Warming Up

The heat is creeping up on us at the Safford BLM office. While the days are merely warm now, in a few short weeks southeastern Arizona will be as hot and dry as ever.

Our crew has been spending time mapping invasive Tamarisk as of late. We have been hiking remote drainages and using a Trimble Juno 3 series to map the locations and details about populations of invasive Tamarisk. These populations will be removed as soon as possible by work crews. The mapping project has allowd our crew to see some beautiful areas. One drainage was located in the Dos Cabezas. Only small pools of water existed, but a plethora of flowers were in bloom around these areas. Several small populations of tamarisk were mapped along ~5 miles of the draingage. Another large mapping project took place in Deer Creek, a drainage that runs into Aravaipa Creek in the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. Access to this area was very remote, but once we arrived we area able to map ~15 miles. The first day we hiked the upper 6.5 miles up stream from our camp. This portion was fairly rugged with a lot of exposed bedrock. We met 4 rattlesnakes on our journey: 2 western diamondback, and 2 arizona black. The 4th snake we came upon was hidden in a pile of flood debris, and we didn’t notice it until I had reached to grab a walking stick out of the debris and received a vigorous rattle in response. Quite a fright! Only a few small tarmarisk were mapped in this stretch, and it should be fairly easy to remove these populations once the area is reached. The second day we hiked the lower 8 miles from our camp. This portion quickly turned from an open wash to a magnificent slot canyon. The canyon walls were absolutely beautiful. A couple of small springs along the way provided enough moisture for incredible plant diversity. We located several populations of the rare Arizona woodfern, and saw diverse flowers in bloom, including Golden Columbine, one of my favorites. In the cool, shaded canyon the snakes weren’t even around; another plus! With such beautiful scenery, it was a challenge to focus on finding our foe the tamarisk, but we did map at least 15 individuals. Over two days our crew hiked 29 miles. It was a feat, but well worth it to determine the efforts needed to remove tamarisk from Deer Creek, and enjoy such a beautiful area.

It is also the season for us to complete fish monitoring at Bonita Creek, Aravaipa Creek, and the Gila River. The annual Bonita Creek monitoring was a week-long task that required many hours of UTV travel to reach some of our sites. The upper portions of Bonita creek are remote and much more pristine when compared to the lower portion, where our non-native removal takes place. The Reservation Boundary, Midnight Canyon, Red Knolls, and Lee Trail are the Upper Bonita Creek sites where non-natives have not invaded, and intact populations of native fish are doing well. Gallery, Upper Site 1, and Serna Cabin are the three monitoring sites in Lower Bonita Creek where non-natives are prevalent, but native fish are still present as well. Our monitoring consists of setting promar, red promar, and metal minnow nets in the large pools and electrofishing the riffles and glides. This was my first time to electrofish! We also performed a pebble count with the gravelometer to measure the substrate in each habitat. Each fish that is caught is identified and measured to obtain age data. The Bonita Creek monitoring was started in 2003, and data from all 11 years is kept at the BLM office. Lee trail was my favorite site. Along a rock wall there is a deep pool where the natives could be easily seen. Sonora Suckers could be observed mating. Several males were following females around in the shallow sandy area. The females lay eggs in sandy areas for incubation. Males follow the females waiting for her to deposit eggs for fertilization. A large number of Gila Chub were also visible enjoying the great pool habitat. I had not traveled to any of the sites in Upper Bonita Creek, so getting to explore this area and see so many native fish was a treat. Observing natives flourishing in proper habitat without the presence of non-natives highlights the importance of the work I do here. Without non-native removal efforts and habitat monitoring and improvement, these native fish would be in even more danger then they already are.

The spring fish monitoring in of Aravaipa Creek was just completed as well. Aravaipa is home to 7 native species of fish, 2 of which are federally endangered, the loach minnow and spikedace. It is always a great pleasure to monitor in Aravaipa. The canyon scenery and intact native fish assemblage makes for a wonderful couple of work days. Our monitoring protocol in Aravaipa was established in 1963 by Dr. Minckley. The collection of data from the fish populations in Aravaipa for so many years is extremely valuable information for the species that live there. Each 200 meter site is seined throughout, by either seining downstream, or kick seining. In the upper sites, a healthy number of both endangered species were collected. In lower sites, some non-natives are present, including red shiner and yellow bullhead, and native populations are not doing quite as well. The Gila River monitoring is scheduled for June.

