Deschutes Prairie Preserve

Area: 142 acres

Location: Thurston County, WA

Date Acquired: 2014

Acquisition Type: Center for Natural Lands Management owns the preserve. We protect and manage species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Key Habitats:  Wilamette Valley Upland Prairie and Savannah, North Pacific Oak Woodland, North Pacific Riparian

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama), Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori, Streaked horned lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata), Golden paintbrush


The Deschutes Prairie Preserve is a 142 acre preserve along the Deschutes River in Thurston County, Washington.  The Deschutes River forms the southern boundary of the property and the Preserve is very close to other protected prairie lands. The Silver Springs Ranch separates the Deschutes Prairie Preserve from Tenalquot Prairie Preserve, a CNLM-managed property, and Weir Prairie on JBLM.

Conservation Significance

The Deschutes Prairie Preserve was acquired to restore native prairie habitat and protect rare species. Restoration of prairie habitat on the Deschutes Prairie Preserve provides additional habitat for rare species that already reside at the nearby Tenalquot Prairie Preserve as well as Weir Prairie on JBLM. The Preserve protects a population of the Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama), and will be restored to sustain the other two priority species, Taylor’s checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) and streaked horned lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata). The Preserve could likely also sustain a population of golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) – a federally-threatened species. The Deschutes River is a salmonid fishery, with runs of Chinook, coho and steelhead. The Deschutes is also habitat for both resident and sea-run cutthroat trout.

Our Work

The primary management goal of the Deschutes Prairie Preserve is to restore the open grassland to a higher quality habitat that supports native prairie species including rare species. The restoration process will take multiple years and involved a diversity of management techniques including targeted and broad-based herbicide, prescribed fire application, and direct seeding of native species. CNLM will monitor the rare and listed species and habitat on-site to help identify threats and population changes.

Public Access

A developed county trail segregates part of the property, with hiking, jogging and cycling permissible uses on the trail.  This trail has significant usage and brings individuals from the larger communities of Olympia and Lacey right by the Preserve. 


For information on Deschutes Prairie Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Sanders Freed, Pacific Northwest Preserve/Restoration Manager at or 760.731.7790 extension 304.

For volunteer opportunities please contact the Americorps Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at