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Know the West

A seed business blooms in Nevada

  After Nevada enacted a mining reclamation law in 1989, a 10-year-old native seed company began to blossom.

Comstock Seed, based in Reno, Nev., found requests poured in for seeds for native shrubs, wildflowers and wild grass as mining reclamation work became "our biggest and most booming market," says owner Ed Kleiner Jr.

To meet the growing demand, Comstock Seed constantly combs the land for seeds from plants such as monkeyflower, blanketflower and poppies.

The average annual haul - 30,000 to 50,000 pounds of seed - is hand-gathered from Mexico to Canada by Kleiner and his crews. The best pickers, says Kleiner, are 40- to 50-year-old women. "They are patient and thorough, and come out with much more than the speedy young guys."

Reclamation under the new law means that companies must save topsoil, control erosion, isolate and remove toxic materials, recontour and revegetate disturbed areas, and rehabilitate habitat for fish and wildlife. It also requires new operations larger than five acres to pay a bond before beginning work. The company gets its bond money only after state inspectors say reclamation at the mining site is satisfactory.

BLM's Deputy State Director for Minerals, Tom Leshendok, says federal and state agencies are increasingly moving toward reseeding with natural and native vegetation.

For more information, contact Comstock Seed, 8520 W. 4th St., Reno, NV 89523 (702/746-3681).

* Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark writes in Carson City, Nevada.