Monday, July 29, 2013

Prairie Demonstration Garden Spiffed Up by AmeriCorps Service Members

As part of their ecosystem restoration work with the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) a team of five AmeriCorps service members paid a visit to the USFWS Washington Fish and Wildlife Office in Lacey, Washington. The team and their supervisor talked with USFWS biologists working to protect and restore native prairie ecosystems in Western Washington.  They “met” some of the native plants that are the target of restoration efforts, and learned a bit about the work of a Service biologist involved in listing and recovery work. The Service is also working with the Center for Natural Lands Management through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to restore prairie habitat on private lands. After their introduction to what we do, they got busy with what they do: controlling invasive species!

      AmeriCorps Service member Rachel working with her team from Center for Natural Lands Management.
USFWS Biologist and prairie specialist Judy Lantor discusses the project with CNLM team leader Sanders Freed

USFWS staff converted a decommissioned swimming pool in the courtyard of their office into a native prairie demonstration garden. Initially, staff collected seeds and, with the support of other partners, grew plants for restoration sites. A few surplus plants and salvaged specimens were used to establish the demonstration garden to assist with education and awareness of employees and our guests. The garden even hosts a specimen of the listed golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), grown from legally-harvested seed surplus for a restoration project. On this day, the AmeriCorps Service members helped out by weeding the garden. They quickly became experts at identifying the desirable native plants and the invasive weeds, working hard to spiff up the demonstration garden. They’ll be traveling to sites in South Puget Sound to apply what they’ve learned to assist with restoration of prairie ecosystems.

Flowering golden paintbrush plant in the WFWO prairie demonstration garden.

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