Zumwalt Prairie is one of the largest areas of Pacific Northwest Bunchgrass remaining in the United States. Over 33,000 acres of this once extensive but now highly threatened grassland are located within the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The preserve consists of expanses of shallow and deep-soiled bunchgrass prairie, dissected by steep canyon grasslands and also includes pine woodlands, quaking aspen groves, and spring-fed riparian ecosystems.
The pre-European NW Bunchgrass Prairie habitat is estimated to have extended 330,000 acres.
From http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/planning/projects/zumwalt206.htm: Zumwalt Prairie is the largest and highest quality Palouse bunchgrass prairie still in existence in North America. It encompasses 220 square miles, and provides habitat for large concentrations of nesting birds of prey and other wildlife. TNC manages a 42-square-mile area within this Prairie, the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve.
Purchased in November 2000, the preserve encompasses 90 percent of the Camp Creek watershed; and contains listed summer steelhead trout, one listed plant, several rare plants, and numerous terrestrial species of concern. The Zumwalt high plateau is the headwaters for several fish-bearing creeks that have been identified in the Wallowa County-Nez Perce Tribe Salmon Habitat Recovery Plan.
The Zumwalt Prairie IBA is consistent with the Zumwalt Prairie Conservation Opportunity Area identified by ODFW in the Oregon Conservation Strategy.
The area is home to a diverse array of breeding raptor species and includes the grassland-dependent ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), and its congenerics the Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), and red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are a common site soaring high above the prairie. The Zumwalt area also supports important breeding populations of grassland songbirds many of which are experiencing rangewide declines. This includes: Savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) and grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). In addition, Brewer?s sparrow (Spizella breweri) has been documented breeding here in some years. Wintering species include gray-crowned rosy-finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis), snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), northern shrike (Lanius excubitor), and rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus). The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus), extirpated from the prairie by the 1940s was reintroduced by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1991. A small population occurs just northeast of the city of Enterprise.
The full species list for the TNC Preserve includes: Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, American, Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Chukar, Gray Partridge, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Dusky Grouse, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Mountain Quail, California Quail, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, American White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, and Golden Eagle.