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Native seeds collected through the Southwest Seed Partnership (SWSP) are finally moving into their very own seed cooler. The IAE Southwest Office purchased and installed a 10 x 10’ walk-in cooler to safely store native seed collected and field-produced from across the Southwest. We are grateful to the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for generously funding this capacity-building project. The project was ‘frozen’ for many months while trying to identify an ideal long term location for the cooler, but thanks to a new partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, we are ringing in the new year with a shiny new home for our Southwest Seed Partnership seeds at their warehouse facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For the past four years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service Los Lunas Plant Materials Center has been storing our seeds in their modern cooler to protect them until we had a cooler of our own. Thank you NRCS! Our new cooler located is only a few miles from our Santa Fe office. Having local access to our seed collections will make it much easier to coordinate seed sampling, weighing, testing and delivering to our partners and growers.
IAE and the Southwest Seed Partnership strive to set high standards for native seed quality, and investing in this well-equipped cooler is an example of this commitment. Many times restoration projects fail due to loss of seed viability. Project managers may blame native species or seed vendors for these failures without realizing that their own handling of the seed resulted in low establishment. We hope to demonstrate that proper caring for seeds can increase their commercial value and success in restoration projects. This small step for seed is expected to be a big step for restoration in the Southwest.