The Western Colorado Conservation Corps once again joined the Vegetation Team in the Colorado National Monument to combat invasive species across our park. The WCCC always provides us with valuable helping hands. However, once these species are removed from the landscape, the work is not done. The staff works to help the native plants move back in to a once-invaded area to prevent the invasive species from re-establishing.
One way we do that is through native seed collection and dispersal. This year the Colorado National Monument has a great need for a perennial native grass called Salina Wildrye (Leymus salinus) which prefers steep slopes of the Morrison layer in the higher elevations. If we could collect enough, we had an opportunity to send the seed to the Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center to grow Seed Increase Fields. What happens is that we collect as much seed as possible which is planted in large fields from which the seed can be harvested and returned to the monument year after year. It is truly an incredible resource for us, but collecting enough native seed can prove difficult for our small staff. We were asked to collect 2 pounds of the tiny seeds. The pressure was on. We were grateful to have such a hardworking and skilled WCCC team with us!
The crew quickly turned off their weed-radar and changed gears towards methodical and deliberate seed collection. We studied the characteristics of Salina Wildrye to be certain of our identification, we learned how to find the small seed in all the extra chaff and determine its readiness to be collected.
We spent 3 days collecting and Steve Parr (the manager of the Plant Center) even came out to help and talk with the group. It was a special day and a great experience for all.
The seeds were shipped off and we crossed our fingers.
I am so thrilled to report that with the help and commitment of the WCCC we collected 8.8 POUNDS of seed!!! We blew the goal out of the water, and the Plant Center was thoroughly impressed with our efforts. Because of the efforts of the WCCC our ecological restoration projects have a bright future!
Vegetation Team Lead
National Park Service
Colorado National Monument