Land Trust begins prairie work

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust will remove trees this month to help restore the historic native prairie on one of its properties, the Naas Natural Area Preserve in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

“Our tree-removal project is being done to bring back a rare landscape that is a rich and treasured part of our natural and cultural history,” said trust executive director Patricia Powell.

The 33-acre Naas Preserve was acquired by the trust in 2005 specifically to restore the native prairie and help recover a rare plant. The acquisition and protection effort was funded by two federal endangered species grants, a state natural areas grant and private donations from members of the trust. It is one of 11 places left in the world where the Golden Paintbrush plant — a species listed as “threatened” by the federal government and “endangered” by Washington state — grows naturally.

Removal of the trees is “essential to the health of this prairie parcel and to the long-term viability of the threatened Golden Paintbrush,” said Ted Thomas, senior ecologist with the

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and author of the federal rule that listed the species as threatened.

“The tree-removal process will be as low-impact as possible,” added Cheryl Lowe, a trust land steward. “All the debris will be chipped and removed from the site to be shared with nearby landowners.”

After the trees are removed, the trust will reintroduce native species of grasses, sedges and wildflowers. In the future, native butterflies and birds may be relocated to the preserve.

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