Ecological resilience, adaptation and emergency preparedness – the need for seeds

Organizer: Peggy Olwell, Bureau of Land Management

This panel will address the need to restore degraded ecosystems and build ecological resilience in response to the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, and droughts. The critical importance of the National Seed Strategy in supporting ecological restoration as an adaptation mechanism and insurance policy will be discussed. Speakers will present overviews of extreme weather events and their implications for homeland security. The national policies that require ecosystem resilience as a component of emergency preparedness will be discussed and the relevance of the National Seed Strategy in this context emphasized.

Bruce Stein, Assoc. Vice President, National Wildlife Federation
Linda Langston, National Association of Counties & FEMA Advisory Board
Iain Hyde, Deputy Director, Colorado Office of Resiliency & Recovery
Rachel Wieder, Director,NY Rising Buyout and Acquisition Programs, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery
Dwayne Estes, Professor, Austin Peay State University, Southern Grasslands Initiative
Moderator: Peggy Olwell, Bureau of Land Management

Public/Private Partnerships in Conservation Plantings: Past Successes and Future Opportunities

Organizer: Virginia Houston, American Seed Trade Association

Success in conservation and restoration projects requires a variety of individuals and organizations working together to achieve this common goal. Federal initiatives such as the administration’s Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy and the National Seed Strategy could not be carried out without the support and input of private entities like the seed industry and other allied partners. There are a broad range of issues facing conservation plantings, and each panelist will discuss their unique point of view when it comes to successful land management projects.
This panel will explore the wide range of issues facing land managers, from wildfires to seed sourcing and availability. It will also highlight specific examples of success in both public and private conservation plantings. Finally, the panel will look toward the future and discuss issues and opportunities for conservation and reclamation plantings at the local, state, and federal levels.
Panelists will include professionals from the native seed industry, agency experts, and public lands ranchers.

The Emergence of Seed Networks as an Effective Strategy in Building Regional Cooperation to Improve Native Seed and Plant Material Development and Delivery

Organizer: Ed Toth, City of New York; Megan Haidet, Seeds of Success

Starting perhaps with the Iowa Ecotype Project in the 1990’s, a growing number of regions are organizing into cooperative networks as an effective means of encouraging and guiding the development of native plant resources, particularly along ecoregional lines. Recognizing the importance of bringing all relevant players to the table to discuss issues and develop solutions, these networks are increasing in numbers and are emerging as effective tools in developing appropriate supplies of native plants and seeds by addressing all relevant issues from wild seed collection and banking to the development of markets.
This symposium will sample the range of networks that exist today, will explore the rationales that led to their formation, how they operate, what they share in common, and what their successes and failures are, as well as what they might do differently.

Implementing the Pollinator Friendly Native Seed Reserve

Organizer: Carol Spurrier, Bureau of Land Management

In May of 2015 the White House released A Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators. The Strategy includes three overarching goals including one to enhance or restore 7 million acres of habitat for pollinators through public private partnerships. The strategy outlines creating a native seed reserve of pollinator friendly (nectar and pollen producing forb, shrub and tree) species to use in restoration projects. During this session members of the staff for the Pollinator Task Force would discuss agency seed needs and accomplishments related to pollinators as well as White House expectations for the seed reserve. We would ask for a perspective from seed growers and one representing nongovernmental groups that have been working to restore habitat for pollinators. We will discuss seed needed to support migrating monarch butterfly populations. We would discuss what can be done through the goals and objectives of the Seed Strategy to accomplish the on the ground habitat restoration goals associated with the White House Pollinator Strategy and how to move forward ensuring that the necessary pollinator friendly seed is available.

Ann Kinsinger, USGS (perspective of DOI agencies)
Melinda Cep or Jeff Eschmeyer, USDA (perspective of USDA agencies)
Richard Keigwin, EPA (other agency perspectives)
Tom Melius, FWS (needs of monarch butterflies)
Jane DeMarchi, American Seed Trade Association, (perspective of seed growers)
Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society (perspective of partner NGOs)
Bruce Rodan, OSTP Moderator

NRCS Plant Materials Program Plant Development Efforts for Revegetating Landscapes: History, Successes, Challenges, and Future Directions

Organizer: John Englert, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program has a long history of plant development stretching back to the 1930’s. The symposium will discuss the progression of the Plant Materials Program’s plant development process, a history of the program, and case studies from around the country illustrating challenges and accomplishments faced in revegetating landscapes to address our nation’s natural resource concerns. The complexities and opportunities faced by private, public, and commercial concerns to ensure the sustained availability of native plant materials for landscape revegetation are highlighted.

