Since I arrived back in Wyoming from the CLM workshop Chicago, my week has been busy, busy, busy! A majority of the week dealt with range land health assessments. However, some of it was also spent making the first collections for the Seeds of Success program.
Each day, we were putting in about 10 hours of work. We were lucky to have a breezy, sunny series of days which made it enjoyable to be traipsing through the sites of sagebrush. Seeing the cute baby cows all around have also made these long days bearable (It is my summer goal to hug one of these baby cows, and I was recently informed by a friend of a friend that this may in fact be possible!), as well as the eye candy flowers currently in bloom!
Some of that eye candy I was talking about! The lovely and colorful flower of a prickly pear cactus.
Some of the baby cows that I will one day get to cuddle….hopefully.
Monday was the first day that all four interns were working together, and we had a blast getting to know each other and working hard to get the monitoring finished. There was a lot of training involved in these field days. We pulled up to each site with a small army of three trucks filled with interns, soil specialists, range specialists, and wildlife biologists. It was great to have everyone there the first few days, because we were able to share our knowledge of the sites and our specialties back and forth. I was able to pick up some great facts about soil and wildlife for each of the sites by talking to the other members of the team, and was able to share what I knew about the plants of the area, as well as sage grouse habitat monitoring with the other members of the team.
The crew is all together! All four of the interns are finally here and working together! (From Left: Heather, Sara, Me, Justin)
I had previously been introduced to setting up the transects at the sites, but we went into extreme detail so the interns will be able to complete some monitoring without the entire team in the coming weeks. In one day alone, I set up three transects, learned to perform point line intercepts, use a compass, and perform the Daubenmire method.
The days seemed to fly by because there was so much to get done at each location. Because so much teaching and training was involved at these sites, and because it took so long to get to each of these locations (2-3 hrs), we were only able to complete 2 sites per day. However, we are hoping to pick up the pace in the coming weeks, getting 3-4 sites done each day.
In addition to the 9 sites we successfully monitored this week, Justin and I also completed the Desert Biscuit root (Lomatium foeniculaceum) seed collection which our fellow intern, Sara Burns and our advisor, Charlotte Darling, had started the week before. There were so many seeds to be collected, and a good chunk which had yet to mature, which gives us the opportunity to go back and collect more next week. Collecting went faster than I had anticipated and was actually quite fun. Justin and I came up with a quick and efficient method for removing the seeds and covered the entire area in just than a couple of hours.
Me collecting some of the Lomatium seed from the location near Kaycee, WY.
Some of the seeding pussytoes we stumbled upon.
During the days of monitoring, we also had a few exciting encounters with great populations for collections for the SOS program. We wound up finding a site of small-leaf pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia) ready for collection, and collected from over 200 plants in a single day. This plant has become one of my favorites because of how soft and fluffy it is, and how closely it resembles kittens paws (It’s a bonus that it was so easy to collect from!). We also found promising populations of Chick Weed, Two-grooved Milkvetch, and the American Vetch that we will have to go back and visit in a couple of weeks.
I was soooo happy to have had the SOS training the previous week! It made filling out the forms, collection herbarium specimens, and checking seed ripeness so much easier!
In the coming week, we will be camping in an area that has five sites which need to be monitored to cut down on driving time and to help pick up the pace. I am looking forward to spending this time with the fellow interns and co-workers. I am just hoping for some another sunny breezy week like the last one! I am also hopeful we will be able to come across a population of Scarlet Globe mallow to collect.
Just a pretty picture from one of our last sites of the week!
Until next time!