Prairie Restoration Project

The extent of Prairie “remnant” patches is less than one percent. EWU is the only university to dedicate a third of our campus land and resources to restore this endangered ecosystem.

Support the Prairie Restoration Fund

About the Project

This major sustainability initiative will restore 120 acres of campus land to its native “Palouse” prairie habitat. In addition to giving our students countless learning and research opportunities, the project benefits the environment for the entire region. Developed in cooperation with representatives from area Native communities, this project will create a model for boosting regional biodiversity while establishing an educational and recreational space that connects visitors to a long-lost landscape.

Learn about the students, faculty and staff that drive the Prairie Restoration Project and see how your support is an investment in our region’s future.

Read the Immersive Story

“Eastern Washington University is committed to the Prairie Restoration Project. It honors our past and it honors our location on the historic homelands of the Spokane Tribe. It is also part of our commitment to sustainability on our campus and to our region and beyond.” -David May, PhD, Interim President of EWU

Project Goals

This major sustainability initiative is larger than just 120-acres. It will impact the community for years to come will preserve natural land, increase biodiversity and provide educational exploration.

Education

We envision a space that will inspire outdoor exploration and connections to natural environments. Informational markers will allow sightseers to explore tribal culture, floods that once ravaged the area, the native makeup of the land and plants, and the animals that call the prairie home.

Research

Converting the site to native grasslands will create a living laboratory and provide new opportunities that mimic more real-world situations and prepare students for careers. The site itself will serve as an opportunity to evaluate ways in which research and recreation can co-exist and thrive.

Recreation

A multi-use trail system will be open to the campus community and all EWU visitors. It will provide access to the restoration site and encourage exploration, recreation and lead visitors to stunning 360-degree views of the region. Walk, run, bike, cross country ski while you observe nature.

Connection

We want to cultivate rich and reciprocal relationships. Many of the plants in the ecosystem are culturally significant to Native Americans for food, medicine, art materials and more. The project will provide renewed access and educational opportunities for local tribes and will be the home of the Lucy Covington Initiative.

Inspiration

With proper education, we hope community members will be inspired to plant native plants in their yards to create their own “pocket prairies.” This simple, actionable step allows supporters to create immediate benefits that will continue for generations.

Biodiversity

More than 120 plant species will attract and retain more pollinators in the region and supply nutritional seeds for birds and other small animals. The plants filter carbon from the air. The vast root systems will hold soil in place, reducing the risk of erosion, and draw water down deep into the soil to recharge the groundwater supply.

Project Phases

The restoration work is the backbone of the project.


Phase 1: Complete

  • $100,000 EPA Grant to start
  • Draft Master Plan
  • Identify Seeds and Availability
  • Stakeholder Workshops
  • Master Plan Completed
  • Community Outreach
  • Phase 2: We are here

  • Seed First Pilot Plots
  • Identify Community Partners
  • Seed Second Pilot Plots
  • Baseline Data Collection
  • Research Successful Pilot Sites
  • Phase 3: Goal

  • Plant Proven Seed Mix
  • Trail System Constructed
  • Install Signs, Benches and Outdoor Classrooms
  • Sustainable Site Management


    The Next Fundraising Milestones:

      • $100,000 for pilot site maintenance and student employees
      • $1 million for the trails systems and maintenance
      • $3 million to complete the project and maintain it
    We're looking for partners. There are opportunities for recognition for major donors to the project.
    For inquiries, please contact Courtney Susemiehl at csusemie@ewu.edu or 509.359.6703.

    Media Resources

    Interview with Sarah Hill

    Graduate student Sarah Hill explains the importance of the prairie and the process of finding and planting seeds for a successful restoration.

    Eastern Magazine

    Read “Beauty Wild and Untrammeled” By Charles E. Reineke. Published January 2020. View the article or read the full issue below.

    Media Kit

    Native plant seeds

    Download the Media Kit which includes a press release and a sample of photos.

    • View Flickr gallery of the project.

    To request higher resolution versions of the photos or a copy of any videos, please contact Dave Meany at 509.359.6335.

    Architectural Rendering

    rendering

    EWU has been working closely with Michael Terrell Landscape Architecture to develop plans for the restoration project.  The plans are meant to bring together initial ideas and spark further discussion as we develop the final master plan.

    View full rendering.

    News Articles

    Project photography
    The Prairie Restoration Project is a multi-year project that we've been documenting. Visit our Flickr page for all the photos.

    View Photos on Flickr

    What Your Donation Supports

    Landscape reconstruction and restoration is a dynamic process requiring time, patience, and maintenance to ensure a successful establishment of native plants and recreation within this endangered ecosystem.  The prairie restoration project involves many progressive elements—from seed and plant selection to site preparation, weed management to ecological research, and trail system design to sharing the importance of this bioregion.

    Investments in the EWU Prairie Restoration Project support:

    • Student employment for site preparation, seeding, and maintenance during restoration
    • Continued development and management of EWU’s native seed nursery
    • Equipment for ongoing restoration maintenance, native seed nursery operations, and institutional research
    • Planting native forbs, grasses and perimeter pines
    • Trail development
    • Interpretive signage about the restoration work, history of the land, and the native people who inhabited the land

     

    Give Now

    In kind or Charitable Donation Opportunities

    Support Services

    Technical support, signage.

    Equipment

    Agricultural machinery and tools, soil additives, trail product.

    Research Opportunities

    Partnership through in-kind product.


    Collaboration Opportunities

    The project has many opportunities for the benefit of research. EWU has already partnered with Ag Energy of Spokane to apply a product called biochar to the restoration site to boost soil properties. The dense, high-carbon mixture boosts the carbon content in the soil and retains water and other nutrients, improving soil structure and enhancing plant productivity.

    This unique public-private partnership will benefit Eastern Washington University and Ag Energy. Eastern faculty and students will study plant production in pilot plots with and without biochar. Ag Energy will also use that data for their own research and marketing.

    Contact

    If you're interested in supporting the Prairie Restoration Project or would like more information please contact us.


    Erik Budsberg

    Erik Budsberg

    Project Lead
    Sustainability Coordinator | 509.359.6476

    email

    Courtney Susemiehl

    Courtney Susemiehl

    Director of Gift Planning
    University Advancement | 509.359.6703

    email

    Dennis Hake

    Dennis Hake

    Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations
    University Advancement | 509.359.6979

    email