From the desert to the river

Vernal has proven itself to be a unique place with the opportunity to work in both the sagebrush/oilfield habitat to the south where the work is primarily cactus monitoring (Sclerocactus wetlandicus/Sclereocactus brevispinus) to a whole different habitat working in the riparian areas of the upper Green River to the north.

The cactus monitoring provides a look into the life of the office botanists whose job is to make sure that well pads and right of ways are not constructed in areas that could potentially be harmful to the threatened species of the area. The work I have been able to do so far has provided the data for my co-workers to make informed decisions about permitting.

The work on the Green River provides a whole new life. The main work on the river is invasive removal which has been predominately common teasel thus far. The next stage of this work is just beginning this week with the surveying of some lower sections of the river for Russian Olive. The surveying that began earlier this week will provide the data to determine both the amount of work in store as well as the amount of seed that will be needed for the restoration effort that will go hand in hand with the removal.

I am enjoying being able to work in varying ecosystems in order to provide myself with a more diverse background. Thanks CLM!

Josh Merkel
BLM Vernal

Westward Bound

This week I began my internship with the Bureau of Land Management, in the Seeds of Success program. I was assigned to the Vernal Utah Field Office some 2,000 miles from my Upstate New York home. Upon taking this position the general reaction of my family and friends was “wow, that’s really far away!”. Of course they are correct, however the opportunity that I have been blessed with by the people of The Conservation and Land Management Program is one that I could never pass up. Having never traveled to the Western United States there is an amount of excitement mixed with nervousness, but this passed as I had expected.

In the first few days of my experience I have come to realize the vastness of the West. The land in Utah goes on for what seems like forever, with amazing views of mountains and canyons. Seeing these things on a daily basis is something that I can really learn to appreciate coming from a more or less flat region. There are many different cultures and regions of the country, and being able to move to Utah and experience something that is so different than what I am familiar with has caused an inmeasureable amount of personal growth.

The field work thus far has also been as unique to me as life in Vernal. Being able to go out each day and work with species I have never seen before has allowed me to reach a greater understanding of different types of ecosystem functioning beyond what I am familiar with back East.


Josh M.

Vernal, Utah

Bureau of Land Management