Winter Wonderland

The winter has hit full throttle up here in Wenatchee, WA. My fellow intern and I both took about 6 weeks off to return to our respective homes for the holidays, filling up on good food and good company. We returned to work last week reenergized and ready to work in the field. Mother Nature thought differently. Since our return we’ve been hit with winter storm after winter storm. Just yesterday afternoon/evening it snowed 8 inches, the office even closed early due to adverse driving conditions! So..we’ve been stuck in the office more or less working on various tasks to get ready for the busy field season ahead instead.

Sitting at a chair in the office all day can get old, so every once in a while it’s good to find an activity to get a little movement in. Such as cleaning the snow off some of the field trucks.

Work vehicles covered in snow..brrrr..

View from the front door of the office

One day last week I was even able to get out into the field to assist a fellow co-worker. The BLM has several large geodatabases (GDB) that store geographic datasets and attributes using ArcGIS. There a many different GDBs that store sets of similar kinds of data, such as a GDB for noxious weeds and another for wildlife species of interest. There’s also a GDB that stores data on BLM structures such as fences, buildings, troughs, etc. This was the GDB of interest on this particular field day. Not all fences located on BLM land have been recorded and put into the structures GDB since many were built way before GDB’s were a thing so in order to get them in there someone has to go out to these BLM pieces and find the fences to mark in a GPS. Additional details such as the direction of the fence, the condition it’s in, what it’s made of, and if it contains reflectors (to make it visible to birds, specifically greater sage grouse) are also added in. Alright, now that that’s explained, back to the field day. So our mission was to set out in this particular area, known as North Douglas, to look for fences and mark them in our Trimble units. There was a good foot and a half of snow out there in the sagebrush steppe and the plan was to snowshoe, however, the top of the snow had melted and turned stiff with ice so we didn’t fall through while walking on it, except for the occasional step. Snowshoes were no longer needed and we could easily walk on the nearly two feet of snow! We spent 4 hours hiking around the hills and flats looking for fences. It was a gorgeous day despite the low temp. (maybe 15°F).

North Douglas

What made the day even cooler was that we saw two sage grouse. We used some nearby tracks and a dropping to confirm that’s what they were.

grouse or possibly dinosaur tracks


suspected grouse dropping

By the time we returned to the truck, the sun was already beginning to set and we were all completely exhausted. But not too exhausted to try out some cross country skiing real quick.

Overall, it was a great first day in the field of this new season. It’s supposed to be warming up after this weekend, so hopefully we’ll get back out there again soon.

And while walking on the snow was pretty fun, I was a little bummed about not getting to use my snowshoes, so, I went out over the weekend with a buddy and made up for it.

Snowshoed to a ridge overlooking the Wenatchee Valley.

Until next time.


First Day of Fall

It’s hard to believe summer is officially over! Though the weather supports the calendar. Temperatures have already dropped with most days lingering in the 70s while nights have become brisk. However, it’s even chillier outside the valley. We’ve done a couple of camping trips these last 2 weeks for work with more to come in the next couple of weeks and it’s dropped down to the 40s some of those nights. Fortunately my coworker and I have kept warm in our sturdy bags and tents, but it takes extra will power to part them in the chilly mornings, especially now that the sun refuses to rise before 6:30. Our work this week was the usual noxious weed surveys at an area called Watermelon Hill, but unlike what the name suggests, there is sadly no watermelons of any kind present (It was a bigger disappointment than it should have been). On the contrary to delicious fruit, the place was covered in noxious weeds. The area is roughly 1.5 square miles and nearly all of it had invasive weeds present. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a pretty area and if I had still been back in the days when I was blissfully unaware of what a noxious weed even was I’d surely find it an “ideal” natural area.  But regardless of the weed situation, the trip was a fun one and I could never complain about having to hike around all day.


Watermelon Hill (oh look, no watermelons)


Chondrilla juncea or Rush Skeleton Weed, a Class B noxious weed.


Taeniatherum caput-medusae or medusahead, a highly invasive grass.


Cynoglossum or houndstongue and you guessed it, another noxious weed and obnoxious to remove from your pants.

