Nevada Blues

My time is at an end here at the Carson City District Office. It’s bittersweet because I have enjoyed my time here in western Nevada, but I am moving on to Moab, Utah to try my hand in working for the USGS. I didn’t get to see as much as Nevada as I hoped, but I am happy with what I did get to see and experience.

I have been working in the office now consistently since I have been back from a two week vacation during the Holidays. I am starting to drive myself crazy being stranded in a cubicle writing GIS metadata and progress reports. Because of these past few weeks being in the office, I am glad to be moving on because I think I need something new and a new area to spike my interests. Don’t get me wrong, the area is beautiful, but I have seen it and now I want to see more things instead of becoming content with seeing the same beauty of the Carson City District all the time.

I appreciate all that the CLM internship has done for me. I think the program is great and has given me some great experiences and skills that I can take elsewhere. The staff at CLM was always helpful in answering difficult questions and was always quick with an answer.

Thank you for the opportunity to learn new and great things while allowing me to utilize and build on my skills.

Blitzkrieg on Seed

My internship has been full of changing priorities and tasks from fire monitoring and fire intensity mapping, to evaluating range lands, to monitoring T&E plant species, but recently I have had a simple task…get as much seed as possible as fast as possible. My team and I have made so many collections so quickly that we are up to our ears in bags of seed. It has proved difficult to try to keep up with our seed and seed shipments, which has taught me that organization is key when doing seed collections.

A perk to working at the BLM Carson City District Office is that we get to do seed collections in some very different ecosystems. Last week we were at the gates of Yosemite National Park around 10, 000 ft in elevation, seed collecting in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains trying to get any high elevation seed present. The last day we were in the area we had some nice snow showers, which proved bad for seed collecting, but great on the team’s spirits.

View from a meadow near the gates of Yosemite National Park.

Snowy hillside around Saddlebag Lake near Yosemite.

This past week we ventured out to a vast valley within out district called Dixie Valley, where we collected salt-desert species in and around a large playa. We went from collecting at 10,000+ feet to collecting at 3,000 feet in a matter of a few days. It’s really great to be able to collect different seed from so many different species and ecosystems in just a few days.

Look towards the east from Dixie Valley, NV.

I think my team and I have made roughly 50-60 seed collections in just a weeks worth of time, which enforces the lesson that organization is key. I’m not sure if our efforts were average, good, or excellent, but I’m proud of my efforts as well as my team’s.

Throughout the field season I knew that seed collecting was going to be a major component, but it always seemed to be in the back of my mind because we were swamped with so many other tasks. Now my team and I have transitioned into a seed collecting machine, which I have been told won’t let up until probably the end of November. Our blitzkrieg on seed is bittersweet though because we are now camping in nightly temperatures of about 35 degrees and soon to be freezing. Although the nights and mornings are discomforting, the days are really nice. The rugged temperature swings are annoying at best, but I get over it when I reflect on the great work that my team and I are doing for the SOS program and our CLM internship.



Fire All Around


I have been incredibly busy the past few weeks monitoring past burns within the Carson City BLM District. We have been learning great techniques for monitoring. We have also participated in some outreach events, where we did some rare plant monitoring with a local plant society. Overall I have been quite busy, but enjoying every minute of it.


Training and Outreach

I have become quite busy the past couple of weeks on various projects. I recently just returned from a BLM training for Indicators of Rangeland Health. Although I am a Botany Intern, the rangeland health training really broadened my knowledge of the ecosystems present in the West. The training took place in beautiful St. George, Utah right on the edge of the Mojave Desert. I got to learn new plants and learn many new techniques to better analyze the status of a piece of land. I am excited to use some of the techniques I learned and share with the rest of my intern team. I think that protocol for analyzing the 17 indicators of rangeland health can be useful to anyone working in natural resources, not just the range specialists because it incorporates hydrology, geology, wildlife biology, and botany.

Once I returned from my training I have been kept busy preparing for a large outreach project at a local recreation hot spot, Sand Mountain near Fallon, NV. My fellow interns and I have been scrambling about trying to get all the info we want to share with the public to try to increase the appreciation for our surrounding nature and public lands. It has been quite a hectic process trying to organize all the gear and information, but I am confident everything will come together in the end to make for a successful outing.

Lastly, I have been working on an Microsoft Access database to use in the field on Toughbook tablets. I have little experience with Access, which is making things difficult at times, but I am learning a lot about the program and its usefulness. I am confident that in a month or two the field database will be working well enough to actually try to use it in the field to collect plant and general spatial data.

William Rutherford

CBG Intern-Carson City District Office

Highways Can Be Cool

The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting. My intern crew and I got to tour a highway construction site that is being built on BLM land. The highway is going to make the ride from Carson City, NV to Reno, NV incredibly faster, but there is no telling when the project will be completed. The construction of the highway is quite impressive with multiple bridges filling the gaps between various hills. My team was lead by a Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) Civil Engineer, who explained the project and answered any questions. I actually got to drive a vehicle over the uncompleted highway and bridges, which was nerve-racking to say the least. The driving was exhilarating, but became scary when my mentor told me that one of the support pillars for the bridge-seen in the photo below-fell over in the past.  Also, there were extremely high winds on the bridge, which made controlling our hard hats a very difficult task.

View of the new bridge from the valley below

The construction of the bridge involves a restoration component, where NDOT must develop a seed mix to restore the bare soil after all the havoc of the construction process is finished. I got to see the vegetation restoration progress by viewing hillsides that have been sprayed with a hydroseed mix at various points in the past ten years or so. I was glad to see a robust plant community that had developed on a hillside in just seven years after the hydroseed was applied after the construction.

 -Austin Rutherford


Learning Can Be Fun

My internship is turning out to be a great learning opportunity. I recently just finished a short course at University of Nevada-Reno on grasses taught by a brilliant botanist, Arnold (Jerry) Tiehm. The grass class really helped me learn generally characteristics about the grasses present in the Great Basin. It also doesn’t hurt to have the class taught by a regionally famous plant collector, Arnold Tiehm, who has multiple plants named after him.

Besides the grass class, the intern crew and myself have been knee-deep in data entry and analysis. We have been completing some data analysis on a threatened plant within our BLM district, Eriogonum diatomaceum or Churchill Narrows Buckwheat. It is interesting to see the process on how to monitor rare/threatened plant species and how the BLM handles such plants. My mentor and all the interns are meeting soon with the USFWS to present our data to hopefully get the plant transferred to a threatened and endangered list, so this plant may be preserved for many years to come. I know that data entry and analysis is boring and monotonious, but we are finding some interesting trends that could lead to great improvements in the future protection of this plant, so I feel my (what feels like) endless hours hunched over a computer will be rewarded soon enough.

New Place, New Experiences

Thus far during my internship, I have found myself pondering about what’s to come. I arrived around three weeks ago, and feel like I am finally getting settled. I’ve never been west of Houston, Texas, so being out here in Nevada has been a total shock to my system. It’s a good shock though, because I always look forward to new experiences and opportunities.

As for the internship itself, I have realized that arriving during the winter for a botany internship is a little lackluster. I have learned some new plants but all of them are just dead, dried versions of what they were just a few months ago. I know that they will be drastically different soon, so that keeps me hopeful, because the best way I learn a new ecosystem and flora is by walking around a landscape and conversing about the plants at hand. This has happened little, but I am looking forward to the spring and summer, where I can see the local flora with all that it has to offer. I am focusing my current days and the next month or so on training, and handling tasks that can be completed during this time of year, such as fire rehabilitation monitoring, making willow tree cuttings for future plantings, and becoming familiar with my new surroundings.