Spring is here

Spring is here! The weather here in Boise has been great the last few weeks. Everything is in bloom and the weather has been great in the high 60’s and low 70’s. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Before I know it though, it will be in the high 90’s and I will be waiting for it to cool down. Regardless, I am enjoying the spring weather at its best.

Now that my schedule has changed and I have gone to part time, it has taken me a little longer to complete the different projects.  I finished gathering information for the sagebrush project that entailed locating sagebrush lots that have been bought and sold, along with where they have been planted in the last 20 years. Once that was completed, I went back to going through all of the lots of seed in the warehouse and identifying what seed lots needed to be retested. Fortunately, of the hundreds of different lots in the warehouse, less than 30 issues were identified. Now that the Boise inventory is completed and up to date, I will begin focusing on the Ely warehouse these next few days in an attempt to finalize the inventory, update all of the seed lots, and identify test dates and current PLS. This task, however, will be more difficult for many different reasons, one of which is that fact that I am not down in Nevada at the warehouse. Considering the amount of time I have left with CLM, and the projects I have left to complete, time is definitely valuable. These next few weeks, I will be working diligently in my attempt to finish the workload in a timely manner. I am confident that I can finish what I have started in ample time. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Boise Regional Seed Warehouse

Bureau of Land Management

Southern California Adventures!

Hello Everyone!

I am now entering week three working with the BLM Hollister office in California and it has been an exciting and interesting time so far! Everyone is so welcoming and helpful out here and there is a lot of interesting research coming out of this office. It definitely helps working with such friendly people when transitioning to a new job and to a new home!

I am conducting all of my research at the beautiful Panoche Hills Recreation Area which is a semi-arid scrubland. This area is dominated by the shrub Ephedra californica and I have been working closely with a Ph.D. student testing plant-plant interactions between Ephedra and annuals as well as plant-animal interactions between Ephedra and kangaroo rats. Together we have set up a number of experiments including seed trapping experiments, herbivore exclosures to remove biotic stress, and kangaroo rat granivory trials. This year was an extremely dry year for California, so it is very interesting testing interactions in an abnormal year.

One thing that I would like to investigate further after the above mentioned experiments are complete is how the highly invasive grass species red brome has impacted the area. Specifically, there are two endangered species present at Panoche Hills, the giant kangaroo rat and the blunt nosed leopard lizard and I would like to know if/how the invasion by red brome has impacted their populations and potential ways to mitigate this impact.

I am looking forward to continuing this amazing experience!

Here are some photos of my adventures so far!


BLM Holister Field Office, California

Herbivory exclosure to reduce biotic stress Seed trapping experiment Kangaroo rat granivory experiment Beautiful Panoche Hills Horn Lizard

Identifying Southern Oregon


I am coming to the end of my second week here in the Medford District BLM office. So far it has been a crash course in general botany as we get geared up for what looks like is going to be a busy seed collecting season.  The Medford District office is the largest BLM office in the United States, which means we have quite a large region to collect from.  Not only are we dealing with a grand scale of space, but the Southern Oregon landscape is all over the place when it comes to ecosystem diverseness. The species richness and biodiversity appears to me, at this point in the season, to be endless.  The Siskiyou Mountains, Klamath Mountains, Lower Cascade Mountains, and  the Rogue Valley are notoriously known for their unique soils which equate to many rare and endemic plant species.  This creates an exciting challenge when it comes to plant identification.

So far in this short week and a half, I have gone on about 5 scouting missions in the surrounding areas, collecting plants, practicing my identification skills, and bring specimens back to the lab for further examination.  We have been taking notes about when we assume these plants will start to go to seed and plan on going back and checking these locations, as well as scouting out new ones, in the weeks to come.

Having moved to this region about six months ago, this internship opportunity as allowed me to really get a better feel for my new home in a geographical sense.  Being able to begin to identify local plants, creeks, mountains, and other land marks, that were nameless strangers to me 2 weeks ago, has granted me a sense of community in a very odd naturalist sort of way. The ability to put a name to a face (or in this case a flower) has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my new surroundings.

Happy (seed) hunting!


Medford, Oregon BLM


Identifying Mimulus guttatus.

Identifying Mimulus guttatus.

View from the top of Lower Table Rock (facing south)

View from the top of Lower Table Rock (facing south)

Making a pressing of Lupinus bicolor.

Making a pressing of Lupinus bicolor.



Cheers to a New Chapter!

