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Seedball workshop in Coconino County to revegetate fire-affected landscapes

University scientists want to revegetate areas in northern Arizona decimated by last year’s fires and flooding, and they’re asking the public to help.

In early June, Coconino County residents  will be able to help replenish land northeast of Flagstaff that was stripped bare during the surging mud flows that churned through thousands of acres of normally perennial grasses. 

They’ll use seedballs to do it, and Elise Gornish, an ecological restoration scientist with the University of Arizona, will be on hand to demonstrate how they work. 

"Seedballs are this super super ancient technique that people have been using, I think the first recording I could find was 4 B.C.," she said.

The idea is to mix seeds with nutrients like animal feces or compost and some sort of binder to prevent the seeds from blowing away. 

"If you take a bunch of seeds and just throw them out on the landscape and it doesn’t rain, that sun blazing down on the seeds could actually kill the seeds if they’re out there too long," she said.

Gornish says they’re easy to make and easy to spread so she’s optimistic they’ll help build up the ravaged landscape. 

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.