Wrapping things up.

Just 3 weeks away from the conclusion of my internship, I am finding myself writing and rewriting lists of everything I have left to do.  Everyone warned me that five months would fly by, but can my time here really be almost over?  This season we were able to make 16 seed collections and have high hopes for a few more.  Between working just two days a week on scouting and collecting seed and the very dry season, my partner and I initially set a low goal of ten seed collections.  We have long since passed that mark and did a little happy dance last week when we made three collections in one day.  The higher elevation plants, especially those near streams, have held on this year and have provided us with abundant seed collection opportunities.  It has been wonderful to get out of the Las Vegas Valley where temperatures have exceeded 113 degrees and I will never complain about having to tip-toe along a stream to make a collection.

Though I was initially timid about taking a job in Las Vegas, I am so thankful that I did.  This job and landscape have not always been easy, but the challenge was very much welcomed.  I adjusted to the heat better than I imagined I could have and am proud of myself for moving to such an unfamiliar landscape.  This was my first field work experience and I have had a blast.  My advice to future applicants and other interns is to just dive in!  A fellow peer once said, “It’s okay to be terrified,” and that is so very true.  I was terrified to move to a city where I knew no one, to take my first job out of college and prove myself as a botanist, to drive a 4WD truck, even to drive an electric cart!  I had so many fears along the way but every day found myself saying yes and moving forward.  I have accomplished so much in my time here and feel prepared to venture forward as a more informed, trained, and confident botanist.  I will always be thankful for my time in Las Vegas and am excited to see what the future holds!

Allison Clark

Springs Preserve, Las Vegas

Seed-time…the best time

I am now in the middle of my fourth month at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, NV and things are starting to really pick up! For months my coworker and I have quietly witnessed the desert come to life.  The flowers, though they were sometimes few and far between, have come and gone.  Normally I would say that the best part is over, but not this season!  For me, a participant in the Seeds of Success program, spent flowers are an exciting sign.   It’s seed time here in the Mojave and I have been having a great time collecting native seed over the past couple weeks.  Most recently we made a collection of Fallugia paradoxa, the Apache Plume.  One of the most satisfying things is getting to pluck seed heads from a plant and say “Twenty! Forty! Sixty!…One Hundred!”  Some collections are slower than others and at times the work can seem tedious, but collections like the Fallugia help keep the work balanced.  I am looking forward to a little bit of scrambling over the next few weeks as we jump from one collection to another.  After a long, patient wait, it’s go time.

Allison Clark

Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, NV

Surrounded by beauty

When I left Arcata, CA to begin my internship in Las Vegas, I told myself that I was capable of finding beauty anywhere, even in a place as busy and populated as Las Vegas.  Having never visited the city and having only ever driven through the desert en route to more lush and colder destinations, I admit that I had low expectations for my new home.  After spending just a couple weeks here, however, I knew that I had landed in a beautiful spot.  Now two and a half months into my internship, I feel so lucky to live here and do the work that I do.  Two days out of the week I participate in the Seeds of Success program, which has allowed me to explore many different types of landscapes surrounding Las Vegas.  Those are my favorite days of the week, and before each drive I anxiously await the discovery of new plants and new views.  My partner and I  spend time scouting in Creosote-bursage communities, climbing our way over passes to reach rocky Pinyon-Juniper woodlands. Every lunch break offers a different view, each one uniquely peaceful and breathtaking.  The city itself can be overwhelming at times but I can always count on a day in the field to make me smile and calm me down.  Here are a handful of photos of some of our collection sites, as well as a couple weekend trips:

Early morning view of the Colorado River on a weekend trip to the hot springs

The view from the top of Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon

Sunset at our camping spot in Gold Butte

Christmas Tree Pass on a blissful rainy day

Lovell Canyon

Lava Butte Road offers some fun driving

Lunch spot at Cottonwood Pass

The past few weeks here have been wonderful.  We have gotten some rain and the desert is starting to come to life.  I completed the Seeds of Success Training with some fellow CLM interns and left feeling so proud of the work that I am doing.  This program is led by some truly dedicated and enthusiastic folks and I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet and chat with some of them.  Each day I feel more confident in my abilities as a botanist and as a member of the SOS team.  I’m looking forward to what the next couple of months brings!

