Final Goodbyes

     Well it is time for my final blog.  This experience began in December 2010, when I applied for an internship via the Conservation and Land Management Program.   Krissa  contacted me to let me know that they had a few positions that I might be interested in.  She gave me a few project descriptions and allowed me to choose one of them.  One of the projects was at the  Palm Springs South Coast Field Office called the Dos Palmas Project.  The reason why I chose that project had to deal with the amount that I would be involved with.  All of the other projects sounded very specific and focus on a one or two major points, but the Dos Palmas Project seemed to have a lot going on with it. 


            I was living in South Carolina during that time, and I had to immediately move my life to the other side of the country to California.  The farthest west I had been was Tennessee, and I don’t really consider that the West, so I was very excited.  March 2nd was when my mentor offered me the job and asked if I could start on the 14th, so about a week after the acceptance I started working on the Dos Palmas project.  It was March and my mentor told me that she had already hired someone to replace her, and that the BLM was waiting for all of the paperwork to go through.  She was also trying to get another intern, so there would be a total of three people working on the project during the summer.


            My new mentor came and went, and so the assistant field manager became my mentor.  I and the other intern were the project leads for the Dos Palmas Project.  It was a challenge dealing with some of the partners on the project because we were so young , but eventually they realize we knew what we were talking about and respected us for that.  I forged new work relationships, and increased my network on a professional level and was very pleased to hear that many of them wanted to keep in contact even after I left. 


            Because I was taking on so much work, I needed a lot of training.  I attended several different training sessions, trainings that have helped me tremendously and trainings that I can use in the future.  NEPA, PFC, and the acronyms continue down the list (especially if you work with the BLM). 


            Despite some of the difficulties I encountered during my internship experience, I would not give up it for the world.  I have learned so much, made a lot of connections (both professionally and personal), and seen so much, that despite the difficulties, this has been a great experience.  I always wanted to get out of South Carolina, because I wanted to see what else was out there, I never expected to have the time of my life away from “home”. 


            Again, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and would like to thank Krissa and Marian for all the hard work that they take care of, in order to make this internship possible for recent college graduates like myself.  I recommend applying to this program, it is a great way to get your foot through the door.  Good Luck and thanks again Chicago Botanic Garden.   


I grew up in the Southeast, lived in the same place for 23 years, and went to a college in the same state.  I vacationed in a few places on the East Coast and I had never been passed the Mississippi River.  I envied all of my friends that went all across the United States and out of the country.  I was determined to explore the rest of the States and to leave my comfort zone.

Part of the reason why I applied for this internship was so I could make a major change in my life……


I got planted on the other-side of the country leaving my friends and family.  I drove the across the entire country just so I could experience more of what is out there.  I really needed this major change in my life so that I could figure out what is important in my life.  The big idea here, is what is best for me.  Some may say it was selfish for me to leave my family, others may agree with me, but what mattered was, what I needed to do to make my life better.

Basically, I needed to  travel and see what other states/cities had to offer.  California is a huge state and has so many different climates/habitats/ecosystems, it is crazy to see them all.  Waking up to a view of the mountains in a city and then driving an hour to see a desert, and then walking a few miles to find a palm oasis is kind of disorienting, especially coming from a state where it basically is a temperate forest.

If I grew up in the West and moved to the East I may feel the same way about the East Coast having several different habitats etc., but it is refreshing to experience something new.  So I made it one of my goals to try and experience as many new surroundings as possible.

I just took a mini vacation to San Francisco which is about 8-9 hours from where I am stationed in Palm Springs.  I am working in the desert, where the temperatures reach about 120 degrees in the shade!  I get to San Francisco and I have to wear jeans and a jacket in order to keep warm!  It is baffling to realize that I drove that far and I am only halfway through the state.

San Francisco was a blast!  I went to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, and meandered through all of the neighborhoods that were located within the city.  I tried booking a tour of Alcatraz, but unfortunately they were full, looks like I just have to come back to do this!  It is definitely a fun city, and I could picture myself living there!

My other goals are to head to Death Valley, and then Sequoia National Forest, I can not wait to explore these areas!  Thanks Chicago Botanic  Garden!

Typical Bridge Photo! It was Freezing!! I did have a jacket!

Restoration is Difficult Work!

My internship focuses on restoring Desert Fan-Palm Oases.  Apparently, no one has come up with a set way on how to restore desert habitat.  There is a lot of collaboration and research into finding techniques to use, to restore this habitat.  My favorite method by far is using the Groasis Waterboxx.

Here is a link to show you more about Groasis Waterboxxes,

They are designed by Pieter Hoff who works for AquaPro.  I have used these Waterboxxes to establish seeds of our target species in hard to grow places.  However, because I work in the desert, when you place things like this out there, wildlife tends to use them as habitat.  While monitoring these Waterboxxes, I ran across this little guy in one of our dead Waterboxxes.  (Shown in the picture below)  This is a Desert Banded Gecko, with its tail re-growing.  That is why its tail looks so weird!

This is so cool, I thought living in the desert would mean not seeing this much wildlife, but I totally underestimated the desert.  I thought geckos were needed more water than they could find in the desert.  Obviously I was wrong.

Anyways, restoring desert habitat is definitely a learning process, so if anyone has any ideas feel free to comment and let me know!  These Waterboxxes are in the process of being tested by the project I am working on as well as by many other people.  I really hope the plants that we have planted in them survive throughout the summer!


BLM Palm Springs, CA

My name is Vince and I have been a CLM intern for about 3 months.  It had definitely been a bumpy ride getting used to a new life.  I moved from South Carolina to Palm Springs, CA, and I have never lived anywhere other than South Carolina before, so this was definitely a change for me.  I work at the BLM South Coast Field Office working on the Dos Palmas Project.

Dos Palmas is a preserve that was created by the Coachella Canal, the Canal was lined and is no longer providing water to several Palm Oases in this preserve.  Basically, my job is to help restore these Palm Oases by planting existing vegetation that is no longer growing there because of the lack of water.

This experience has been great and I love it out here.  I have met several amazing people and made friends; I hope to stay in contact with.  I have also learned quite a bit during my internship.  I took a course on GIS, something that everyone seems to know and now I do too.  I have learned several different desert plant species, and seen several different desert animals.

The summer is finally approaching and today the high was 115 degrees, sweet, I survived it!  Hopefully I will be able to survive all of it, I am sure it will be a challenge that I have yet to conquer.

I found this oasis on one of my first visits to Dos Palmas!   This is an awesome place.