Sites -> Fort Vancouver National Site -> Place -> Riverfront -> Prairie Meets River

Patchwork of Trees and Grasses

Originally, prairie, oak savannahs and conifer forests covered the Reserve. Hardwood trees grew at points along the riverbank. Ponds filled up and then dried out seasonally, while two small lakes were a year-round feature of a wetlands area in the river’s floodplain.

Native prairie on the site also covered large stretches of land from South Puget Sound through the Willamette Valley. Prairie west of the Cascade Mountains is distinct from the drier plateau prairie on the east side of the mountains. Nearly 150 of the plants that grew in them were unique to this area west of the Cascades.

The prairies’ relatively flat and open character attracted farmers and builders to put them to other uses. Now an estimated 1% remains of this endangered ecosystem.

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