A whistleblower sent the News 2 I-Team pictures of seed bought for the Francis Marion National Forest last year that was never sown. The seed, worth thousands of dollars, had been picked through by birds and rodents and had long missed its germination period. The News 2 I-Team took the photos to the Forest Service for an explanation on September 21. A spokesman said the seed would be sifted, sown, or stored by the end of the month. As of October 9th, very little has been done.
“This shows us tax money and hunter license fees aren’t making it to the ground,” David Strickland, founder of Carolina Wildlife Syndicate, told the I-Team last month. He obtained the pictures and a member of his group shared them with News 2’s Rebecca Collett.
Once the I-Team shared the pictures with the Forest Service, the seeds were repacked in black, plastic trash bags, and the Forest Service spokesman said teams were working on a plan to sow them. The goal was to sow them in two weeks, but News 2’s Rebecca Collett obtained pictures Friday that show not much has changed.
Seed that had been repacked in trash bags were still in those bags, though we were told they would sifted and packaged more appropriately. It’s not clear if any of the seed can be saved.
When seed isn’t planted during its peak germination period viability decreases. Seed also loses value being in the elements.
In total, 150 bags of seed were bought in 2016. Of those, 93 are now considered compromised. The bags are valued at $22 each.
“This is really important to us, and we are glad it was brought to our attention,” Pamela Baltimore, spokesperson for the Forest Service, told News 2 after we initially shared the pictures with her last month. She told the I-Team she would answer our new questions Tuesday, following the Monday holiday. She said some of the seed had been sown.
The seed is used in what’s called food plots. The seed feeds wildlife in the forest.