a proud heritage

Our History

Great Basin Seed has a proud heritage in the Intermountain West seed industry. Our family lineage and business heritage are directly linked to the beginnings of reclamation, revegetation and wildlife habitat improvement.


You've probably heard of geographic areas like the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains - but have you heard of the Great Basin? Do you know what it is? Click the link below to learn more!

What is the Great Basin?
reclamation seed, seeding project, native seed, cheat grass control, kolob

Immigration - Early 1900

Considerable damage was done to the natural resources of the Intermountain West in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Overgrazing, timber removal, new roads contributed to erosion and de-stabilization of regional ecosystems. Rainwater and runoff were no longer held back by root systems, plant matter and understory resulting in widespread, severe flash-flooding. The small towns established along the seasonal creeks of the arid Great Basin were hit with devastating floods year after year. The small settlements of Sanpete county, UT were hit particularly hard.

Right: The town of Manti in central Utah had severe flooding and catastrophic infrastructure damage in a serious of floods in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It lost many homes and it’s city center at least twice and severely flooded as many as six times in twenty years. Determining the root cause of the floods and addressing the problem was chief among the reasons for the establishment of the Great Basin Experiment Station.


The flooding and damage of the early 1900's led in part to the establishment of the Great Basin Experimental Range. The phenomenon had to be studied and addressed to save the crumbling ecosystem and restore balance.

A network of ranger stations, complexes, laboratories, outbuildings, test plots and study sites were built across the west. The epicenter of the project was the Great Basin Experiment Station constructed in Ephraim Canyon in 1912. It was a small mountain village of living quarters, laboratories, gaging stations and research areas with a secondary "Alpine Station" near the top of Ephraim Canyon and a third in western Utahs arid Pine Valley at the foot of the Wah Wah mountains.

Left: The Great Basin Experiment Station in Ephraim Canyon is a few minutes drive from Great Basin Seed. Photo circa 1940

1920's - 1940's

In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that established the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC gave employment to thousands of people in an effort to combat the high unemployment rates of the Great Depression.

The reach and scope of the Great Basin Experiment Station expanded considerably during these years. Bolstered by the workforce and capabilities of the CCC, the range and reclamation efforts of the Great Basin Experiment Station expanded to include small stations and remote experimental field sites. They were built all across the west. Environmental and conservations efforts went into effect and they built wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries and water storage basins.

Upper Right: The Laboratory building at the Ephraim canyon Great Basin Experiment Station near completion, 1914. The Ephraim Station would grow to include over a dozen structures, including bunk houses, a kitchen and mess-hall, gathering places, and amphitheater and lout-buildings.

Lower Right: CCC workers constructing the Head House at the Ephraim canyon Great Basin Experiment Station, summer 1933.

1940's - 1960's

In the mid 1960's Richard Stevens began his career at the Great Basin Experiment Station as an Utah Fish & Game plant and wildlife biologist. Richard is the brother of Maple Leaf Seed founder Lloyd Stevens.

Richard spent his career with men like A. Perry Plummer, Durant McArthur, Steve Monson and many others considered to the Godfathers of natural resource management in the Intermountain West. They literally wrote the book and pioneered the practices that form the foundation of the seed industry. They spent their careers researching, testing and experimenting all over the Great Basin, the Intermountain West and the world. Their publications literally fill libraries. They pioneered college classes and courses of study that are still taught and form the backbone of graduate programs. They traveled the world and selected species for increase that would help improve disturbed lands. Cultivars released by them include 'Appar' Lewis Flax, 'Cedar' Palmer Penstemon, 'Rincon' Fourwing Saltbrush, 'Hatch' Winterfat, 'Hobble Creek' Mountain Big Sagebrush, 'Immigrant' Forage Kochia, 'Ephraim' Crested Wheatgrass and 'Paiute' Orchardgrass.

Left: The Great Basin Experiment Station in Ephraim Canyon is a few minutes drive from Great Basin Seed. Photo circa 1940

Their publications literally fill libraries.

As Richard and his team was busy performing research at the Experiment Station, the need arose to make specific seed and plant collections for the research plots. As the need increased, so did the demand for on-the-spot then seasonal help to make those collections. Richards brother and my father, Lloyd Stevens, was in high school at the time and was frequently sent out to make seed collections for the projects. As research progressed and the scale of reclamation projects grew it became clear that a legitimate industry was being created. Small-time collectors were now procuring sizable contracts for seed collection. As the need grew, so did the complexity of the collections, processing, cleaning and preparing of seed for use in large-scale projects. The machinery and facilities being used to keep up with the demand were literally being invented as the process evolved.

Needle & Threadgrass
Needle & Threadgrass “bails” after custom field collection in a native southern utah stand.

Needle & Thread harvest…requires costly collection efforts, unique cleaning machinery, caution and PATIENCE!  

