The Owens Lake project is an example of Nakae's capabilities in a large saltgrass planting project. Owens Lake was a prehistoric freshwater lake that had dried up due to diversion of its water in 1913 to supply the city of Los Angeles. By 1926 the lake, now completely dry, had become the largest source of dust pollution in the United States, violating the EPA standards by as much as 23 times greater than the federal standards allow. In 1998 the County of Los Angeles and the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District agreed to undertake the project of bringing the region up to federal air pollution standards by 2006. Thirteen and a half square miles of the lake were shallow flooded and, due to extremely harsh salty conditions, salt grass was plugged in 2,240 acres, 400 of which did not establish themselves due to extreme conditions.

Nakae and Associates, Inc. was retained to propagate and plant these 400 acres with 1,500,000 salt grass plugs. A special priming method and temperature variations during germination were developed by the project biologist with a resulting 85% germination rate. Conventional equipment could not be used to distribute plant material for fear of damaging existing plants so special equipment was designed for the project enabling Nakae to achieve an 85% establishment rate, a very successful outcome under extremely harsh conditions. Constant monitoring of every aspect of the project was necessary to meet growth requirements.


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