Greetings from beautiful Carson City, Nevada, home of the ever-present sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides), and Vivid Dancer Damselfly (Argia vivida)-just to name a few symbols that represent our nation’s 7th largest state!  I arrived here a bit over three weeks ago, and it has been a wonderful change coming from the never ending winter of Connecticut.  I do love my home state, but something about stepping off a plane to blooming flowers and sunshine has been nothing but refreshing.

So much has happened out here already while interning with the BLM botany team.  I was the 6th intern to arrive, and the others have helped make my transition a smooth one.  Although not quite caught up with identifying all the desert flora or recognizing unfamiliar bird calls, there is an obvious sense of community within the team here, and I think it will be no time until I’m brought completely up to speed.  Particularly appreciating the casual plant ID discussions and stories of field days that occur over our home cooked meals once a week, it is certain to say accepting this challenge of creating a life across the country has been more than a wise decision.

A few highlights from the past three weeks have included becoming certified to apply pesticides on federal lands in efforts to eradicate invasive species, working in some of the most beautiful locations, and (as of this week) beginning to monitor and develop a conservation plan for Ivesia webberi, a soon to be listed endangered species.  It is especially rewarding to me to bring a voice to things like plants that just can’t stand up and say, “Hey, protect me from those soon to be grazing cattle” or “Watch out, there are nonnative species out competing me for space to grow!”  What can I say, I love plants!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time out here thus far, and anticipate things getting even better as the season continues.  Looking very much forward to using my conservation degree from UConn for practical applications in the field, becoming fluent in GIS, and looking up at a star lit sky from a desert perspective!  Until then, enjoy a couple photos from my first days in the field!

Be Well,


Carson City BLM Field Office


First Day in the Field Collecting Seeds!

First Day in the Field Collecting Seeds

Beautiful Pyramid Lake!

Beautiful Pyramid Lake


Wild Horses Do Exist!

Wild Horses Do Exist!


Ivesia webberi

Ivesia webberi




So long CLM

This was my favorite botany job yet and unfortunately I am ending it early. Good news is I’ve landed a permanent job after a few years of constant moving about. I will have to incorporate the native plant restoration work into my new position. I enjoyed working with each part of the plant cycle in native plant propagation. I enjoyed collecting seeds, cleaning, storing, and treating seeds, growing them in the greenhouse, and planting them at their final destination restoration site. It was a beautiful experience. But I got out before the summer heat.

Each weekend I jumped on a different trail in the area. What is neat about the Redding BLM and the surrounding area is the amount of recreation. It seems to be the (only) thing to do around here- but it’s a good one. You’ve got the Lassen to the east, Mt. Shasta to the North and the Trinities to the West. It really is a beautiful place.

Besides on the ground restoration work, I developed a restoration handbook for the next seasonal. It includes maps and pictures of the restoration sites and what plants go there, as well as other tips. What I learned in my short time at the Redding BLM is invaluable.

Here are some photos from my stay:

Little buddy hanging out with me in the greenhouse

Little buddy hanging out with me in the greenhouse


buckeye seed

buckeye seed


buckeye seedlings at the greenhouse

buckeye seedlings at the greenhouse

buckeye going in drainage area.

buckeye growing in drainage area.

View of Redding from the bluffs

View of Redding from the bluffs- Sacramento River, Sundial Bridge and the Trinities

Big Bear Lake, CA March-April

CIMG8134 - Copy CIMG8245 - Copy

Phacelia sp.

Phacelia sp.

We’ve been doing surveys for TESW (Threatened, Endangered, Sensitive, and Watch plant species) along proposed OHV routes in the high desert, north of Big Bear Lake.  There’s a lot blooming, and some hillsides have even taken on a yellow hue.  Sensitive species in the area include Mojave paintbrush (Castilleja plagiotoma, SBNF Sensitive) and Lemmon’s syntrichopappus (Syntrichopappus lemmonii, SBNF Watch, middle).  We also did survey work at a mining claim nearer to the desert side of the forest.

 In late March we attended a bryophyte foray near Santa Cruz, CA.  (My point-and-shoot isn’t so well-equipped to take great pictures of mosses, especially in dim light, but I had a little better luck with wild ginger, Asarum caudatum, top).  It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with some big names in the moss, liverwort, and hornwort worlds, and a good introduction to bryophyte keys.

Additional survey work this month will focus on mining claims and proposed OHV routes.  We’ll also be attending a Poaceae workshop at Rancho Santa Botanic Garden.  

Month 2

The last time I posted here, I had been in town for all of a week, and was just getting settled in. It’s honestly a bit shocking to me that that was only four weeks ago: I’m already feeling very comfortable with the job, even as I’m thrown/throwing myself into new tasks every few days.

