Regional Prairie Native Seed Project 2014

Today, native prairies of western Washington are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the
United States. Native prairie habitats have been nearly extirpated from the region and are the
most endangered ecosystem in the state (WDNR 1994). A number of rare and endangered
species are associated with this habitat, including golden paintbrush (Threatened), Taylor’s
checkerspot (Endangered), Mardon skipper (Species of Concern), and valley silverspot (Species
of Concern). The restoration work conducted through this project occurs across a large portion of
these species’ ranges. This project contributes to the recovery of golden paintbrush and these rare
butterfly species. A unique aspect of this project is that it provides crucial restoration information
to land managers while also restoring expanses of critical habitat for rare species on protected
prairie sites. It builds directly upon years of restoration and research, as demonstrated by the
strong support for this project by partners. This project has three components: 1) Seeding
technique and rate assessment, 2) Seed production, coordination and development, and 3)
Companion planting of golden paintbrush. The first component of the project expanded this year
to test seeding rates and methods for 27 native species at multiple sites. The second component
involved increasing capacity for seed production, the development and documentation of seed
handling and production techniques, and increased regional coordination and networking. The
third component involved an examination of companion planting techniques to improve survival
and performance of outplanted golden paintbrush. Golden paintbrush was experimentally planted
with 11 different host plants in Fall 2012. Second-year survival and performance of these plants
was monitored in Spring 2013. We have a high certainty that the benefits of this project have
been realized, and that they will have long-term consequences for prairie habitat restoration
because they contribute to the information base necessary to properly manage these species.