Participants: Joel Douglas, Moderator
John Englert* (USDA-NRCS, Washington DC) – The NRCS Plant Materials Program: An 80-Year History of Plant Development
Joe Scianna* (USDA-NRCS, Montana) – Native Plant Selection to Improve Rangeland Health in the Northern Great Plains
Heather Dial* (USDA-NRCS, Arizona) – Cooperative Plant Development in the Southwest US
John Reilley* (USDA-NRCS, Texas) and Forrest Smith (South Texas Natives) – Partners in Plant Solutions: Collaborative Approaches to Resource Management in South Texas
TBD – A Seed Grower’s Perspective on Achieving Success with Commercial Production of Native Seed
Ramona Garner* (USDA-NRCS, North Carolina) – Future Plant Development Activities in the NRCS Plant Materials Program

Seed Industry Perspectives

Organizer: Robby Henes, Southwest Seed

The ‘Seed Industry’ is often invoked as a vital cog in the wheel for having the right seed at the right time. The impetus for more native and local ecotypes as embodied in the National Seed Strategy will strengthen the demand for regionally specific seed from the Seed Industry. Often, however, the realities of having this seed are far more complex and difficult than might be expected. This panel brings experts from different parts of the Seed Industry to share insights into the challenges and realities of getting your seed needs addressed. Panelists will share experience and lessons learned from past efforts to grow out and/or collect local ecotypes and provide perspectives on the hopes and needs embodied in the National Seed Strategy. There will be ample time for questions from the audience.

Robby Henes, Southwest Seed
Mark Mustoe, Clearwater Seed
Steve Parr, Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center
Jerry Benson, BFI Native Seeds
Blake Curtis, Curtis & Curtis Seed

Weed contaminant in native seed – challenges of meeting reliable seed demand

Organizer: Steve Popovich, US Forest Service

Weed contaminant in seed is becoming increasingly problematic. With increasing awareness by end-users of the presence of weed in commercially-available seed, industry is challenged to provide tighter levels of acceptable weed presence in native seed at a time when contamination is becoming more difficult to control. Many users are unable to secure the seed they need due to weed presence, or use seed known to contain undesirable weeds. This is particularly important with national ramp-up of non-profit and local and federal government agency demand stemming from policy stressing use of native plant materials in revegetation, such as increasing landscape-level resiliency, sagegrouse habitat restoration, and incorporation of pollinator-friendly host plants. The panel will offer perspectives and insights from producer to quality control to end user on the magnitude and challenges of the issue, tolerances currently accepted by major government agencies, and impacts to growers and users. The panel’s goal is to raise awareness and brainstorm ideas on how all stakeholders can work together to better address the issue. Join this session to share your views and engage in what is sure to be a lively group discussion.

Steve Popovich*, Botanist and Noxious Weed Program Manager, Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests, Supervisor’s Office – overview of topic from end user’s standpoint and panel organizer
Christine Taliga*, NRCS Revegetation Technical Advisor to NPS – NRCS perspective, private/NPS stakeholders
Jerry Benson*, BFI Native Seeds – seed producer/industry perspective
Randy Crowl, Seed Lab Analyst and AOSA President, CSU Seed Lab – seed analysis/seed lab perspective
Carol Dawson, BLM Colorado State Office Botanist – BLM perspective
Adrienne Pilmanis*, BLM Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program Coordinator, – moderator

Overcoming the effects of plant blindness with education and outreach

Organizer: Andrea Kramer, Chicago Botanic Garden

Plant blindness, or the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs, is a documented phenomenon. The effects of plant blindness on the botanical community and its efforts to conserve, restore, and sustainably use plants are wide-ranging. Yet research also shows that plant blindness is not inevitable. Attend this symposium to learn about: 1) the causes of plant blindness, 2) how plant blindness may be impacting you and the work you do to conserve and manage native plants, and 3) tools you can use to help overcome plant blindness through education and outreach.

