2 miles of trails - so far - open to the public 7 days a week. For your first time, stop in and say hello, pick up a map and get the layout of the property.

    Trails are either two-track that we also use for our pickup truck, Gator or tractor, or single track meant for walking only. Bring your dog along, but they must be kept on a short leash. Please pick up after them so we don't have to divert our time and energy from our main work.

    Throughout the year, immediately adjacent to many parts of the trails, we are either conducting restoration work or research. We also collect seeds of the rare native plants on site, and must leave these areas undisturbed prior to collection lest they all drop to the ground. The trails extend through the north forest - where again, it is critical to keep on the trail, with dogs on a short leash. We conduct multi-year research on native plants that grow right on the trail edges as well as deeper into the forest. What may look like a completely undisturbed area along a path may actually be a research site (with or without flags) where we are making small collections or inputs. Please don't pick flowers or any other living or non-living objects. If you notice something unusual, kindly call us at 360-678-5586.

    Groups are welcome to walk the trails together. If you would like a member of PRI guide your group, please contact us at the office to arrange a visit.

  2. PRI:
    - provides formal and informal educational and skill-building opportunities for the public
    - actively restores degraded habitat throughout the Puget Sound region
    - produces, uses and sells native plant materials such as bulbs, live plants and seeds
    - has over 2 miles of trails through prairie, savanna and forest open to the public and pets on short leashes
    - offers multiple and diverse learning and serving experiences for volunteers, interns and students
    - provides knowledge and skills for individuals, schools, churches and other conservation organizations relevant to ecological restoration in the Pacific Northwest
    - rents multiple facilities on our site near Coupeville to individuals, families, organizations, schools, churches and other groups

  3. Undesignated funds are used to support our personnel, our restoration work, our educational programs and our ongoing operational expenses.

    At PRI we are very much aware of the hard-earned funds you graciously entrust us with, and we always take a business-like approach to programs and expenses. We believe your "donations" are actually an INVESTMENT in the people and programs of PRI - our mission. We strive to produce positive impacts - long term returns on your investment! Much of our work is done with matching funds to achieve more leverage. If you wish to speak with us or visit our site and discuss and see our work, kindly call or email us.

    We have a responsibility to our community and our donors and work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization.

    If you wish to designate funds to a certain program or use, kindly reach out to us so we can share about our areas of greatest need.

    Please understand that we make every effort to increase our efficiency in all aspects of our operations, and to generate income from our facilities and some of our programs where appropriate. For example, when we grow native plants for a program or partner's project, we grow additional plants to ensure we have the needed amount and quality at the right time. Excess plants are then sold to generate some income so we can become interdependent with our supporters and not always completely dependent.

  4. Call us at 360.678.5586 and leave a message with your name, phone number and area of interest. Visit our Volunteer Page to learn of specific and seasonal opportunities.

    We’re always looking for individuals like you who want to get involved.

    Standing volunteer opportunities include:
    - landscaping and mowing
    - minor repairs and maintenance
    - painting
    - collecting seeds of rare native plants in the summer and fall
    - cleaning and processing seeds of rare native plants
    - growing rare native plants throughout the year
    - out-planting rare native plants at PRI and around Whidbey

    Visit our Get Involved section to find out ways to donate or volunteer.

  5. What are the greenhouse and shade area used for?

    The fenced area north of the Brooder building and our main parking area is our Native Plant Center. It consists of a fruit tree orchard, general garden, greenhouse, shade area, ground-level nursery beds and raised-nursery beds. The greenhouse is used for growing native plants in tubes (plugs) to out-plant in the fall or sell. The shade area allows us to grow out most of our plants outside without significant solar damage. The shade cloth is either 50% or 60% opaque and allows the plants to receive rain and "harden off" by being accustomed to the wide temperature swings and occasional strong winds. The nursery beds are used to grow out plants for bulb/corm, rhizome or seed production. We then use these to plant out onto our prairie or other sites where we work throughout the Puget Sound region.

