Tenalquot Prairie Preserve

Area: 125 acres

Location: Thurston County

Date Acquired: March 2019 (CNLM managed since 2011)

Acquisition Type: CNLM owns the preserve.  We protect and manage imperiled species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Key Habitats: North Pacific Douglas-fir Forest and Woodland, North Pacific Oak Woodland, Puget Sound Upland Prairie and Savannah

Species of Special Interest to CNLM:

Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) Yelm pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama yelmenis), golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), Oregon vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis), western bluebird (Sialia mexicana)


Protection of Tenalquot Prairie Preserve was a priority for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partner agencies, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  These agencies supplied funding for the acquisition of the property from Thomas and Mary Morgan and TNC acquired the property in 2005.  The WDFW was granted a conservation easement over the property as part of the acquisition.  The Center for Natural Lands Management assumed management responsibilities in 2011.  TNC transferred ownership to CNLM in 2019.

Conservation Significance

Tenalquot Prairie Preserve is immediately adjacent to Weir Prairie Research Natural Area on Joint Base Lewis-McChord – a primary prairie location on the installation, and one of the top three prairie sites in South Puget Sound in terms of size, condition, and landscape context.  The Preserve contains three vegetation types: Roemer’s fescue (Festuca roemeri) grassland, Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) woodland, and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menzeisii) forest.  The Preserve is currently habitat for multiple conservation targets including federally threatened Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama), golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), Oregon vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis), and western bluebird (Sialia mexicana).  In the spring of 2020, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori), a federally endangered species, was introduced to Tenalquot Prairie Preserve in the first year of a 5-year effort.



Tenalquot Prairie Preserve is suitable for enhancement to very high-quality prairie, with potential to support several additional rare species.  Restoration of the site to high quality habitat for these species is extremely feasible through the control of invading conifers and pasture grasses and enhancement with native grasses and forbs.  Since initial protection of the Preserve, restoration actions and experimentation have occurred on the site.  Steps have been taken to return historic natural processes (such as controlled burning), increase the plant diversity of the site, and actively introduce rare prairie species – especially golden paintbrush, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, and western bluebird.


Volunteers are essential to the completion of restoration activities across western Washington’s prairies.  Volunteer activities include scotch broom control, ivy removal, seed collection, native forb, bulb and grass planting, bluebird and cavity monitoring, conifer control, and slash pile burning.

For volunteer opportunities please contact: Volunteer Coordinator at ssvolunteers@cnlm.org

Public Access

Due to the vulnerability of the species and habitats that exist on this Preserve, it is not open to the public.


For more information on Tenalquot Prairie Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management please contact Sanders Freed, Pacific Northwest Preserve/Restoration Manager at sfreed@cnlm.org or 760.731.7790 extension 304.