WDFW plans controlled burns in two wildlife areas to restore prairie habitat in South Puget Sound

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Darric Lowery, 360-701-5145
Rachel Blomker, 360-701-3101

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) will do controlled burns to restore unique prairie habitat on two wildlife areas in South Puget Sound starting as early as Aug. 29. The burns will occur through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area northeast of Rochester and at the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area northwest of Tenino.

Darric Lowery, WDFW wildlife area manager, said controlled burns are weather dependent and will take place for up to five days. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.

“Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the controlled fires, and people may see smoke for a couple hours after the burns,” Lowery said. “We will work to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community.”

WDFW is coordinating with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local fire districts, and other partners, to use professional fire crews experienced with conducting controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.

Lowery said WDFW uses controlled burns to preserve native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.

Coastal prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3% of their former area. They support many rare plants and animals, including birds, mammals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.