Farewell Carson

Goodbyes are difficult. New beginnings are exhilarating. The conclusion of a wonderful internship experience with the CLM program is indescribably bittersweet.

I believe it was yesterday when I rolled into Carson City, Nevada after a 32 hour drive from Lexington, Kentucky. The snow-capped mountains and the vast oceans of sagebrush were surreal to me. The realization that I would be spending the next ten months here had yet to set in. Now, those ten months have past, the last page of the chapter turned.

Generally, I am not the luckiest person in the world. I don’t win at monopoly. Nine times out of ten if I call a coin flip, I lose. I know, I know. 50/50 odds, but sometimes, thats just the way the cookie crumbles. However, I hit the jackpot when I landed this internship. I was able to  experience the Great Basin, the Sierras, and Lake Tahoe and I had a stellar group of co-interns to put the icing on the top.

Last sunset at Lake Tahoe

Now that my days in Carson are over, I realize that accepting a CLM internship was one of the best decision of my life. For the first time, I was able to move away from home, experience a side of the U.S. I had never seen, and work in an environment that I was totally unfamiliar with. I now leave Carson with a sense of accomplishment, with friendships that will last a lifetime and a new appreciation for life.

“…There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of The Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”




Rapid Veg

It’s hard to believe that I have just over one month left in my internship here in Carson City, Nevada. There is, however, still much to do with the remaining time that I have.

My team and I just returned from a week long escapade in coastal California. The first part of the trip was a mini vacation, in which we got to explore the undulating streets of downtown San Francisco, camp in the breathtaking Big Basin Redwood Forest and discover the wonders of Angel Island.

The second part of this excursion was dedicated to the rapid vegetation assessment and releve(accent over the second “e”) course we signed up for. This training showed us how to assess a given stand of vegetation to determine what plants occurred in an area and how abundant they were. This data can then be used to map the area in GIS which can then be utilized by land managers.

The remainder of the internship will be designated for SOS collections. Next week my crew and I will be heading to the Mono Lake area, which I am really excited for.

Until next time,

Jason Fibel, BLM-Carson City

Fire on the Mountain

Deep within the Great Basin, amongst the sagebrush ocean, lie the Desatoya Mountains. One of my fellow crew members and I ventured out to set down some of the natural splendor. We meandered up and down windy roads to reach the more diverse canyons to scout for potential SOS collections. Along the way, we discovered our rental truck had Sirius XM radio, so of course we had to keep it tuned to the Grateful Dead, bluegrass, and 40’s channels.

Much of the Great Basin is what it appears to be: plains of sagebrush and cheatgrass surrounded by mountain ranges. With a little exploration, however, many gems can be uncovered. Lush meadows, rushing waterfalls, and areas rich with biodiversity are mere steps away, if you know where to look.

The pinnacle of beauty… minus the weird guy.

Our trip to the Desatoyas was successful. We found several species viable for collection. Holodiscus discolor, Rosa woodsii, and Ribes sp. were, dare I say, ripe for the picking. As I write this post, the other three members of our team are on their way to harvest them. We were also fortunate enough to see pronghorn, several owls (either Short-eared or Great Horned), and a couple of hummingbirds.

In an adjacent mountain range, the Clan Alpines, a fire threatened to end our scouting trip early. Fortunately there are awesome fire crews all over the state that do an excellent job of maintaining these rangeland infernos.

That’s all for now and remember, Winter is Coming.

Until next time,

Jason, Carson City District Office-BLM


Just Keep Truckin’

Almost 6 months have past since the beginning of my internship here in Carson City, Nevada. It feels more like 6 weeks, but I knew this would happen. Four day work weeks packed with seed collections, traveling and anything else that may pop up on our schedule, paired with adventure-filled weekends at Lake Tahoe, create an atmosphere where days seem like hours and minutes seem like seconds. My crew and I are here until the middle of November, and we intend to make the most of what little time we have left.

I am used to a gradual shift in climate as the seasons change in eastern half of the United States. Brisk autumn days slowly morph into chilly winter nights while the mesophytic hardwood forests undergo their annual transformations as their leaves senesce. The seasons are more static here; one can expect identical conditions day after day for a given time frame. However, it seems that the transition from winter to spring or summer to fall is more sudden. I am going to miss the myriad of colors the deciduous forests boast in mid fall, but I cannot wait to experience my favorite time of the year in the Sierras.

Our team has, aside from a few species, hit a wall making SOS collections. These late summer months have been equal parts scouting as much as collecting. However, most asters seed late, so the bulk of our collecting has yet to come.

In other news, my team and I were just enlisted in a Rapid Vegetation Assessment course at UC Davis’s Bodega Marine Laboratory. It is a three day course but we are going to turn it into a week long vacation. I am so excited to finally see the redwoods, explore San Francisco and discover the diversity of Point Reyes National Seashore (not to mention the ocean breakers colliding with the rocky cliffsides).

Pedicularis groendlandica

A view atop Mt. Rose

Until next time,

Jason Fibel, Carson City District Office – BLM


Henry David Thor-no

As I munch on goldfish at my desk

In this cramped office cubicle

I think how painful it is to be inside

Like a slightly torn back cuticle.

