Palouse Prairie 

LSWCD works to potect and restore Palouse Prairie ecosystems in the region on a scale that supports the self-sustaining function of these ecosystems

Prairie Restoration and Preservation

The Palouse Prairie ecosystem, which was once predominate throughout the region, is now rare in our landscape. Most of what was once Palouse Prairie has been converted to cropland. Prairie remnant sites that still exist occur primarily on private lands and are not always protected for long-term preservation. Latah SWCD works with several landowners and local organizations to restore and preserve existing prairie remnants. While restoration of native Palouse Prairie is challenging and labor intensive, it is a valued natural resource in Latah County.  Common barriers to native vegetation establishment include incursion by noxious weeds, an appropriate soil microbial community and soil biotic crusts that are important to the prairie ecosystem.  These difficulties have precluded large-scale restoration efforts in most cases.

 

While we cannot rebuild Palouse Prairie ecosystems in our lifetime, we can increase the extent of native prairie plant communities in our landscape. For example, Latah County supports a substantial area of CRP land that is seeded in non-native perennial grasses.  This land has potential to support Palouse Prairie plant communities and several landowners have worked with Latah SWCD to make this transition. Because the Palouse Prairie has been declared an endangered ecosystem, current CRP guidelines encourage its restoration. Increasing the abundance of Palouse Prairie plant species throughout the region has many benefits to pollinators, wildlife, and over landscape-scale ecosystem functions.

Current Projects:

  • Restoration and preservation of prairie remnants

  • Conversion of CRP to palouse prairie plant communities

  • Special Status species: supporting re-establishment of rare plant species

For More Information

Palouse Prairie Projects

Prairie Restoration and Preservation

Through several years of working to preserve rare prairie remnants, Latah SWCD and partnering researchers, landowners and government agencies have worked together to develop some suggested management strategies. 

Latah SWCD has been partnering with landowners as well as local, state, and federal agencies to increase habitat for important pollinator species like the western bumblebee and Monarch butterfly.

 

Read more about our Monarch Butterfly Project.

Field Conversions

To increase the abundance of Palouse Prairie plant species across the landscape Latah SWCD has assisted with converting fields planted to non-native vegetation to native plant species. Native plant establishment can be a slow process, however, over the years we have learned useful lessons from different strategies used at our conversion project sites that can provide examples of successful methods. Methods for converting land to native plant communities will depend on the initial condition of each site.

 

To learn more about converting land to native vegetation, Click here.

Special Status Species: Spalding's Catchfly

In Idaho, Spalding's Catchfly (Silene spaldingii) is listed as a threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Latah SWCD has executed several plantings of Spalding's Catchfly and continues to monitor these sites for survival.

 

For more information about Spalding's Catchfly, Click here.

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