Protect Pacific Northwest Prairie Habitat for Rare Songbirds and Butterflies

Target: Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Grant protection for the Streaked Horned Lark and Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly including 20,000 acres of native prairie habitat in the Pacific Northwest.

The native prairies of Western Oregon and Southern Puget Sound have been widely destroyed and replaced by non-native grasses and urban development, threatening species that thrive in these environments. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has just proposed the protection of two of these species, the Streaked Horned Lark and Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, along with nearly 20,000 acres of their habitat.

Despite being among the rarest ecosystems in the U.S., the Pacific Northwest prairie and savanna are struggling to maintain a fraction of their original land area. In the past 150 years, this unique ecosystem has been reduced by 90 to 95 percent, and very little retains only native species. Much habitat for the threatened species has been converted to urban development and agriculture, or degraded by introduction of invasive plants, pesticide use and pollution, and loss of general diversity within ecosystems. The butterfly inhabited more than 80 locations throughout British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, but is now only found in 14. The songbird was very common about a hundred years ago, but now is gone from most of its previous homes, breeding only at 10 sites in Oregon and Washington. A serious problem for both species is habitat fragmentation largely due to residential and other development.

The shocking reduction in habitat and populations of these two species signifies a larger, grave issue at hand, namely that the destruction of countless native species and their ecosystems is continuing at an alarming rate. Please encourage the EPA to list the native songbird and Checkerspot Butterfly as endangered species, and save thousands of acres of valuable prairie and biodiversity in the Pacific Northwest region.


Dear Environmental Protection Agency,

Two Pacific Northwest species, along with what remains of their valuable habitat, are in urgent need of Endangered Species Act protection. The Prairie ecosystems of Western Washington and Oregon, home to the Streaked Horned Lark and Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, are very rare and special environments, vital for a rich native diversity that must not be lost.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife is proposing the protection of this Northwest songbird and butterfly, along with almost 20,000 acres of habitat at a critical time before further threats are manifested. Over 90 percent of these species’ habitat has already been lost, and they are only found in a fraction of their previous locations due to severe habitat fragmentation. Urban development, the spread of invasive species, pesticide use and pollution, use of prairies for military training and additional predation have pushed the ecosystems and species to near extinction. The songbird and butterfly along with their prairie habitat are just one example of how native species and ecosystems are being mistreated and pushed to the edge of their existence.

With protection from the EPA, these and other irreplaceable species and environments have a chance. Please offer the Streaked Horned Lark and Checkerspot Butterfly, and their remaining rare prairie ecosystem protection from further threats.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: David Maloney, USFWS Pacific via Flickr

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  1. I one time went to the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, west of Salem, Oregon. It was a wonderland, that I never knew even existed. I saw Virginia rails and western meadowlarks — Oregon’s state bird. I also found out how rare wetlands and prairies are the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Because they have all been dredged and plowed for the prime agricultural land there. But it is a rare ecosystem with unique flora and fauna for all of us to enjoy.


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