My work with ArcMap has continued and my skills are becoming more defined. Updating the Gila River Guide maps was a good task for me to work on, and I am much more proficient with creating maps in ArcMap. I have also been working on extracting data from SEInet to get precipitation information on the pollinator plants we are growing at the greenhouse. I am realizing what an amazing resource ArcMap is and the diverse projects that can be completed using this technology.



Sanford BLM Internship

2014 has been a busy year so far at the Safford BLM office. We have initiated several new projects as well as have continued to develop our existing work.

Non-native removal in Bonita Creek continues to be a regular task. Having four interns has greatly increased the number and frequency we can get out to set nets. And we have already had a contract crew out to conduct a week long intensive removal effort. With Andrew Johnson’s knowledge of Access, he has created a database to more effectively analyze our non-native removal data. This allows us to take a better look at which net types have the highest catch per unit effort, and which portions of Bonita Creek are still harboring the highest numbers of non-natives.

Several pollinator gardens have been planned and installation should begin this spring. Allegra Mount received a seed grant from Native Seed Search. These seeds have been germinated in the Discovery Park greenhouse, as well as at the Our Neighbor’s Farm greenhouse. Other seeds from our returned SOS collections will be germinated as well. A pollinator garden will be planted at the Discovery Park campus with educational signage about the importance of pollinators. We hope to have a high level of community involvement in the installation and up-keep of this garden. A pollinator hedgerow is planned for the Our Neighbor’s Farm garden. Our Neighbors Farm is an organization that grows produce to give to those in need in our community. We hope that raising awareness of the importance of pollinators can make a difference in this community.

Our work with Sky Island Alliance continues. They are such a wonderful partner organization. At the end of January, we had an amazing work weekend at Turkey Creek. SIA brought out a group of 30 volunteers and we planted around 250 Giant Sacaton in our restoration area. We camped at the TNC field house (which is a lovely spot) and enjoyed socializing with all of the interesting volunteers.  Van from Stream Dyanmics was out for the weekend with our group, and did some surveying of Turkey Creek to determine if building rock structures, such as gabbions, could be of benefit to the site.


I was able to participate in the Cumulative Effects NEPA training that was held at the Safford Field Office in February. Writing Environmental Assessments is a complicated process that I am learning, and I was glad to get some more exposure to the various elements of putting one together. We spent two days going over the Cumulative Effects of a particular EA that our field office is working on.

In early March our crew traveled to Ft. Huachucha in Sierra Vista to participate in a Springsnail identification and in a monitoring training put on by Arizona Game and Fish. While just a one day training, we were table to review a lot of relevant information about Springsnails in AZ and visit two nearby springs to practice our monitoring skills.

We have been doing some restoration work near the border in conjunction with a SCC crew. The SCC chainsaw crew came in and cleared a lowland area of mesquite. Then we came back through and seeded with native grass seed and covered the seeded areas with mesquite brush. The mesquite brush cover helps to keep the seeds from blowing away and provides some shade to help the grasses get established. This project will hopefully help to raise the water table in this area, and restore the native grassland that once thrived here.

Since my work began in the Safford field office, monitoring native fish has been a large component of my job. Throughout my time working in Bonita Creek, my boss Heidi had started to notice a high frequency of lumps on the native Gila Chub. As the frequency and severity of these lumps increased, Heidi decided that a proper evaluation of what was happening to these fish was needed. She got her permit revised to allow for capture of a small number of Gila Chub to then be transported to a laboratory in NM. We still have not heard from the lab what exactly is happening with the fish, but hope to know more soon.

