Prairie Conservation Nursery Programs
Plants and seeds for Puget Lowland Prairie Restoration
SPP continues to be among the most generative organizations for South Puget lowland prairie restoration. SPP receives funding support for Conservation Nursery Program from the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) and Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM). Plants produced by SPP’s prairie conservation nurseries are used by state and federal agencies and conservation organizations including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, JBLM, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, WA Dept. of Natural Resources, and CNLM. We grow prairie plants known to be food and habitat for rare and endangered pollinators, such as the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly; in this way our western Washington plant programs and butterfly program are closely linked.
SPP produces plants for prairie restoration at three sites: Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC), Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), and Shotwell’s Landing Nursery. Shotwell’s Landing is supported by a Prairie Conservation Crew from Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC), 10 inmate technicians dedicated to prairie restoration at multiple sites in Thurston County. The three nursery sites deliver up to 420,000 plant-plugs annually.
Overall, while increasing production and species diversity, SPP’s Prairie Conservation Nursery Program has maintained impressively high survival rates. The total number of plant-plugs produced since 2009 is also impressive: we have surpassed 1.5 million.
Two new projects were started in 2014-15 to cultivate early blue violet (Viola adunca) for seed production. A combined total of 5,400 square feet are devoted to violets at WCCW and WCC. The infrastructure for these projects was fully funded by JBLM’s Fish and Wildlife program and CNLM. At WCC, the program is located in the Skill Builders Unit (SBU) where it is integrated into the Centralia College horticulture program for inmates with severe cognitive and behavioral challenges.
The preliminary harvest numbers for violet seeds are outstanding: we have achieved more than twice the normal harvest rate for this species.
Training and Education
SPP’s graduate student program coordinators provide frequent and direct guidance and education to inmate technicians. The graduate students serve as the primary liaisons between all partners, including the Washington DOC staff who supervise and counsel the inmates. Since 2010, the Conservation Nursery Program has trained nearly 150 inmate technicians, 14 graduate students have provided program coordination, and 5 corrections staff have served as program supervisors. At the four nurseries, we offered 24 lectures and 97 workshops in a single year.
Blogs on the Prairie Conservation Nurseries
Prairie seeds close up (2016)
Photos from WCCW Work party (2016)
Prairie Appreciation Day (2014)
A New Season (2011)