Next week we travel to another area with a fruit in the name, Huckleberry Mountain (it seems more realistic to hope for the actual presence of huckleberries this time). It’s supposed to be a beautiful area, perhaps even the nicest place we’ll see during our internship. And instead of the usual crew of two, two others will be joining us as well. It’s time to spread our knowledge of the ways of the weeds, as in I’ll take on a crazed Newman alter ego from Seinfeld “The weeds never stop! They just keep coming and coming and coming. There’s never a letup, they’re relentless. The more you take out the more that come! And then the Trimble dies and weeds consume you!” It will be a great time for all. Last week I helped out at the annual Salmon Festival that’s held at a salmon hatchery in Leavenworth (30 min north of here). Elementary school kids from the area come to the hatchery, where several different federal and state agencies have interactive setups to inform the students on a variety of subjects. Ranging from salmon life history and other cool wildlife (mammals, birds, other fish) to learning about Native American culture. Our booth was particularly popular, an obstacle course to represent what salmon have to go through to reach their spawning grounds. Kids had to run through the fish nets and hooks (streamers with hooks drawn on them), over the dam (slide), under the wildfire (more streamers), past the bear (cardboard cut out), over the rapids (speed bumps), and finally through the culvert (an actual culvert) to spawn at their nesting site (dropping a wiffle gulf ball in a kiddie pool filled with gravel). To make things more interesting, I hid behind the cut out bear and surprised kids by roaring and having it lunge at them. It always startled a squeak out of the first kid before throwing them and the followers into fits of giggles while they attempted to dodge me. It was actually really fun and I was sad when my shift ended!

Anyways, I brought this up to make another point but got carried away. One of the booths was run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and they had an assortment of mammalian skulls. I got to talking with the woman running it and she mentioned that there is an established wolf pack up in the Huckleberry area we will be camping in next week. She said that if I wait until dark and do a little howling I may get some return howls from the pack! How cool would that be? A pack of wolves howling with me. I’m super excited to try it out, though the thought of being out in the woods in the dark being howled at by wolves even now makes my hairs stand on end. But she assured me that of all the wildlife out there, wolves were the least to worry about due to their extremely cautious and shy nature.

Howl ya later!


Summer Continued

It’s hard to believe that we’re already getting to the later stages of summer. The weeks come and go and I lose track of time. Our focus has been to survey as many BLM parcels as we can reach within the areas burned by wildfires in the last few years. We’ve kept track of the areas we have hit and it’s amazing to see how long our completion list is. With that, however, our list of easy access areas grow slim. Many of the parcels remaining require trekking across private property or hiking a ways to reach. The other week we took a UTV out to reach a rather large area. It’s very dry by now, which means the vegetation (especially grasses) are more prone to catch fire from heated engines driving over them. So naturally our main concern was to not cause one, for that surely would not look good on a resume. Despite the occasional whiff of what I can only describe as a burning pizza smell, a fire has yet to be started. Go us.


Our trusty UTV

Anyways, after so many weeks of figuring out logistics and weed surveying, our crew needed a short change of pace. Two weeks ago we went into the field with our office botanist and assisted her with her surveying for rare plants. It was nice to look for good plants for once! The two species of concern were Nicotiana attenuata and Iliamna longisepala. Nicotiana can be found all over the western US, while Iliamna is endemic to central Washington. Both, however, do well in areas recently burned, so it’s right up our alley. I didn’t manage to grab a picture of the nicotiana but the common name is coyote tobacco.


Iliamna attenuata

So we helped our fellow botanist out for a few days in the the burned area of Douglas Creek. We were successful and found quite a few plants for her inventory. We did come across one obstacle on our search. A familiar faced foe blocked our path. But we demanded entry and didn’t take no for an answer (aka we spent 15 minutes throwing tumble mustard off the road).