During March I got my first hands-on experience building fences. Andrew Johnson and I headed north to lead two crews of ACE in a restoration and fencing project. A riparian area along Silver Creek, near Woodruff AZ, had been very degraded from cattle coming down to the water. The stream bank was experiencing a lot of erosion due to lack of vegetation.   Our crew’s goal was to cut willow poles from the adjacent banks that were not degraded, plant them on the degraded banks, and fence the whole area off from grazing. We started by having several people cut 6 feet long willow poles and piling them on the degraded banks. We used a boat to shuttle from one side of Silver creek to the other. We used hammer drills with 2 feet long drill bits to drill holes into the degraded bank. The willow poles could then be inserted in the holes into moist soil, and the hole packed in. We made groups of 16-20 willows in clusters along the bank, with 5-8 feet of space between them. Hopefully, with cows being kept out from this area, the willow poles can put out roots and begin to stabilize the degraded bank of Silver Creek. With such a large amount of workers, we were also able to clean the surrounding area of trash, and remove some small tamarisk. It was a wonderful learning experience for my restoration, leadership, and fencing skills.

I continue to be involved in diverse stimulating projects. Having a group of four interns allows us all to focus on different projects. We work great as a team; learning from each other’s various specialties. Come May, I will have been at this office for 1 year, which is quite hard to believe. The time has flown by. And in August I will be attending the University of New Mexico to study for my masters in Biology. I doubt I would have had such a competitive application for this position without the experience I have gained from the CLM program.


Happy New Year!

The beginning of 2014 has found me lucky enough to still be working at the Safford, Arizona BLM office. While the funding has been rather up in the air since the government shutdown, my mentors have been fighting to keep me working out here, and for that I am grateful. I was able to travel home to Arkansas for the holidays to visit my mom and friends which was wonderful. Even got a healthy dose of winter weather thanks to the polar vortex! And now I am ever so pleased with the 60 degree and sunny weather that Safford is maintaining.

The end of December found our team finishing up our SOS work; we got all 44 of our collections sent to Bend before the New Year. If we ever get any winter rains, our spring collection season will begin in late February. Non-native removal efforts in Bonita Creek continue.While the days are warm here, the nights and early mornings are quite brisk. This makes removing fish early in the AM quite cold. I will be happy when the water warms and we don’t have to wear three layers under our waders.

We have some restoration projects coming up in February and March. An American Conservation Experience crew will be out to help us get some of this work done. All and all it looks like 2014 will be a great year. I’m looking forward to however long I am able to stay in Safford and am optimisitc about other opportunities I may get to explore when it is time to leave Arizona.

Tis the season….for field work!

The field season is anything but over here in southeast Arizona. Throughout October and November our crew has been working on a variety of field projects.

Green sunfish removal from Horse Camp Canyon has finally been completed! This is a big success for Heidi Blasius and the BLM office. Removal from this side canyon began in 2009. Horse Camp Canyon is the only known source of green sunfish into Aravaipa Creek. Green sunfish are piscivorous and eat the young of the native fish that live in Aravaipa Creek. I was an integral part of the 2013 removal efforts. I camped with a Southwestern Conservation Corp crew at the west entrance into Aravaipa Canyon for a week in September. We hiked 80 nets into Horse Camp Canyon (HCC), a 5 mile hike from the west entrance. Each day we hiked to the site, set nets, seined, and dip netted, and then hiked out. What a week! Then in October another SCC crew worked at HCC for us. The four pools in HCC were finally deemed clean of green sunfish on 10/30/2013. We removed close to 2,000 green sunfish in 2013! I was given the honor of presenting the results of the non-native removal efforts in HCC at the annual Desert Fishes Council conference. I spent five days in Flagstaff attending the meeting. My presentation went well, despite my nerves. It was great practice in my oral presentation skills as well as data preparation and analysis.

SCC crew    Myself with an SCC crew after a week working in Horse Camp canyon.

Sonoran Mud Turtle Juvenile Sonoran Mud Turtle

Pulling nets in Horse Camp Canyon Janyne Little pulling nets in Horse Camp Canyon.

Lowland Leopard Frogs Lowland Leopard frogs in Horse Camp Canyon

Horse Camp canyon Entry into Horse Camp Canyon from Aravaipa Creek.