Allison Clark

CLM Intern: Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, Nevada

Waiting for rain…

I have just completed my first month working for the Springs Preserve here in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I am happy to report that it has been a wonderful month.  The desert remains dormant due to a lack of rain, so our SOS work has been put on hold.  Luckily I have been able to keep busy with work in the plant propagation facility and have been up to my ears in plants preparing for the Springs Preserve’s biannual native plant sale.

A part of the work that I do at the Springs Preserve is managing native Mojave plants in the plant propagation facility.  Over the years the Springs Preserve has collected seed from native plants and, through experimenting with different propagation techniques, has determined which native plants can be grown in a nursery setting to be used for restoration projects.  Their plant trials have been successful and thus the Springs Preserve has grown thousands of plants from native seed.  As a fundraiser, these plants are sold every Spring and Fall to members of the community.

Preparing for the plant sale was a bit exhausting since most of the work entailed moving plants and metal signs, but the sale itself was an absolute blast.  It was great to chat with the locals and I loved seeing the plants that I cared for find a good home.  We were able to offer plants that are not only beautiful, but also drought-tolerant and adapted to Mojave Desert conditions.

Now that the plants sale is over, I am looking forward to spending more time scouting for plants for SOS.  So far I have found the desert to be breathtakingly beautiful and am excited to explore more.  Here is a photo of a desert favorite, the Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata).

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

Allison Clark

CLM Intern: Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, Nevada

From damp to dry…greetings from Las Vegas!

What a week this has been.  Never in my life did I expect to say this, but I am now a current resident of Las Vegas, Nevada.  A long ways away from the Redwood coast that I called home for four and a half years, I have been thrown into a completely new world.  I have traveled from a small town to a huge one; from 50 inches of rain a year to this place that gets 4; from a Redwood forest to the desert.  I cannot think of two places that are more dissimilar.  And yet, I have been able to find beauty in both.

Upon arriving in Las Vegas last week I could not see beyond the strip malls, housing developments, thousands of people, and casino lights.  The traffic stressed me out and I felt like turning my car around and heading right back to Arcata, CA from where I recently graduated.  I couldn’t imagine finding peace is such a giant city, and yet it seems I have.

I began work at the Springs Preserve on Monday and all of my fears about living here have slowly dissolved.  The Springs Preserve is located in the middle of the city, a 180-acre refuge for wildlife and native plants.  It has only been open to the public for 5 years but has so much to offer.  With a focus on sustainable living, the Springs Preserve features museums, a botanic garden, and an interpretive trail through a wetland habitat.  Though the majority of my internship will not be spent working on site at the Springs Preserve, I will have multiple opportunities to teach classes and put on demonstrations for the schools and families that visit.  Every employee I have met has such a passion for education, conservation, and sustainable living; I am excited to join the team.

During my internship I will primarily be working for the Seeds of Success Program with the local BLM office.  Due to a lack of rain, I have yet to begin training for that and am eager to get out in the field.  My first few days, however, have been great.  This weekend I will be participating in the Springs Preserve’s Cactus Salvage Program and am very much looking forward to getting my hands dirty.  The Springs Preserve has partnered with local developers to salvage cacti from lands to be developed, which will then be potted and sold to local residents.  All profits from the cactus sale will fund grants to local elementary school teachers for programs focused on botany, recycling, sustainable living, and water conservation, among other topics.

During preparation for the Cactus Salvage, I had my first real dose of the desert.  From a distance it looks pretty lifeless but I should know by now that that is never the case.  Up close, it really is beautiful.  Here are a couple shots of the cacti that we will be working with this weekend.

Cottontop cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus)

Silver Cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa)

Hedgehog cactus (Echinocactus engelmannii)

My first week in Las Vegas has been wonderful.  I have been challenged and inspired by this new landscape and know that I have so much to learn about my new home.  I am looking forward to seeing how this internship will evolve with the coming field season and can’t wait for these next steps!

Everyone do a little rain dance for those of us in Las Vegas!

Allison Clark

CLM Intern: Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, Nevada