Agate Desert

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The Agate Desert is a 53-acre (21 ha)[1] prairie[2][3] located in the area of White City, Oregon. The area is not in fact a desert as its name suggests. The Agate Desert is so named because of the abundance of agate, petrified wood, jasper, and other minerals found there. Much of the World War II army training base of Camp White was built in the Agate Desert. The Nature Conservancy is working to preserve the Agate Desert as a native Rogue River Valley grassland.[1]


The area contains seasonal vernal pools that act as their own self-sufficient ecosystems.[1] When the pools have dried up in the late spring, rings of wildflowers bloom in their place and the various creatures enter a period of dormancy until the next spring. The pools contain a rare species of fairy shrimp.[4] The Agate Desert is also the only known place where the endangered big-flowered woolly meadowfoam plants grow and the desert contains over 500 of the plants.[5] Cook's lomatium or Cook's Desert Parsley is also found in the Agate Desert and only grows naturally elsewhere in the French Flat of Illinois Valley, also in Oregon.[6] In 1998, Henri Dumont discovered a new species, Dumontia oregonensis, also known as the Hairy Water Flea, in the desert, and it is not known to live anywhere else.[7]


Ecologists are currently conducting prescribed burns to the area, and volunteers are then spreading seeds of the native grasses and wildflowers in order to restore them to the area.[1] Ecologists are also studying the various species, many of them rare, in the vernal pools. Development in the valley has left it at only about 25% of its original size.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Agate Desert". The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Nature Conservancy's Agate Desert Preserve". Archived from the original on October 24, 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Agate Desert". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  4. ^ a b "The Agate Desert". Land Conserve. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Big-flowered wooly meadowfoam". Oregon Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "Habitat Will Be Protected". Oregon Live. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Hill, Richard. "Researchers make a giant Oregon find". Citizens Review Online. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 

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Coordinates: 42°25′45″N 122°53′50″W / 42.42917°N 122.89722°W / 42.42917; -122.89722