Time truly flies when you are having fun. I can’t believe this is my last day of the internship.
Since we had already met and exceeded our office seed collection expectations we have been doing a bunch of other cool stuff. We started doing raptor surveys. I was not knowledgeable about raptors of the area; actually I knew nothing in general about birds of this side of the world. The raptor survey consisted of spending 4 hours of bird watching in the same site and another 3-4 hours looking for nests around the area. Since birds love mornings we had to brace ourselves and be out in the field by 6:30 AM to make sure to start our counting would start at 8:00 AM. My body required lots of coffee to accomplish this task. But it was actually really rewarding seeing a Northern Harrier and even a Bald Eagle. The best days of my work were invested in doing this type of job. Eagle Lake interns joined us for a few raptors survey which made it even more fun and more efficient since we managed to cover a larger area.
Another really interesting work I got to participate in was the pika blitz. Marian (a Cedarville intern) and myself took a one-day training with the folks from Department of Wildlife of Nevada. I had always assumed that pikas would be found only in places of 7,000 ft.or higher elevation. Wrong! We were in Massacre Rim at 5,700 ft. and we were lucky to find so many fresh scat and lots of hay piles. Yes, pikas like cold weather, but since they lived on rocky mountain sides the bottom of the rocks maintains a cold temperature (even though on the outside it gets hotter). This helps them colonize lower elevations sites. The pika survey consisted of looking for fresh scat or fresh hay pile (mostly scat, since we have to take samples and mark GPS point on very single fresh scat we found).
This past weekend Nate and I helped with the archaeology day. I went out in the field with Aimee (an archaeologist) to collect some plants that were used by the Native Americans of the area. We were in charge of the ethnobotany table so we had samples of some plants and lichens. Aimee created really cool signs with the information. Although the archaeology day was sabotaged by a huge rain cloud and we did not get as many visitors as we were expecting, I really enjoy learning about the uses of the many plants we encountered. We also got to help build the wickiup made out of tule, willow twigs, effort and love.
Moving to Alturas for these 5 months has helped me grow in so many personal and professional areas. This was my first time living on my own. I’ve realized that solitude is not always as sad and that cooking is definitely not as hard. Living by myself and having only a bike to move around the town was a beautiful experience. I was lucky to make friends with interns from others offices around. We were able to travel around northern California, and even visit Oregon and L.A.
Living in such a small town allows you to easily build friendships. People are very nice and polite (which was really weird for me since I come from an urban background). Everyone says hi and smiles at you every time you pass by. It was funny seeing people react to my ID and they would ask “What the heck are you doing here?”. People are extremely nice, approachable, and hospitable. I hope to make a lot of their behaviors my own. Although I was complaining about how small this town was and that there was nothing to do, now I know I will miss this environment of peacefulness.
I think the best aspect of my internship was that we were able to do more than just seed collecting. We have been able to help with utilization surveys, do plant inventories, raptor surveys, pika surveys, and even archaeology surveys. Also, we got to collaborate with other BLM offices. This gave me a great hands-on idea of the valuable work a BLM office does and how a botanist can be part of this effort. I’m happy to say that my flora knowledge has expanded in many ways. I feel really comfortable with my plant id skills on the northeast of California.
I will definitely miss this place… the good friends I made…the office workers.
My favorite site of Alturas office was Fitzhugh creek.
One of my favorite trips from this internship was visiting Crater Lake with Lillie (an Eagle Lake intern). This has been the most beautiful view I have ever seen…the clear blue water…the island within the crater…it was just so amazing. I definitely have to return.
One last thought: I would like to thank my mentor (Mike Dolan) for sharing all his knowledge and to this amazing program for allowing me explore a hidden and beautiful part of California.
Alturas Field Office