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Fall Harvest

Three years ago, Superstorm Sandy roared across the Eastern seaboard, devastating vast stretches of the shoreline. In particular, the tall grasses that grow along the Atlantic coast were destroyed, removing a vital protective buffer for the region’s shoreline.

A story by the Associated Press noted that, Bill Brumback, a 1971 graduate of Washington and Lee University and conservation director for New England Wild Flower Society, is leading the way to restore these habitats by collecting the seeds of native plants, such as saltmarsh rush and little bluestem, and replanting them.

The two-year, $2.3 million project will help these habitats be more resilient to future storms, especially the coastal areas that act as a buffer. This is the first large-scale, coordinated, seed banking effort in the eastern United States and is part of the Seeds of Success program, a national initiative the Bureau of Land Management.

“We know from experience that having natural habitats there, along the coast, as a buffer for storms is very important,” Bill said. “We know restoring these areas is going to provide protection for future storms.”

So far, the team has collected about 50 species and has plans to make 200 trips to collect seeds next year. “Sandy is just one event,” Bill noted. “Other events are coming, and we want to be able to restore the coastline.”

Bill has worked for the New England Wild Flower Society for several decades. His contributions to the conservation of that region’s flora has been extensive, and his work to propagate and protect Robbin’s cinquefoil in New Hampshire’s White Mountain led to its recovery and subsequent removal from the U.S. Endangered Species list.

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