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Celebrating LMNRA’s local native plant nursery and seed bank

According to National Geographic, the first agricultural revolution occurred twelve thousand years ago. During that time, humans moved into long-term settlements thanks to their ability to collect, clean, and store seeds. Fast-forward to today, and the process is no less critical.

Globally, over 1,750 seed banks are maintained by governments and nonprofits to assist in the recovery from catastrophic events. Norway has gone so far as to build a secure storage facility inside a mountain called Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Most local seed banks are small and focus on seed collection, saving, propagation, and supplying plants to a specific habitat.

Because our local seed bank is not open to the public, we would like to highlight their fantastic work. Opened in 1993, Song Dog Native Plant Nursery and seed bank resides at Lake Mead.

They grow over forty thousand plants annually to assist the park and partner with native species for habitat recovery after disturbances. Some of their most notable projects include the propagation of over 90,000 plants for wildfire recovery in Southern Nevada and 3,000 Joshua trees to help California recover from the Cima Dome fire that burned over 70 square miles of Joshua tree forest.

Human-caused disruptions from construction and illegal off-roading are no less destructive. Though newcomers to the desert might assume that the landscape is uninhabitable, countless living beings call the desert home, many of whom are endemic and cannot survive anywhere else. Song Dog grows and plants native species to assist in recovery from these disruptions.

Visitors may be surprised when they see the Lake Mead Lodge site. After its teardown, the nursery team got to work. Though the new plants are young, a complete restoration of the area is expected within the next ten years.

In celebration of the Song Dog’s 30th anniversary, we would like to celebrate one of our Lake Mead staff members who has continued to make these accomplishments possible: the nursery and restoration manager, Biologist Kelly Wallace. Ranger Kelly has worked at the facility for over 12 years. Kelly is committed to the work because,”I love the desert, and I always knew I wanted to use my skills working for the National Park Service.”

Her time is spent between the nursery and work in the backcountry.

During the back-country surveys, the team identifies where plants are in their seeding cycle to determine when to collect seeds. When the seeds are ready, volunteers swiftly collect them before they fall to the ground and are eaten by coyotes or carried off by the wind. While out, the vegetation team also tracks the status of roads to determine if restoration from illegal off-road usage is required. The team then makes time to rake over any tracks off-roaders make to discourage others from the off-roading that is so destructive to our desert home.

Thank you, Kelly, and to all the volunteers at Song Dog; your dedication to this beautiful desert and the species that reside here is truly admirable.

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