Prairie Creation in Progress – Lyre Conservation Area and Lower Dungeness Prairie

Prairies are a rare and special habitat across Western Washington at great risk of being lost. Over 90% of the Olympic Peninsula’s prairie habitat has disappeared since European colonization around the 1870’s.

We’ve just started on a years-long restoration journey to create native prairie ecosystems at two different sites – the meadow at the Lyre Conservation Area near Joyce and a property we own and manage in Sequim that we are calling the Lower Dungeness Prairie. Please note the Lower Dungeness Prairie is not open for public use at this time.

The enhancement and creation of these prairies will have significant cultural and ecological impacts across the landscape. Not only do prairies promote biodiversity of rare plants and animals found only in these ecosystems, these managed landscapes also have been used as a cultural resource by local Tribes since time immemorial.

While these two sites are very different, we are using the same process to create prairie habitat in both locations. We’re starting out by mowing down the non-native pasture grasses, laying large tarps over the mowed area, and weighing them down. The idea is that the tarps will stay down for several months and bake whatever is left of the pasture grasses. Ideally, when we pull the tarps back in the fall we’ll have bare ground that we can seed with native prairie species. Then we can leapfrog to the adjacent plot and start the process over again until we’ve covered the desired area. This process is experimental, but we’re excited for the lessons we will learn and the future of these places. Thanks for following along!

Thank you to Peninsula Environmental for delivering sand to weigh down the tarps at Lower Dungeness Prairie!

Check out photos from our first prairie creation work party at each area below.

Lyre Conservation Area

Lower Dungeness Prairie

Volunteers have been critical in this effort, and continued volunteer support over the coming years will be necessary to bring these prairie ecosystems to life and to keep them healthy once they are established.