Members of Rim to Rim Restoration, a non-profit organization that tests and grows regionally sourced seeds and plants to vegetate and restore lands on the upper Colorado Plateau, hosted an open house Oct. 21 to show the public how the project has grown since its inception about 10 years ago. The plant center is located at mile marker 15 on State Route 128, where decades ago the late Dr. Paul Mayberry grew a peach orchard. The land is now protected by a conservation easement held and monitored by The Nature Conservancy.
Years of work are helping to transform the aged orchard land into a native plant nursery following the removal of noxious weeds and dead peach trees. The farm irrigates a variety of plants, shrubs and trees using silt-free river water from solar-powered shallow wells near the banks of the river. Rim to Rim has cooperative agreements with the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to help propagate native species for use on public lands and with the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program. The plants are also used for private landscaping projects that involve native plants.
“Plant materials propagated from locations close to revegetation sites have been shown to establish more effectively than those sources from farther afield,” said Kara Dohrenwend, who with her husband Ray Williams and members of Rim to Rim’s board of directors, have been overseeing the project since 2007. “There are few outlets for Colorado Plateau materials. The Mayberry Center is working to fill this neglected niche.”
When Rim to Rim purchased the land a decade ago, most of the trees were dead or declining. Russian knapweed had infested the area. Dead trees have since been cleared away, and a few of the original peach trees are still alive and being watered on a drip system. Although peaches are not native trees, Dohrenwend is trying to keep the few remaining original trees alive, and is planning to plant a few new peach trees to honor the land’s history.
Just this year the retired orchard has seen the completion of the Moab Bee Inspired Garden, which involves gardeners testing the viability of annual and perennial pollinators. In the future the center may provide space and logistical support with the U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy to grow soil crusts as a trial for transplanting.