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The Prairie Keepers

Secrets of the Zumwalt

Marcy Houle

With a new epilogue by the author.

Northwest Reprints

5 1/2 × 8 1/2 inches. 288 pages.

2007. ISBN 978-0-87071-186-2. Paperback, $19.95.

In the remote northeast corner of Oregon lies the ruggedly beautiful Zumwalt Prairie, one of the last native prairies in the United States. A wild expanse of untilled ground covering nearly two hundred square miles, the Zumwalt is almost entirely managed by cattle ranchers. It also is home to one of the highest concentrations of hawks in North America. Marcy Houle, a wildlife biologist and student, first went to the Zumwalt in 1979 to discover what attracts and sustains the hawks there in such startling abundance.

Houle explores the vast prairie on foot and horseback, cataloging its hawks, studying its complex ecosystem, and meeting its people. Fueled by her youth, her spirit, her humor--and in part by her naivete--she bands birds, outruns a bull, and pulls together the factious community of ranchers, townspeople, and government employees. Her findings, eloquently reported, show that ranchers and wildlife not only can coexist, but in some instances must coexist if we are to save the last of the native prairies.

In a new epilogue, Houle writes of the Zumwalt two decades later. Despite tremendous changes occurring in the American West, she finds reason for hope in the Zumwalt--in the hawks and ranchers still there, and also in new partnerships that encourage stewardship and sustainable cattle grazing.

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