88 / SEEDWORLD.COM DECEMBER 2018 ON A BEAUTIFUL Wednesday evening in late September, more than 400 individuals packed the auditorium of California’s Shasta College in Redding. They weren’t there for a concert or theatrical performance. They weren’t there for a political rally. They were homeowners, landowners and residents there with note books and file folders in hand to learn about wildfire recovery efforts, what they can do to help and the resources available. The Redding area was hit especially hard with three separate wildfires, quickly spreading due to high winds and eventually merging, creating one massively burned area. As a state, California is witnessing one of the worst wildfire years on record with more than 1 million acres burned, accord- ing to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Excluding U.S. Forest Service numbers, burned acres are at 620, 743, double that from last year and nearly three times the five- year average. Across the West more than 8 million acres have burned in 2018 alone, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Fragile by nature, many of these Western ecosystems are on the brink of being forever changed. These desolate landscapes are at risk from eroding soils, invasive weeds and deteriorating water quality. That’s why it’s critical to get new seed planted and established as soon as possible. Orlin Reinbold of Landmark Turf and Native Seed, headquar- tered out of the Pacific Northwest, says it’s about preservation. “We need to focus on protecting that resource immediately,” Reinbold says, adding that these plants help clean the air and hold the soil in place, preventing erosion and possible water contamination. Working behind the scenes is a small but vibrant sector of the seed industry that specializes in environmental and conserva- tion seed. A few of the companies working in this space include Buffalo Brand Seed LLC, Clearwater Seed, Curtis & Curtis Inc., Landmark Turf and Native Seed and Pacific Coast Seed. “What we do is critical to putting the environment back to what it was originally, before the fires, before the mines, oil fields and wind turbine sites,” says Mark Peabody, general manager After the devastation, Mother Nature begins to rebuild and the American seed industry is there to help. Julie Deering jdeering@issuesink.com ReCHARging the Landscape California’s Butte fire scorched hundreds of homes and burned more than 70,000 acres in 2015.