By Ian Silvernail
In the fall of 2016, the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) leapt into the world of native seed production in an attempt to help fill some of the requests for the seed that is so integral to effective habitat restoration. Tremaine and Gail Arkley are allowing us to put their Malabon silty-clay loam soil in Buena Vista, Oregon, to good use in support of habitat restoration throughout the Willamette Valley and Oregon coast. In the process, many organizations and agencies have had us grow seed for their restoration projects, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Center for Natural Lands Management, and the Willamette Valley Native Plant Materials Partnership, a group of dozens of organizations and agencies engaged in native prairie and oak ecosystem restoration. IAE has a unique role in native prairie restoration as a nonprofit organization that grows out both threatened and endangered species and pollinator resource species, and then plants them in restoration sites throughout northwest Oregon. This reintroduction of diverse native plants into prairies is a crucial step for restoring healthy habitats that support our pollinators and wildlife.
As the photo above demonstrates, this spring brought our first use of the plot combine! Here we are harvesting western buttercup seed. Plant Materials Technician Emily Wittkop manages the harvested material at the back end of the combine. IAE grows several species endemic to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest that support nectar resources of Fender's blue butterfly, Oregon silverspot butterfly, and other unique pollinators. The following photos show this spring's adventures growing Kinkaid's lupine (Lupinus oreganus), winecup clarkia (Clarkia amoena var. caurina), western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis), seablush (Plectritis congesta), and Oregon geranium (Geranium oreganum). Some seed will be used in restoration projects throughout the Willamette Valley and across Oregon by IAE's own Habitat Restoration program, some will be distributed to dozens of groups that are engaged in prairie restoration. Volunteers have spent many hours weeding fields and cleaning seed these past two years, which has contributed greatly to our success!
Thanks to all of our partners for the support! We have many new species planned for 2019. You’re welcome to join us and volunteer in the fields!