The largest prairie in the Pacific Northwest has been named a National Natural Landmark. Northeast Oregon’s Zumwalt Prairie is the largest bunch grassland in the U.S. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.
Before settlers, millions of acres of bunch grass prairies covered eastern Oregon and Washington. Now, Oregon’s Zumwalt Prairie makes up most of what’s left.
That’s why the Department of Interior designated 4,400 acres of the prairie as a National Natural Landmark. Jeff Fields manages the portion of Zumwalt Prairie owned by the Nature Conservancy. He says ranchers work with the conservancy to graze cattle on the prairie, as they have for generations.
Fields: “Our bigger, long-term vision for this remnant of grassland is that it stays as a working landscape, it stays supporting people and their livelihoods, but it also continues to support this amazing diversity of plants and animals that it has as well.”
Fields says the designation will not change how the conservancy manages Zumwalt Prairie.
There are now 10 National Natural Landmarks in Oregon. Washington has 18. Idaho has 11.
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