Last few weeks in Susanville

Our time in Susanville has been wrapping up as the fall rains have been becoming more frequent and with that, increasing the amount of time that we have spent in the office. The roads are now wet and muddy, so it’s been difficult to get out into the field without completely trashing them. Two weeks ago, after we got a lot of rain over the weekend, we tried to go out in the field to visit some water rights, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it and had to turn around. It seemed like the road would be passable, but as soon as we started climbing up Spanish Springs Peak, we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to happen. The wheels started spinning and digging into mud and we lost traction, so all we could do was turn around and slide back down the hill. One exciting part to this adventure was that it was snowing! Snow in the desert is a stark contrast to the intense heat that we had in July, when I remember thinking that cold weather temps would never come, but here we are in late October and fall is in full swing.

To get a break from office work last week, Jocelyn and I took a work trip to the Jepson and University Herbarium at University of California Berkeley. This is the herbarium where our SOS collection vouchers are going to be kept, so instead of mailing them we took the opportunity to drive them to Berkeley and deliver them ourselves. We spent the afternoon there looking at plants of interest in the collection and learning about the organization of the herbarium, what they do there and what it is used for. I have never seen a collection of plants this large, so it felt very overwhelming and definitely a place that one could spend hours in. When we were explaining the concept of an herbarium to a friend, we described it as a museum of pressed plants, which definitely felt like an accurate description of the collection they had. At Cal they actually have two herbariums housed together, the University Herbarium has specimens from all around the world, while the Jepsen focuses on California specific specimens. I really enjoyed looking at some of the forbs that we collected this summer and ones that we have seen around the field office and on weekend trips. We looked at Clarkia lassenensis, that we collected for Krissa’s Onagracae project at the beginning of the summer. At the time of our collection the plants had already fruited, so we were fairly certain of the correct identification, but this gave us the opportunity to see the specimen in person. From what we could remember from our collection, it looks like we what we collected and the voucher matched up, although there was some variation in the leaf size from the vouchers at the herbarium. Additionally I also looked at the Mimulus guttulus, (common monkeyflower) collection and a few Castilleja sp. collections, (Indian Paintbrush). Its one thing to look at the collection photos online, but having the opportunity to actually see them in person brought our work to full circle and I am very happy that we had the opportunity to visit.


Castilleja. minata specimen that I found from 1917 !!

Our weekends have also been busy as always! Since my last blog post, we went to Desolation Wilderness, south of Lake Tahoe, for a backpacking trip. It was my first backpacking trip, which happened to be during the first snow in Tahoe! It was exciting, but also added a whole new layer of intensity to the trip. Luckily we were able to set up tents before the snow really got going and in the morning we woke up to around 2-3 inches of snow! For the rest of our hike we could see lots of animal tracks, including a few from
img_0006bears. The weekend after we finished our remaining sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail to finally complete all 165 miles of the trail, YAY! We are now part of the 165 mile club 🙂 The past two weekends have been city trips, which has felt a lot different than most of the trips we’ve done this summer.



BLM Eagle Lake, Susanville, CA


End of month 3

The halfway point of my internship came and went, and now I am only seven weeks out from finishing! After all of the anticipation for this internship during my last semester at Oberlin, it is hard to believe how fast it’s gone by. As always, we are keeping very busy out in the field and on the weekends. We have been continuing our schedule of the water rights inventory, juniper mapping, a few seed collections, tagging trees and some smaller projects that have come up along the way. As I update my resume for my current job search, it’s rewarding to see the number of skills I have gained while working here. We have been thrown into so many different situations, there is only time for us to figure it out as we go along. As someone who’s not the best and sometimes prefers not to plan, this generally works out fine. Lots of trial and error, but I am learning tons!