It was during this golden age that my father Lloyd Stevens incorporated The Maple Leaf Company in 1974. His after-school for-pocket-change project was now a business capable of sustaining families. He contracted with out-of-state growers to produce grasses and forbs. Collection efforts became broader in scope, larger in scale and farther from home. In the early 1980’s the Conservation Reserve Program (“CRP”) gained momentum and farmers and ranchers started planting large quantities of the species that were previously purchased only by state and federal agencies for small projects. In 1985 the Farm Bill “officially” legislated the CRP and it is still in force today. As mining and gas exploration grew so did the need for seed. Roads and freeways required seed. The Maple Leaf Company became a major seed supplier to all of them. I recall as a teenager working under flood lights dusk until dawn mixing seed and filling semi-trucks with CRP seed mixes.  The seed was transported to remote airstrips then flown-on as fast as we could mix it.

In the 1990’s, wide-spread drought, the proliferation of cheet-grass and decades of fire-supression doctrine came to a head in a literal fire-storm across the Great Basin. Restoration and wildlife habitat projects were in force to combat the effects. The complexity and size of the projects led to a maturing of the seed industry and niche markets.

In 1997 I graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Parks and Recreation Administration (with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management) and a minor in Spanish. I returned to Ephraim to take a place in the family business and continue my work in the seed industry. I brought with me computer skills, a propensity for tinkering, engineering savvy and a core belief that there is always a better way of doing things. I went to work replacing old mechanical systems with modern, computerized machines, ventilation systems and modern production lines.

My graduation coincided with a groovy modern invention called the World Wide Web and I eventually decided to branch out and use my computer skills. I incorporated Great Basin Seed in 2004 and started a website during the height of the online craze. It has allowed me to connect to a larger audience and serve people in a way not possible through traditional sales.

Helipad on a Great Basin Seed seeding project

Noah Stevens, 4 years old, near the heli-pad for a post-fire seeding, Wasatch Plateau, UT

I maintain a close relationship with the Maple Leaf Company and work daily with our privately owned, family business. I do not answer to corporate investors or stockholders and I’m not driven by the ambitions of pushy salesmen who work for commission. I’m not shadow-operated by a group of disconnected shareholders who know nothing about my customers. Great Basin Seed is just me and a handful of loyal employees. I believe honesty, integrity, sincerity, loyalty and Christian service are the first and most important principles of a business transaction. They also form the foundation of lasting relationships.  I believe that my own family history and the proud legacy of those who came before me in this industry require that I give you my best. I promise to adhere to those principles!


Jason Stevens, owner of Great Basin Seed

Grumpy face (me) in a 200 square mile patch of cheatgrass, Izzenhood, NV

Other facts about the guy behind Great Basin Seed:

Born and raised in Ephraim, UT under stubborn Danish heritage
Married to a fantastic woman with stubborn Italian heritage
3 fantastic kids, one grandchild
Avid outdoorsman & sportsman
Furniture builder & hobby gunsmith
Author of 4 books

Great Basin Seed
450 South 50 East
Ephraim, UT 84627
435.283.1411 (Office)
435.283.6872 (Fax)

Learn more about the history of Range and Watershed Research and the Great Basin

We have compiled a small library of photos and documents below about the history of range and watershed research and reclamation in the Great Basin


Great Basin Station

Great Basin Station - Sixty Years of Progress in Range and Watershed Research by Wendell M. Keck. A 56 page history of the Great Basin Station.

From the Abstract: “Narrates briefly the history of the Great Basin Experimental Range from its establishment in 1912 as the Utah Experiment Station. Describes key problems in management of watershed and rangelands and the experiments devised to solve them, and indicates how results of this research have been applied in practice.”

Download 'Great Basin Station'

Field Notes

Field notes from a "Natural Revegetation" project, 1940

The document at right is a hand-drawn field map that plots the location of plant species listed at the bottom. Note the impeccable penmanship. Alpine C.C. Pasture, August 15, 1940

The plant key uses the first letter of the genus name and the first two letters of the species. Thus, “Gilia aggregata” becomes “Gag”. This practice was later modified to use the first two letters of both genus and species and put into widespread use. We continue to use it at Great Basin Seed as a simple but effective way to inventory seed and label. Example: “Penstemon palmeri” becomes “PEPA”.


Beginnings of Range Management

Beginnings of Range Management – An Anthology of the Sampson-Ellison Photo Plots. An 86 page technical report and short history of the Great Basin Experiment Station by David A. Prevedel, E. Durant McArthur and Curtis M. Johnson

From the Abstract: “High-elevation watersheds on the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah were severely overgrazed in the late 1800s, resulting in catastrophic flooding and mudflows through adjacent communities. Affected citizens petitioned the Federal government to establish a Forest Reserve (1902), and the Manti National Forest was established by the Transfer Act of 1905. The Great Basin Station, a forerunner of the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, was created in 1911 within this area to study the influence of rangeland vegetation on erosion and floods”.

Download .pdf