Final Post from the Phoenix District Office

Remember that time…?
We moved to the desert,
Clouds rarely existed unless they consisted of dirt.
There were times we felt slightly lost and confused,
My brand new boots already looked tattered and used.

Remember that time…?
We had training for weeks,
All the while, salty sweat pouring down our cheeks.
We were warned of the desert and how it could eat us for lunch,
Able to cook meals on the dashboard for brunch.

Remember that time…?
We stared at the road ahead,
Thinking, “There’s no way we can make it with our current tread.”
Driving down a wash for what seemed like forever,
Realizing that this internship was one mighty endeavor.

Remember that time…?
We spent hours identifying unknown plants,
After days in the field getting holes in our pants.
The aroma of the herbarium wafting through the air,
Running veg transects even when the ground seemed bare.

Remember that time…?
We camped during a storm,
Or when we could hear nothing for a moment, but an insect swarm.
Having to watch every step for rattlesnakes,
Marking every new monitoring site with a brightly painted stake.

Remember that time…?
We spent an entire summer learning desert ecology,
Completely out of range of almost any technology.
We learned and accomplished more than I ever could have thought,
But we tackled it all, no matter how hot.

There are times when the unknown of my future fills me with fear,
But the CLM internship provided me with skills and memories that I will forever hold dear.

So long Phoenix District BLM…

Phoenix, AZ….yee haw!

When I was given the opportunity of this CLM internship and told that I would be stationed in Phoenix, AZ, I was overjoyed. I desperately wanted and needed to see and experience something other than the overly familiar northeast (as much as I do love and miss it). The visions I had of AZ before I arrived here were similar to those of “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” that I adored as a kid; hot and dry deserts, where the extreme temperatures make you hallucinate. But what I didn’t expect was for the desert to actually grow on me, especially as quickly as it has.

As I drive out into the field each day, I actually have to remind myself that I am getting paid to drive this big, burly, intimidating 4WD truck over some gnarly territory, all the while soaking in the views of the oh-so-beautiful Bradshaw mountains. Not to mention the awesome wildlife, such as pronghorn antelope, desert mule deer, hawks, jack rabbits, and my newest favorite – the western diamondback rattlesnake!

I am stationed on the Agua Fria National Monument performing vegetation monitoring, to ensure that livestock are not overgrazing and devastating native vegetation. But for now I have mapped and logged range improvements (i.e. corrals, wells, holding tanks etc.) and performed wet/dry mapping of AZ washes (another landform that I was not so familiar with until recently).

To say that my perspectives of AZ have changed, would be the understatement of the year. I never would have expected to see precipitation in this arid region, let alone be concerned about monsoon season, when dry washes become full out flash flood zones. Being new to this area is thrilling and exciting, but the fact that I still have to much to see and experience is just as exciting!