The Intersection of Science and Technology Transfer
The Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources (RNGR) Team, established through a Forest Service memorandum of understanding, has been given the important task of transferring information on native plants, including their collection, propagation, and deployment. RNGR's six-person team is composed of three Forest Service regional nursery specialists, the director of the National Seed Laboratory, and two scientists from the Rocky Mountain Research Station. The team was formed in response to dwindling assets within the Forest Service, but its activities reach well beyond the Agency. One issue the team addresses is ensuring that nursery managers, reforestation and restoration specialists, and others in related fields receive timely information. The growers and users of the approximately one billion native plants (grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees) produced each year in the United States must have the best information to assure that 1) production can be as efficient as possible, 2) outplanting performance justifies costs, and 3) reforestation and restoration plantings meet desired outcomes. This need is especially apparent in underserved communities, such as Native Americans and citizens of the U.S. insular areas.
During the past decade, Station researchers have helped meet the RNGR Team's mandate. Their role is to ensure that projects and programs have a sound scientific foundation and are effectively executed. They are responsible for producing Forest Nursery Notes. The publication, produced twice a year, synthesizes topical, practical articles for native plant producers, and includes a bibliography of current literature. They also co-authored Volume 7 of Agriculture Handbook 674: The Container Tree Nursery Manual; initiated the Native Plants Journal; led the production of Agriculture Handbook 730: the Nursery Manual for Native Plants, A Guide for Tribal Nurseries; and produced the National Nursery Proceedings. One researcher also serves as RNGR's Tribal Nursery Coordinator, ensuring an annual meeting of North American indigenous peoples called the Intertribal Nursery Council. He is responsible for the technical aspects of this popular meeting, which provides a forum for tribes to network regarding native plant production and restoration. Scientists are now working on writing nearly 300 native plant propagation protocols requested by the tribes.
The quality of these products and the effectiveness of the RNGR team have been recognized through several tribal and Forest Service awards, including the Earle R. Wilcox Award from the Intertribal Timber Council, the Two Chief's Partnership Award, the Station's Outstanding Technology Transfer Publication, NFS's Celebrating Wildflowers Award, and the Office of Tribal Relations Professional Excellence Award.
More information can be found on the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystems website at http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/grassland-shrubland-desert/, and additional information on RNGR and its extensive library can be found at http://www.rngr.net.