Each month of the year, we highlight a different WWRP category. January’s focus is the Natural Areas category. Natural Areas grants are critical in a time when native ecosystems are receding, wildlife habitat is threatened, and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features, while maintaining public access for recreational opportunities.
Our highlighted Natural Areas project is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP), located in Thurston County. Two WWRP grants have helped purchase over 200 acres of prairie, oak, and riparian habitat within the Mima Mounds NAP. This preserve is one of the largest intact prairie sites left in Western Washington and includes the last, best example of mounded prairie in the state.
These mysterious mound-like shapes support populations of a number of prairie-dependent butterflies and birds, including the Valley silverspot, Oregon branded skipper, western meadowlark, and savannah sparrow. Mima Mounds is also a high priority location for re-introduction of other imperiled prairie species such as the Mardon skipper butterfly and golden paintbrush.
If you’re interested in visiting Mima Mounds, the preserve has an interpretive trail system including a paved, ADA accessible ½ mile loop and two longer gravel paths. Learn more through the Department of Natural Resource’s website.