If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on with that field of dirt at the Mayberry Native Plant Propagation Center, come to the open house on Saturday, Oct. 19. You’ll have the rare chance to learn how workers are growing two acres of cryptobiotic soil as an experiment and for possible use in regional restoration projects.

The Mayberry Center is a project of Rim to Rim Restoration, which is partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy to find innovative techniques for restoring landscapes by growing biocrust—that “living skin of the soil” that’s full of living organisms critical for desert revegetation.

Mayberry also partners with the National Park Service; Forestry, Fire and State Lands; the Utah Conservation Corps; and Grand County as well as the Bureau of Land Management and City of Moab.

Mayberry was formerly a peach orchard owned by Paul Mayberry. A few peach trees remain on the property to honor Mayberry’s legacy and to provide shade.

Research at Mayberry also includes a pollinator plant-testing area that is part of the Moab Bee Inspired Gardens program. Additionally, locally sourced milkweed is grown and monitored at the site—a plant important to agriculture as well as the Monarch butterfly.

Rim to Rim Restoration is a nonprofit dedicated to reestablishing native vegetation and maintaining sustainable watersheds in the upper Colorado Plateau. The organization acquired the Mayberry property from the Nature Conservancy in 2009.

Other Rim to Rim projects include riparian regeneration along Mill and Pack creeks, where volunteers remove invasive species, like tamarisk and Russian olive, to make room for native plants such as coyote willow, saltbush, and rice grass.

“Many times, removing invasive plants encourages native species to come back on their own,” Rim to Rim Director Kara Dohrenwend said.

Colorado Plateau-sourced native seeds are tested and propagated at Mayberry for regional restoration efforts on public and private lands.

Located 16 miles northeast of Moab on a 30-acre parcel of land along the Colorado River, Mayberry’s open house will take place from 2 to 5 p.m., and will include self-guided tours with pamphlets and interpretive signage explaining ongoing projects at the site.

There will also be refreshments, planting opportunities, and kite flying—if the wind cooperates.

“It’s a pretty great place to fly a kite,” Dohrenwend said.

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