The R2R Native Plant Materials Program is a decades-long partnership in the southern Willamette Valley of Oregon that provides local native seeds and plants for wetland and upland prairie restoration on public and conservation lands in the Eugene area. Fifteen years ago, it relied on seed collection from surrounding prairie remnants, but rapidly progressed to a nursery based seed-increase program with careful controls on genetics and grow-out conditions. It has been building on its initial cooperative success and now provides seed of 70 to 85 wetland and upland prairie species annually for restoration on hundreds of wildland acres.
The Bureau of Land Management (including their national Seeds of Success Program), city of Eugene and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are the three entities that have worked cooperatively to fund this program for more than a decade. Like other partnerships, the diverse abilities of its members allows the partners to respond quickly to opportunities and to make more efficient use of available funds, technical skills and staff resources.
Wildlife will follow
The program focuses on providing the source material to establish healthy native plant communities, knowing that this is also the basis for diverse wildlife habitat. The partners strive to establish species in restorations that provide a range of functions in the prairie ecosystem throughout the year, such as feeding and nesting habitat for grassland birds, host plants and nectar-producing plants for endangered butterflies and pollinators, and nitrogen-fixing capacities to enhance soils.
Sharing a model program
This Native Plant Materials Program was the earliest large plant materials program in Oregon. As such, it has improved the availability of native plant materials in the Willamette Valley for other restoration projects by providing carefully collected local native seed to growers who are later able to sell their excess production to other restoration projects.
The Program’s contracts for native seed production are also a means of consistent reliable income for growers establishing ecologically sound native seed businesses. The partners work cooperatively with other researchers and share information with restoration practitioners, land managers and researchers in the Pacific Northwest. The program also serves as a model for new seed-increase programs, including the recently established Willamette Valley Native Plant Materials Cooperative.