Two weeks ago Jocelyn and I went to some areas that were burned in 2012 Rush Fire and where bitter brush seedlings were planted in 2014. We were tasked with counting how many of the seedlings have survived the past view years. I really enjoyed finding the tiny plants that are trying to establish themselves in areas that have been invaded with cheat grass. Especially in areas that have been heavily grazed by cattle and horses, it was exciting to see the ones that had survived, but also disheartening to find 10% success rates in some places. I guess as land managers we can try all we can with the resources and time to help a landscape recover after a fire, but in the end it is up to nature if those efforts will make a difference or not. Hopefully in the next few years these shrubs will become more established in their areas.
Since we have mostly been doing inventories and monitoring of the land, I have realized that I am also really interested in restoration work. We have seen so many areas that have been invaded by cheat grass and medusa head, springs trampled by cattle and wild horses, juniper encroachment… but there is not always work that is done to improve these areas, which can be frustrating. I am excited to get to do a bit of restoration work in the next few weeks, as we are going to be planting some Atriplex canensis (four-winged saltgrass) seed that was given to our mentor from a local farmer who collected it. Last week Alia and I went out to search for some areas where we could plant the seed, looking for sandy soils, and open areas at around 5000ft. We found some sites that might work, so we will go back out to do the planting soon. Our adventures that day also took us to a new site: an OHV area that is managed by the BLM, and it proved to be a really beautiful spot in the field office. The OHV trails are very well maintained. We realized that there are a lot of resources and funding available to recreation areas, which is great for the people that get to experience it.

Cloudy day at Ft. Sage OHV area

As always our weekends have been spent outside on the trails! I’ve been back to Lassen National Park and we went to Yosemite last month. We had the most amazing hikes and views ever! We’ve also been hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165 mile trail that goes around Lake Tahoe. We are hoping to finish the last three out of eight total sections in the next two weekends. This weekend will be my first backpacking trip! I am really excited for it, but also a bit nervous for the cold temperatures and the possibility of snow. Just like this entire internship so far, it will be an adventure! Northern California is truly a wonderful place and I feel super lucky to get to spend time out here 🙂

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park


our Tahoe hikes have taken us on sections of the PCT!


Lake Tahoe views

It sounds like the rest of our time will be spent with wrapping up office work for our seed collections, visiting a few more water rights (we are so close to being done with the project!) helping with some plantings, GIS work, sessions for a 6th grade science camp, and anything else that comes up!
BLM, Eagle Lake Field Office
Susanville, CA

Summer in Susanville

This internship has proven to be full of adventures so far – it seems like there is always a story to tell about our days in the field! We have been very busy this past month and a half, which is why this blog post is a bit delayed. The good thing is that I have been feeling very much at home in Northern California, even though it hasn’t even been two months yet! Heres a summary: work-wise, Jocelyn, Alia and I have been helping with many different tasks around the field office. I am really enjoying this because rarely are we out in the field doing the same thing two days in a row, so I have gotten to know and explore many different parts of the field office. Along with SOS and SSP monitoring, we have been helping with the water rights inventory that our office is working on, a juniper tree mapping project, AIM/Upland health monitioring, marking trees with the forester, monitoring forbs for sage grouse habitat and other tasks that come up. With all of these tasks we get to work with lots of different people and it has given me a good idea of what it is like working in a government agency and all the different perspectives that go into managing land – it’s quite a lot! As a result, I have been learning about the importance of multi-use land management and the difficulties that arise, especially with the large size of our field office and the fact that there tends to be a lack of funding and staffing to get everything done.


Some cows at a reservoir we visited while doing the water rights inventory

There have been a few days and experiences that have stuck out to me so far. The top of that list was definitely seeing a mountain lion for the first time! I was out early in the morning driving to a water right (it was a stock pond that actually had water!) and my field partner spotted it as we came over a hill. We saw the mountain lion leave the pond and then walk through a stand of juniper trees. It was really exciting! Last week we collected Limulus guttatus (common yellow monkey flower) at a beautiful location in the field office, called Hole in the Ground. It is a riparian forb, so we wandered along the creek as we collected seed pods and even got stuck in the water a few times. I guess my waterproof hiking boots that I got on the east coast actually came in handy for once! This creek was easily my favorite place we have been so far. This past week Jocelyn, Alia and I helped with a GIS mapping project with some researchers from Chico State. We got to hike around with them to different plots in the Skedaddle Mountains and saw some great views at the peaks.


