Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saving Sego Lilies

It takes seven years for a sego lily to grow from a seed to a flower, but if something happens to its home, it can be gone in an instant. That’s why a team of staff has made it their job to save the lilies living at the site where the new Utah Museum of Natural History will be built.

Why go to all that trouble for some plants? Because we’re causing trouble for them. A new building will disrupt the communities that live at the site, but we’re doing all we can to help preserve and protect the small slice of Utah landscape we’re affecting.

In June 2007, volunteers fanned out across the 17 acre plot in the Salt Lake City foothills, where the Museum will one day move, searching for signs of sego lilies – Utah’s official state flower. Each time the salvage team spotted the thin, grass-like leaves of a lily, they dug deep around the plant to retrieve the bulb, buried 6 or 7 inches in the dirt. They moved the plants into pots, and the pots into an outdoor “gated community” at the University of Utah Biology Research Garden. There the lilies will snuggle until 2010, when the new Museum is built and it’s safe to return them to their home in the foothills.

Saving the sego lilies is just one part of the Museum’s effort to take care of the land; staff has also collected seed from plants and rescued tarantulas and other invertebrates that live on the site. Architects are designing the new building to be as friendly as possible to the environment. We know we’ll never be able to eliminate our impact on this piece of the planet, but we hope that, by doing our best to respect and preserve the creatures that live there, we can be proud to one day call it our home too.

To read more about the environmental impact the new Museum will have on the site, check out our official Environmental Impact Statement.

Click below to explore a map of where the new UMNH building will be.