Southwestern Plant Material Centers connect with their local communities by hosting and participating in outreach for individuals within and outside of the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Plant Materials Centers (PMC) are hubs for training, education, and outreach for a wide variety of natural resource topics, land uses, and audiences. Topics and events are driven by local needs and often, one event, or one planting, can highlight multiple topics. In the Southwest for example, wildfire is a topic of concern. The Lockeford, CA PMC conducted a cultural burn training with representatives from local Miwok tribes, California State Agencies, and three local fire departments. The burn included five acres of weedy invasive annual grasses and an acre of riparian habitat. Recovery after the fire is monitored and highlighted during events like the cover crop Spring Field Day to spread awareness of prescribed fire as a management tool, as well as its effects on plant communities and soil health.
Soil health principles apply no matter what your land use or location, but the plants and varieties used vary depending on the local conditions. Staff at the Fallon, NV PMC assisted with a multi-day regional soil health training and presented a cover crop guidance table highlighting the best plant species to use per resource concern. In New Mexico, Los Lunas, NM PMC staff hosted a field day providing an overview of conservation plants for addressing various conservation needs, improved native grasses, foundation seed production, and demonstrations of soil water infiltration patterns in the field. Similarly, the Tucson, AZ PMC participates in a yearly event at the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation to highlight native grasses and species for conservation and hosts students from the University of Arizona’s classes and the Ag Discovery program to learn about farm operations, resource concerns, and conservation plants.
For additional information on specific species of plants, please see the USDA PLANTS database. Technical information and guidance on the use of conservation plants to address resource concerns can be found on the Plant Materials Program website or contact the nearest Plant Materials Center or plant materials specialist.