Elisabeth Schussler*: Seventeen years of plant blindness: Is our vision improving?
Vivian Negrón-Ortiz: impacts of plant blindness on plant species conservation
Mary Beth Beetham: the need for coordinated advocacy on conservation, approaches that have been effective for wildlife and habitat, and how the plant community can get more engaged
Rob Bradner*: how non-federal organizations can be engaged in outreach and advocacy to overcome plant blindness

Selecting the Right Seed: New Decision-support Tools for Selecting Taxa and Seed Sources for Current and Future Site Conditions

Organizer: Nancy Shaw, Society for Ecological Restoration

The National Seed Strategy and recent federal directives, including DOI Secretarial Order 3336 (fire and invasives) and the Presidential Memorandum on pollinator health, highlight concerns regarding the effects of climate change and other human activities on native ecosystems and emphasize the need for increased revegetation efforts to repair degraded ecosystems. Prerequisite to all such efforts is the need identify native taxa appropriate for specific site conditions and from that list to select those taxa known to be feasible and economical for use in restoration, namely those with established protocols for seed collection, seed increase, and seedling production as well as strategies for establishing them on disturbed sites. Whether seeds or seedlings are used, identification of genetically appropriate seed sources for maintaining genetic diversity required to meet current and predicted future conditions is essential. Practitioners developing seeding or planting mixes based on site conditions, reference area inventories, and specific restoration goals require decision support tools that will allow them to incorporate current knowledge of restoration species, seed source selection, and consideration of future climates into development of their planting mixes. This session will introduce new resources and protocols that will aid users in making sound decisions when selecting and purchasing native plant materials for revegetation.

Moderator: Vicky Erickson, USDA Forest Service, Region 6
Brad St. Clair* (USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station), Glenn Howe (Oregon State University), and Dominique Bachelet (Conservation Biology Institute). Climate-smart Seed Lot Selection Tool: Seed sources for restoration in the 21st Century.
Bryce Richardson* (USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station). Techniques to determine big sagebrush subspecies in seed lots and why this is important.
Stephanie Frischie* (Semillas Silvestres, Córdoba, Spain / Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italy / NASSTEC), Borja Jimenez-Alfaro, and Cándido Galvez Ramirez. Suitability for seed farming as part of a traits-based selection tool for promoting native cover crops in Mediterranean agroecosystems: A case study from Spanish olive orchards.
Matt Horning* (USDA Forest Service, R-6 Pacific Northwest) and Matt Skinner (US Forest Service, R-6 Pacific Northwest). The Ecoregional Revegetation Assistant: A national online plant selection utility.

Get Smart in Using Native Seed – the International Network for Seed-based Restoration

Organizer: Olga Kildisheva, University of Western Australia

According to a 2010 United Nations Environment Programme Rapid Assessment, nearly two-thirds of the world’s ecosystems are degraded. There is a critical need for a strategic, multinational approach to advancing ecological recovery on this growing scale. On highly degraded sites or when rapid recovery is needed, restoration using native plant seed is the most feasible solution toward accomplishing this goal. Despite significant efforts of land management agencies, restoration practitioners and landowners there remains a wide range of challenges that must be addressed to ensure that native plant community recovery can be successfully achieved in a repeatable and cost-effective manner.
The need to build a cohesive way forward in managing native seed through directed, multi-stakeholder, and cross-disciplinary approaches has lead the creation of tactical initiatives such as the U.S. Native Seed Strategy and the formation of linked organizations that include: the International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR), Native Seed Science Technology and Conservation Initial Training Network (NASSTEC), Australian National Centre for Mining Restoration (ITTCMR), and the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA). If we are to be effective in moving forward with the use of native seed, active communication between networks is critical to the goal of accelerating the pace and effectiveness of restoration efforts worldwide.
This session brings together representatives from a suite of international organizations and individuals engaged in seed-based restoration in an effort to enhance collaboration, communication, knowledge, and technology transfer across research institutions, industry partners, practitioners, as well as community and land managers.

