Change of Seasons; Change of Pace

We are nearing the end of our field season here in Buffalo, Wyoming and will soon be back in the office working on filing and entering our range data into a new online database. After finishing monitoring grazing allotments a few weeks back, we have been able to work on several exciting field projects, such as carrying out riparian monitoring at a newly acquired recreation site along the Tongue River. This project allowed us to learn some new monitoring protocols and to brush up on our riparian plants. We were also lucky enough to help a fellow SOS intern with a Limber Pine project up in the Big Horn Mountains. For this project, we scouted out mature, healthy Limber Pine individuals that showed low infection levels of white pine blister rust and mountain pine beetle. The individuals we recorded and marked will be used for field inventory and cone collections next year, which we hope will help conserve the genetic diversity of these unique populations.

With a noticeable fall chill in the air I have become all too aware of how quickly this internship is passing by, however it has been nice to reflect on all the new skills, experiences, and friendships I have developed over the summer. I am excited to continue building on all have learned over the coming fall months of this internship!

Using photo boards to assess woody species regeneration

Riparian monitoring along the Tongue River



Final Blog Post From Buffalo, Wyoming!

This will be my last blog post as a CLM intern & my last day in the Buffalo Field office is tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that it has been 8 months since I first arrived here in Buffalo! I feel very fortunate to have been placed here and am taking so many great experiences and memories away with me. I have been kept busy this January with exciting new projects and outreach opportunities! I recently had the opportunity to be a co-author on an ethnobotany paper here in the office. I helped the archaeology staff identify a number of plant species from one of their archaeological sites back in September and have now been able to research and write a report on the ethnobotanical significance of many of those plants to Great Plains prehistoric groups. I also participated in the Midwinter Bald Eagle survey through our field office, which was a great opportunity for me to work on my birding skills. Last week I was able to participate in an outdoor ecology lesson with 100 first graders put on by Audobon Rockies.  Teaching the kids about adaptations that allow different animals to survive the cold Wyoming winters was a fantastic way to spend the day!

As I reflect upon the last 8 months, I feel incredibly proud of my accomplishments and the breadth of projects I have had the chance to participate in.  During my time here in Buffalo I have gained experience conducting monitoring for sage grouse habitat and rangeland health, took part in numerous outreach events with elementary, middle, and high school students, conducted surveys for rare and sensitive plant species, collected over 7 million sagebrush seeds with a Montana Conservation Corps team, participated in archaeological surveys, mapped fenceline and made sage grouse fence markers to help decrease fence mortalities, helped set up a soil crust inoculation trial in a previously burned area, surveyed limber pine populations and mapped healthy trees for cone collection, and mapped saltcedar in an extensive basin drainage system.

Thanks Buffalo BLM Field Office & the Chicago Botanic Garden for such a fantastic opportunity!









Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!

Everyone seems to be getting into the holiday spirit here in Buffalo! Main Street is lined with tinsel and lights and there was a huge turnout for the annual Christmas parade.  There has been no shortage of festivities around our field office either! We’ve had potlucks, chili cook-offs, and a kid’s holiday party here in the office so far. I was lucky enough to score the role of woodsy the owl for the kid’s holiday party and let me tell you it’s not easy being an owl. I was surprised how tough it was to move around and see out of one of those costumes! It was all worth it to see the looks on all the little kids faces though (half were horrified & half ran up to give me a big hug).

I have also been pleasantly surprised by how much we’ve still been able to go out into the field. Lately we’ve been mapping invasive saltcedar in an extensive drainage system.  It is awesome trekking around in a maze of drainages because the abundance of wildlife and strange rock formations; I’ve been stumbling across porcupines, coyotes, deer, and antelope on a daily basis.



Woodsy & Smokey!


Sagebrush Seed & Sage-Grouse Markers

Every month when it comes time for me to write my blog I find, without fail, that I am astounded by the experiences I have had and the skills I have gained through this internship program. Last week we had a Conservation Corps Crew from Montana visiting our field office and we were able to get out several days with them to collect Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis seeds.  It was a HUGELY productive week for us and a lot of fun to get to work with a team of highly motivated, like-minded individuals.  It was great to hear the crew members stories and reflections about the conservation projects they worked on up in Montana. With the crew’s help, we were able to collect mind boggling amounts of seed, much of which will be used to re-seed previously burned sites in our field office.

This week was also an exciting week for Hillary (the other CLM Range Intern here) and myself because we were able to put out the first of thousands of freshly made sage-grouse fence markers.  It is a truly great feeling to successfully go through the process of having an idea, making a plan, and then implementing that plan in the field.  After weeks of mapping fence line, researching sage-grouse fence markers, and then making markers of our own, it is fantastic to be able to start marking fences in core sage-grouse habitat. We hope this effort will reduce sage-grouse fence collisions, which have been found to be responsible for 40% of total species fatalities.   


Archaeology & Snow!

We just had our first snow of the year last week here in Wyoming! It went from being a comfortably warm 80 degrees one day to blustery and snowing the next. The Bighorn Mountains were transformed overnight into a winter wonderland that I am not used to experiencing in early October!

The last few weeks were filled with new experiences for me, which included helping out with an archaeological survey with two of our seasonal archaeologists. One of the greatest parts of this internship so far has been getting to collaborate with specialists in a variety of fields. I feel lucky to be working in a field office where my co-workers are so open to sharing their knowledge and expertise.

Buffalo Man pictograph with Petrophytum caespitosum

First snow in the Bighorns!



My New Home on the Range in Buffalo, WY

Today marks my third week here in Buffalo,Wyoming as a range intern and I could not have imagined being placed in a more beautiful area. These last few weeks I have been busy training and learning all the plants of the region.  I have already seen an abundance of wildlife including pronghorns, burrowing owls, golden eagles, and moose! Just the other day while finishing up some vegetation monitoring we were approached by two baby pronghorns! We also had the opportunity to visit outlaw cave, which was one of the famous hideouts of outlaw Butch Cassidy and overlooks the equally famous Hole in the Wall.

We are lucky enough to live a mere 10 miles east of the Bighorn Mountains, which has allowed us to get out for some fantastic evening hikes after work. All the wildflowers in the lower foothills are really starting to take off and we were fortunate enough to stumble upon some fairyslipper (Calypso bulbosa) on one of our first hikes.  To say that I have been blown away by the beauty of the wilderness and wildlife surrounding Buffalo would be a severe understatement and I am beyond excited to be spending the next five months living, learning, and recreating out here!