Save the Northwest Prairie!

by Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship
Golden paintbrush recovery area 5.15
Golden paintbrush recovery area 5.15

Hello Everyone,

I have more great news to share regarding our Golden paintbrush recovery on Whidbey Island! Our summer count of flowering plants found over 14,000 plants, making our population the largest recovery population in Washington. Golden paintbrush is well on its way to full recovery here, and it's enhancing our overall prairie restoration efforts! We'll do a full evalution next year to determine the status of the Golden paintbrush population and next steps to ensure its long-term success. 

We are also using funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue to improve and increase our population, as well as several populations around the Puget Sound.  We are grateful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife trusts us with government funds, and we hope you will continue to trust us with your support as well. There is still much to be done!



p.s. If you live in Western Washington, we are holding our Annual Whidbey Raptor Day event.  September 19, from 1pm - 3pm.  Get up close an personal with these beautiful hunters of the air.  There are many, many other wonderful events happening on Whidbey Island that same weekend, so a trip over would be well worth it! (Kite Festival, Tour de Whidbey race, Whidbey Island Farm Tour, and more).

Counting Golden paintbrush
Counting Golden paintbrush


Golden paintbrush
Golden paintbrush

Over the past few weeks, we have been installing a new fence around our most precious areas of prairie. Fencing is necessary to keep the deer from eating our endangered Golden paintbrush and other prairie plants. When the plants are too heavily browsed, few of them are able to reach the seed stage and further populate the prairie. Our Golden paintbrush numbers went from a record 12,250 plants in 2012 down to 9,106 in 2013 and 5,291 plants in 2014. We have determined that this decline is largely due to over browsing by deer.

Eventually, we hope to restore the prairie to a robust level that will allow it to sustain the impact of herbivores.  Until then, we must resort to fencing.
We will be counting the Golden paintbrush in June and hope to see our numbers begin to increase. We will keep you posted!

If you would like to see the Golden paintbrush and other native plants while they are in bloom, come and see us in May! Our Prairie Open House is scheduled for May 7-9, 2015. Visit our website for the schedule of free, daily naturalist tours and other events. You can also schedule a free private tour anytime. If you find yourself in the Whidbey area, don't hesitate to give us a call.

Thank you for all your financial support. Prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest and and your support is directly increasing the heath and size of prairie on Whidbey Island and beyond.


Aerial shot of part of our campus taken in 2007
Aerial shot of part of our campus taken in 2007

After lengthy negotiations and a large fundraising campaign, The Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship purchased 175 acres on Central Whidbey Island from the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies. This campus, a gateway to the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, is composed of forest, rare prairie, abandoned agricultural fields and educational facilities. The Pacific Rim Institute has been managing the property since 2009 with the intention of purchasing it from Au Sable. With the help of generous contributions of many individual donors, a no-interest loan and a discount on the selling price from the Au Sable Institute, the purchase was completed on December 15, 2014.

The Au Sable Institute and the Pacific Rim Institute, with their closely aligned missions, plan to continue a strong partnership. In particular, six of Au Sable’s college courses will continue to be offered at the Pacific Rim Institute. In this program, college students travel to Whidbey from across the US and Canada to take intense, field-based ecology courses for five weeks. For more information about these courses, you can visit

Successfully purchasing this amazing campus was critical to the future of the prairie on the property.  It ensures that PRI can continue to restore and expand the prairie on site, without threat of losing the lease.  Plans are now underway to secure a conservation easement for the property that would put another layer of protection on the open space and the prairie.

Thank you again to all those that have donated this year and in previous years. Your funds are continuing to be put to work to save this beautiful place, this rare prairie and to use it as a tool to educate students of all ages.

From all of us at the Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Pacific Rim Institute Staff. Christmas 2014
Pacific Rim Institute Staff. Christmas 2014


Rocio, Catherine, Mark
Rocio, Catherine, Mark

This summer began like most summers here at the Pacific Rim Institute with clouds in the sky and anticipation for the arrival of a new group of interns.  Each year, we hold a competitive application process for young adults to come and spend the summer on Whidbey Island learning the ins and outs of restoring native prairie habitat.  Despite this being an unpaid internship, we receive many applicants each year that are eager to gain valuable field skills.  This year, we had a top-notch team join us.

