Hello again from Dillon, MT. I cannot believe that it has already been a month since I last posted. Time is really flying, and I am grateful for the time spent here. My mentor and I have been kicking butt and establishing tons of upland and riparian trend monitoring within the Medicine Lodge watershed on our district. The monitoring is recommended based on the results of an environmental assessment completed on the watershed. Most monitoring is riparian related and based on the outcome of the Proper Functioning Condition stream assessments (or PFC). If a stream is rated as lower than PFC, (Nonfunctioning or functioning at risk) management changes are put into place in an attempt at restoring the riparian and spring areas. Some management changes I have seen involve the construction of a fence or spring exclosure, which usually keeps cattle, and not wildlife out of the area. Sometimes if the manager sees fit, a spring will be developed to support a water trough which directs cattle away from the riparian areas, but also provides a steady supply of drinking water. Pasture rest rotation or shorter grazing cycles can be another management change that gives the area time to heal over the growing season. Trend monitoring is another way to monitor grazing allotments and see change over time before having the need to implement more strict management changes. When deciding these management changes, the resource managers must work with grazing permitees.
I am really happy to be working for this district, because they put a huge emphasis on the importance of watershed management and the proper care of riparian areas. My next task will be completing Montana Riparian and Wetland Assesments (MRWA) which also relates to updating rangeland EAs. A lot of camping and stream walking is involved in completing MRWAs. Other than that, I am really enjoying the scenery and looking forward to starting graduate school at Oregon State University in the Fall. Until next time,
I am well into my second month as a range technician with the Dillon, Montana field office and things are finally starting to pick up. The sun has begun to shine more frequently, the temperatures are warming up, and the plants have begun to grow. The other range technicians and I completed our task of checking spring and wildlife exclosures, which proved to be a fun way to get to know the district and its surrounding areas. I was able to help out in restoring an old cabin that will serve as an awesome recreation and fishing spot for locals, visitors, and BLM employees.
We had a week of seasonal orientation that was filled with safety training, first-aid classes, defensive driving courses, and much more. I am definitely more confident in my trailer backing skills now! After orientation week, there was a week of training where we learned the vegetation monitoring techniques that we will use for completing upland and riparian trend studies. Some of the training served as a great refresher and also provided supplemental knowledge to what I learned as a CLM intern last year. One of the most important tasks that we learned was how to complete an MRWA (Montana Riparian Wetland Inventory). MRWAs will be relevant in completing district watershed assessments and for updating Environmental Assessments related to grazing allotments. I am so stoked to be able to walk over 200 miles of stream while looking at the diversity of plants and condition of the streams. I have already learned a lot about the botany of the Rock Mountains with help from the great crew here.
My time has also been filled by studying for the GRE and applying to graduate school. What a stressful process…whew. I think that I may have some leads though! Wish me luck! I’m having a great summer so far! I hope everyone else is too!
It is hard for me not to reminisce about my CLM summer last year in Lakeview, Oregon. I met so many great people and accomplished so many things that the experience almost seemed too good to be true. As I conclude my first month as a second year CLM’er in Dillon, Montana, I am constantly reminded how life is always changing. This will be my fifth summer as a seasonal employee and it is safe to say that not one summer will be comparable to the last. My first few weeks here have been different and challenging in a positive way. I am the only CLM intern this year, as opposed to the 9 interns in Lakeview, and the seasonal employees that are here are very established within the community. After having lived in Oregon for 3 years, the shift in culture is exciting and much different than expected. All of the people in the office have been really nice and helpful, and they are all encouraging me to be involved in as many projects as possible.
With the last signs of winter still lingering in the mountains, our vegetation monitoring has not yet begun, but once the plants start to grow we will be in full trend monitoring mode. I have been able to get the lay of the land and complete some spring exclosure checks: the Dillon field office manages over 900,000 acres of public land and includes some of the most major watersheds east of the continental divide. From what I understand, the majority of our monitoring will be stream related. We have also been able to assist in a district wide weed spraying day along the Madison River. That was a fun and beautiful experience. Considering my background as a two person weeds crew, it was nice to see how involved all of the district employees, and some off district employees, are with invasive plant management. The areas that we have been working in so far, are beautiful, and I understand the need to protect these open spaces. Aside from spring checks and weed spraying, we have been able to help with a fence removal project and also attend a rangeland drought workshop. A lot of jokes were made about the drought talk probably due to the amount of rain we have had lately. All jokes aside, the rain has been helpful but not enough to ease the minds of the land managers and range permitees. Not much else has happened, but I am excited for the true start of the field season! I have to mention that I saw my first moose the other day. My field partner was not impressed as I was screaming like a small child, but he still appreciated my lack of knowledge nonetheless. Until next time, here is to new adventures in beautiful places!
Grace Ray~Dillon, MT
Another great view while fixing some fence!
View of Lima Peaks while completing spring checks
Six months have come and gone. I am wondering how time could have possibly flown by so quickly. Did time seem to speed up because of all of the friends I have made? Was it because I enjoyed my job every day? Was it because of all of the new and exciting places? All I know is that time HAS flown, and I have all of those reasons plus so much more to look back on and be happy about. All of the people I will never forget and the experiences I will treasure have made being a CLM intern one of the greatest experiences ever.