A soldier in the middle of battle

When not at work, I try to invest a little time fishing in the area. As many of you know the Columbia River is the route for many migrating salmon. The salmon fishing season opened July 1st and Wenatchee exploded with anglers hitting the river. Having dabbled in the sport of fishing myself, I felt I needed to check it out. All I can say is it has been a humbling experience so far…. I’ve caught, in total, about 20 pounds of grass and snagged a rock, which took my line. It seems I am playing with the big boys now. To regain some pride I did some fly fishing in the Wenatchee River one afternoon, go for something a little smaller than a salmon. While that too ended with an empty stomach, the spot I chose was absolutely gorgeous so I wasn’t too disappointed.


Hopefully my next post will have a picture of me with a fish, cross your fingers.














The Adventure Continues

Hey ya”ll,

As we dive deeper into summer, it is becoming more and more apparent how much progress we’ve been making on our work. We manage to get out and survey a few BLM parcels each week. This sounds impressive but in reality a good portion of each parcel tends to be made of rock cliffs and boulders. But we do what we can and despite accessibility issues we have obtained a lot of data. It became much more obvious during a weeds meeting we had this past week. Our supervisor loaded up ArcMap on the big screen, pulling up areas we had been working in and there were all our polygons points and lines of noxious weeds found in those areas. And while of course it’s not a desirable thing to have so many invasive species, it is good that we seem to be doing well scouting for them. As I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts, some of the areas require a good huff and puff of hiking to reach. Last week was particularly exhausting. We hiked over 20 miles in 3 days climbing up and down hills that sometimes changed in elevation by 1000 feet. The picture below is an example, though it doesn’t do it justice. 20160714_151207

Running along this site was the Okanogan River which we camped next to the week before.


Not a terrible place to crash for the evening. However, I was kicking myself the whole time for not bringing my fishing pole, apparently this section of the river is excellent salmon fishing… D:
Two weeks ago was also the week our crew became familiar with a highly aggressive invasive, medusahead. This winter annual grass is native to Europe and was first found in Oregon at the beginning of the 20th century. It thrives on range land, spreads quickly, and decomposes slowly, resulting in thick layers of litter covering a large area. This inhibits native plant growth and becomes a great fuel source for a wildfire. It has never been found in the county we work in until this year when someone found an odd looking grass on private property nearby and decided to report it. Sure enough it was confirmed to be medusahead and now federal and state agencies are trying to determine the extent of its infestation in the area. We surveyed a BLM parcel near the area where it was found to see if it was present and fortunately none was found. But first we visited the property where it was found to make sure we knew how to identify it.


Taeniatherum caput-medusae or medusahead

We’ve kept our eyes peeled since, but luckily it hasn’t been found outside this area. How it got here remains a mystery and will probably stay that way since its seeds can stick to practically anything; clothing, tires, animals, etc. On the plus side, the area we surveyed nearby did have a rewarding view of the Wenatchee valley.


Next week we plan on having another work camping trip and hitting some spots that I have no doubt will mostly be made of boulders and cliffs. The adventure continues..


Hot and Hilly

After visiting Chicago two weeks ago, I really feel like I can put faces to at least some of the other blog posts. I’ll admit, after so many weeks of traveling and meeting different people at trainings this season, it made me exhausted to even think about trying to socialize with another large group of people for a week. However, it turned out to be a very easy thing to do. Which makes complete sense since all of us attending the workshop have so many things in common: working in the outdoors, being interns, trying to figure out our career paths, and in general being rather laid back individuals. There was always something that could be chatted about no matter who you were standing next to. The week was an enjoyable one. I had never been to Chicago before so I swooped in on several opportunities to visit downtown. While I don’t think I could ever personally live in a city of that magnitude, it was still really neat to get a sense of the atmosphere, culture, and diversity of people inhabiting it. Seeing the actual gardens was also a highlight. I visited a new section everyday and still didn’t see it all by the end of the week. Overall, I left Chicago with new friends, knowledge, and quite possibly a few extra pounds (the lunches were ridiculous right?)

