Final thoughts

The time will come when winter will ask what you were doing all summer” –Henry Clay

Although Clay was referring to a long forgotten era when surviving the winter was a direct correlation to how much food a farm produced in the summer, taken broadly it is an appropriate aphorism of my time as a CLM intern. Just as early agrarians invested in the summer to prepare them for the future, through the CLM program I have garnered a hoard of skills and experiences towards that end. I either learned or enhanced my skills in:

*GIS processing, changing tires, patience
*Cruising timber, FORVIS stand inventory, getting sap out of clothes
*Range monitoring, fire rehab monitoring, staying hydrated
*Salt desert scrub plant id, sagebrush steppe plant id, subalpine conifer id, walking
*Remote sensing, DOQ interpretation, patience
*Class III cultural survey, NHPA of 1966, SHPOs and NRHP, celebrating the little things
*Right-of-way compliance, invasive plant id, appreciation of the Grateful Dead
*Wild horse trapping, public inquiry, diplomatic response
*RMP planning, AMS vegetation description, patience

What I will miss most about the job are the professional relationships I’ve developed with coworkers.
What I will miss most about Carson City is being a stone’s throw from the mountains and my favorite lunch spot on the Carson River. Given these positives, I will indubitably recall my desert and mountain solitaire with nostalgia.

Dear Snow,

Dear Snow,

We all miss you in the Intermountain West. Although winter weather remains a distant memory here in Carson City, my duties have shifted more to management.

Our district began work on a new Resource Management Plan to guide our direction over the next 15-20 years. The challenge is really to create a plan flexible enough to promote project-level implementation and strong enough to defend these practices in court. It is exciting to see all eager to contribute to the success of the RMP.

However, this also exposes the reality of the management side of conservation. We have meetings, about meetings, about meetings. In other news, I am applying for field crews next season.


Days go by

What up Nevada

As the field season winds down, the dwindling number of employees leaves our office a ghost town. The good news is that those of us remaining are banding together to stave off Lonely Office Syndrome (LOS). This reminds me how similar humans are to some of animals we manage in terms of behavior and sociology. Generalizing- we exhibit scattered distribution in the plentiful summertime while concentrating into groups in the winter.

I wonder if this simple observation is just skimming the surface and if much more of what we do is unconsciously engrained. As you may have guessed, I am a proponent of sociobiology and all things EO Wilson.

Consider the field of ecology. Current teachings describe a complex relationship between all parts of the environment resulting in a healthy ecosystem. Under the guise of scientific objectivity, we have labeled ecosystems suitable to ourselves as “healthy” and written off less-complex systems.

And as a result we are often surprised to find that the world is not as we projected. Consider how genetics has upstaged our understanding of evolution. Phylogeny shows that osprey have little genetically in common with eagles, despite their physical and functional resemblance (Hackett et al. 2008). It was in becoming apex raptors that ospreys and eagles took similar form, because common qualities made them fit. In other words, good ideas, if they really are good ideas, will arise independently throughout history. Say whaaat?

I guess the point of this tirade is that I am rediscovering the unconscious decision-making of the human brain which we often ignore. And although sobering, this whole new world, and the possibility to better understand myself, has me asking more and more questions.

Thanks science!

Happy Halfway

Howdy from Carson City!

I am about halfway through my internship and have yet to be bored. After the initial learning curve, my project has really picked up steam. I am creating a forest inventory in GIS for Carson City District. The BLM has many spatial data layers for our district (streams, fires, grazing allotments), however we do not has a layer for the forest, which is where I come in, the thought being ‘how can we manage our forest if we don’t know what’s there?’

I’ve also had time to travel to the area’s scenic destinations: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Devil’s Postpile, Mono Lake, San Fran Redwoods, just to name a few. For me this was a significant draw to the internship, with weekends as full of outdoor enjoyment and learning as the work week. I hope you’ve had half as good a summer as I have – Justin.

Basin v. Range

This is Justin checking in from Carson City BLM.  From a distance the entire Great Basin may look like one big xeric wasteland, but it most certainly is not. Well, the basin half comes close with just 5 inches of annual precipitation. But a week in the field on rangeland survey revealed plant diversity in the basins. And the mountains ranges are just teeming with life. My fieldwork notes are beginning to be dotted with memos saying, “return to ______ Mountains next weekend.”

So far I am enjoying the company of my coworkers. Like America’s population, the staff of the BLM are beginning to age. This is great for me because I hear humorous stories accumulated through years of working for the fed. They are also experts on their locals and make learning new ecosystems and management practices far easier than reading a book. I’m also lucky to be stationed in a field office with 6 other CLM interns, leading the old-timers to lament the “under-30 invasion.” That’s all for now!

Greetings from the Windy City!

My name is Justin and I began my internship this week with the training workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This week-long clinic not only teaches skills to succeed in a Federal agency, but is also a blast! About 50 interns attended the workshop, which provided a great opportunity to make friends and share experiences about life in a field office. Solidarity was evident immediately. Arriving from all across the west at O’Hare airport, we issued a collective sigh of, “ahhh, TREES.” Stationed primarily in arid Federal lands, the lush Midwestern ecosystem was a nice perk for the week. Days consisted of intensive classroom sessions on Conservation Genetics, Plant ID, Field Monitoring, Seed Collecting, Management Legislation and Field Safety, supplemented with outdoor activities. Evenings we were set free to enjoy the extensive culture of Chicago and the beauty of Lake Michigan.

Armed with new knowledge and connections, I am confident in my preparation for the BLM field office in Carson City, NV. Can’t wait to apply these new skills!