Putting Seed Collections to Use

There is an old site called American Flat

That was once an old building infested with rats.

BLM tore it down just a few years ago

And now it’s an empty cheatgrass-covered plateau.

We’ve been there a few times already this year

To pull out the thistles that always appear.

It was the very first field trip we took as a team

When the snow was so white it still let off a gleam.

In spring, we cut tops off some new willow shoots

To be buried in bags hoping they would grow roots.

And hooray! That they did! To new roots they were bound

And my co-interns planted them right in the ground.

For a while we forgot about this little site

While distracted by fruits, weeds, rare species, new sights…

Just last week, though, we opened our GIS map

And unearthed pounds of seed we had stored in burlap.

We calculated seed mixes for each polygon

And even though a few species were already gone,

We brought what we had to measure, mix, and pour

And then picked up the nifty hand seeders we wore.

They dispersed through a field dominated by weeds

But the first mix we used was just super light seeds.

Those wee particles just got caught and got stuck

But we had an idea! The seed bag must be struck!

As one intern turned the seed wheel with a wrist

Another walked beside, punching it with a fist.

Alas, not all of our mixes required this tactic,

But after two days we all needed chiropractic.

We’d set out native seed, a few hundred pounds,

Then we headed on home on the road back to town.

That was all we could do for those small plants-to-be

Now all we could do was sit tight, wait and see.

Maybe next year, or later, they’ll sprout and they’ll grow,

The restoration process is nothing if not slow.

But we have high hopes for our small weedy plot,

And someday it could be a quite different spot.

Cattail, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, squirreltail

They’ll make good habitat for the hare and the quail.

It might not be quick and it might not be neat,

But with just enough time, all the weeds can be beat.


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