RICHLAND — The Native Plant Greenhouse constructed at Washington State University Tri-Cities will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5.
The greenhouse is adjacent to the recently completed Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) at WSU Tri-Cities, 2710 University Drive, Richland. The public is invited to the event. Light refreshments will be served.
The Native Plant Greenhouse and Nursery project will benefit environmental restoration efforts in the region,
including at the Hanford Site and the Hanford Reach National Monument, by providing a wider variety of native plants and seeds in greater quantities than before.
The effort will benefit from collaboration with the region’s Tribes and other community organizations while enhancing educational opportunities at WSU Tri-Cities and arid lands environmental restoration efforts.
To date, the availability of native plant and seed sources has been limited to a few, small local producers with relatively limited types and quantities.
“The ability to re-vegetate Hanford with a variety of native plants and seeds is one of the huge benefits of this project,” said Dave Brockman, site manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, Richland Operations Office.
“Whether it’s cleaning up waste sites or tearing down contaminated buildings, re-vegetation becomes a major part of our efforts,” Brockman said. “Using native plants as opposed to non-native species is a sound practice because native plants have a higher survival rate.”
Another clear advantage of the program is that it provides WSU with the ability to teach students — through the greenhouse and nursery facility — the fundamentals of economic restoration, the skills needed to restore habitats, and the importance of collaboration.
“As a key user, we look forward to conducting research projects and education together,” said Stuart Harris with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. “We both have worked towards this for several years, and view this as a major step towards building regional expertise in native plant research and restoration.”
The Native Plant Greenhouse and Nursery project is a collaborative effort between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, WSU Tri-Cities, Washington Closure Hanford, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and other tribes in the region.
The facility was constructed from funds provided by Washington Closure as part of a settlement of an EPA enforcement case for regulatory violations at Hanford’s Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility. As part of the settlement, Washington Closure agreed to fund two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) as consideration for a reduced penalty payment. The Native Plant Greenhouse and Nursery was one of the SEPs agreed to by EPA and DOE.
“This greenhouse program provides tangible benefits to the regional environment, which is a key characteristic for a project to be used as a SEP,” said Dave Einan, a project manager with EPA’s Hanford office. “We applaud the efforts of DOE, WSU and others to establish this program. It will benefit the local ecology for years to come.”