Awwwwww Lakeview interns
I began the summer with some professional qualities that helped me get a great start in the field. I ended the summer with a stronger sense of those qualities and an entire grab-bag of different ones. I was able to work in Lakeview with a great group of interns and supervisors where I explored a new ecosystem while identifying plants that were unfamiliar to me. I learned a great deal about range management and several other departments including wildlife, botany, and fisheries. I completed stream and riparian vegetation surveys as well as grazing utilization studies and Range Health Assessments. I also developed several new survey techniques that are used widely across the BLM. I took field trips to the Bend Seed Extractory and the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensics lab. The week of training at the Chicago Botanic Garden was also one of the coolest parts about the summer, and I strongly suggest attending.
I honestly cannot believe what a great program the CLM turned out to be. The people involved seriously care about us as interns and young professionals, and they want to help us to make connections for our future. Everyone should take advantage of this opportunity and APPLY NOW! I know I cannot wait for my next opportunity with CLM. Thanks for a great summer and great experience!
Hello! I cannot believe I have already finished 5 months in Lakeview. Luckily, I will have a two week extension starting next week. I decided to take a bit of a break for a backpacking trip in Yosemite. I had a great time (minus the snow and rain). Not much to report on the job front here, although I will be sad to finally move on. You will be hearing from me soon with my final blog about my experience. Talk to you then!
Are you sure Lakeview, Oregon’s motto isn’t “the windy city”? I have seen nothing but wind and rain since I returned from the training workshop….I’m thinking somebody made a mistake.
Other than the crazy Summer weather, things are great here in Lakeview. This week is “Safety Week” which means another full week of training and lectures. I know these things must be done to keep us safe and informed, so I am continuing to fuel myself with really strong coffee in order to power through. Trainings are not as plush here in Lakeview as they were at the Garden. I haven’t seen a single sandwich or candy bowl all week. 🙂 So far, I have learned the importance of employment equality and also First Aid basics. The rest of the week consists of a “Grass Class” which is two days of learning everything there is to learn about grasses of eastern Oregon and the Great Basin. I am super excited for this because I know it will help my plant I.D. skills tremendously. Sorry Joe, I will take notes for you. The “Driving Rodeo” will round up the end of Safety Week. The instructor says he is going to force us to reverse a manual truck for 10 miles down a dirt road….I hope he is joking.
I was able to take a break from Safety Week to go out into the field with the rare plant surveying crew. We were looking for a rare species of Buckwheat, Eriogonum prociduum, which only exists in a small part of Oregon and California. It grows on dry, pumice slopes with a lot of bare ground and within low-sage habitats. Unfortunately, the population seems to have declined since the last study in 2005, and no new recruits were being established. It was still nice to get some rare plant monitoring experience under my belt and also to see some new snow on the ground.
I hope everyone made it home safe from the workshop!
I keep telling everyone I meet that I am from the desert, so I won’t have a problem working in eastern Oregon. “I am used to the dry air, the heat, and the sagebrush,” I tell them optimistically. Who am I trying to fool? After working for three years in a rain-forest ecosystem in the high Cascade mountain range, I really do miss the trees. I miss the smell and the sound of the water outside my back door. I miss the shade of the trees and the feeling of comfort and concealment it brings. I miss the early morning dew and the low hanging fog that gives the wildlife just enough confidence to spend their mornings browsing in visible open areas. All of these things are only small realizations and memories of fun summers past. This summer and living in Lakeview, Oregon, have already begun to present new and exciting opportunities for adventure and field experience. There are not many places left in the world where you can open your eyes and look as far as you can see without spying a single building, human, or car passing by. There are not many places where the horizon meets the landscape without fault and then seem to melt together in a real-life version of a cowboy movie sunset. I cannot compare the feeling of endless open space to any forest setting. I have an idea to open up a treatment center for people who suffer from claustrophobia…..not really.
As a rangeland technician, I have been learning how to complete range trend assessments that mainly look at the species and abundance of vegetation in different pastures. These studies have been completed in Lakeview for nearly 50 years! I know this not only by looking at the dates, but also by checking out the hairdos in the pictures. Hello, Farrah Fawcett. As a part of the trend assessments, I am completing “Line and Intercept” transects that assess the amount of shrub cover in the area. Tall sage, rabbit brush, bitter brush, and greasewood are the main types of shrub cover that I have found so far. This information will be used to determine critical sage grouse habitat and nesting sites. I had heard about the sage grouse countless times throughout college, and yesterday, I finally saw two. They do exist! I have yet to see a grouse on the lek, but that is definitely on my bucket list. Another project I am working on involves completing “Pasture Utilization” studies. These studies are completed after a herd of cattle is removed from the pasture and looks at the overall use of the allotment. We have also been updating range allotment health assessments that determine how well or how poorly a pasture is being managed. All of these things are giving me a great, in-depth look at how the BLM range conservationists manage the 3.2 million acres of land within the Lakeview resource area.
I look forward to learning more and being able to appreciate this vast wilderness for all of the unique qualities it has. I just need to remember to wear my sunscreen!