Farewell Taos!

You know it’s fall in Taos when the red chilis are brought out to dry and the first snows start to blanket the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The passing of the summer into the fall is certainly not lost on me as my CLM internship draws to a close this week.

Beyond the beautiful sights and captivating wildlife witnessed while on the job, the most important part of the internship, and the part I will miss the most, will be the people I have met along the way. Too many to name within the confines of a blog post, but here are a few.

First to my roommates and fellow CLM interns; Jack and Sophie. You’d think that working and living together would be a recipe for disaster, but the fact that after 5 months in Taos we aren’t at each others throats, but instead are wonderful friends, is a true testament to their kindness and sense of humor.

Next up are Alex Traynor, Lauren Price, Allie Heller, and Paul Ahnert of the Taos AIM crew and fellow CLM’er Michelle McInnis. In addition to schooling us in life as a seasonal tech with the BLM, you also were our climbing partners, hot spring buddies, and dancing companions. I won’t soon forget our adventures in Moab, Utah or our Planet Earth screenings.

Taos SOS & AIM crews unite in Moab, Utah for the 3rd annual Biological Soil Crust Conference

…and how could I forget our supervisor, Jessa Davis! Your unique blend of humor, wit, and practicality made bearable our long days in the office and helped me along the way as a CLM intern in immeasurable ways.

One of the consolations to saying farewell to so many great people is that, by shear nature of our common spirits, I know we will cross paths once again.


This last week was brought to a close with an opportunity to give back to the community that welcomed Jack, Sophie and I when we started work in Taos last Spring. On October 24th, we helped organize and participated in a tree planting event in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. High schoolers from the Vista Grande Charter School in Taos and the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque joined forces with Southwest Conversation Corps (SCC) veterans and us at the BLM to help restore land along the rio grande corridor.

To be honest, I was expecting the high schoolers to be a bit apathetic, but I was surprised by their genuine interest in restoration. The group I worked with slaved feverishly to dig an 11” deep hole in which to plant a cottonwood sapling. No joke — these kids were insane diggers!


Here’s a photo of me looking a bit over-eager when planting a cottonwood sapling with the kiddos (photo credit: Jim O’Donnell)

At the closing of the ceremony I gave a brief talk about career opportunities in conservation and (of course) mentioned the CLM internship. After me, one of the SCC veterans gave an impassioned speech how conservation work helped her transition from active duty in Afghanistan to civilian life in the states. Another young man talked about how the lives of native people are inseparably connected to the land and closed our ceremony with a Navajo mountain song.


All the great people who came together for the event (photo credit: Jim O’Donnell)

Participating in this event, with some of the people I have gotten to know so closely over the past few months, was the perfect way to close out the field season.

This winter I’ll be working as a teaching assistant as the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado. Look me up in the CLM directory and hit me up if you happen to be in the area!

Farewell Taos! – Jack



Interns Unite!

Over the week of July 18th, the Taos and Santa Fe SOS crews joined forces to scour the slopes of the Carson National Forest for native seeds. We met at the Taos BLM field office, our government pickups laden down with tents, sleeping bags, a few musical instruments, plant presses and all the other essentials for an overnight in the field. Joining us on our hitch into Carson was the one and only Jessa “seed czar” Davis, the Taos AIM crew, Kerry Dicks (resident Archeologist), and Olivia Messinger Carril, co-author of “Bees in Your Backyard” (an awesome reference book for the bees of N. America). Together we drove north out of Taos through the sagebrush Mesa in a line of government white Chevy Silverado’s. To the locals we must have looked as much like a convoy of Botanists as something out of Mad Max.

Eventually we turned down the dirt road into the Carson National Forest and made our first stop in the foothill slopes of San Antonio Mountain. There we discovered a population of Oxytropis sericea and Linum lewisii, which we would collect from the following day.

Botanist convoy

Onward and upward we drove, into the aspen groves, buckwheat fields, and alpine lakes of the Carson NF, stopping for plenty of “drive-by botany” along the way. Several times during these stops, Olivia let loose her little tikes, each outfitted with their own bug nets. The cuteness was hardly bearable.

Eventually we arrived at the lower Lagunitas Campground, and set up aside the mountain lake nearby. Olivia then schooled us in some pollinator collection techniques, one of which involved deploying several cups of soap at regular intervals throughout the landscape before returning to collect and pin your specimens. As the light grew dim, the SOS interns, AIM crew, Jessa, Kerry, and the Carril family gathered around an inviting campfire. Alex, one of the AIM crew members, roasted a fish he caught from the lake and shared it with everyone as musical instruments were tuned and played into the night.

The largest and smallest bees found in N. America. Right: Xylocopa, and Left: Perdita. Photo from “Bees in Your Back Yard”, photo by Joseph Wilson (quarter used for scale).

I couldn’t remember the last time I had been regaled by ghost stories around a campfire, but I won’t soon forget the stories told that night.

As the sun slowly rose the next morning, so too did our crew. After breakfast, each group drove began to depart separately. We in the Taos-Santa Fe SOS team then proceeded to descend from the Lake, and made two collections along the way down that surely wouldn’t have been possible if not for the combined man (and woman) power of the group. On our drive towards a third collection in Questa we stopped at the Taos Cow for some world-famous ice cream of the coffee, chocolate, and lavender varieties.

That night, Ella Samuel, Laura Holloway, and Rebecca Schaub of the Santa Fe crew stayed in the modest home of the Taos Crew; Sophie Duncan, Jack Dietrich, and myself. Luckily our synergistic efforts at seed collecting were also transferrable to the grill, and together made a pretty solid pasta salad, some mouth-watering veggie burgers, and fragrant grilled pineapple. Like any good night, we finished it off with a game of Settlers of Catan before falling into well a deserved sleep.

The next morning, we collected seeds downstate in Truchas and Chimayo before parting ways. We’re currently planning another reunion… hopefully it will involve just as much comraderie and Catan as our former gathering.

Until next time,

-Jack Lynch

CLM intern (BLM) — Taos, New Mexico