Well, I’m wrapping things up here in Dillon, Montana and heading off to who knows where. I have a couple job leads but nothing for certain yet. Crossing my fingers about landing a term position job with the Fish and Wildlife in Texas. The work itself would be really cool, collecting native seeds and growing them out in a refugia, then using those seedlings to restore a river with several exotic and invasive species. I love seed collecting and have been doing it now for three field seasons. But it would be nice to watch the seeds grow, and then plant them– the whole full circle thing. Also, it’s a GS 5-7-9 term position, which means it’s not seasonal work and after a year as a GS-5 you can get moved to a GS-7 and so on.
And I must say, it would be comforting to settle into a little adobe for a while. In the last year I moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Duluth, Minnesota to Las Vegas, Nevada and finally to Dillon, Montana–all in the name of field work. I can’t even begin to process all I have learned, and with a gypsy-type spirit I love hopping around the country. That said, I am so ready to get a cat, a garden plot, and just maybe an actual bed.
Anyway, last night there was a hard frost here! Winter is definitely approaching. I am working a lot with the range staff to implement new studies in areas where cattle did a number on the streams. The range staff will continue to monitor these areas, looking at the trends in these areas in hope for improvement. Elk and Moose also can potentially rip up the stream banks and chew the willows down as well but (moo) cows come in vast numbers and can hugely impact a stream bank in a matter of days. That’s why sometimes we just build a big fence around the stream (riparian area) to let it heal for a while. The water is the most valuable resource out west, and unlike where I’m from (the Great Lakes), there isn’t too much of it.
Here are some photos from studies we implemented in areas that are quite obviously hurting. We always put the pictures in the most beat-up areas, since they have potential to show the most improvement. The exposed soil you see is not ideal because the stream needs plants to hold up the stream bank, and prevent sand and silt from entering the stream.
I feel fortunate to have worked with and met all the nice folk here in Montana. The range staff shared a wealth of knowledge with me about cattle, range-land health, hunting, horses, rodeos, Montana Flora, the list goes on. Although culturally we come from very different places and backgrounds, I think we developed a respect and understanding of each other and that maybe they, likewise, learned a lot from me.
I will miss Montana dearly if I end up landing a job in a far off land like Texas. I will certainly be back though, to the land where truly ‘the dear and the antelope roam’.