The focus of my internship is the restoration of a desert oasis and the surrounding area, and the main project from the last four weeks has been planting seedlings to encourage recovery following the removal of invasive tamarisk. Since I arrived we’ve planted nearly 200 individual plants in areas that had been opened up or damaged by the removal process, and though we still have some 80 plants waiting to get in the ground, this phase of my internship is nearly done.

The other thing filling my work hours has been GIS training, something I’ve always wanted to learn both because I’ve always been a little geeky about maps, and because it’ll be a huge help finding work in the future. I’m happy to be able to say that in two weeks ArcGIS has stopped seeming overwhelmingly complicated, and is now merely frustratingly complicated, similar to how I feel about R or MATLAB, or every other computer science tool I’ve worked with.

Next week I’ll be starting with the two main projects that will occupy my time and energy through August: vegetation surveys, and seed collection for the Seeds of Success project. I’ve already got experience doing both veg surveys and seed collection from university and previous jobs, so I don’t expect much difficulty jumping into these projects either.

I’ve attached some pictures this time. I’ve always been bad at taking pictures, both in that I don’t have much talent for photography and in that I typically forget that I even own a camera. So I’m sorry to say that I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like to. But let me say: the experience of standing on the San Andreas fault line just after dawn and looking out over Dos Palmas oasis as it is both still shrouded in nighttime fog and lit by the sun rising over the mountains? Definitely worth getting up a few minutes early for. Sorry I don’t have a picture of it! You’ll just have to come see it in person.

habitat restoration in progress

habitat restoration in progress

Each day, a new challenge and a new opportunity

Moving is made easy by cleansing on many levels. Loaded up “Little Red” (my Nissan pickup) with my down-sized life and moved to Wenatchee, WA last Sunday afternoon. Went to work on Monday morning. The Bureau of Land Management, Wenatchee Regional Field Office is situated on the beautiful Columbia River in the center of town with access to a lovely riverfront park and some of the most welcoming, easy-going, knowledgeable staff. Not to mention humorous. I felt at home immediately. Beginning this season for the BLM is a radical shift for me in comparison to the last handful of years in academics, work load, schedule, climate, plant communities, etc. but if there were a definition of a calm transition I might at least come in runner up. I’m so thankful for this, for the chance to gain new perspective, for the opportunity to work for a federal agency managing a beautifully, fragile ecosystem, for the opportunity to expand my heart and my mind. I’m thankful to know that whatever occurs, however long the days, whatever the conditions in the field, I am always capable. Strength and grace always. Best of luck to all of you in sharing this year’s adventure!

What’s up, from Carson City!

Hey there! It’s Alexandra (Alex) live from Carson City, NV. It is now my 6 week in the internship. It was quite a pleasant weather shift, moving out here from the brutal winter Chicago has been experiencing! I find the scenery out here in the wild west amazing. The Chicago skyline is pretty cool at night and all, but I have to say, I love being able to look out my apartment window and see the Sierra Nevada Mountains!

After mainly doing plant biology research in a lab the past two years while working on my Master’s degree, working as a botany intern for BLM has reminded me how much I miss field work. I came out here knowing next to nothing about desert flora, and over the past several weeks, I’ve learned so many new plants. You look out into the Great Basin, and you think you are looking at a monoculture of mostly sagebrush, but once you venture out into it and creep around the desert floor, you begin to realize that there is diverse salad of wildflowers, grasses and shrubs. My favorite place we have visited is the Hardscrabble area/allotment. Another intern and I were surveying the riparian areas for noxious weeds, and we hiked up the canyon to a beautiful Populus tremuloides (trembling aspen) stand. This allotment is adjacent to Pyramid Lake, and we had a stunning view of it from there (sorry I don’t have a photo). All is well so far, more to come soon!

Just the Beginning

This is my second season as a CLM intern. My first season was spent in the Carson City area of Nevada.  It was filled with adventure, amazing new friends, and knowledge gained.  I am sure that my second season will offer similar opportunities for new adventures, friends, and learning.

It has barely begun, four days in my new position to be exact, and I already love it. I am based out of the BLM Prineville District Office in Central Oregon. Half of my time has been spent completing online training courses and familiarizing myself with the computer files here. The second half of the week, I was lucky enough to get out into the field!  I helped out another employee here at the BLM planting Cottonwood trees along Bridge Creek.  I learned that the purpose of the trees was to create shade, which helps push out some of the weedy species in the area. The trees are an alternative to using herbicides, for fear that the herbicides would leach into the creek.

All in all, I am excited for my second season as an intern, now located in Prineville, Oregon!