Being in Alaska with the Bureau of Land Management, I get a lot of questions about what I do. In truth, I do a lot of different tasks. As a part of my job, I work with other organizations such as the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Natural Heritage Program, the Anchorage Botanic Garden, and the Plant Materials Center in Palmer. This week, I’m at the Plant Materials Center (PMC for short), weeding the fields of native plants and prepping a greenhouse to withstand an onslaught of summertime insects.
The PMC receives wild collected native seeds, cleans and stores it, and then grows fields of needed species. This ensures that commercial growers receive enough seed to make a full crop, which can then be used for restoration operations. There simply isn’t enough wild seed to supply the demand of restoration efforts around mining operations and after wildfires. By growing the seed that Seeds of Success collects, much more seed is produced that can then jumpstart larger scale production.
I have been removing dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) and foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) from in between the rows of natives in one such field. The biggest issue with the weeds is that they can contaminate the native seed. As we collect the native seed, it’s possible to accidently pick up some of the weed seed, leading to a lot of issues with the cleaning and then use of that collection. There’s nothing quite as horrifying as seeding for native species and getting dandelions instead.
I’ve really enjoyed what time I’ve gotten to spend out at the PMC. Not only is the work engaging and worthwhile, the people are welcoming and generous. I feel extremely lucky to have this opportunity of working here. There’s also picturesque mountains in the background, which only adds to the experience.
Anchorage, Alaska Field Office, Bureau of Land Management