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News.bytes Extra, issue 471

Seeds of Success in California

Spring is fast approaching -- and as it does, BLM interns work to save plant diversity for the future.

In a unique partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) in England, the BLM established the Seeds of Success (SOS) program in 2001 to connect organizations around the country to collect and preserve plant diversity for future generations. The program collects, conserves, and develops native plant materials for stabilizing, rehabilitating and restoring lands in the United States. (text continues below)

a young lady collects seeds from a wild plant
A BLM intern collects sees at the Pine Hill Preserve in western El Dorado County.

A smaller group of interns poses for the camera
Left to right:  Eric Clifton, BLM Needles Field Office; Julie Wynia, BLM Mother Lode Field Office; Katie Kain, Palm Springs; Kristen Linner, Alturas; Alexandra (Allie) Clifford, Surprise. 

BLM Seeds of Success interns pose for a group photo
Left to right:  Front:  Jacqueline (Jackie) McConnaughy, RSA; Sarah Brewster, San Diego Zoo; Angelique Herman, San Diego Zoo.  Middle:  Zachary (Zach) Marine, BLM Arcata Field Office; Andrew (Drew) Monks, RSA; Sandra (Sandy) Namoff, Folsom; Maike Holthuijzen, Surprise; Teresa O’Keefe, Bakersfield.  Back:  Scott Johnson, Folsom; Matt Westbrook, Surprise.

Collectively, the program has made more than 9,000 wildland native seed collections, representing more than 3,000 species, to support the National Native Plant Materials Development Program. The MSB Project's initial goal is to collect 10 percent of the world’s flora in a span of 10 years. The Seeds of Success program has banked over 10 percent of all U.S. flora for future generations, making it an instrumental partner in meeting this goal.

Through the Conservation and Land Management (CLM) program, the BLM partners with the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) to recruit, train, and place interns under the guidance of mentors in BLM field offices; a key component of the internship is seed collection for the SOS program.

In 2010 the Seeds of Success Partnership won a prestigious award - The Secretary of the Interior’s Partners in Conservation Award.  This award honors external and internal agency partnerships that promote the conservation of America’s cherished landscapes, preserve natural and cultural resources, bring innovative approaches to resource management, and engage diverse entities -- including youth -- in accomplishing the mission of the Department of the Interior. The “external” award category recognizes cooperative achievements between Department agencies and outside entities, while the “internal” category recognizes Department employees, teams, and organizations that have worked to build capacity and to create a culture of collaboration within the Department. Across Interior’s eight agencies, 24 conservation partnerships were selected for recognition in 2010. 

In addition to collecting seeds, CLM interns have conducted other land management and conservation activities such as:

  • monitoring, educating 5th grade students about desert and riparian plants
  • participating in surveys for a variety of species including bats and red-legged frogs
  • assisting with plant identification at a Wild Flower Show
  • contributing to habitat restoration
  • taking inventory of BLM-sensitive species
  • surveying and monitoring populations of rare plant species at proposed fuelbreak areas
  • removing invasive plants
  • creating educational and outreach materials, and
  • helping to develop effective management strategies.

CLM intern Kristen Linner from the Alturas Field Office said that she has “gained practical knowledge in wildlife management, an ability to work independently, and confidence in monitoring in the field.” She believes that “the Chicago Botanic Garden CLM internship program is an invaluable start to a future career in any conservation-related field.”

Shelley Ellis, wildlife biologist at the Ridgecrest Field Office and CLM mentor to Forrest Freund for the past two years, also notes the valuable experience of learning how to work independently.  She recognizes that “both the BLM and the CLM intern (benefit) immensely” through the CLM program.

Twenty-two CLM interns were stationed throughout California in 2010, and they completed more than 400 seed collections.   Of those, 130 collections were from the Mojave Desert -- which has been underrepresented in previous years.  

The 2011 collecting season is fast approaching and the BLM CA has requested another 20-plus interns for the season.  Some were scheduled to start at the end of February or early March. 


A story on work the BLM interns have done at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

More information on the Seeds of Success Program

- by Julie Wynia and Drew Monks

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 471 ----->To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page. 

March, 2011

Last updated: 03-09-2011