About SolimarGarcia

Grew up around Madison, WI. Went to school at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point studying Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Ecology and Conservation Biology, my BA in Forestry. Currently in Idaho working as a Range Tech leaning AIM, HAF and LPI methods on the land!

Scream if you love potatoes!

My time spent in Idaho is coming to a close. Today is my last day in the office and I’ll be heading back to the Midwest at the end of the following week. I’m grateful of my time and experiences I’ve shared here in Twin Falls and Shoshone. My last day is filled with mixed emotions as I’m excited to be moving back to a familiar place, but also upset I’ll be moving away from people I’ve grown to care so much about these 6 months.

Idaho BLM has given me so many new experiences working with people from all over the country, people of all ages, and people with varying levels of experience in range management.

I came to Idaho with an open mind, seeing as this is my first job after graduating, and I’m grateful that the CBG program was able to send me out West. I felt like it was important to stretch my comfort-zone and pursue this job as far west as I’ve ever been, and I truly enjoyed my time here and the experiences I went through. I made friends with locals and they took me on many adventures, one of which was to my first rodeo which is where I really learned to understand potato appreciation (being from WI, you get a lot of cheeseheads, so potatoes were new to me). I’m now interested in getting my Red Card after experiencing wildfires so near to home and hearing talk around the office about fire culture. Idaho has moved me to explore more of the world, expand my understanding of people and express myself in new ways.

I’ll miss the people, I’ll miss my house, but I’ll definitely miss flora of the west.


Critters of Idaho

Our little office crew of CLM interns have been busy working on completing a GIS map of fences along 2 allotments in our field office. Many days this means driving for up to an hour and a half to the site that needs “ground truthing” for certain features and confirmation of fences. We’ve gotten proficient at using Avenza on our mobile devices and converting the data to allow compatibility for ArcMap. We’ve also gotten pretty good at figuring out if a figure in the distance is actually a cow or a rock. Inexperienced range techs may see the rock moving, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cow, the heat can fool you!

Coworker searching for fences, cows, and canyons

Every so often we get the chance to follow along and perform a riparian area management protocol called Proper Functioning Condition Assessment. Our mentors then take us through the questionnaire at the end of the transect, to determine if the riparian area and stream are properly functioning or not

On one of the many eventful days out in the field, I found some bear scat. The following week, a coworker found one of these little horny toads. They are pretty much my favorite wildlife we’ve found out in these deserts. As cute as they are, apparently some species of this genus squirt blood from the corners of their eyes (Ocular autohemorrhaging) as a predatory defense mechanism. Thankfully, these little guys haven’t perceived us as threats (or just aren’t the spp that has this capability), so none of us have been squirted with lizard blood, yet.

horny toad (horned lizard)

One hectic week we got the chance to check out a Bat BioBlitz organized by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We arrived just in time to set up our tents on site, have a meeting about the nights’ event and help set up mist nets.

Momma bat, master of the night

The following morning we drove back for an opportunity to go caving in the second largest lava tube cave, