Over the course of the last month here in the Carson City BLM office the SOS interns and I have been conducting field work, field work, and MORE fieldwork!!! We have frequently been spending 10 hours a day or more in various BLM allotments collecting seed stock from a multitude of plants. As the growing season has progressed many of these species have begun to drop their seed. This has and will continue to mean many long day in the increasingly hot Nevada sun in order to meet our project seed collection goal. These hot days however have been tempered with wonderfully cool nights abounding in ample amounts of stargazing and howling of coyotes. In short, life couldn’t be better.
Until next time
Finally, the weather is beginning to stay warm in Carson City, Nevada. While we are still not making it out into the field more than a couple of times a week due to lots of unanticipated office work (which has composed a little less than half of our time here thus far), the few days we have spent collecting plant specimens and surveying for endangered populations have been both productive and blissful. The bulk of our work has been focused on locating and identifying populations of native plants which would make ideal seed collection sites in the following months to come. Needless to say, this has allowed of us to improve our plant identification, voucher specimen preparation, GPS, and GIS skill sets dramatically!
Additionally, our field work has been supplemented with a couple of public outreach events due to the occurrence of Earth Day. On Thursday of last week we spent the day in Truckee at the TREE program. Throughout the duration of this event we help educate and cultivate interest in hundreds of 4th graders about the importance of invasive weed management and native plant conservation through a series of interactive nature walks and educational games. The Sunday after which we all woke up early and worked a 12 and half hour day at Reno’s Earth Day festival. This was a tiring but rewarding experiences as we had an extremely extended opportunity to interact with droves of people and hear their feedback about the importance of our work as BLM botany interns!!!
Until next month,
p.s. It rained twice this month!
For the last few weeks our field team has been scouting for an appropriate site on which to conduct our mountain mahogany reforestation initiative. The week before last we finally identified an ideal burn spot in the mountains where lots of mountain mahogany had previously grown. After delineating our proposed reforestation boundaries with our GPS units, we then submitted the data to our archaeology department heads so that they could access our proposed reforestation site for its cultural relevancy. Towards the end of that week however, we received clearance and our reforestation went swimmingly (300+ trees)!
We have also had the opportunity to partake in a two day Poaceae identification workshop at the University of Nevada. This was a most enjoyable experience which allowed us to gain hands on experience identifying over 50 different species in the grass family, including some sedges and rushes! While many of us have prior experience in the identification of species in this family, the professors at UN and their high quality microscopes made for a truly engaging learning experience. One we all wish could be replicated for other families that are commonly found on BLM property in Nevada!
Until next month,
The first half of the week has focused on the mounting and verification of more voucher specimens. These have been collected and identified by the previous Seeds of Success interns, some of whom obviously had a greater proclivity for the process than others. Luckily, verifying these specimens at the University of Nevada’s pristine and spacious herbarium provided many of our group members with an excellent opportunity to further their knowledge of ideal voucher specimen collection techniques. The herbarium curator, Arnold Tiehm, was exceedingly knowledgeable, helpful, and encouraging. He even invited us to attend a 2 day workshop on grass identification later next month.
As the week has progressed, our team has been focusing on furthering our knowledge of ArcGIS. Some of us are more familiar with the program than others, but we can all agree on the fact that it is an extremely powerful and indeed indispensable suite of software for environmental conservation. Another unexpected benefit to this program is that tons of these GIS training classes are offered to us free of charge. Many of these online classes typically cost hundreds of dollars!! An added kicker is that our access to these tutorials persists for a year after we have enrolled in them, affording us the opportunity to continue our studies of the material post internship!!
As the week has begun winding down, our supervisor has begun to assign team leads to several of the specific projects we have been working on. Since my MSc was in Ethnbotany I have been put in charge of collating the existing ethnobotanical data for a couple hundred plants in the region. Documenting the various indigenous usages of different species has always allowed me to commit them to memory much more easily than mere rote memorization. I am extremely excited to encounter more of these species in the field once the warm weather has arrived!
Until next time,