Reclaiming Disturbed Land with Native Seeds
Articles - Life In BV

river-park-wall-260By Katie Selby Urban

It’s the fourth year of my native seeding project. The rock wall near the outdoor living room is vibrant with wild flax, a variety of grasses, sage, asters and penstemon. Spring is wonderful in many ways, but the satisfaction I get from seeing my native seeding project progress is especially powerful. To reclaim with natives land that we’ve been bold enough to disturb is, I believe, an important part of completing the circle.

Jed and I were at this rock wall three summers ago, pulling up piles ofbuena-vista-river-park-native-seedlings-260 Russian thistle. The soil is poor, there is no irrigation and it seemed impossible that we could get anything to grow other than the thistle that had really established itself, becoming tumbleweeds as winter neared. So I went to our local Pleasant Avenue Nursery and got a mix of natives, called the Game Trail Mix, blended just for this sort of situation. I waited for a wet July week, and the seed was raked in. We saw very little growth that year, but the following spring, there were some natives peeking through the thistle. Now, two springs later, there is not a weed to be seen (the picture at right was taken last July, 2009). The natives use up all the available light and water.

This was the first of many native seeding projects I’ve been working on. There was a new trail built last summer as part of the second GOCO grant that was received for river park improvements. I seeded it with a native perennial wildflower mix, and now the area is covered with seedlings that I’ve not yet been able to identify.

While it seemed like it would be difficult in this high desert ecology, the success has been great, and it gives me this deep patience that I wasn’t aware lived inside me. I’m continually seeing more spaces that have been taken over by invasives and taking mental note to bring the seed and the rake and to pay attention to windows of wet weather.

I feel strongly that it is our responsibility to be sure that the built environment is at least as wonderful as the nature it replaces. We started with the old town dump and a private, overgrown and inaccessible river corridor; but clearly it was still a very special place. The places I’m seeding around are now all public- trails, a whitewater park and bouldering parks. I hope that by reclaiming the soils and land with native plants I am able to help ensure we are doing everything possible to pay tribute to this extraordinary place.

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