endangered palouse prairie preserved

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May 2016: From remnant to restoration...

Bill and Dianne French, of Moscow, have preserved one of the few remaining patches of native Palouse Prairie in Latah County. Working with the Palouse Land Trust, the Frenchs donated a conservation easement over a portion of their property, protecting 21 acres of wildlife habitat and native Palouse Prairie, one of the most critically endangered ecosystems in the United States.  Remnants like the Frenchs’ are fragmented and scattered across the landscape, highlighting the tremendous importance and value of preservation and restoration by dedicated individuals.

“Private landowners willing to preserve and restore native prairie habitat are the key to its continued survival,” said Juliet Barenti of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.  The Partners Program provides funding and technical assistance to landowners to achieve voluntary habitat restoration on private land.  Barenti was able to direct funds from the USFWS’s Recovery Initiative Program to help complete the Frenchs’ conservation easement.  “This conservation easement was a priority for the Recovery Initiative Program because it protects a high quality prairie remnant that also currently supports the Spalding’s catchfly, a plant that has been federally listed as threatened and a species that we’re trying to recover.”  Spalding’s catchfly is dependent on native grasslands like the Palouse Prairie ecosystem. 

Small deeds add up to big impact

The Frenchs have had a long-held passion for the plight of native Palouse Prairie habitat.  Bill was integral in the formation of the Palouse Prairie Foundation, a separate non-profit that promotes the preservation and restoration of Palouse Prairie.  When Bill and Dianne had the opportunity to buy this land and saw that it had a prairie remnant on it, they jumped at the chance.  They’ve been working closely with the Partners Program and the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District to improve the remnant area and restore other portions of their land back to prairie.

One action by two people – creating and donating a conservation easement to protect a prairie remnant – can have a big impact.  Because of the Frenchs’ donation, this one piece of prairie is now added to a growing patchwork quilt of protected habitat.

“We were really happy to work with the Frenchs and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to complete this conservation easement,” said Amy Trujillo, Executive Director of the Palouse Land Trust.  “Working with willing landowners to preserve Palouse Prairie remnants has been a high priority for the Land Trust since its inception, and through our continued outreach and work with willing remnant owners, the actions of many will ensure that this critical habitat will thrive and be preserved for years to come.”

 PLT staff and board members with Bill and Dianne French at the signing of their easement

PLT staff and board members with Bill and Dianne French at the signing of their easement