Restoring the West’s Burned Rangeland, With Seeds and a Pasta Machine

Restoring the West’s Burned Rangeland, With Seeds and a Pasta Machine

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: The New York Times
Click here to read the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/us/west-wildfires-rangeland-sagebrush.html

In a little government building on eastern Oregon’s high desert, a restaurant-grade pasta machine spits out sagebrush and grass seed tortellini. Odd, perhaps, but scientists are into it. They put a mixture of compounds into the machine along with the seeds, and pods or pellets come out.

The seeds — coated with a cloak of botanical trickery to hold moisture or delay germination — are ready for planting on the mostly treeless open-range landscapes that have been scorched by fire.

If you think sagebrush is the great survivor of the American West, unkillable in the harshest, driest conditions, you’re mostly right. Sagebrush is a stubborn survivor when it grows up — a signature species of the arid countryside of Nevada, east of the Sierra Nevada, and in Oregon, east of the Cascades.