Views while hiking down from one of peaks in the Skedaddle Mountains

Along with the brutal heat we have, field work definitely comes with difficulties. Navigating the extremely rocky two track roads in our jeep can be stressful, but with more experience I am getting better with it. This past week we got a flat tire, but luckily we discovered it while we were still in the parking lot before we left for the day. We are hoping that we will be able to get all new tires soon! I also got a flat on my bike tire yesterday so I guess this is the week of flats…

Nonwork-wise, we are definitely taking advantage of our three day weekends! So far we have explored some areas near Lake Tahoe, took a long drive to Fort Bragg and Mendicino on the Northern coast, hiked Lassen Peak in Lassen National Park and I visited some family and friends in San Fransisco. These weekend trips have kept me busy and have already surpassed my desires for adventures out here. Can’t wait to see where the remaining weekends take us. I am feeling lucky to have the opportunity to get to see so many wonderful places. I am sure next weekend will be incredible as Jocelyn and I are off to Yosemite!


we found some snow on Lassen Peak!


Golden Gate Bridge

It’s been cooling down a bit this past week and it is making me look forward to the fall temperatures that will hopefully be coming in the near future 🙂

Till next time!


BLM Eagle Lake

Susanville, CA

From the East Coast to Chicago to Susanville


It is exciting to be posting my first blog after reading previous interns’ posts in anticipation for my internship! This has only been my first week working after a long journey to get here. It has been such a whirlwind since I graduated at the end of May: I spent some time at home, went to a university near Toronto for a Great Lakes research conference, went to the Chicago training, followed by a week of driving from Chicago to San Fransisco. Now I finally made it to Susanville, California! Crazy to think about the journey I made from the east coast to west coast.

The week at the Chicago training was very informative – it allowed us to complete our first SOS collection during our second day working! (more later). Also, so fun to be in the city and meet other interns and hear about their CLM experiences thus far. So many people I met are super passionate about what they are doing and love ecology and conservation – it was so nice to be around so many like-minded people. Additionally, I felt a ton more prepared for starting my internship than I would have if we didn’t have the training first.

After Chicago, my dad and I road-tripped west! We drove through cornfields, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin and made stops in Omaha, NE, Denver, Arches National Park, Salt Lake City, and even made it to San Fransisco to see family at the end. It was such a fun experience and gave me a new appreciation for the west and the changes in scenery along the way.


It was such a beautiful drive through the rockies!

My favorite stop along the way, Arches National Park, Moab, UT. This is Windows Arch

My favorite stop along the way, Arches National Park, Moab, UT. This is Windows Arch

I have spent the past week settling into Susanville with fellow interns/roommates Jocelyn and Alia. The landscape is incredibly different from what I am used to, mostly made up of sagebrush, junipers and in some places, tall jeffery pines. We went out three days in the field in our trusty white jeep (which we have yet to have decided on a name for…) in order to get familiar with the field office. We started SOS (Seeds of Success) collecting and SSP (Special Status Plant) monitoring. Our first SOS collection was squirreltail (Elymus elymoides var. californicus), which we found lots of so it was fairly easy to collect. The population is located in a disturbed part of the field office that was burned in a wildfire a few years ago. Unfortunately there is not much sagebrush, but lots of medusa head and cheatgrass, so this seed will aid in restoration. It sounds like we are going to have lots of opportunities to do different tasks in the field and go to some beautiful places. Next week I am looking forward to marking trees with the forester and going to riparian areas to do work with water rights.


My favorite place we went this week for SSP monitoring on some state-owned land in Sierra Valley

I am excited for what the field season will bring as we get into the swing of things here. Also exploring Northern California – we are so close to so many amazing places and I can’t wait to check them out on the weekends! 🙂


Eagle Lake Field Office, BLM

Susanville, CA