Spring is in the Air

Things are finally starting to bloom at our field office and accordingly the field season is starting to get extremely busy. This week we put up some trail cameras to monitor what wildlife is visiting some ephemeral ponds that we built last year. Tomorrow I will help build a fence that will protect Verbena californica from being grazed or trampled by cattle. We are also starting to collect herbarium vouchers for our presumptive seed collections for Seed of Success such as this Erythonium species pictured below. Tons of stuff is starting to bloom! One of our rare plants Ceanothus roderickii is starting to bloom and was getting pollinated by Bombus vosnesenskii and Bombus melanopygus which I had never seen before.

Better get going because there is plenty of work to do!


-Landon from the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in El Dorado Hills, CA.


Bombus melanopygus on Cenothus roderickii

Last Days With CLM

Wow things moved fast. I can’t believe that the internship is already over with. This internship helped me get a lot more familiar with the unique flora of gabbro soils and their pollinators. I also got an in depth run down on fire ecology/management in a chaparral system. Despite the stereotypes of many about the work ethic of folks in the federal government, I was very impressed by how hard everyone worked/works and my eyes were opened to how much more complex it is to get something done if you do it correctly, something the layman does not realize. The people that I have met here at the BLM Mother Lode Field Office have been excellent and I hope that I can keep in touch with them. I had hoped to spend more time in the field these last few months but for the first time in 5 years or so we have had a real winter in the Sacramento area, so I am happy for that. Other than I have no complaints! Thank you CLM!


Landon Eldredge

BLM Mother Lode Field Office, El Dorado Hills, CA

Busy spring on the horizon

The winter months have not been filled with field work, unfortunately, but they have allowed for some much needed planning for what is looking like a very busy field season.

The last month I got to do a little more work with fuels reduction on the Pine Hill Preserve (PHP). The PHP, where I put in the majority of my time, has 10% of CA’s native flora and 8 rare plants. The unique flora of this area historically benefited from disturbance from fire but increased urbanization has lead to suppression of fires for public safety reasons. Anyhow, after taking the S212 chainsaw course I went out and helped to re-thin the fuel breaks between the dense chaparral and the neighborhoods.

Cleaning up a downed gray pine in the fuel break of PHP

My supervisor and I also went to a way out section of our field office that gets less attention to scout for possible seed collections for this field season. After the rain kept me in the office for most of January it was a pleasure to get out into the field and it was a beautiful day to do so. It looks like we have the potential of getting at least 6 or so seed collections from just this site and I am hoping that, with this being the second consecutive year of somewhat adequate rainfall in our part of CA, we will have plenty of seed collections throughout our field office to chose from.

View from our Bear Valley unit. In the distance we could see El Capitan and Half Dome at Yosemite!


At the end of the month PHP staff will be presenting a couple of small talks to a local community college on PHP’s flora and pollinators.

Wish us luck!

-Landon from the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in El Dorado Hills, CA

A wet winter in CA

To my surprise rain has finally returned to the Sacramento area, though we are still technically in a drought. This year it has been raining since October and hasn’t shown signs of letting up yet. Today we had to rush out to one of our BLM campgrounds just down river from the Yosemite Valley to move equipment to higher ground because this weekend heavy rains are predicted to wash our campgrounds clean. In a past flood, our picnic tables washed away, and finally retrieved them from where they were floating in the middle of the lake. I also got to learn a lot of neat history about the railroad that went through the campground when the area was being harvested for timber. This soon ceased because constant maintenance of the railroad from rockslides, floods, and washouts outweighed the financial gains from harvesting the timber.

Another project I am helping out with is looking at the pollinators of the native plants in our area. I went out to UC Davis to use their reference collection to identify some of our specimens. I also picked up some of our past specimens that we had identified by a specialist at the campus.

Other than this I have been scouting for native seeds to collect but things have been at a standstill it seems since it started raining.

A lot of other things have been going on but aren’t particularly noteworthy so I will end here.


