A tour of restoration projects 

We visited the Yavapai-Apache Nation Farm and Ranch near Camp Verde to learn about native seed increase operations. The Nation is growing native grasses and selling seeds for restoration projects across the West. This model could be replicated to spur rural economic development for producers or tribal enterprises growing seed to sell or to use in local restoration work.

Lessons from Dryland Farmers

Visiting Jaren Numkena's family farm near Tuba City opened our eyes to the challenges of growing crops in this unpredictable, arid environment. One pre-season flood irrigation is all the water the plants may get if the rains don't come. We learned that locally adapted seeds planted in just the right place have amazing capacity to succeed, even in extremely hot and dry environments.

Navajo Nation Native Plants Program

Operating within Navajo Nation's Natural Heritage Program under the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Native Plants Program staff collects native seeds, conducts training and outreach, and assists with plant inventories and restoration projects across Navajo Nation. They are also assessing the feasibility of a Navajo-run program aimed at producing native plant material for restoration, conservation, and cultural preservation (report). 

Recognizing that land managers can benefit from collaborative, innovative, and dynamic approaches to sharing information, RAMPS has created a hub for science-based information and tools to help managers identify effective and resource-efficient strategies to successfully restore degraded areas. RAMPS works with partners to establish RestoreNet sites, a network of restoration field trial sites in the southwestern U.S. that tests restoration treatments across a broad range of landscape, soil, and climate conditions.  The photo shows a new site hosted at Tolani Lake Enterprises that was established as part of this project.

Spring & Upland Restoration on Hopi

Hopi Tribe's Department of Natural Resources staff have worked long and hard on spring and upland restoration across Hopi Land. Removing tamarisk brought this local spring back from a muddy patch to a flowing spring that now provides water for wildlife and livestock. Native vegetation has come back too (photo above) as has a local population of native frogs. 

At an upland site near First Mesa we saw how strategically placed rock structures hold soil and water to repair an eroded hillside. This was an inspiring youth-built project.

Adjacent to the Little Colorado River near Cameron, we visited one in a network of 10 sites where researchers are learning about restoration using genetic variants of native cottonwood and willow. We learned some of what they have found out so far including the benefits of planting deep rooted seedlings and how micorrhyzae in the soil around the seedlings helps them grow. We also saw impressive results of hard restoration work removing much of a dense  tamarisk forest to make room for the native plants. 

Here's a list of takeaways from the tour.