Catherine Welke joined us for the month of May to assist with a specific research study on prairie restoration.  Catherine recently graduated with a B.S. in Biology from The Kings University College in Edmonton, AB, Canada.  She spent every day going out into the field with representatives from the University of Washington to collect valuable data from a collection of research plots.  This data will add to out understanding of what methods (mowing, fire, herbicide, etc) are most effective for restoring native prairie to abandoned agriculture land.  Catherine says, "This internship will allow me to gain field research experience that will help me get into a school for graduate studies".

Mark Tyson is currently working on an Environmental Studies degree at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. Rocio Jacobo just finished a B.S. in Biology from Azusa Pacific University in California.  Mark and Rocio spent almost three months here on the prairie gaining experience in every aspect of the restoration process, including: managing native plants in our greenhouse, collecting and cleaning rare native seed, managing volunteers, controlling non-natives with mowing, herbicide and weeding, collecting research data, and developing an implantation plan for a new native berry patch.  Mark says, "I chose to come here so I could work outside and help to restore the native prairie". Rocio says, "I wanted to intern at PRI to explore restoration and habitat management, as well as develop invaluable research experience and skills".

Between the three interns, over 1,000 hours were invested into the prairie.  The educational value of our internships is key to the success of our prairie restoration endeavors. Your investments are not only saving northwest prairie, they are preparing new generations to save native habitats all around the world. 

Thank you for your gifts!  If you every have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
(360) 678-5586  Pacific Rim Institute Office

Hello Everyone,

I am excited to share with you news about our new partnership.  A local gentleman will be leasing about five acres on our property in order to plant heirloom grains using his horses.  Not only does having sustainable agriculture on site meld with our mission (to equip people and communities to live sustainably and care for Creation), it will also benefit our prairie restoration efforts.
This is how:  Out of the 100 acres that we plan to eventually restore to prairie, the majority of it is still abandoned agriculture land.  This means that it was once worked for agricultural purposes and what remains are non-native and invasive plants that have taken over.

When a farmer starts working a piece of land, they have to get rid of these invasive species in order to protect their plots.  Since we do not plan to start planting native prairie in some of these spots for many years (restoration is a long process that takes lots of time and money), the big benefit of having a sustainable farmer on the land is that when he leaves, the land will already be void of all the invasives, thus cutting out a step for us that can take anywhere from 2-5 years.

We continue to seek our partnerships that embody our mission and values and further our work in a sustainable way.  Thank you for all your financial support, it has allowed us to make these powerful partnership and continue the critical work of saving one of the endangered ecosystems of the Northwest.

If you find yourself near Whidbey Island over the next two months, please come and visit us! The prairie flowers are beginning to bloom.

Our 5th Annual Prairie Open House will be held from May 8-10, 2014.  There will be daily FREE naturalist tours at 10am, 4pm and 7pm.  On Friday (May 9th) we will have native storytelling with Lou Labombard at 8:00pm.  On Saturday (which is also the day of Coupeville's Penn Cove Water Festival with Native American Canoe Races), we will have a special tour at 2:15p with guests from the Sammish nation who will share why the prairie was so critical to the Native Americans for thousands of years.

Any other time that you come, you can walk the trails or request a tour for your group.  We now have tours of the prairie with our CEO on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 5:30pm.

If you live closer to the Olympia area, there is another opportunity to see prairie work with several of our South Sound partners.  Their Prairie Days celebration is also on May 10th and you can find more information here

The prairie in bloom is a beautiful site to see.

Thank you again for all your support!



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Organization Information

Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship

Location: Coupeville, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Holly Kress
Coupeville, WA United States
$2,765 raised of $25,000 goal
23 donations
$22,235 to go
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