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 Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy more than 189 acres of oak woodland, prairie, and streambank habitat near its Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. 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. Mima Mounds is recognized nationally for its ecological and geological importance as a national natural landmark. The site supports prairie-dependent butterflies and birds, Oregon branded skipper, western meadowlark, and savannah sparrow. This proposal is part of a regional conservation plan developed by partners, including Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fort Lewis Military Reservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy to protect remnants of natural communities and restore their structure and function.