Glacial Heritage Demonstration Project

Project #: 1769  –   Updated: January 17, 2011

Project Summary

The Glacial Heritage Demonstration Project implements direct restoration actions to prepare grassland habitat for the reintroduction of extirpated Species of Greatest Conservation Need as outlined in Washington’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

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Location (by county):
Thurston County (WA)

Watersheds:
Upper Chehalis

Congressional Districts:
WA District 10

Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Pacific Rainforest

USFWS Regions:
Pacific Region

Project size:
1003.76 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Glacial Heritage Preserve No

Full Project Description

The Glacial Heritage Demonstration Project implements direct restoration actions to prepare grassland habitat for the reintroduction of extirpated Species of Greatest Conservation Need as outlined in Washington’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Public Benefit
Conservation Mission

Primary goals:

Objective 1 - Direct Restoration To accomplish the first goal of direct restoration to implement priority actions at Glacial Heritage, three strategies will be employed: 1) Control biological threats, 2) Restore ecological processes, and 3) Enhance habitat for rare conservation targets.
Progress:

The major biological threats present on the site are Scotch broom and Tall oatgrass. Abating these biological threats is critical in maintaining extant populations of Species of Greatest Concern and in preparing the site for the reintroduction of extirpated species.
Integrated Scotch Broom Control Program-The Nature Conservancy has conducted an integrated Scotch broom control program across the preserve for more than 5 years. The results of this program have dramatically reduced the threat, although work remains. The Project has continued the implementation of this program and treated scotch broom on more than 500 acres.
Implement Tall oat grass control strategy-Tall oatgrass is an especially damaging invasive grass, as it alters the structure of the prairie drastically. This biological threat is relatively new to Westside grasslands, but it has increased significantly in just the last several years. The Project began the first comprehensive control strategy for Tall oatgrass on the preserve treating across 350 acres in 2008. Re-treatment will occur in spring of 2009.

Restore Ecological Processes
Fire is an essential ecological process a healthy prairie ecosystem. Glacial Heritage Preserve is the only protected Westside grassland that has conducted a large scale (>50 acres) prescribed fire for the past 6 consecutive years. TNC received funding in 2007 from Army Compatible Buffer Program (ACUB) of Ft Lewis to implement a regional fire planning strategy in the South Puget Sound. The Glacial Heritage Demonstration Project has complemented the ACUB funding by providing a critical “on the ground” component. A comprehensive prescribed fire program has been implemented on 650 acres of the site in order to mimic the natural fire regime that was once present in this ecosystem. In 2007 and 2008 prescribed fires were conducted on more than 150 acres.

Enhance Habitat for Species of Greatest Concern
Expand area suitable for butterfly introduction with prairie enhancement plantings- Enhancement plantings improve conditions to allow the reintroduction of extirpated butterflies such as the Taylor’s checkerspot to the site. The enhancement plantings are improving plant composition and helping to connect areas of high quality prairie across the site. More than 30,000 plants have installed as part of this project in the fall of 2007 and 2008.
Maintain and monitor nest boxes on the site- 2003 marked the first successful fledging of Western bluebirds at Glacial Heritage since nest boxes were installed in 1998. The Western bluebird population had increased to three nesting pairs in 2007. This project has continued the next box program and expanded it to additional areas on the site.

Objective 2 – Demonstration Project Communicate the story of the restoration - Glacial Heritage is the only Westside grassland that has utilized the full suite of restoration tools, including prescribed fire, consistently for the past 10 years. The story of the restoration, which is moving the site from a degraded prairie to one of the most important conservation areas in the region, will be communicated through regional field trips, presentations, journal submissions, and the South Puget Prairies website (www.southpugetsoundprairies.org). Conduct first large scale direct seeding of native fescue in 50 acres - In 2002 The Nature Conservancy conducted an experimental direct seeding project at Glacial Heritage preserve. The results of this preliminary action were encouraging, especially in conjunction with the control of invasive grasses. During 2008, the project will expand the direct seeding effort to encompass 50 acres, making it the first large scale regional seeding of native grass on a Westside grassland. The results of this project will inform the recovery of degraded prairies across the region.
Progress:

Prairie Appreciation Day.

May 3rd was the 2008 Prairie Appreciation Day at Glacial Heritage Preserve. Friends of Puget Prairie, our volunteers’ non-profit whose main goal is to organize Prairie Appreciation Day (PAD), put on an excellent event that was attended by over 450 people, despite a rainy morning. The Nature Conservancy participated heavily in staffing the event, providing 17 staff and interns to help staff booths, lead tours and drive the hay rides. We also provided two tractors with trailers, hay, and sundry supplies for the day, and 1700 plants for the plant sale. We provided most of the printing costs for publicity and for event supplies, and provided publicity and organizational support.

This year for the first time the local chapter of the walking group Volksmarch held an associated walking tour of Glacial the day after Prairie Appreciation Day. 160 people walked various trails around Glacial, used the self guided trail handbooks, and learned about south sound prairies. The local chapter considered the day a success, and plans to repeat the event next year.

The 14th Annual Prairie Appreciation Day will occur on May 9th, 2009.

School groups to Glacial for planting and prairie appreciation.

Five school groups came to Glacial to learn about Washington prairies and restoration. A basic biology class from University of Washington, another basic biology class from Pierce College, and an environmental agronomics class from The Evergreen State College came out for guided tours of the prairie, where they learned about Puget trough prairies and about restoration practices and challenges. Marshall Middle School brought thirty-four students out to Glacial as part of their annual fundraising event for the school. Students found sponsors for two days working in natural areas, and the Glacial work day was one of these work days. Students and parents came out to Glacial, pulled broom, mapped native plants, and toured the prairie. The school considered the event to be a success, and plan to do something similar next year. The fifth school group was a group of homeschoolers, who brought a handful of kids from toddlers to high school students to pull broom at Glacial.

Other outreach happenings.

In early June 2008, fifteen conservationists from local conservation agencies came to Glacial to learn grass identification from Peter Dunwiddie, an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy.. Another outreach project from the quarter was our inclusion in a new University of Washington. The University of Washington herbarium selected six species from Glacial Heritage to represent native prairie species in their new roving environmental education trailers, which will have botanical collections from many native ecosystems.

Direct Seeding
Direct Seeding occured over 35 acres in the fall of 2008. Although the amount was less than we had hoped for, due to seed limitations, the seeding went very well. Two techniques were applied over large acreages to test different application techniques. These were monitored in the spring of 2009 and results will inform seeding actions in the fall of 2009.

Consistent with plans:

Local Land Use Plan
Species Recovery Plan
Other
Nature Conservancy Ecoregional Plan
Conservation Plan
State Wildlife Action Plan

Targeted habitats:

    • Shrublands and Grasslands
      • Grasslands

Targeted species:

  • Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
  • Oregon Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus affinis

Actions

Project Actions
Control invasive plants Show/Hide details
Conduct prescribed burns Show/Hide details
Plant native trees and/or shrubs, herbs, forbs, grasses Show/Hide details
Education Show/Hide details
Vegetation monitoring Show/Hide details
Invertebrate monitoring Show/Hide details
Control encroaching species Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

Vegetation Monitoring associated with plantings and direct seeding.

Invertabrate Monitoring for butterfly usage.

Bird monitoring for bird usage of preserve and box program.

What lessons have been learned and/or what suggestions do you have for similar activities?

Photo monitoring with vegation monitoring is a helpful addition.

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Organization

The Nature Conservancy - Washington
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Eric Delvin  (Project Manager)
The Nature Conservancy
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