As I put field books back on their shelves, make neat piles of vouchers in the lab, clean out my filthy backpack, and get rid of useless papers that have accumulated on my desk, I think back to all the amazing places I have seen, wonderful people I have worked with, and all of the botanical knowledge I have gained over the past 15 months. This internship really helped me shape where I want to go in the future. It has helped me focus on what I want to pursue in the form of a career and has inspired me to go to back to school and earn my master’s in biology. I will be attending Humboldt State University this fall to pursue a degree focusing on insect community ecology with an emphasis on plant relationships. I have always had a strong interest in insects, but it wasn’t until this internship, where I obtained so much information about botany, that I realized that the greater ecological role they play in plant cycles is something I wanted to study further.
Good luck to all of you with whatever you choose to pursue next.
Hello Fellow CLMers,
Our 2015 collecting season is already off to a good start! I have been here in the Medford, OR BLM office since early March, watching plants transition from their winter dormancy to spring blooms and in some cases already seeding. My collecting partner for the season, Ryan King, started on April 20th and we have already been out and about; covering a lot of diverse landscapes, elevations, and floristic habitats. Since this is my second year working on the Seeds of Success program, I have been getting Ryan up to speed on the protocols and techniques to be most efficient in the field. We have already shipped off 11 collections to the Bend Seed Extractory since the start of 2015, and we currently have 5 other species drying out in our seed shed getting ready to be shipped.
Since out district office has been participating in the Seeds of Success program for over 13 years, we have been focusing on making collections in areas that have not yet been targeted, or areas with rare and endemic plants. This has proven to be successful and quite fun. Over the past few weeks we have explored lots of amazing places in our own backyard that neither of us had ever seen. We hope to keep this momentum going as the season progresses.
Medford, OR BLM
Ryan and I admiring Rhododendron occidentale
Looking out at the Siskiyou Wilderness
me vouchering Darlingtonia californica
Darlingtonia californica flower
a large fen of Darlingtonia californica
Ryan and I collecting Carex spp. along the beautiful banks of Deer Creek
Hello my fellow CLMers,
I am back on for my second round as an intern in the Medford, OR BLM office. I started about a month and a half earlier this year as a result of getting into grad school at Humboldt State University and will be having to move in June. I got accepted into the Biology program and will be focusing on insect community ecology. I strongly feel that my 10 month internship doing botanical work here with the Medford BLM really solidified my wanting to go back to school, and helped with my acceptance.
Even though I have begun early in order to get a few months of my internship in before I have to leave, it has proved to be quite productive. No intern in the 13 year history of the Seeds of Success program at the Medford BLM has ever started this early. That means a whole new set of early blooming plants that are ready and waiting to be vouchered and added to our extensive herbarium of over 3,500 specimen. I have been out and about a few times already this year to many locations I went to last year, and I am witnessing an entirely knew community of flora. Also, the fact that we have had a horrible winter (snow-pack being at 19% of normal average as of last month) has also been a factor that proves my early start date has been beneficial, as everything is popping up early. I have also been scouting out new places and keeping me eye on what species will start to seed. I am hoping to make my first SOS collection sometime in early April.
It is nice coming back to a second term after already getting the hang of things here in the office and in the field. I spent the first 2 months last year trying to figure out the protocol and get caught up to speed on basic botanical jargon, but now I have just hit the ground running and I am feeling good about the productivity of this year. We have another SOS intern coming on in April, so fortunately there will be some overlap with us and I can teach him what I know about the program, and he can take over the work load from there.
Winter is rapidly setting in and it feels as if it has been nudging me out of the field and back into the office. Well the weather isn’t solely to blame for this, it is also due to my appointment coming to an end and needing to catch up on miscellaneous office work that I have put off for the past 8 months and working on the SOS end of the year wrap up. But I like to think of if more as the forceful winter chill laying down its icy fist and forbidding me from collecting anymore seeds…
My time working for the Medford, OR BLM is rapidly coming to an end. It has been a great season of opportunity for me to expand my botanical knowledge and learn about how difference agencies function, bureaucratically as well as biologically. I gained valuable skills pertaining to surveying, report writing, and communicating with the public as well as other employees within the agencies, all while upholding a professional demeanor.
I spent over 3 weeks in October leading a crew of 8 convicts in a reseeding project of a burnt up forest. We reseeded some BLM plots within the 36,000 burn zone. We successfully reseeded over 1,100 of those acres, using over 14,000 pounds of native grass and forb seeds. This was a great learning experience both being a crew leader, as well as working with convicts. This may have been the most enjoyable project I have worked on since starting this internship. I definitely feel it was the most enriching, granting me an opportunity that I don’t think I would otherwise have been able to experience. This project did not only help me gain people skills but I also utilized some scientific method by setting up 50 picture plot points in order to to back for the next few years and monitor the successes of the project. It is too bad I won’t be around to watch these grasses grow!