Moderators: Olga Kildisheva, Nancy Shaw
Kingsley Dixon, Nancy Shaw, and Olga Kildisheva. Session Introduction: International Network for Seed-based Restoration and the Value of Partnerships.
Cara Nelson. Challenges and Opportunities for Seed-based Restoration Strategies in Chile.
Karma Bouazza, Khaled Sleem, Mohammad Nsour, and Anthony S. Davis. Addressing Seed Challenges in Lebanon and Jordan.
Becca Lieberg and Anthony S. Davis. Agroforestry and Citizen Science in Togo, West Africa.
Alicia Melgoza, Carlos Morales, Otilia Rivera. Native plant propagation for restoring rangelands.
Kingsley Dixon. Integration of Seed into Broad-based Restoration Programs.
Sara Oldfield, Katherine O’Donnell and Xiangyin Wen. The Role of Botanic Gardens in Native Plant Restoration.
Costantino Bonomi and Marcello de Vitis. NASSTEC: A European Project Aimed at Strengthening Collaboration Among Native Seed Stakeholders.

Native Seed: Planning, Processing, Increase, and Application

Organizer: Kayla Herriman, US Forest Service

This symposium will follow the entire process of using seed for restoration. It will start with Matt Horning discussing populations for native seed collection and what is appropriate for genetic diversity and discuss collection details in regards to phenology and landscape scale. Kayla Herriman will present seed properties that allow it to be processed to the level that a nursery needs for seed increase or a grower needs for plant production. She will also discuss seed yields for production to answer the question “how much do I need to collect?” Jason McNeal will then present on successes/failures of forb seed increase at a nursery and discuss what species are able to be increased and those that are not. Lynda Moore will conclude the symposium with projects on the ground. She will discuss how to use the material that was increased or collected from the wild and talk about species that have been successful.

Matt Horning, USFS Geneticist
Kayla Herriman, Extractory Manager – USFS Bend Seed Extractory
Jason McNeal, Horticulturalist – USFS J.Herbert Stone Nursery
Lynda Moore, Botanist – USFS Restoration Services Team

Texas Ecotype Approach to Commercial Native Seed Provision and Ecosystem Restoration

Organizer: Forrest Smith, South Texas Natives

Commercial native seed supply is a limiting factor to successful native plant restoration in Texas. In 2001, the South Texas Natives Project began work to address this limitation, and in recent years, similar efforts have begun in Central and Western Texas. These ecotype projects have collected, increased, and commercialized over 30 ecotypic native seed selections, and enabled commercial seed provision on an annual basis of over 60,000 lbs of native seed. This work has resulted in tens of thousands of acres of restoration plantings on primarily private lands. We will present 6 important aspects of these efforts. First we will address estimating native seed needs and building capacity of seed markets through careful seed selection, creative commercialization, and stimulating seed use by agencies and consumers. Second we will present methods to rapidly increase seed supply in order to allow commercial growers to meet emerging demands. Next will present information on genetic variation from our region, and outline decisions regarding ecotype selection allowing for logical areas of adaptation, and commercial success. Then we will discuss collection, evaluation, and management considerations that have resulted in successful ecotypic seed selections. We will also present information from demonstrations and field trials with specific information on seed mix composition, planting methods, and restoration outcomes. Finally, we will present how our multi-agency and stakeholder projects have been managed for success, and outline how we have been able to work toward common goals to provide native seed sources in amounts needed to enable large scale restoration.

Forrest S. Smith-Dan L Duncan Endowed Director, South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects*
John Reilley-Manager, USDA NRCS E. “Kika” de la Garza Plant Materials Center*
Keith A. Pawelek-Assistant Director, South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects*
Anthony D. Falk-Research Coordinator, South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects*
Colin S. Shackelford-Project Coordinator, West Texas Native Seeds Project*
John R. Bow-Project Coordinator, Central Texas Native Seeds Project*

Challenges of Sampling and Testing Seed of Native Species

Organizer: Victor Vankus, US Forest Service & Gil Waibel, Association of Official Seed Analysts/Society of Commercial Seed Technologists

The native seed industry and users of native seed rely on accurate seed test results to manage and determine the value of a seed lot. Testing seed of native species is a challenge due to seed characteristics, collection and processing methods, seed storage, seed sampling procedures, and variable degrees of seed dormancy. The Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) understand these challenges and develop methods and procedures for testing seed of native species. AOSA/SCST seed analysts will present a demonstration on sampling seed of native species, the purity, germination, tetrazolium, and x-ray seed tests commonly conducted on native species, seed test result reporting, rules, and labeling.