Once we returned from the furlough, SOS collections were of high priority. The shutdown occurred just as seeds were ripening in this area.  Recognizing the time constrains of our collection season, our crew had several collection trips each week, as well as collecting on the weekends. Our team has made 49 collections and we still may be able to accumulate more through the end of November and into early December.

 All and all I have thoroughly enjoyed our collection season. Three new interns have started under my mentor over the last couple months. It is great to have some new friends in the area. We have explored new areas of the field office and learned a magnitude of information about native plants. There is no better way to learn the local flora then to be out in it actively identifying things. We have taken several trips with Steven Buckley, a botanist for the NPS. He is extremely knowledgeable of the flora in this area and helped our SOS collection team in correctly identifying plants for collection. He also instructed us in the creation of seed balls. We made over 4,000 seed balls one afternoon that will be used in restoration efforts on the Buenes Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The Buenes Aires National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful area. Steve accompanied us to Brown Canyon, an area closed to the public. The Canyon was lush and diverse. My favorite plant of the day was Coral Bean. The bright red color of the beans is a message to beware of the lethal poison contained within.

Baboquivari View of Baboquivari Peak from Brown Canyon.

Seed balls Seed balls containing native seeds collected in Buenes Aires National Wildlife Refuge

SOS Collection Team Myself, Andrew Johnson, and Janyne Little after our plant identification hike with Steve Buckley.

Coral Bean Coral Bean in Brown Canyon

The Aravaipa Creek Bi-annual monitoring was a highlight of our fall field season. Aravaipa creek is home to 7 native species, two of which are federally endangered. The natives include the Longfin dace, Agosia chrysogaster, Speckled dace, Rhinichythys osculus, Spike dace, Meda fulgida, Desert sucker, Catostomus clarkii, Sonoran Sucker, Catostomus insignis, Loach minnow, Tiaroga cobitis, and the Roundtail chub, Gila robusta. Loach minnow and spikedace are the two that are listed. There are very few streams in the southwest that can boost of having this many native fishes. It was my first time identiying several of these species, and really a treat to see the endangered populations doing well. The monitoring took place at 8 different 200 m sites. Each site was seined the entire length, and all the fish were identified and counted.

photo_1 Spikedacephoto_2 Loach minnowphoto_5 Modified mouth of a Desert Sucker

photo_22 Sorting fish from a seine haul

photo_23 Myself recording data

photo_33 Seining

It has been a great couple of months. I greatly enjoy the extended field season in Arizona. It’s November and we are still able to perform non-native removal in Bonita Creek (although this results in frozen fingers). I’m looking forward to holiday season and visiting Arkansas for a couple weeks. I hope that all other CLM interns and CBG staff also enjoy lovely holidays.

-Rosalee Reese

Sunny September in Southeastern Arizona

Thus far September has been a lovely month to be in the desert. Some intense monsoons have brought a lot of moisture to the area. The result has been magnificent: lush ocotillo, a variety of flowers in bloom, and beautiful skies. It has been a very pleasant time to be out in the field.

Barrel cactus in bloom

Green sunfish removal has been the focus over the last month. A contract crew from Phoenix has made two week long visits to Bonita creek. We are slowly catching less and less non-native fish! The native populations of Gila Chub and Sonora Sucker seem to be doing really well. A couple minor flood events have occurred in Bonita creek, one which blew out several of our nets. Several days of frantic searching for the lost nets ensued, but fortunately we were able to locate all of the missing units. The contract crews are done for the year, but our BLM crew will continue our non-native removal efforts throughout the winter.

We have also visited a couple new monitoring sites over the last month. One day we took a long bumpy road out to Spring Canyon. It is mostly a dry canyon, but a short portion has annual water and is home to a population of Longfin dace, a native endangered fish species. We were able to monitor adults and juveniles in the population and also spotted some Lowland leopard frogs. Success!

Lowland leopard frog

Longfin dace

When in the office I have been working on summary data for non-native removal and from monitoring data from different sites. We have also been preparing for the grand opening of the greenhouse at the Discovery Park Campus. I have prepared information cards for all of the plants we will be growing out for restoration projects. At the grand opening there will also be a native pollinator plant give-away. I made care-cards for all of these plants so people have information on how to take care of their new plants. This has been a nice way to refresh myself on all the different plants we will be growing.

