The northern Willamette Valley's first protected area for the endangered Fender's blue butterfly, Yamhill Oaks provides a rare glimpse into Oregon’s once extensive native habitats. In addition to spectacular oak woodland and prairie remnants, the preserve includes 1.5 miles of stream habitats important to fish and wildlife in the headwaters of Deer Creek, a tributary to the Yamhill River.
The entire Willamette Valley was once dominated by prairie and oak savanna, but today less than 2% of those habitats remain. Ecologists have identified the preserve as containing some of the best tracts of those types. The Oregon Conservation Strategy includes the site as a conservation opportunity area.
West of McMinnville, in rural Yamhill County
At least 27 at-risk species depend on habitats found at the preserve, including threatened Kincaid’s lupine, host plant for Fender's blue butterfly larvae.
Healthy populations of the endangered Fender's blue butterfly are found on the preserve, and Oregon white oaks provide food and cover for over 200 species of wildlife including western meadowlark, Oregon’s state bird.
Conservancy ecologists and volunteers are conducting biological inventories and developing a management plan. Restoration activities include controlling invasives, thinning encroaching trees and planting grasses and wildflowers, including Kincaid's lupine and other butterfly-friendly species.
The Nature Conservancy is an active member of the Yamhill Partnership for Land & Water and will be leading a strategic planning effort focused on building capacity, public awareness and long-term funding for restoration and conservation in Yamhill County.