National Seed Strategy Progress Report highlights BLM’s leading role in restoration efforts

The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) recently released the National Seed Strategy Progress Report for 2015 to 2020. The BLM has been a leading member of the PCA and, as the largest public land manager in the U.S., the agency plays a significant role in the implementation of the National Seed Strategy. BLM was a partner in nearly half of all projects submitted for the Strategy’s five-year progress report.

The five-year progress report details coordinated efforts to increase the quality, pace, and scale of native seed development and use in restoration efforts across our nation. The National Seed Strategy is crucial as the country grapples with the effects of a changing climate. The report highlights collaborative efforts towards meeting the increasing demand for native seeds to restore plant communities altered by natural or human-caused events on both public and private lands.

side-by-side of yellow  locally adapted native seed (left) and a biodiverse ecosystem with yellow plants (right).
The National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration outlines a framework for developing a reliable supply of locally adapted native seed (left) for restoring adaptive, resilient, and biodiverse ecosystems (right). (Photo by BLM)

Most BLM land encompasses dryland ecosystems of the western U.S., which are increasingly impacted by drought and wildfire. Because native plants are the true green infrastructure we rely on for healthy, resilient, biodiverse ecosystems, BLM is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of native plant communities on its public lands.

BLM projects in the progress report cover a wide range of issues, including fire rehabilitation, active restoration, invasive species treatments, wildlife habitat and corridors, rare or threatened and endangered plants or animals, mine reclamation, and recreation. Some of the projects the BLM has taken a lead role on include the national native seed collection project Seeds of Success (SOS), native seed production, scientific research, postfire rehabilitation and restoration, restoration after invasive species treatments, and reclamation of abandoned mines and orphaned wells. BLM has also funded the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) "Assessment of Native Seed Needs and Capacities," expected in early 2022. Read more about the BLM’s role in the National Seed Strategy on page 35 of the report here.

Desert landscape with spiny trees with a man collecting seeds.
Implementing the National Seed Strategy begins with native seed collection. BLM leads the national collaborative native seed collection project, Seeds of Success, which has made more than 26,000 native seed collections since it began in 2001. (Image credit: BLM OR130/Seeds of Success)
Sagebrush in Prisons members holding sagebrush seedlings.
Landscape-level restoration requires creative solutions to complex problems. Since 2014, BLM has partnered with the Institute for Applied Ecology to develop and implement the Sagebrush in Prisons Project, which works toward restoring the habitat of the greater sage-grouse through plant production and environmental education of incarcerated adults. To date, the Sagebrush in Prisons Project has grown more than 1.9 million sagebrush seedlings for restoration projects on BLM land. (Photo by BLM)

“It will take all of us working together to develop a science-driven restoration economy to supply the quantity of native seed needed to restore truly resilient landscapes across all public lands,” said Peggy Olwell, BLM Plant Conservation and Restoration Program Lead and BLM Liaison to the PCA.

A man showing some seed to a girl surrounded by yellow and purple flowers.
Continued implementation of the National Seed Strategy is key to developing a restoration economy, tackling the climate crisis, and ensuring that our public and private lands are healthy and resilient for generations to come. (Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $200 million to implement the National Seed Strategy and lay the foundation and funding for the research, development and partnerships that are needed to meet the demand of restoring resilient native plant communities with locally adapted native seed. This progress report, combined with the recommendations from NASEM’s "Assessment of Native Seed Needs and Capacities," will help inform the next version of the National Seed Strategy to more fully address national native seed needs in a changing climate.

Find more information on plant conservation and the National Seed Strategy on the BLM webpage here