I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with game and fish doing desert tortoise monitoring. I traveled to Phoenix and spent the day hiking around Sugarloaf mountain in search of hidden desert tortoises. Not only did the crew track the 15 juveniles in their juvenile movement study, but 3 additional tortoises were spotted, as well as a Western Diamondback rattlesnake and a Tiger rattlesnake. I also made it out to another Sky Island Alliance volunteer weekend working at the Cobra Ranch, a Nature Conservancy property. We planted native grass seedlings at their native grass hay farm. It was a wonderful cloudy day to be playing in the dirt.

New native grasses planted at the native grass hay farm

Tiger Rattlesnake

Desert Tortoise

On the search for tortoises

Another great month 🙂


Rainstorms and Restoration

Another month has passed working at the BLM office in Safford, AZ and it is hard to believe the summer is almost gone. I have extended my internship, and am thrilled that I have more time to be involved with all the interesting projects that my mentors are working on.

Our crew has been working on restoration projects a lot within the last month. Sands draw is a 480 acre wildlife exclosure in the Sam Simon Valley. This area has excluded grazing in recent years in an attempt to re-establish a native grassland. The San Simon Valley use to be almost entirely grassland, but in the late 1800’s was so over-grazed and degraded that cresote scrub-bush dominates now. The workn in this exclosure consists of digging holes, pre-watering the holes, planting native grass seedlings with a product called dry-water, rock and straw mulching the seedlings, and then top-watering the plants. It is a time consuming process, and the seedlings must be handled with care to ensure their success. Our BLM crew has worked in this area several times, and last week an American Conservation Experience crew traveled to the area to assist in this work as well. Having a larger number of workers in the area brought new challenges, but also allowd us to get a lot of seedlings in the ground. Due to the complexity of the process used to plant the grass seedlings, teaching a large group of mostly inexperienced workers took time. Once the group was up to speed on the procedure the work went smoothly.


The last day the crew was in the field with us, we went to another wildlife enclosure called Howards Well. This area has a large pool that is home to populations of Desert Pupfish and Gila Topminnow. The sedges and cattails that ground around the waters edge have begun to severely encroach on the water habitat. The plants have to be cut back in order to prevent too much sediment build up and complete loss of water habitat. The crew helped us to clear the pond of the sedges and cattails with hand saws. The work that the ACE crew assisted us with was very strenuous and challenging and they should be commended for their endurance.

I am continuing to prep for SOS scouting trips and collections. We will be doing our first SOS collection next week! Very exciting. I finished a study guide of all of our target species and rare plants to keep an eye out for, and in down time look over the guide to be ready for collecting season. I have also been introduced to GIS and am learning to transfer coordinates from my GPS unit to GIS. We will also be using GIS to look at soil maps in an attempt to find areas where certain plant populations may be likely. GIS is a daunting program with so much information to offer. I am excited to become more familiar with it and learn more ways in which it can assist me in my work.

Work in Bonita Creek to removal non-natives continues. It is a staple to our fieldwork and we don’t usually make it more then a couple weeks without visiting the stream. Its a lovely place to work though, and I enjoy knowing that it will be part of my schedule. However, at some point the non-native removal will be a complete success hopefully and the native populations will be able to thrive without our weekly intrusions.

An exciting meeting took place several weeks ago in which myself and five others met to discuss possible project ideas at Discovery park, Eastern Arizona Community College’s auxiliary campus. Jeff had the awesome idea that we should install a pollinator garden. The plans are in motion now, and the group that will be working on the project, myself included, is an interesting collaboration that will undoubtedly produce amazing results. Discovery park is expansive, and many other project ideas were discussed at the meeting as well. The potential in this park is really thrilling. The new greenhouse is up and running now and Alex Dragotakes, the greenhouse manager, has started seeding! The greenhouse grand opening is just around the corner, and I think the community is really in for a treat.

My days continue to be varied and fulfilling. I’ve already learned so much in my time here, and am very pleased with my growth in field biology, restoration, and conservation. I hope all the other interns are enjoying their experience as much as me 🙂

Monsoon Season

It is hard to believe that another month has past. My internship is speeding by, and I am currently trying to find a housing option that will allow me to extend my time here in Safford, AZ.

