This past month, we finally got to the point where the majority of our time was spent in the field!!!

The first week of April, however, was a week full of trainings. Days one and two were spent at ArcPad training and day three was GeoBOB Mobile training. As someone who has spent countless hours entering GeoBOB data and trying to decipher handwriting, I am excited to be able to put this new technology to use so, hopefully, all data can be input in the field which would save so much time!

After our GPS trainings, we took a defensive driving course and, finally, on day five, we got to practice driving off road! We didn’t do much plant monitoring, but it was so nice to be outside after a week in the office!!!

The next week was a little more exciting! First off, we got to organize and put away our herbarium which had been returned after being scanned for a digital herbarium database.  Ok, I guess that wasn’t super thrilling, but it was nice to finally be able to look at our local herbarium sheets to visualize the species we would be seeing in the field.

Later in the week, we finally got to go back in the field!!! Our first task was to monitor a sage grouse lek and, since we had to make it there before sunrise, our day started bright and early at 3:45 AM. Sadly, we did not see any of the little guys lekking, but it was to be expected as it was the end of the lekking season. Don’t worry though, that wasn’t the end of our adventure that day! Next on the agenda was a spotted frog survey! This involved walking two miles of stream bank and capturing GPS coordinates of any egg masses or frogs that we came across.

A beautiful, slightly frozen, egg mass!!!

A beautiful, slightly frozen, egg mass!!!

The day started out with few egg mass spottings but, as we made it further down the stream, we started coming across hot spots teeming with frogs and covered in egg masses!

It was a beautiful day!

What a beautiful day!

Friday was driving test and tire changing day!  Bill Lutjens taught us how to change the tire on our rig and then each of us had to change a tire by ourselves.  I learned that I am a weakling and F350 tires are super duper heavy, but I am so glad I have experience changing the tire now, so if we were to get a flat in the field I would be way more confident!

Lauren removed that tire like a pro!

Lauren removed that tire like a pro!

Tire changing was followed by our driving test, which involved driving around on some steep sandy hills outside of town.   Bill uses this course because it looks really scary, but is actually quite safe.  After our driving adventures, Bill gave us the thumbs up and we are officially signed off on driving now!!!

This past week we were finally allowed out on our own, which worked out well since our mentor was out sick most of the week.  We were pretty much given free reign over what we wanted to do for the week, so we would choose a different spot with some sensitive species we could monitor each day and practice driving and navigating to the areas and surveying the sites.

We even found a site of flowering Lewisia sp.

We even found a site of flowering Lewisia sp.

Last week gave me a taste of what the rest of the summer will be like and I am super pumped and look forward to the months to come!

Back in Vale!

I’m back in Vale, Oregon and I will be doing botany this field season! These first few weeks have involved lots of mandatory training and practice in Access databases.

Last week, I was able to go out all week and monitor sage grouse leks with our horse and burro specialist! It involved long days of early mornings and rough driving, but it was worth it since we got to see 4 leks with sage grouse actively lekking on them. I had never seen them in person before and it was awesome to be so close!  I even got to practice driving the manual rig off-road for the first time and I only stalled like 10 times, so I’d call it a success!

I’ve been out in the field a few times now and I’ve been working on learning the native plants. Sagebrush has always all looked the same to me, but I am finally able to tell a few species apart. I have even discovered a species that I actually enjoy the smell of!!! Additionally, we’ve come across a decent amount of plants that have already begun to bloom. Mainly, we’ve seen ranunculus and phlox with a few other species mixed in. It’s scary how early they’re blooming, but at the same time it’s nice to see the flowers which hint that spring is finally arriving.

 This week, I’ve been working trying to get the ESI team’s Access database containing soil descriptions and the species composition of sites to spatial data.  It is a work in progress, but once the database has spatial attributes we will be able to query out species of interest, find areas where they were found in abundance, and use that data to navigate to the sites to potentially collect seeds.

I’m so excited for this upcoming field season and I can’t wait to start collecting!  Hopefully, by my next post I will have completed a few collections!


Hello all!

October has been a great month!  Things have finally slowed down here and I’ve spent the past month mainly working on map requests and editing SDE data.