After a rather relaxing week away, we jumped right back into the peak of the season here at the home front. Our focus is on the BLM parcels that are within areas that burned around the district in the past few years. Our project for right now is to survey an area called Okanogan, about 70 miles north of Wenatchee and pretty darn close to the Canada border. The fire burned a total of 219,306 acres, 16,506 of which is BLM land. Some of the parcels are clumped close together, making it easy to travel from one to the other, while others are rather scattered and require extra travel. And then some are completely landlocked by private property making accessibility a bit of a doozy. We’ve only checked out a handful in the past 2 weeks and will need to organize the rest of them based on how easy they are to get to. The actual surveying for weeds part is the easy piece of the puzzle, getting to where we need to be is the difficult part I’ve come to discover. However, as the title of this post suggests, the areas we do manage to get to are sometimes quite steep. Let’s just say I’ve upgraded from the stair master to the hill master. But I absolutely love it and wouldn’t want it any other way. While observing and mapping weeds can get somewhat repetitive, the change in terrain really makes this job a lot of fun.

We camped for work the first time this week since we would be spending half the day driving every time we went out to this particular area. Other than the 2 dozen or so mosquito bites it was quite nice. No matter how hot it gets during the day it always cools down to a very comfortable temperature in the evening. And sleeping under the stars is always a plus. It’s going to take a few weeks to complete this one area so more camping is to come! 🙂 And more deet is to come as well! (though I suppose I should find an alternative…)


Down to Business

Hi there,

After weeks and weeks of training, shadowing, and traveling we’re finally getting to the point where we can go out on our own and get some valuable work done. We’ve fledged and have wondered from our nest. We’re mostly working in areas that were burned in the last couple of years. How it works: most of these areas have been treated in some sort of way ranging from aerial seeding/mulching to weed treatments. Our job is to basically go in each area and check out the progress. How the natives are doing and what the weeds are doing. We bring some field topo maps created via ArcMap to sketch anything out or just figure out where we are in the burned area. ArcPad has also become one of our best friends though it seems to be easily offended if we load too much at once. I find myself occasionally trying to sweet talk this inanimate object in the field to do what I want. And I think it may actually work…

We’ve just about completed 2 burned areas so far. Monument Hill and the South Douglas Complex burn. It’s really neat to see how life has just sprung back into these areas that burned only a year ago. Life always finds a way it would seem. And with it, so do weeds. The first obvious one that anyone could guess would be cheatgrass. It’s easily the first species to pop up after a disturbance such as fire, so it’s kinda everywhere at first. Along with cheatgrass, bulbous bluegrass is another invasive that can sometimes be just as pervasive. In fact, sometimes it’s even more dense than cheat and other times it’s only in small scattered patches. I had never even heard of this poa before this internship and am curious to know why it isn’t being discussed more. Anyways, other more common weeds we find include tall tumble mustard, prickly lettuce, thistle, whitetop, and knapweed. It’s funny how I never really noticed these species before I knew what they were and looked like. But now I see them everywhere! A little gravel area we have behind the house we live in has a diverse community of only invasives, several of which I just mentioned. Despite being unwanted and hated by most environmentalists, ya gotta admire how tenacious these suckers are. Popping up in areas most natives turn their noses up to. And I suppose their presence is the reason I’m working in this position so small shout out to the exotics, just kidding.

On another positive note, a lot of these places require hiking on foot to reach and I can feel myself getting in better shape with each passing week. My coworker and I came up with the saying “a hill a day keeps the doctor away”. I think that’s even her blog title this week hehe. We came up with some other chants about keeping rattle snakes away too since hiking up rocky areas this time a year is prime rattle snake territory. In fact we had a close call the other day, a coworker just about stepped on one in some thick grass. But fortunately the little guy gave a quick warning rattle before slithering on his way under a trough.

In other news, between mapping we got to go help the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife do some Pygmy Rabbit trapping. Listed as critically endangered, these extremely adorable little fluff balls are kept in a breeding exclosure in sagebrush steppe. The goal is to release the younger ones in the wild each year in an attempt to establish colonies. In order to do this, the rabbits need to be captured in the exclosures and this is done by ‘rabbit herding’. As in standing in a line and herding rabbits to a corner where a cage is placed for them to flee into. The whole experience was rewarding and entertaining!


My coworker returning a rabbit to its container


Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of us ‘herding’ the rabbits. It was rather funny because we had an empty pillow case in each hand and had to wildly flap our arms as we walked forward in a line to scare rabbits from under the sagebrush. The sad part was that my arms were sore the next day….

