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.
Restoration and preservation of prairie remnants
Conversion of CRP to palouse prairie plant communities
Special Status species: supporting re-establishment of rare plant species