The monsoon season has begun and the storms are glorious. I’ve never seen such beautiful cloudy skies. The lightening shows are my favorite. Sometimes I sit outside for extended amounts of time and watch the lightening dance across the sky. Its not uncommon to have half the sky a sunny bright day and the other be a dark foreboding storm. I enjoy the juxtaposition. So far the rains haven’t kept us from any of our work, merely brought a little humidity and some water to the trickling streams.

This past month, our crew worked hard on green sunfish removal in Bonita Creek. The work seems to be paying off. Contract workers from Phoenix have been down twice to help us clear out the non-natives, and as of the last net setting, three pools came back completely greenie free! So that is really encouraging. Unfortunately, poor Bonita Creek is experiencing some drying. The city of Safford uses the spring that feeds Bonita Creek as their water source, and the result is several large beautiful pools being depleted to nothing. We have set nets in these drying pools to try to catch and relocate natives, and give non-natives a more humane death then suffocation.

My work in desert plants is beginning to accelerate now, which is exciting. The BLM in Safford has partnered with the Gila Watershed Partnership and Eastern Arizona Community College to build a new greenhouse at Discovery Park. The greenhouse will be a shared space. The BLM is using their portion to grow out native plants for restoration projects. We are supposed to work on a pollinator garden by the greenhouse sometime soon as well. This last weekend our BLM crew, a group from the Sky Island Alliance, and the Nature Conservancy all worked together on a restoration project on Turkey Creek and Cobra Ranch in the Aravaipa Wilderness. We stayed at a lovely Nature Conservancy field house. Getting to meet volunteers and employees from these different organizations was really fun. One of my favorite parts of my internship thus far has been meeting so many new people that are passionate about the same things I am. It makes me feel like there are enough like-minded people around that we can really make a change.

The work was great as well. We were planting Giant Sacaton mostly, but also some Cottontop. The Turkey Creek area use to be home to goat ranchers, and the Giant Sacaton grassland that used to exist has mostly vanished. Gaint Sacaton is an important riparian plant because its roots can grow 15 ft down. It provides balance for the water table and holds water in the soil longer. Also, if the area floods and the plants become covered in silt and soil, Giant Sacaton has the ability to grow up through the soil. We are hoping that by restoring the Giant Sacaton to this area, the Turkey Creek floodplain area will become a stable riparian grassland area again. The Giant Sacaton planted at Cobra Ranch is being used in a similar way. Stowe gulch feeds into Aravaipa creek and serves as a wash during floods. The Nature Conservancy, who manage Cobra Ranch, is trying to reintroduce a meandering pathway and slow the flow of Stowe gulch to reduce sediment runoff. Thus, the Giant Sacaton was planted in strategic areas to build up soil and hopefully influence the flow of the gulch. So much planning and strategy have gone into these projects. I learned so much in one weekend of restoration work, but also got my eyes opened to how much I don’t know about this field. We have several more restoration projects planned and I’m excited to keep learning about this type of work!

This is what our seedling Giant Sacatons will grow to become hopefully!

We have started prepping our target list for SOS collections. I sorted through the herbarium to find samples of the plants we will be collecting from. These samples will serve as my study guide so I can be sure to accurately identify plants in the field.

I was also fortunate enough to have time off and the funds to visit home for the Fourth of July. I got to visit family and friends and come back to Safford feeling totally refreshed. I’m ready for another month of new adventures and lots of learning!

Desert Delights

The past month has been eventful and full of learning. The outings I have been involved with have been varied and included some remarkable wildlife sightings. The desert keeps surprising and delighting me!

I have continued to be involved with native fish monitoring and non-native fish removal.    Several weeks ago, myself and 3 others from the office traversed the Gila Box National Riparian Conservation Area to complete annual monitoring. The river’s flows were very low, causing some difficulty in floating through the rockier areas. However, the monitoring was a success. We used an electrofisher along with dip-nets and a seine to sample the stream for fish. We saw Desert Bighorn Sheep atop several bluffs. At one point, a mother and baby came down to the water to drink. An adorable sight. I also saw my first rattlesnake! Camping out by the river was a feat, after long hours on the river, but the clear night sky made the hard work worth it.

