Near Littlerock in Thurston County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
Mima Mounds: A Special Prairie
What Makes a Prairie
Grasslands thrive where dry soil and frequent drought or fires limit or exclude trees and shrubs. The soils and climate in each of North America’s grasslands support a unique mix of native grasses, flowers, and other plants.
What Does the Word “Prairie” Mean?
Prairie is the word used to describe level or gently rolling grasslands in North America. The name probably comes from early French explorers—prairie means meadow in French.
Puget Sound Prairies Are Unique
The west side of the Cascade Mountains is known for forests, rivers, lakes and saltwater bays. Prairies and oak woodlands are found in areas of dry soil. They are threatened by invasive species and development. Grassland plans and oak trees provide food for insects, birds and animals that can’t live in other habitats. They are important to Washington’s biodiversity—its “web of life.”
Puget Sound Prairies: A Gift from the Ice Age
Following the retreat of glacial ice, torrents of meltwater left deep deposits of gravelly, well drained soil. The climate slowly warmed and at first supported forests. About 10,000 years ago a warm period began, and prairie plants took hold on the dry soils of Mima Mounds and other nearby
Where Are Prairies Found?
Prairies once covered about 180,000 acres in western Washington. High quality native prairies cover only about three percent of this area today. Red areas on the map show glacial outwash soils. These areas were once covered with prairie vegetation. Only the areas shown in yellow remain as prairies.
Erected by Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Location. 46° 54.274′ N, 123° 2.918′ W. Marker is near Littlerock, Washington, in Thurston County. Marker can be reached from Waddell Creek Road SW 0.4 miles south of Deer Tail Road SW. Touch for map. Marker is located in Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve in a kiosk that is a short walk from the parking lot; the above directions are to the intersection of Waddell Creek Road SW and the driveway to the Mima Mounds parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Littlerock WA 98556, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Ecological Connections (here, next to this marker); Scientists Still Search for an Answer (here, next to this marker); What We Know for Sure (here, next to this marker); Mima Mounds: The Mysterious Work of Nature (here, next to this marker); The Lone Tree (approx. 11.1 miles away); The Medal of Honor Monument (approx. 11.4 miles away); POW AND MIA Monument (approx. 11.4 miles away); Marking the End of the Oregon Trail 1844 (approx. 11.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Littlerock.
Also see . . . Mima Mounds: Mystery hides in vast prairie. Newspaper article from the July 6, 2008 edition of the Seattle Times. (Submitted on February 16, 2014.)
Categories. • Natural Features •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 16, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 295 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 16, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. 3, 4. submitted on February 15, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photo of wide-view of marker and surroundings. • Can you help?