As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat 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 also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources used this grant to acquire 150 acres of oak woodland, prairie, and Riparian Protection habitat within the existing Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. This preserve, located in Thurston County, is one of the largest intact prairie sites left in western Washington and includes the last, best example of mounded prairie in the state. The prairie and oak habitats on the site 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.