The time has come, the time is now…

I have reached the end of my internship in Shoshone Idaho and have had a great time working with the BLM. I have been able to participate in many fun and interesting endeavors while working here. Recently the field crew was able to go into some caves to ensure that no one has damaged them and to pick up any trash that was there. The cave that I enjoyed the most was Teakettle cave. Just as the name suggests, this cave is shaped very much like a teakettle. You enter through the spout of the Kettle which then opens up to a large round cavern with a hole in the top. This cavern was beautiful; the stream of light coming from the opening provides just the right conditions for ferns to grow and even habitat suitable for the Pacific tree frog.

Pasific Tree Frog found in Teakettle cave, ID.

This was my second internship with the Chicago Botanical Gardens and I am extremely appreciative of the opportunities that have been provided me. I really clicked with the Shoshone BLM field office and am going to miss them. I am moving on to a new and exciting job with the Utah DWR and can contribute this opportunity to the knowledge and experience I gained as an intern.  See you all in the field,  Jen

Sage Grouse Leks

It’s great to have diversity at work. We started the season with sage grouse lek counts and Habitat Assessment Framework for sage grouse, then moved onto range trend which we finished up this week! Now we get to move onto a new project which is great, doing something new and expanding my knowledge is just what I signed up for when I accepted this internship with the BLM in Shoshone Idaho. Our new project is lek assessments, determining the suitability of a site as a sage grouse lek.

To determine the suitability of a lek, we get to drive and hike in beautifully remote areas in Craters of the Moon National Monument, seeing and exploring areas that not many people get to see. Once we arrive at a site we determine if there is enough cover around the lek and whether there are places for predators, such as raptors, to perch. We also listen and record any noises we hear while we are there, and record the dominate plant species. Not every lek is exceptional but we get to see them all!

So, What does a great lek site look like you ask? Here are some pictures, you can see for yourself.

Sage Grouse Lek

Sage Grouse Lek

Sage Grouse Lek

Sage Grouse Lek

Let’s talk about plants baby!

“Let’s talk about plants baby
let’s talk about forbs and trees
let’s talk about all the good shrub cover
and the invasive things that may be.
Let’s talk about plants!”

I am loving this internship up in sunny southern Idaho! I am soaking up the sun and plant knowledge as quickly as I can. There are so many plants to learn, names that sound so similar paired with plants that don’t look a thing alike.
Today we spent the majority of our time following a stream and hiking to the top of a mountain to identify plants and help determine their diversity. This was a desirable break from our usual desert stomping grounds.
Some of the plants we identified were:

Aquilegia formosa-Western Columbine (AQFO)

Geranium Viscosissimum- sticky purplr geranium (GEVI2)

I love plants, there is a lot of diversity in the plant world! It’s strange to think that not everyone in the world wants to know every plant they can get their hands on. So, for all the people out there, Let Talk About Plants!
-Until next time

Bitterroot Flower

I have a new favorite plant, the Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva). What I have learned about this plant is that the roots were consumed by Native American tribes such as the Shoshone and the Flathead Indians. Since I am stationed at the Shoshone ID field office I was interested to learn that the Shoshone Indians believed the small red core of the taproot had the power to be able to stop a bear attack. So, since I am out traipsing around in the mountains of Idaho, I am going to eat a little of the bitterroot plant to protect me. Couldn’t hurt right!

Shoshone Idaho

Shoshone Idaho is a great place. I have been working and living in this small town for 3 weeks and I really have no complaints. My co-workers in the Shoshone BLM field office are great and very excited about their jobs. Most of our time has been spent in Craters of the Moon National Monument inventorying range improvements and other structures and monitoring sage grouse leks. Yesterday morning we left the office at 5:30 am and visited 5 leks, I got paid to watch this endearing bird strut its stuff; a great way to start the day!

Recently, we started doing the sage grouse Habitat Assessment Framework training which is a preview of what I will be doing most of the summer. I am excited to hone my plant identification for the great basin and learn more about how to use GIS while helping the BLM manage our public lands.

Being from the west, I couldn’t imagine life without these wide expanses of open land to enjoy and am excited to be a part of the team of people that work to preserve, restore and make available this land for the next generation.

Stay tuned- This is going to be a great summer!

Biomass Days

The BLM in Cedar City Utah has given me many opportunities to learn about the diversity of work that is available. Recently I was able to attend Biomass Days in Beaver Utah. This event was gave me a chance to see firsthand the tools and equipment that is being used to combat Pinion/Juniper encroachment. There were also many speakers that discussed the exciting prospects of Bio-Char a product that is made from burning P/J without oxygen. This new product is very promising! There are multiple uses for it Bio-Char, it can be added to mulch and fertilizers as well as being compressed into pellets to be sold as charcoal. Some of the equipment that was demonstrated was the Bull hog, wood chipper, wood chip sorter, and bagging machine. I am also still monitoring the sage grouse in the area using radio telemetry, which I am becoming an expert at.

Wood chip sorter

Hunting for Grouse in Cedar City

These last few months have gone by quickly. I have enjoyed my time with the BLM and have learned a lot about myself and what I may or may not want in my future.

I have spent most of my time hunting sage grouse, but instead of a gun, I carry a large antenna and a cumbersome beeping box. I have enjoyed it. I have never hunted anything but I can totally see what draws people to it.

Recently I have been able to participate in research being conducted on the use of fence posts by raptors. We measured and took pictures of many fence posts and vegetation, which was a great break from telemetry. I have also been having a great time hanging out with all the other seasonal workers.  It’s great to be finally settling in — too bad it will be over in a couple of weeks!

How is it that I am getting paid to have fun?

The treatment area: Nevershine Hallow

This internship is getting better all the time! The people I work with respect me and my opinion and trust me to do my job and do it well, what a great feeling. The highlight of this week was when I was asked to do a clearance for a project that the Cedar City BLM office was working on. I got paid to go for a hike and write down everything that I saw, plants, animals, and how the landscape is being used by them.

A burrowing owl, some of the Wildlife that I get to "Watch For."

It almost seems like I am somehow cheating the system. How is it that I am getting paid to have fun? I got to write a paper with recommendations for the use of the treatment area and work with GIS to make a map of the area, I am stoked to use my skills to manage the land that I love.

In the next few weeks I will get to search for sage grouse, learn how to transport the endangered Utah prairie dog and spend a few nights out searching for night hawks.
All work and no play!? Absolutely not! I have the best of both worlds.

Thank Goodness for Public Lands!

Summer has come early to drought stricken Cedar City, Utah.  With temperatures rising and not a rain cloud in sight, many plants have already flowered and are about to go to seed. One such plant is the dreaded scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium); a noxious and invasive plant here in Utah. Even though scotch thistle is beautiful when flowering, it competes with native plant species for the meager resources available in this high mountain dessert region. To combat this invader we have spent many hours chopping it down and digging it up.

However, not all my time here in Cedar City has been spent controlling the weeds. These last two weeks that I have spent with the Bureau of Land Management have been filled with new experiences and opportunities to learn. I have been able to participate in Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) and southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) surveys, been refreshed on how to operate a 4WD vehicle and toured the field office with the regional botanist. I have had the opportunity to see some native wildlife that, although a native myself, I had never seen in the wild –  the Arizona mountain king snake ( Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana) and the threatened Mexican spotted owl.

On the weekends I have been able to enjoy the national parks that are nearby; summiting Lady Mountain in Zion National Park was an awesome feat! Thank goodness for public lands!