Seeds and stewards of the future: A U.S. collaboration

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Peggy Olwell

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As the foundation of healthy functioning ecosystems, native plant communities buffer the impacts of extreme events such as wildfires, invasives, and prolonged drought. Under the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “multiple-use” mandate, there is a significant need for locally adapted, native plant materials to restore and support resilient ecosystems. BLM leads Seeds of Success (SOS), a U.S. native seed collection program, in partnership with numerous other federal agencies and non-federal organizations. SOS was established in 2001 as the first step in the Native Plant Materials Development Process, with the mission to collect wildland native seed for research, development, germplasm conservation, and ultimately ecosystem restoration. Portions of each collection are held in long-term storage facilities for conservation. SOS has a national protocol to coordinate seed collecting and species targeting efforts. To date, SOS has more than 24,400 native seed collections through its diverse network. SOS includes many partners, such as arboreta, zoos, municipalities, and botanic gardens, including Chicago Botanic Garden, which developed the Conservation and Land Management (CLM) internship program. The CLM program places 75-100 early-career scientists in five-month paid internships to assist professionals with projects, including SOS.​ Since 2001, the CLM program has successfully placed over 1500 interns, providing them with a rich experience from which to launch their professional careers. The success of both CLM and SOS are contingent upon each other and the highly qualified interns who have made the majority of SOS collections.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration