Rocky Flats has been under an environmental cleanup for more than a decade now. While the Department of Energy continues ongoing work at the former …
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Rocky Flats has been under an environmental cleanup for more than a decade now.
While the Department of Energy continues ongoing work at the former nuclear plant location, now known as the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the Jefferson County Nature Association is helping revive the natural setting of the area.
JCNA hosted its first of three annual seed pickings Sept. 22 at Rocky Flats. A group of about 20 volunteers met on the Rocky Flats grounds to collect seeds from grasses and forbs, or anything that isn’t a grass, that will be planted in different areas of the refuge.
“We want to put it back to the way it was,” said JCNA President Paul Kilburn. “You can’t buy the special seeds that grow here. You can’t buy the genetic strands that grow here. We’re happy to be at Rocky Flats to help restore it with native seed.”
While seeds of the different grasses, such as panic grass and big bluegrass, can be purchased, only seeds from the grasses already growing on the property are adapted for the specific climate that the area sees, Kilburn said.
The last building of the old Rocky Flats plant was removed in December 2005, Stew Podolski, a picking volunteer and crew member of the Rocky Flats cleanup, said. The refuge was officially established in 2007.
“It’s great,” Podolski said about the use of the land as a wildlife refuge. “The industrial area was like a small city, so when you tear that all down, you have a bunch of open ground.”
Once the volunteers tied their bags to their belts and were showed which seeds to pick and how to pick them, they set out to collect as many seeds as possible on the sunny Saturday morning.
“I’m an outdoors person, so I’m interested in the development of the refuge,” said volunteer Joan Berry. “The picks a great opportunity to do something for our community; it’s a good cause and it gets you outdoors.”
JCNA has been hosting seed picks at Rocky Flats for four years.
Legacy Management, a division of the Department of Energy, will most likely plant the seeds picked by the volunteers throughout the refuge this fall so the seeds can benefit from the snow and rain in the coming months, Kilburn said.
The next two picks will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Rocky Flats.
To register for the picks, visit www.volunteeroutdoors.net and search “Jefferson County Nature Association” under the “Volunteers” tab.
For more information, contact Paul Kilburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jean Tate at email@example.com.
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