Evaluating Suitability of Prairies for Golden Paintbrush – North Puget Sound

This project was carried out in tandem with similar research occurring in South Puget Sound (also funded by the USFWS), and was focused on taking key steps to assist in the recovery of populations of golden paintbrush. We identified two important areas for action: 1) augmenting weak populations of golden paintbrush on Whidbey Island to increase their long-term viability, and 2) establishing large numbers of plants in new sites on Whidbey Island and in the San Juan Islands. These actions would begin to realize the goals outlined in the Recovery Plan for this species, using techniques that have shown the greatest success in establishing healthy, reproductive plants. Additional detail and rationale for these efforts are contained in the final report for the South Sound site suitability project, and are not repeated here.

The proposed project was designed to aid in the delisting of golden paintbrush by increasing the number of populations that meet the criteria for stable populations as defined in the Recovery Plan. Specific objectives included:

  1. Outplant at least 2000 golden paintbrush plants in each of 2 new sites that have been identified as suitable for supporting populations of this species, and
  2. Outplant at least 2000 golden paintbrush plants in each of 2 existing populations that will augment their numbers to recovery goal levels.


Additional funding was also attached to this grant to carry out detailed soils analyses in microsites where golden paintbrush thrived, and compare these with microsites where paintbrush seedings or outplantings failed to survive. These funds were used to support the master’s degree research of Samantha Sprenger. The results of her work are reported separately in her thesis, submitted to the University of Washington in 2008.

Due to the failure of paintbrush seed from Rocky Prairie to germinate as expected, modifications were made to the South Sound Site Suitability proposal that impacted this proposal as well. Specifically, many of the plants from North Sound sources that were originally intended to be outplanted at North Sound sites were used in South Sound outplantings instead. In addition, American Camp turned out to be unavailable for outplanting during the duration of this proposal. We therefore decided to also focus actions in this proposal to mirror the site suitability assessments that were taking place simultaneously in the South Sound.