    In 2014 we grew ~25 species of rare native plants. In 2020 we grew over 40 species of rare native plants, including the threatened golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) which was recently removed from the State of Washington's Endangered Species List. In 2022 we grew nearly 50 species.

    Tours are available by appointment. Call 360-678-5586, or stop by the office.

  6. What does PRI have for sale?

    PRI sells various products from the land as well as general merchandise.

    You can purchase native plants, note cards with photos of our wildlife, PRI sunglasses, regional honey straws, and other merchandise.

  7. When did PRI begin?

    The idea for PRI germinated in late 2008. In July 2009 we became incorporated in the State of Washington and received our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the federal government. PRI made the final payment on a five-year lease to purchase on 15 December 2014.

  8. Why are there so many white buildings?

    The buildings at PRI are almost all from the days when it was operated as the State of Washington's Whidbey Island Game Farm. The state purchased these 175 acres from private landowners in 1945 for $15,000. Most of the buildings seen today were constructed by the end of 1946. All for the purpose of raising ring neck pheasants to be released around the state for hunting.

    The small white buildings - brooder houses (or coops) where used to house day-old pheasant chicks and were heated with large propane burners until the birds were old enough to thermoregulate themselves. The Brooder Building currently houses our offices, SVC ECEAP, bathrooms and multipurpose room. It used to be the Nesting Shed, and there was no front door - just an open entrance for trucks to enter. This is where they had hen pheasants, and in later years, hen chickens sit on the eggs to hatch them.

    The concrete brick building is called the Incubator or Bradshaw Laboratory. When incubator technology became commercially available, the Game Farm switched from using live birds to using incubators to keep the eggs occasionally turning, and at the right temperature and humidity to have a high hatch rate after 23 days. The other large building in the center of campus is the Granary. During the time of the Game Farm that's what it was - a granary to store feed for the birds. The small green building further south is the Roost. It used to be a shop and was raised 18" during remodeling.

    The Brooder, Granary and Roost were all adaptively remodeled in 2000-2001, keeping most of the historic aspects on the outside, but improved on the inside to make them useful for a functioning organization. Making them useful in the current context means that they can help pay for themselves as opposed to being a museum exhibit. Many thanks to Dr. Cal and Ruth DeWitt for their vision and perspicacity in finding the funds and volunteers to do this critical remodeling.

    Why are they white? That's because they were white during the Game Farm days and we are preserving that part of the history.

  9. Is PRI within Ebey's Reserve?

    More than half of PRI is located within Ebey's Reserve and PRI has indicated to the Reserve that we are open to a redrawing of the lines so we are completely within their boundaries. PRI is proud and pleased to work with the Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve for ecological restoration throughout Central Whidbey as well as rehabilitation and protection of our historic buildings. The Reserve has funded work conducted by the Central Whidbey Lions Club to restore our c1911 barn, which is also on the WA State Historic Register. Both parties also began earnestly restoring our brooder houses in 2019 to be used for various projects and programs.

  10. Is PRI protected by a conservation easement?

    Our goal is to have a conservation easement attached to this site by 2026. Currently we have Special Review District zoning which confers numerous protections to the land and structures.

  11. What is PRI's privacy policy?

    At PRI we take your and our privacy seriously including steps to protect and ensure the safety of our supporters. We do not sell or otherwise disclose information about our volunteers or supporters outside of our immediate organization. This policy has no exceptions. We do not sell or exchange your information with any other organizations, public, private or nonprofit.

    We will ask you first before taking and/or posting a photo of you in our newsletter or social media.

  12. Can I take courses at PRI?

    PRI offers workshops on practical subjects including grafting fruit trees, selecting and caring for fruit trees, native plant propagation and other subjects.

    PRI offers seasonal lectures on issues related to the environment, sustainability and more. If you have a subject or a speaker, or need a speaker, kindly call us with your suggestion or request. 360-678-5586.