The Rose Creek Preserve is a delightful refuge for wildlife in a highly productive landscape. Above Rose Creek, rolling Palouse wheat fields shimmer in the August sun. By fall, only stubble remains, but in the bottomland that forms the Rose Creek Preserve, an array of autumnal colors brings the landscape to life. Yellow-leafed aspen contrast sharply with the reddish-brown foliage of the black hawthorn. Nearby, skeletal stalks of cow parsnip await the leveling blasts of winter wind.
Near Pullman in Southeast Washington
The Rose Creek Preserve is one of the best remaining examples of the rare cow parsnip community, which covered less than five percent of Whitman County even prior to settlement, grazing and farming. On the preserve, black hawthorn grows to a height of 15 feet or more. The understory of cow parsnip grows to a height of six feet, creating a cool sanctuary for wildlife during hot summer months.
The Conservancy has transferred Rose Creek to the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, which has been managing it for several years. Visit the PCEI Rose Creek Preserve Web site for lots of great information about the natural history, human history and opportunities to explore this special place.
The Conservancy managed this site to provide the best possible habitat for native species. Efforts focused especially on controlling non-native species such as teasel and Canada thistle, and restoring a hay field to aspen forest.
Rose Creek Preserve
Click on map to enlarge image.
This preserve is home to more than 250 species of vascular plants. In spring, the wooded portion of the preserve is covered with Fendlers waterleaf. The grassy slopes of the preserve contain many eastern Washington wildflowers such as buttercup, yellowbell, arrowleaf balsamroot, wild iris and wild geranium, as well as a well-preserved remnant of Idaho fescue grasslands.
Rose Creek bisects the preserve, offering life-sustaining water to more than 100 species of birds. In winter, long-eared owls roost in the dense hawthorn thickets as red-tailed hawks hunt the adjoining hills. Some of the less common eastern Washington birds, such as catbirds and black-chinned hummingbirds, are also attracted to Rose Creek. The preserve provides food and habitat to shrews, voles, porcupine, coyote and white-tailed deer. The Palouse giant earthworm was recently re-discovered in habitat close to the preserve. All of these animals are suffering from habitat loss and degradation in the Palouse, making the Rose Creek Preserve an essential refuge.