This is reality for a majority of people

Their work lives confined to a box

While I am privileged to make SOS collections

Gathering mahogany, juniper and phlox


Time really flies, so don’t close your eyes

Or you’ll be in for a surprise by the time you realize

That it is already July

Almost half way through summer

And when this internship ends

It will be a real bummer

So while I can, I will take it all in

The grace and allure of the west

The mountains, the valleys, the birds and the trees

A plethora of beauty to digest

I’m not a poet and I surely know it

So don’t give too much critique

I just wanted to make a blog post with creativity

That would be somewhat unique









Don’t Stop Believing

Over the last couple of days, my fellow interns and I hand collected roughly 65,000 juniper cones for our first seed collections for SOS, so that was cool.

In other news, I had the opportunity to substitute the Chicago Botanic Garden workshop with a Wilderness First Responder course, which just concluded last week. The training was wonderful and I now feel better prepared to handle various medical situations in the back country.

We made the most of our free time in Mt. Shasta, California after our WFR course ended each day. We scaled a mountain with breathtaking views, explored the gorgeous Lake Siskiyou, and gallivanted to a waterfall with incredible force and power.

Black Butte Lookout

Lake Siskiyou

McCloud Falls

Other than that, we have been waiting for the field season to start here in Carson City, and it’s finally arrived. I’m sure there will be more to talk about in my next blog post.

P.S. Remember everyone, when administering your chest compressions during CPR, pump to the beat of “Don’t stop, believing. Hold on to that feeeeeeeling”.

Jason Fibel – Carson City District Office – BLM


A New Spring

Many things have changed since my last blog post about a month ago. Our group of four interns turned into five when we welcomed our newest member to the team a few weeks ago. I am now a certified pesticide applicator, I learned how to key out the tricky Poaceae family and I finally got my first night of field experience in the Great Basin.

The introductory phase of this internship is coming to a close and the field season is about to begin. I had more trainings this March than I have over the last couple of years. Now, I get to take what I’ve learned and put it to use.

We have been in the office more than I would have liked to be, but with the Sierra snow pack melting and the ground still being saturated with moisture, it has been difficult to get out into the field. That is rapidly changing, however, as it warms up and dries out. Just two days ago, we participated in a Short-eared Owl survey in Dixie Valley, which is part of the 5,000,000 acres that the Carson City BLM oversees. Unfortunately, we did not spot any owls, but we saw several birds of prey including Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and potentially Golden Eagles (unconfirmed). After the survey, we had the opportunity to camp beneath the crystal clear, star soaked sky.

The following morning, we were introduced to the flora that we will be working with for a majority of the internship. The Great Basin ecosystem is surprisingly diverse. Superficially, Artemesia, Atriplex and a few other genera dominate the landscape, but upon closer inspection it is evident that hundreds of species contribute to a complex network that make up the desert community.

Sphaeralcia spp. in Dixie Valley

Astragalus spp. in Dixie Valley

On a side note, much of our free time is spent in Ash Canyon or the Sierra Nevada/Lake Tahoe area. Already, we have hiked to incredible viewpoints, skied across state parks and birded for countless hours in beautiful valleys.

Lake Tahoe Sunset

Ash Canyon Valley

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Carson City and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Jason Fibel

Carson City District Office-BLM

So it begins..

I cannot believe that it has already been two weeks since I began working with the BLM here in Carson City. If these first weeks are any indication of how fast time will go by, I must learn to appreciate every day.

Eastern California and western Nevada have had an uncharacteristically wet year. In a meeting my fellow interns and I attended, a gentleman said it has been the wettest year in seventeen decades. As a botanist, this is a double-edged sword. Each field site we have visited has been either too muddy to get vehicles to, or completely inundated. As a result, the bulk of the work we’ve done so far has been indoors, whether it was mounting herbarium specimens or completing various trainings. However, the forecast for the next few weeks looks gorgeous and I’ve been told by several botanists that I am in luck for the wildflower season.

As a kid that grew up in the mixed mesophyitc hardwood forests of Kentucky, it has been a joy and a privilege to experience the breath-taking beauty of the west. During my 32 hour drive to Carson City, I made stops in Boulder, CO and Arches National Park in Utah where the scenery left me speechless. Now, when I wake up every morning I get to look out of my window and see the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains.

Lake Washoe and the Carson Range

Although we have not done much field work yet, I am excited for what is to come. In a few weeks, we get to travel to Boise, ID for an herbicide class in which we get trained and certified to use pesticides. Shortly after that, I will be attending a Wilderness First Responder course in Mt. Shasta, CA and right after that we will be setting up a BLM booth in the annual Reno Earth Day. On top of all of that, a majority of our field work will be in the Great Basin and in the Sierra Nevadas, so to say that I am anxious for the future is an immense understatement.

Overall, I am lucky to be in such a great place with great people and a knowledgeable mentor. I know that before I long, my time in Carson City will come to an end, so I will be sure not to blink.

Carson City District Office – BLM

Jason Fibel