July went by very quickly. I am working for Janelle Gonzales, the Powder River Basin Restoration Initiative coordinator, as a field technician. She had me visit 22 fires to inventory cheatgrass. Most of the fires are dominated by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and have a bulldozer line around the fire perimeter filled with the stuff. Apparently, the responsible party does not seed the bulldozer line. I’ve brought this to the attention of Janelle and other professionals. The hope is to spray Plateau herbicide on dense pockets of cheatgrass.
I tend to work out in the field by myself. My fellow interns are busy with their own individual projects. The dynamic is much different then last year, but just as productive. I don’t mind working alone, it’ll be a good resume builder, but I have come across abandoned structures that inspire my mind to wander towards horror movies that involve killers in the middle of nowhere. As I’m out and about, the occasional rabbit or bird will hang nearby to stir as I approach, I jump out of my skin every time as if I’m meeting my doom! I have to admit it is a good wake up call.
Solo field work was draining me and just in the nick of time Wildlife Biologist, and NRS Supervisor, Bill Ostheimer asked me if I’d enjoy a day working with kids. “YES!” I met with the Sheridan Science School in collaboration with the Audubon of the Rockies for a day nature exploring at BLM’s Welch Recreation Area. We began the day at a decomposing tree with mushrooms growing, holes burrowed by insects, and a spiderweb nested in a dugout section. The kids were ecstatic!!! Their enthusiasm reminded me why I started in this field in the first place-NATURE IS EXCITING! Then, the kids wrapped around a large cottonwood tree hand to hand with arms spread wide. It took 8 kids! I was impressed with the sheer size of the cottonwood and so were they. We proceeded with other nature observations, identifying plants (Dryland Creeping Alfalfa, Medicago falcata), watching a bird nest (Osprey, Pandion haliaetus) and finding insects. After snack, we crossed the river to measure the children’s ‘wing span’ and categorize which bird they were. Those categories were grouped and told to create a nest. The one group built a fine looking nest. With sturdy limbs that created a wide enough space for all 6 participants to fit inside! Bedded with dried grass and sweaters. This group protected themselves from predators, had style and comfort. Seeing the camaraderie between these little girls and boys tie into having fun with nature reminded me that the outdoor classroom is where it should be. I will be looking at a masters program in Nature-based Early Childhood Education.
Speaking of higher education opportunities, I said ‘adios’ to a dear friend and fellow CLMer whom is headed for graduate school to earn her PhD in Xalapa, Mexico. She’ll be focusing on the effects climate change has on butterfly metamorphosis stages. There has not been much research in this field and she will be breaking new ground! Good luck out there Ms. Nayeli!
July only got busier. I attended the Red Ants Pants music festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana! What a fun experience and a great venue, the Sagebrush Steppe overlooking the Little Belt mountain range. There was a range of notable singer/songwriters from Ryan Bingham to The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Local vendors selling food and art. The weather held up, aside from one hail storm and a down pour, and provided bright blue skies!
August has already been busy. I headed down to Laramie, Wyoming which houses the University of Wyoming, so it is a fun college town with many food options, art galleries, yoga studio’s, etc. I met with former CLM intern from the Lewistown, Montana field office, Erica Duda, we camped overnight at the Vedauwoo campground and explored the Medicine Bow Wilderness.
August will be my last month with the CLM internship. My last month living in the town of Buffalo, Wyoming. And my last month living in the West, as far as I know. I’d like to say I’ll be back out here for more adventures! The geology, recreational opportunities, and wildlife is so unique out here that saying goodbye just for now is all I can manage.