The Nature Conservancy’s largest preserves in Washington are on the spectacular Columbia Plateau. Here we are protecting and restoring the fabled sagebrush country of wide-open skies, dramatic geology and amazing desert species.
With its Ice Age floodcarved, steep-walled coulees, its pothole lakes, dunes, haystack boulders, waterfalls and scablands—this area is home to a rich and fragile mosaic of rare living things. Between the shrubs and grasses grow a profusion of wildflowers, including sulfur lupine and the vibrant bitterroot, long a favorite food harvested by native peoples. Totaling more than 30,000 acres, The Nature Conservancy’s Moses Coulee/Beezley Hills Preserve is an especially rich and diverse example of Washington’s shrub-steppe.
Nearly a third of Washington’s entire land mass was historically comprised of the shrub-steppe. Today, more than two-thirds of our shrub-steppe has been lost to agriculture or urban development. The Conservancy is taking the following actions to ensure the long-term conservation of this habitat and its resident species:
- Partnering with public and private landowners to advance the long-term conservation of 400,000 acres of functional shrub-steppe by identifying lands that connect existing shrub-steppe.
- Collaborating with management and regulatory agencies, farmers and ranchers to ensure that appropriate habitat, knowledge and management capacity are available to support viable populations of sage grouse, Columbia sharp-tailed grouse and pygmy rabbits.
- Providing habitat for 14 of the 15 bat species reported in Washington; the Moses Coulee Preserve is known as the single most important location for this key group of animals in the state. We’re working with partners, researchers and volunteers to create an inventory and monitoring program to gain the knowledge needed to ensure that appropriate conditions exist and support the long-term conservation of Washington’s bat species.
- Partnering with ranchers and scientists at Washington State University to test new ways of beating back cheatgrass, an invasive weed that threatens more than 100 million acres of the West’s sage and grassland and the creatures that depend on this habitat.
- Tracking populations of migrating birds at McCartney Creek Preserve, a former pasture being restored back to its natural habitat.