Restoring Northwest Prairies

By: Daniel Mount
Daniel-Mount
http://www.mountgardens.com

Daniel Mount hails from a long line of wandering gardeners, nurserymen and farmers.  He received his first shovel for his…

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Glacier Heritage Preserve (GHP) test plots with plowed fields in the background and a band of invasive Scots broom on the periphery. Photo: Daniel Mount

Glacier Heritage Preserve (GHP) test plots with plowed fields in the background and a band of invasive Scots broom on the periphery. Photo: Daniel Mount

Prairies in the Pacific Northwest are imperiled. Nearly three-quarters of the population of western Washington live in the Willamette Valley/Puget Trough/Georgia Basin eco-region—and  it’s one of the fastest developing areas in the country. But University of Washington Affiliate Professor Peter W. Dunwiddie and Associate Professor Jonathon D. Bakker of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, offer hope for remnants of these species-rich prairies in the Pacific Northwest.

“Over the last two decades, conservation, management, and research in these landscapes have progressed rapidly. Energetic partnerships and collaborations have sprung up to protect these endangered systems, identify key research and management needs, facilitate the exchange of information, generate new methods for restoring and managing rare species and communities, and sustain their long-term viability and ecological health.”

Here’s a look at what’s going on behind the scenes:

Butterfly larvae are kept “caged” at the Glacial Heritage Preserve to aid in research being done on the relationship between the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta). Photo: Daniel Mount

Butterfly larvae are kept “caged” at the Glacial Heritage Preserve to aid in research being done on the relationship between the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta). Photo: Daniel Mount

GHP test Plots with golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), western buttercup, and field chickweed. Photo: Daniel Mount

GHP test Plots with golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), western buttercup, and field chickweed. Photo: Daniel Mount

Professor Dunwiddie, Associate Professor Bakker, and their students pose in the Soest Garden on the University of Washington campus.  Photo: Daniel Mount

Professor Dunwiddie, Associate Professor Bakker, and their students pose in the Soest Garden on the University of Washington campus. Photo: Daniel Mount

University of Washington Associate Professor Bakker with student Nate Haan, examining how the hemi-parasitic golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) performs when grown with different prairie species. Photo: Daniel Mount

University of Washington Associate Professor Bakker with student Nate Haan, examining how the hemi-parasitic golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) performs when grown with different prairie species. Photo: Daniel Mount

Professor Bakker and student Loretta Fisher examine Castilleja hybrids in the UWBG greenhouses. Photo: Daniel Mount

Professor Bakker and student Loretta Fisher examine Castilleja hybrids in the UWBG greenhouses. Photo: Daniel Mount

Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) being grown under controlled conditions in University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) greenhouses. Photo: Daniel Mount

Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) being grown under controlled conditions in University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) greenhouses. Photo: Daniel Mount