JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Ever wondered about the greenhouse near the DuPont gate? It’s a key part of training support on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
At the greenhouse, Integrated Training Area Management staff grow native plants for replanting and seed harvesting. These plants are destined to support the mission on base and repair training areas from maneuver damage.
ITAM provides maneuver land capability to support installation training mission requirements. It integrates the mission requirements derived from the Range and Training Land program with environmental requirements and sound land management practices.
"We are training focused," said Sally Jones, ITAM coordinator. "Prairie enhancement is not our job, ensuring desirable ground cover of native species that can support continual use and training objectives is.”
The ITAM greenhouse expanded its operation in 2020 by creating new garden beds in the old railway line outside their small office. These beds were prepared by ITAM staff and filled with compost and top soil created on JBLM by the Directorate of Public Works Solid Waste program at Earthworks.
Joey Burgess, plant propagation manager for ITAM, collected 30 lbs. of wild seed plus 50,000 plugs for four staff to plant in FY 20.
“We use a couple of different methods to rebuild the training areas,” Burgess said. “Broadcast seeding works, and creates a more natural effect. Plugs are more labor intensive and require immediate turnaround.”
Using compost created on JBLM not only saves money, but provides the plants with good nutritional soil.
“It’s a good use of JBLM resources,” Jones said. “At the greenhouse we can grow annuals and perennials. This is the best place to get genetically sourced seed. These new beds will increase our stock, provide room for experimentation and will increase our yield. Whatever seed we can’t process, our partners at Center for Natural Lands Management can assist. This can be a resource for everyone in South Puget Sound."
In some areas, JBLM Environmental Division partners with ITAM, though their missions are different. JBLM Environmental conducts prescribed burns to support prairie enhancement and these burns prepare the soil for planting plugs, or seeding operations. With all hands on deck, prairies are maintained, restored and JBLM continues to be a premier training installation.