The wonderful world of … cheatgrass?

Fall has certainly arrived. It has been getting colder around the Treasure Valley these last few weeks and I am fortunate enough to be inside the walls of the Boise Regional Seed Warehouse roasting away. Yes, there was a hint of sarcasm in that statement. Even with my unique experiences thus far, I am pretty jealous of all the activity my fellow interns have been able to practice outside the four walls of any building. After reading several blog entries, I am confident those experiences would not be traded in for my “desk job”. Even so, I digress, and will continue on with my personal extravaganza of late. Aside from the rather excellent seed decoration of my personal space within the warehouse, I have been working on calculating the amount of weed seeds that have been purchased within all lots of seed in the last year. Aside from noxious weeds, both prohibited and restricted, I have been paying most attention to downy brome (Bromus Tectorum), also known as cheatgrass. Surprisingly, some individuals believe that cheatgrass isn’t that bad of a weed and, in some ways, can actually benefit land after a fire has burned through. However, downy brome is detrimental to a variety of ecosystems. Not only does it quench beneficial growth of perennials and other natural vegetation, it can house rodents and other small insects that can harm the soils and any other grasses that still live. Even worse, it dries out very quick, resulting in an increased fire threat. It is obvious that fire has a negative effect on any portion of land that it burns. My work calculating the amount of cheatgrass seeds purchased within each pound of seed will help many researchers determine what portion of fire rehabilitation efforts add to the worsening of cheatgrass growth.

Once I have gathered all my research and input it into a worksheet, I will begin calculating the total amounts of the types of weed seeds purchased, the general area in which they were sold, and identify any patterns in amounts coming from specific regions of the Western United States. It will be very interesting to see how it all turns out. For my personal benefit, I am interested in seeing what amount of weed seed was purchased from any particular region, and if there has been an increase in weeds in the region where that specific seed was sold. Obviously, that will entail more personal research on my part, but since I have been working in the seed and fire rehabilitation business the last few years, I am interested in seeking out those results. A little less interesting will be the total lbs of weed seed purchased in relation to the total amount of seed purchased last year. For example, if the Boise Regional Seed Warehouse purchased roughly 1.5 million pounds of seed last year, how many pounds of that was weed seed? The results ought to prove interesting.

Fortunately, the Bureau of Land Management, Boise Regional Seed Warehouse, and each state individually have very strict policies on what weed seeds can be bought and sold within any given boundary. It is also nice to know that no matter the amount of weed seeds purchased and sold, the good seed will most always outweigh the bad seed.

Hopefully next time I will be able to report my findings of this project. For me, any day can bring a new project with a higher priority than the one I happen to be working on. Only time will tell. Until next time, enjoy the freedom of the outdoors and the splendor it surrounds you with.


Boise Regional Seed Warehouse

Bureau of Land Management

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