Until next time,


Things are heating up! Literally.

Hey fellow CLM interns.

We were warned over and over again, but we brushed it off as if it wouldn’t happen. Not until it was too late did we finally understand, summer is coming. Temperatures reached the mid-90s this past week here in the Columbia Valley. And while those that are positioned in more desert conditions have already embraced this reality, I was not expecting it so soon up here in Washington. When I think of Washington, snow capped mountains and cool weather come to mind, not 94°F in early May. It’s fixing to be a steamy sesh this summer season.

Besides dealing with the heat and trying to get some sun on these oh so white legs of mine, we finally got some valuable work done in the past 2 weeks. The first turf war broke out. On team Alliance we have yours truly, two other interns, and.. Oh! Right! The entire BLM district of Washington. Our opponent? The vigorous, unwelcome, overzealous, and just plain greedy Cardaria draba, or whitetop. Native to Asia and western Europe, this frustrating herb was introduced accidentally in the early 1900s, sneaky little buggers, and is pretty much all over the US except for a few southern states. I had never even heard of this plant before last week but now that I know what it is I see it everywhere! (interesting how that happens) 20160513_095805

The flowers are white, hence the name whitetop, and it’s an ugly weedy thing. (We’ll just ignore the irrelevant comment my coworkers and I made on liking ‘the unknown pretty white flowers’ next to the road while driving a few weeks earlier, we were young and foolish)

Anyways, going off topic. The whitetop popped up in an area that burned in a wildfire last year called Sleepy Hollow, right next to town. It was in bloom last week and easy to spot, so our supervisor decided it would be a good time to map it so that it could be provided to a contractor to be sprayed next year. So up to the foothills we went and using a combination of ArcPad and a topographic map, we recorded all the obvious spots.


What the whitetop patches look like when blooming up at Sleepy Hollow

After getting all those down, we spent this week going back and forth between working on putting the drawn out spots off the topo map into NISIMS, and going out do some mechanical treatment aka hand clipping seed heads. This perennial plant is rhizomerous, so just clipping the the flowering head off won’t stop it from spreading.  BUT the lack of spawn to disperse will slow it down. Unfortunately, there were only a few of us to work on it and even the small patches take a while to clip, so we didn’t get very far this week. And it seems they are quickly going to seed and will probably have them all dropped by the end of next week. So unless there is an industrial sized seed vacuum that someone forgot to tell us about, I’m afraid there’s only so much we can do for now. No matter, the point was to have the spots recorded into NISIMS and a map to provide for a spraying contract so mission accomplished! We will be going similar activities at other areas that were burned in the last few years. Most of them have already been seeded/treated and we are going to monitor how things are coming along, what invasives are present, and the most appropriate course of action to take.

We drove to a few other sites on Thursday this week to see what was going on. Each site had been treated differently and it was neat to physically see the results. The first site was treated by using a hose off of a truck to spray Russian knapweed, the second was aerially sprayed to control the bulbous bluegrass, the third was aerially seeded, and the last was left alone. Invasives were present in the all the sites but the last one had the fewest, however, I think that may have been due more to the site location. Oh and I also found something cool at the last site. car

I don’t know cars very well but I think this one may be totaled.

Until next time!


Training Frenzy

These past couple of weeks have been an information overload. I have not been presented with this much new knowledge in a short period of time since college! The first week was the Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) training in Prineville, Oregon. It was a busy few days learning the core methods of AIM and practicing them in the field. One of the first things we did was get some practice at texturing soils. I have very little experience with soils in my background, so this was truly foreign to me. After calibrating ourselves in the classroom we went to the field to dig soil pits, which are used to confirm or determine the ecological site in order to get an ecological site description (ESD). Never has digging in the dirt been so fun or educational! I find myself wanting to dig holes all over the place to see how the soils compare and practice my ribbon making skills. The other components of AIM were also new methods to add to my monitoring repertoire.

