The U.S. Department of the Interior has designated 4,400 acres of Zumwalt Prairie Preserve as a National Natural Landmark.
Why You Should Visit
Studying the prairie's ecosystem for nearly 20 years led The Nature Conservancy to protect this great place — because of its size, intact bunch grass habitats and incredible concentrations of wildlife. Your support is vital to maintaining and restoring this landscape essential to Oregon's culture, heritage and economy.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
In 2000, The Nature Conservancy purchased 27,000 acres of the Zumwalt Prairie, the largest Oregon acquisition in the organization's history. In 2006, we added 6,065 acres, making the 51-square-mile preserve Oregon's biggest private nature sanctuary.
The Nature Conservancy's Zumwalt Prairie Preserve is managed to support and advance conservation across the larger Zumwalt Prairie, while also providing high quality and diverse habitat for native species on the Preserve. The Conservancy aspires to achieve and sustain conservation values in the context of sustainable livestock grazing as the predominant economic land use across this privately-owned landscape. Further, the Conservancy donates bull elk and buck deer LOP tags to local service organization raffles each year. To date, the tags have raised nearly $300,000 for Wallowa County charities.
Conservancy scientists, University researchers and volunteer teams engage in ongoing surveying, monitoring and studying the area’s animals and plant communities. Managed livestock grazing, prescribed fire and protection of vulnerable aspen and shrub communities from over-browsing are used to improve plant health and diversity on the preserve.
The Conservancy works with ranchers across the Zumwalt landscape to maintain the ecological health of the prairie and the economic viability of working ranches. The struggle to suppress damaging invasive plants in Wallowa County — such as sulfur cinquefoil, meadow hawkweed and common bugloss — has also brought diverse interests together. Through invasive species mapping, monitoring and removal, the Conservancy and its partners are working to maintain and improve habitat for the prairie’s iconic species, including Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, Spalding’s catchfly and quaking aspen.
In addition, Conservancy ecologists and volunteers are working to restore riparian areas for fish and birds. Strategies include protecting sensitive areas from overgrazing, planting native vegetation along stream banks, improving stream channel form and function, removing stream blockages and monitoring fish populations.