I’ve also had time to go out in the field with the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist and got to ride a horse for the first time, which was amazing… and I didn’t even fall off!!!  It was interesting to learn about the opposing viewpoints on wild horse management and the overpopulation problems that are easily visible on the landscape.

Of course, it would be crazy to think I was entirely done with fire rehab work.  We finished the ESR plan and the Environmental Analysis, so now we’ve jumped right into implementation of the ESR plan.  Most of the maps I am making now are large field maps so people can go out and mark where the treatments are to be conducted.  I’ve also been editing the treatment data as requested and loading it onto GPS units to be used in the field. It’s pretty awesome how quickly we have been able to implement the plan and hopefully the early treatment will help the environment heal faster!




Now that our Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) plan has been submitted, we’ve moved right along and started writing an Environmental Analysis (EA) for the Buzzard Complex fires!

My main duties, as per usual, are building models to run reports and then making the maps for the Saddle Draw Fire portion of the plan.

One main skill I have gotten from this internship has been becoming comfortable in Model Builder. I had used it a few times in the past, but never on a regular basis. When you are running the same processes over and over again, it saves so much time if you can just go into the model, make a few changes, and run it again. Also, if someone wants to figure out how you came up with certain numbers, they can look at your models and understand what you did.

Beautiful Model

In addition to making these final products, I’ve also cleaned up the file structure which is pretty complex.  Hopefully every folder now is named so that an outsider can figure out what it contains, and if not, I also went through and created a document that has a short description of the contents of each folder in the Buzzard Complex ESR folder (It’s about 3 pages long…).

I see many of you are wrapping up your internships and I wish you all the best of luck!!!  I’m still around through December and I’m excited to see what fall is like out here in the high desert!!!





Not much has changed since my last post. Our Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) Plans were due today, so I’ve been working with the team to do analyses and create maps for the report. Running so many models, one of the hardest things I’ve come across has been data management. My data organization makes sense to me, but I know I’m going to have to spend the next week cleaning up the data if I want anyone else to understand it!

In addition to working on the plan, I’ve been helping others around the office use arcMap as a tool as they write reports. A lot of people find arcMap daunting and I am happy to show them how much easier it can make their lives! It also gives me an opportunity to inquire about their work. Being from the the East Coast, I am a little lost when it comes to the climate out here. So, I’ve been trying to learn about the different way lands are managed out here in the High Desert.

Until next time!

Eastern Oregon


With fire season in full swing here in Eastern Oregon, the office has been pretty busy this past month. Fortunately, these fires have provided me the oportunity to conduct spatial analyses on what kinds of lands and structures have burned so a rehabilitation plan can be put into place. This involves looking at former restoration plans and determining what the botanists, engineers, etc will need analyzed. Then, I create models using ArcGIS model builder so I can can save the proccesses to be used on a future fire if need be.

In addition to fire analysis, I have been working on creating maps for an Oregon Trail tour an archaeologist in the office is leading. These maps would be for the public going on the tour so they can find their way and also just as an overview of the route. This project has been a test of my cartography skills as I have had to try to find a way to fit a lot of information into an 11×17 map.

In all, these past few weeks have been great and I’m excited to continue my work here!

Vale, OR

One month in!

These past few weeks have been a learning experience! I’ve picked up a bunch of new tricks in GIS and can even navigate the maze of office cubicles! I also got to make some fire maps for dispatch. The workshop was a refreshing change of pace and it was great meeting so many of you! I look forward to continuing on my learning journey!


After my three day drive from Virginia, I finally made it to Vale, Oregon!  The environment is much drier than what I’m used to, but the lack of humidity is wonderful!  My focus is GIS, so I have not been out in the field yet.  May 19th was my first day, so I’ve mostly spent the past week training, learning more about the BLM, and asking lots of questions.  Currently, my training is focused on using and troubleshooting ArcPad and GPS units since I’ll be spending a lot of time helping everyone with their GPS units this summer. I’ve also been able to make a few maps for others in the building!  I look forward to learning more about the GPS units and becoming more comfortable helping others with their GPS and GIS questions and I hope to get out in the field soon!

Until next time!

Vale District BLM