Regional Prairie Native Seed Project

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. 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 had 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 tested 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. 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.