There were probably 40 or so people at the AIM training, mostly GBI crews from around Oregon. It was really fun getting to know other crews and being around other people who all share the same love for the outdoors. The majority of them were camping south of town while our crew stayed in a hotel. But one of the nights we went out to the campground and ended up doing an evening hike, it was a blast. Leaving Prineville after the training was almost sad. We had been there for 2 separate training weeks and had come to know the small town pretty well. We had been to the town hot spot Ochoco Brewing CO. enough times to have the servers know us.

It wasn’t sad to leave the other crews when Prineville was over because almost all of them were headed to Reno Nevada the following week! A short weekend was followed by a looong 13 hour drive Monday. This training, Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health, was based out of a casino hotel, The Nugget. What a place. The huge lobby stretched around the building and was filled with gambling games, slot machines, card tables, and bar tops. The whole building was like a labyrinth that was designed to keep you from leaving. It was surprisingly difficult to find your way around at first or even get out, well played Nugget. This training focused on the 17 IRH. While the AIM training focused on more quantitative methods of collecting data this was more qualitative. Making a judgement from a mostly visual standpoint. Reading the landscape and understanding its natural processes. I found myself having difficulty grasping certain concepts and understanding some of the landscape terminology being used. Practicing in the field helped and I do feel more competent on the subject, but I think the key with this one is experience. Working in the field over a long period of time, understanding the landscape components, seeing it change, and knowing how each indicator fits within and with each other.

Over the course of those two weeks many new friendships were made and fun experiences shared. It was nice to finally head home, but sad to leave at the same time. While I knew that I would be leaving each training with new knowledge and understanding, I hadn’t expected to leave with so many new connections from around the region! 🙂



Spring in the valley

Hey folks,

It always blows my mind how quickly spring hits. We did a week of training in Prineville, Oregon last week to learn the ways of GeoBOB mobile. When we left, the local flora wasn’t in bloom and didn’t seem to have a mind to for at least a few weeks but when we returned, BAM, flowers everywhere! Everywhere you look it is green and colorful. We were told that the warm weather we have been having recently is unusual for this time of year and has induced an earlier flowering period for many species. Which isn’t necessarily a great thing since temperatures could easily still drop to below freezing at night, dooming young plants and some seeds.


We did IRH assessment at this plot, it was covered in balsamroot as shown above. Lomatium was also present along with buckwheat, prairie-star, lupine, sagebrush, blue-eyed Mary, and more.

As mentioned previously, we did a week of training in Prineville, Oregon last week. The class was an introductory training to using GeoBOB (Geographic Biotic Observations) in the field. Basically, we import desired information on flora/fauna from a giant geo-database into Arc map, and then export it into a Trimble unit. We can then have data when we go into the field that can be edited or added to. Data collecting has never been so easy! On the first day after the class was over, my co-workers and I got to go on a hike with some other classmates from different field offices. Two were botanists, so the hike turned into a plant walk, which was extremely helpful. Trying to learn the local plants is much easier in person than reading about them in a book.

Anyways, this week we were mostly in the field helping out with some line transects and getting our first taste of the 17 Indicators of Rangeland Health. My favorite day of the week by far was Root Day, an annual event that involves digging up roots with a Native American tribe. About 4 or 5 hundred people show up (mostly youths) to partake in this tradition. The root is from Lomatium canbyi  and is used for many different food purposes. A curved metal rod with a handle is used to stick in the ground under the plant and lift it up. It’s tradition for the first few roots each person digs up to be offered to the tribe elders. The roots aren’t particularly big but with 400 people, each offering 3 or 4 roots, it adds up quickly.


A good sized root. Fun fact, they smell like diesel. I ate one at the site, not terrible, not much flavor. We took a few home and are going to roast them, I’ll let you know how that goes.


Me trying to dig up a root. Half the time the root is broken off accidently while digging and trying to find it in the ground is darn near impossible.

The next few weeks are going to be trainings out of town so we got in the field as much as possible while we were here this week!


A beautiful drive through some sagebrush habitat to reach a plot. Not much of a view as you can see…

20160413_101852View into the Wenatchee valley from a plot we did an IRH assessment at. The slope was steep and we hiked a ways down to get to it. Hiking back up was a work out that almost ended with me throwing up.


After a little bit of discussion, we determined this to be oval-leaf desert buckwheat.