Our work in Bonita Creek continues. We have been setting nets at least once a week and removing hundreds of non-natives. The native populations of Gila Chub and Sonora Sucker seem to be doing well. However, the Gila Chub we have been catching and measuring are frequently noted to have Lernaea, a barbed parasite. This coming week contract workers will be working on Bonita Creek alongside us.

I have also had the privilege to hike through Aravaipa Canyon twice over the past weeks. There are several side canyons off of Aravaipa, one of which harbors invasive green sunfish populations. The hope is to remove these populations and prevent their spread. The fish were removed using nets that were set overnight, along with seining and dip-netting. Aravaipa canyon is truly a gem. The bluffs and canyon walls are decorated with saguaro and unique rock formations. The canyon floor is lush. The stream is banked with abundant watercrest and horsetail. Willow, ash, and mesquite composed a majority of the trees. The canyon is full of vermillion flycatchers, white tailed deer, and leopard frogs. On our first adventure we were fortunate enough to glimpse a mother black bear and her two cubs. The mother escorted the two cubs to a tree, while keeping on eye on us, and the cubs climbed the tree to safety. The mother proceeded to “camp out” at the foot of the tree and watch us as we moved on. When our group was almost back to the car, we came upon an injured juvenile red-tail hawk. Fortunately, from my previous internships working in wildlife rehabilitation, I was able to use my raptor handling training to safely capture the hawk. The hawk was then transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center upon our return. And on our second trip back, a juvenile bobcat darted across the road. What eventful outings!

Another project that has been a priority over the last month has been creating a Junior Explorer Booklet to highlight the native desert fish in Arizona. The book will be for children age 8-12. Coming up with the educational activities and information for the book has been fun and challenging. Activities in the book include mazes, crossword puzzles, and matching. Each activity highlights a different habitat type or particular site in Arizona. Making the book both fun and educational for children has been a great way to understand the information I am working with, on a new level. I have been putting my artistic abilities to the test!

Life continues to be pretty great working at the Safford, AZ BLM office. My mentors are wonderful teachers and I learn something new every day at work. I’m enjoying the projects I am involved with, and looking forward to many upcoming adventures!

Adjusting to the desert.

I’ve officially lived in Safford, AZ for 3 weeks now, and am adjusting a little more each day. Coming from the lush forested hills of Arkansas to the desert is a big transition, but I continue to appreciate the beauty of the desert more and more.

My first week was filled with trainings of every variety, but I also got out in the field by day 2. Heather Paddock, the other CLM intern at the BLM office in Safford, and I joined one of our mentors, Heidi Blasius, on Bonita Creek to work on non-native fish removal. We set 60 nets and returned the following morning to sort the captives. Green-sunfish and mosquito fish were removed from the stream, and all natives were measured and released. We caught several varities or native, endangered species, including the Gila Chub, the Sonoran sucker fish, the Gila Top Minnow, and the Sonoran mud turtle.

The following week Heather and I traveled to Boise, ID for the Seeds of Success training. We participated in a three day training course to get up to speed on the methodology required for successful seed collection. The training included an actual field collection of Sandberg bluegrass, as well as several interesting field trips. We toured the FireWise garden at the Boise, ID botanical gardens and learned about ways to plant a fire resistant garden. The Birds of Prey Conservation Area, Lucky Peak Nursery, and the Boise Regional Seed Warehouse were among our other outings. The training and trip, as a whole, was a great experience.
This week has been a mix of data entry, UTV training, and a day of fieldwork. The field day was especially enjoyable. We traveled to the Coldspring Seeps to work on monitoring Gila Top Minnow and Desert Pupfish. Populations of both native species were doing well, and several Sonoran mud turtles were recorded as well.

All and all, my time here has been interesting and varied. My fish identification and observation skills are developing quickly. Next week I will begin to scout for possible seed collection locations, and am hoping to put my plant taxonomy knowledge from the SOS training to good use.