White River National Forest Develops Sources of Genetically Local Grass Seed

By John Proctor
Forest Botanist, White River National Forest

The use of native plants for revegetation and restoration is integral to the overall national goal of conserving the biodiversity, health, productivity, and sustainable use of forests, rangelands, and aquatic ecosystems.

The goal of the White River National Forest Native Plant Materials Program is to facilitate the collection and propagation of local native seed and make them available through the commercial seed Industry to land management agencies and private land owners at quantities needed for large-scale restoration. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, The White River National Forest competed for and was awarded national funds to help accomplish this goal.

After a five year effort that involved the development and utilization of multiple agreements and IDIQ (indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity) contracts to accomplish seed collection and seed increase, genetically local seed for two grass species (slender wheatgrass and mountain brome) are now available for purchase on the commercial market from Southwest Seed in Delores, Colorado. Pending an additional future investment of $12,000, existing breeder stock from a third grass species (blue wildrye) could also be made available on the commercial market by the fall of 2015.

Youth Corp members collecting seeds.
Seed collection by Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Youth Corp.

Looking down rows of planted grasses that are the source of seeds.
First step increase accomplished with Lucky Peak Nursery.

Seeds.
Second step increase accomplished under IDIQ contract with Southwest Seed.

Grass seed label.
White River National Forest source-identified seed for two grass species can be purchased today.

This announcement marks a major milestone for the White River National Forest native plant materials program. Moreover, a restoration economy has and will continue to be stimulated through plant production and restoration services resulting from seed availability and genetic appropriateness.