Well the internship is coming to an end, and I’ve got to say I’m going to miss this job. I didn’t know what to expect when I was told I’d be going to Utah. To be honest, it was never my first pick for places to travel to, but once I met all the great people and saw all the beautiful country, I was set. I’ve made great friends, and had some spectacular adventures.
The view from Delano Peak (elev. 12,000 ft).
Over the course of this internship, I’ve watched fledgling eagles fly for the first time. I’ve surveyed and consulted the management of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. I’ve electro-shocked, seined, and sampled through a myriad of the Virgin River’s fish. I’ve trapped and sampled from Utah Prairie dogs, an endangered species. And of course I’ve collected plants from all over southern Utah, and aided in the enrichment of its rangeland.
Excited to be in all the muck while surveying this riparian zone.
This internship was so diverse. The sheer amount of experiences I gained was fantastic, and I think it will play a huge role in my ability to succeed in this increasingly competitive job market. I’m very grateful the Chicago Botanical Garden gave me this opportunity, and I hope the Cedar City BLM office has seen that through my work.
Good times with good friends.
This last month has been great. We surveyed a large area for treatment, and found little to no activity, which, while that may sound dull, is actually a good thing. Now pinyon-juniper treatment can go on uninterrupted without the risk of endangering wildlife in the area. We also made a lot of progress in our Seeds of Success collections, and were able to lend a hand to the CLM interns in the Richfield office on a couple of their collections.
Yet, the coup de grace of the whole month was the prairie dog work we got to do with the Cedar City Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The first step was laying plague vaccine at a few of our sites. Then we set traps and caught at a site with prairie dogs previously vaccinated. Once vaccinated we anesthetized them and collected, blood, hair, and flea samples. The hands-on work was phenomenal and easily one of the best things I’ve done this season.
This was a very eventful month. Outside of the spectacular workshop in Chicago, my team and I have been monitoring a fledgling golden eagle and a few fledgling prairie falcons. On one of our visits we were actually lucky enough to witness all four fledgling prairie falcons make their first observed flight. Later that week we met with another office here in Utah and worked with fellow CBG employees to find and collect native seeds for the Seeds of Success program.
Also, we’ve completed our work in Hamlin Valley. This week we’ll be focusing on completing our reports and assessing how we can optimize sage grouse habitat while maintaining areas important other wildlife. This is particularly relevant for raptors, since they exploit Pinyon-Juniper for nesting, but also pose the largest threats to Sage Grouse.
Finally, we were invited to train with the Cedar City Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on proper capture and release of the threatened utah prairie dog. Their work centers primarily on extracting prairie dogs from properties where they pose as a nuisance or hazard, and releasing them at sites where they can prosper. So far this internship has been exposed me to a plethora of useful field experience, and I’m excited to how the coming months will unfold.
This is Amelia (as in Earhart)
Introducing the Brady Bunch
After my third week I can say I’ve successfully explored a large swathe of my Cedar City field office. My work so far has encompassed a plethora of activities from Mexican Spotted Owl surveys in Kanarraville to point-counts in Hamlin Valley. As a wildlife technician for the Cedar City BLM, it is my duty to survey large areas of land for wildlife so that the BLM can properly assess and treat locations with species of concern.
Once such species is the sage grouse, which is a member of the pheasant family and is roughly the size of a chicken. It is dependent on an environment composed entirely of sage brush. This makes managing for sagebrush habitat an instrumental part in prevent their listing as an endangered species. My work thus far has put me on the forefront of monitoring for both sage grouse and any other wildlife exploiting the sagebrush habitat.
Relaxing in front of the sagebrush sea.
Outside of sage grouse monitoring, my team and I have surveyed for raptors and raptor nests along unauthorized trails. These unauthorized trails pose a danger to both the public and wildlife. It is the hope of our BLM to help create new trails that allow outdoor enthusiasts a fun and safe environment, while protecting native/migratory birds, mammals, and reptiles. My surveys are the first step in improving the path of these trails to help avoid clashes with wildlife hotspots.
Surveying for raptor nests.
Finally, we were able to participate in Migratory Bird Day. There we, and a number of other government programs, set up activities and educational booths to help teach the community the importance of migratory birds. Programs like these help ensure a healthy relationship between the public and our government agencies. All of this combined has made for a tremendous experience so far. I look forward to finding out what else my CLM internship has in store for me.