BLM Mother Lode Field Office

Cool Months at the Mother Lode Field Office

Normally this is supposed to be the slow time of year for the “ologists” at the BLM Mother  Lode Field Office but this year things have been quite busy. Earlier in the year I helped collect a ton of specimens from some insect traps that we put have been putting out to study the pollinators of our area. Now comes the terribly fun part of washing them with shampoo and then drying them off with a hair dryer (not lying), but it isn’t bad when you have some good tunes. Luckily the barn I am working in has surround sound! Then we will be pinning them and getting them ready to identify using UC Davis’ reference collection.


Other than this, I took a chainsaw workshop a couple of weeks ago and finally got to put it to use today in the field. Looks simple, but when your thinking about the fact that the saw could cut you like butter, it is a bit more interesting. Also today we used one of the normal field saws, which is like twice as big as the almost kid sized saw that we learned on. Boy was my arm tired.


We also have been working to keep a neighbor of our rare plant preserve from riding through on his motorcycle, as this disturbs the habitat and has potential to spread weeds. Since I used to use trail cameras a bit to track wildlife, I decided to put out a camera and see if I could catch the motorcyclers on camera but like 99% of the animals I tried to pick up on camera, the motorcyclers too were very blurry.



Happy Holidays y’all,


-Landon from the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in El Dorado Hills, CA

California’s Mother Lode Field Office

Things have been busy here at the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in El Dorado Hills, CA.

Some background:

I am working mainly on the Pine Hill Preserve, which is a series of fragmented parcels, co-managed between 10 different agencies, including BLM. The Pine Hill Preserve (PHP) contains 8 rare plants and about 10% of California’s native flora in just 5,000 acres, which is highly fragmented due to urban developments. The diversity of the native plants in this area is largely accredited to gabbro soils of the rescue series.

On the preserve I have been familiarizing myself more with the area’s flora and scouting for seed collections for next year with one of the other interns here. I have also been collecting pollinators to put together a plant-pollinators list for the PHP, mainly for the native plants. This has been a very interesting project for me as the pollinators have showed me plants that I may not have noticed otherwise. Unfortunately, the worst weeds that we have, yellow star thistle and stinkwort, both bloom late summer, so there has been a healthy amount of weed pulling done as well, but it is nice to look back at an area and know that it is nearly weed-free after being a bit of an abomination. There have also been a handful of small fires on the preserve and luckily I don’t believe that anyone has been hurt. Fire is good for the rare plants but the disturbance of bulldozers may end up bringing weeds in, so it is a catch-22.

Off of PHP I have done a couple of raptor surveys with the Cosumnes River Preserve, which is about 30 miles south of Sacramento. The highlight for me was seeing a peregrine falcon perched atop a light-pole and then seeing it chase a small flock of pigeons. My group also saw a sharp-shinned hawk and some red-shouldered hawks, which I hadn’t seen in real-life, before, so that was really cool.

The most glamorous of all was the large trash cleanup that our BLM office did way up in the hills, where people are not required to pay for a garbage pickup service, so some of them take the shortcut and just dump their trash on BLM land. Slick idea except for throwing out trash that is/was addressed to their house. Hopefully a friendly visit by BLM ranger, or a ticket in the mail, will help them to change their ways. We cleaned up the mess this time anyway and it was pretty foul but I’ll save the readers from too much detail about the smell of a dead animal and then some other really pleasant stuff…

On that note I am logging out! Until next time!

Me standing in the burned area looking across the dozer line to the fuel break which allowed Calfire to stop the fire.

Me standing in the burned area looking across the dozer line to the fuel break, which allowed Calfire to stop the fire.

A trail through the same burned area. There was not much in the way of living material left in the fires tracks.

A trail through the same burned area. There was not much in the way of living material left in the fires tracks.


One of the pollinators of PHP’s rare Fremontodendron californicum ssp. decumbens, loaded with pollen.

-Landon, BLM Mother Lode Field Office