With the collecting season rapidly coming to an end, our duties have begun to shift, but still maintain seamless relevance with our prior work. Southern Oregon was hit hard this year with some large forest fires that completely torched some BLM lands. Our seed collecting work early this season has now come full circle as a result of reseeding projects in these burnt forests and meadows. The seed we are using was collecting in past years but former CLM interns, and was sent to a number of different farms around the Pacific Northwest and grown out to increase the number of poundage. It is these seeds, of the same ecoregion, that we are using to repopulate the native grasses and forbs. I will be spending this week and next onsite, where the Oregon Gulch fired occurred, with 8 members from a community justice crew. We have already covered roughly 300 acres and will be covering much more in the days to come.
We have still been out everyday scouting and collecting. Although it has finally felt like things are starting to slow down here in Southern Oregon. There are a few exceptions, which are lending themselves to unique species that are late bloomers. These late bloomers appear to have slipped below the radar in past years and we are able to make some collections that have not been made in previous seasons.
We spent yesterday up on Mt. Ashland (the largest mountain in Oregon east of the Cascades) standing at 7,533 feet and were amazed to see how many species were still ripe for the picking. Some flowers, such as Monardella villosa (coyote mint), were still flowering! We haven’t seen flowers on this plant for about a month and a half, so finding this ecological pocket of botanical wonder gave us hope that we might be able to keep on collecting for a few more weeks!
Fire season has been ramping up down here (or up here depending on where you are) in Southern Oregon. Not only did the largest fire in Oregon, The Oregon Gulch fire maxing out at ~36,500+ acres, just get contained roughly 20 miles south of us, but 7,000 recorded lighting strikes on Monday has lead to 12 new fires that are getting bigger as I type. The socked in smokey valley, mixed with 100 degree days, has made going out and collecting not so enjoyable. But being the diligent seed heads that we are, we have still been keeping up with collections and as of last week we met our target collection number of 60 and have since then surpassed it by a lot. With the vast diversity in eco-regions and elevation in our district, our number of seed collections don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. It has been nice to think that maybe the seeds I collect today, will be used to rehab these burned sites tomorrow.
Oregon Gulch Fire
Oregon Gulch Fire
The top of Grizzly Peak
It’s been hotter than a billy goat’s backside in a pepper patch! Monday peaked at 101, yesterday was 104, and it doesn’t look like today will be much better.
Because of this, we have been having to pick our seed scouting and collecting locations wisely (in terms of shade and elevation). It appears that a lot of the lowland species are all tapped out, if not prime for the picking right now. We have gotten lucky the past few days and stumbled upon 4 new species (Trifolium microcephalum, Juncus effusus, Eriogonum nudum, Sedum spathulifolium) that we had not previously scouted out, but located at the perfect collecting time.
Another location requirement we have been calling to our attention is water sources. Not only is this due to species flourishing along creeks, rivers, and lakes later on in the season, but also because there are fewer things in this world better than jumping into ice cold water on a scorching hot day. A quick dip in a snow melt river can keep you collecting seeds for hours in the peak heat of the day.
Rainie Falls on The Wild and Scenic Rouge River
The Wild and Scenic Illinois River
Mentzelia laevicaulis (Blazing Star)
As most everyone of you know, last week was the CLM workshop. It was great being able to meet all of you and pick up some valuable information to assist me in doing the best I can do at my job. I have returned to Southern Oregon excited to be back in the mountains, and with enthusiasm for collections. In my two days back, I already made 4 SOS collections and vouchered 5 new plant specimens. It was great to learn all about the proper protocols for the collecting process and now be back in the field, feeling confident that the collections I am making are solid. I am about to head out to an area called French Flat which is deep in the Siskiyou mountains where everything that grows there is a little peculiar due to the serpentine soils. I haven’t checked on this site for a little over two weeks now so there should be quite a few rarer species to collect.
I couldn’t figure out how to caption these photos below (even though I know I have done it before), but the first one is a very large puff ball fungi, the second is the start of my Allium siskiyouense (the Siskiyou Onion) collection, and the third is a view from an over grown logging road facing Mt. McLaughlin on the west side of the lower Cascade Mountains. I just wanted to ad this last photo to show my joy for being back in mountain county after spending a week in the painfully flat mid west.
Until next time, happy collecting!