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BLM-Montana/Dakotas: Miles City Field Office Develops Native Plant Materials Program

Bureau of Land Management
By: Mel Schroeder, Soil Scientist, Miles City Field Office, BLM-Montana/Dakotas
Feb. 28, 2012 - oneINTERIOR

Closeup of a Echinacea angustifolia (purple coneflower).
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). Photo by Mel Schroeder, BLM. 

Therese Parys and Brooke Stallings collecting silver buffaloberry in a field.
Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Program interns Therese Parys (left) and Brooke Stallings collect silver buffaloberry. Photo by Mel Schroeder, BLM.

Closeup of Silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) fruits
Silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) fruits. Photo by Mel Schroeder, BLM.
basket filled with Silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) fruits,
Silver buffaloberry collection Photo by Brooke Stallings, Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Program.

A native plant materials program launched by the BLM-Montana’s Miles City Field Office in 2011 is already producing far-reaching benefits.

Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Program interns Therese Parys and Brooke Stallings played an integral role in the program’s first year successes. The two collected seed for the Seeds of Success program from 18 locations (13 species) in eastern Montana, and provided labor and seed to the BLM’s nursery program at the Special K Ranch in Columbus, Mont. They also collected and mounted about 60 specimens for an herbarium for the Miles City Field Office, which will be used as an educational tool for employees and the public.

Parys and Stallings both excelled in plant identification, quickly becoming familiar with the local flora, most of which they had never seen before. Using their skills in navigation, photography, GPS, and GIS, they conducted extensive population monitoring (e.g., occurrence, distribution, condition, and phenology*). Parys and Stallings performed species-specific research on phenology, habitat, population locations, collection methods, and propagation protocol. They also helped with other BLM programs including a rare plant survey, habitat restoration monitoring, and wildlife monitoring. Additionally, they participated in the Montana Native Plant Society’s Annual Meeting which took place at Camp Needmore, near Ekalaka.
Parys and Stallings were partially funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. They collected native seed primarily from public lands — mostly BLM-managed — with some collections from Agricultural Research Service (Fort Keogh) and state-managed lands. Seeds were sent to the USDA Forest Service seed extractory in Bend, Ore. A portion of the seeds collected (10,000 seeds) go to the SOS program for research (germination trials and viability monitoring); duplication and production, conservation (200-year germplasm storage); and distribution. Any seeds collected over the 10,000 seed minimum are returned to the BLM and will either be propagated for seedlings or production at the Special K Ranch nursery, or direct seeded for revegetation projects in our field office.

The Seeds of Success program was established in 2001 by a partnership between the BLM and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, United Kingdom. Multiple partners are currently involved in the program which aims to collect, conserve, and develop native plant materials for revegetation projects on public lands. Check it out at

*Phenology: the study of naturally recurring phenomena such as blossoming, and their relation to climate and changes in season.

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Last Updated: 20-Mar-2012