Until next time,


An apple a day…

When I told friends and family about this position I would be starting in the small, but not too small, town of Wenatchee, WA, the first statement was always “I’ve never heard of it”. My guess about it was as good as theirs. Some town just east of The Cascades with a population of thirty something thousand. Large enough to attract visitors from other parts of the start but small enough to stay off the grid with the rest of the nation. Little did I know that it’s a hidden gem. I drove from Denver with the help of my mother who was equally anxious to see the “quality” of this town neither of us had ever heard of. As we entered the southern part of Washington, we were greeted with agriculture and grasslands with rolling hills as far as the eye could see. After several hours, with 40 miles to go until our destination, we were all but certain this place would be in the middle of nowhere with surrounding cattle fields. Only when the route turned west did we realize that wouldn’t be the case. We turned onto a two lane road that began to descend into a valley. It was completely dark at this point, so as we endlessly curved around corners we only had our imaginations to tell us what the surrounding landscape was like. Finally, after 25 miles of us holding our breath around each corner in preparation of seeing the city did we finally turn to see a valley full of lights flickering. We could see the lights reflecting off the remarkably huge Columbia River that runs right by Wenatchee. After checking into our hotel, we headed to a pub to grab a beer and a bite to eat in celebration of completing our 2 day drive. I was still feeling skeptical about how this place would look in daylight and thinking about what I had potentially gotten myself into by taking this position. Sensing my uneasiness, our server came over and with the biggest smile told me to just wait until morning, I will love it here. She wasn’t wrong.

Three weeks later, I wake up each morning to surrounding hills and snow capped mountains. Wenatchee’s logo is “The Apple Capitol of the World” for a reason. The whole valley within and outside the city is covered with apple orchards as well as pears, cherries, apricots, and wine vineyards. The people of Wenatchee are just as sweet as their fruits. Everyone is so friendly and happy, always giving me advice on where I need eat, hike, camp, etc. I’ve always lived in huge cities (Denver, Houston) with so many different places, lifestyles, hobbies, focuses but Wenatchee gives off a real sense of a community that has one thing in common, love for the outdoors.

I began working at the Wenatchee BLM office almost two weeks ago now. There is one other intern from CBG in the same position as me. We’re actually living together to make things easier and we have the same name to make things easier. So far we have been in training mostly. Completing courses required by the DOI and reading up on the local flora and fauna. For our position we will mostly be working in areas burned in wildfires the last few years. Being on the east side of the Cascades the atmosphere is very dry after dropping all its moisture on the west side while heading over the mountains. Because of this, the area is particularly susceptible to wildfires. Restoration efforts are made on BLM after these occurrences and our job is to monitor them and collect data. On our second day we took a drive to a burned area up the river we’ll be working in. It was pretty barren with some scattered blackened woody debris. However, a closer look reveals life. Vegetation has begun to sprout, some from seeds put there by the BLM others from surrounding vegetation. Next, we drove up and out of the valley a ways to Greater Sage Grouse habitat, another species we’ll be working on. It was unbelievable, once you’re out of the valley it’s completely flat agricultural lands with intermittent sage brush habitat for many miles. The Cascades can be seen in the background but you would never know that there’s a huge valley when looking with the naked eye from the flat lands above. It was a really neat experience. Head 20 miles in any direction from Wenatchee and the terrain completely changes.


My other half….for this position


Examining the riparian vegetation


The McCartney Creek canyon

This past week we have mostly stayed in the office learning about the surrounding area as well as the basics on ArcPad. We went out into the field again this past Tuesday to a place called McCartney Creek that’s located in another valley you wouldn’t know was there to shadow a coworker looking at the stream behavior. It became quite an ordeal after we couldn’t find a way into the canyon without putting ourselves in danger so the walk became an extensive hike around the canyon to find a way in. We learned a valuable lesson, perhaps know more about the area you’re trying to get to in the future. The next month includes three weeks of training in Prineville, Oregon and Reno, Nevada. Hopefully after that we’ll be set up to be on our own in the field every week!


Headed to McCartney Creek

Headed to McCartney Creek


Bureau of Land Management

Wenatchee, WA