Sagebrush Giants at Moses Coulee


Story and Photograph by Andrew Lindgren, Biologist for the United States Geological Survey

Is it a bush or a tree? Last spring when the SageSTEP field crew and I were staying at the Moses Coulee Field Station, one of our crew members found a giant sagebrush north of the station along one of the spurs of the trail that spurs off the entrance road to the station.  When we went back and measured it, we measured it to be about 15’ tall and 15’ in diameter, the trunk at ground level was 4’ in circumference!  I was blown away when I saw it!  

It’s by far the largest one I’ve ever seen in my 10 years working! My co-workers have said they’ve never seen one that big.  If you haven’t seen it, next time you’re at the field station its well worth the walk.

Totaling more than 30,000 acres, The Nature Conservancy’s Moses Coulee/Beezley Hills Preserve is an especially rich and diverse example of Washington’s shrub-steppe. With its Ice Age floodcarved, steep-walled coulees, its pothole lakes, dunes, haystack boulders, waterfalls and scablands—this area is home to a rich and fragile mosaic of rare living things.