This has been an exciting year for the South Sound Conservation Nursery Program. The program has supplied Joint Base Lewis-McChord with native plants for restoration for the past few years and as of 2013 we are largely providing their native seed as well. This year, new prairie preserves in the South Puget Sound have been created requiring an additional increse in production of native seeds and plugs. Support for the program and demand for the plants and seeds it produces continues to blossom and the program is rapidly expanding to serve those needs.
The annual native plug production increased by 14% to 375,000 plants in 2013 due to infrastructure improvements at the new greenhouse facility within the Washington Corrections Center for Women. The Sustainability in Prisons Project continues to train a quality work force to produce our prairie plants. SPP increased its employment of graduate research associates to three (one for each greenhouse facility) and trained a total of 40 inmate technicians in 2013.
The Conservation Nursery program was instrumental in establishing a dedicated Prairie Conservation Crew this year. This crew of ten inmates works solely on prairie restoration throughout Thurston County and has provided greatly needed skilled labor at both Webster’s seed farm and Shotwell’s Landing nursery.
The seed production program has made great strides this year as well. Over 400 pounds of native seed were produced in-house which is an increase of over 100% last year’s production. We have broken ground on a second seed farm at the new Violet Prairie-Scatter Creek preserve. A full time seed cleaner was added to the nursery team to keep production moving smoothly.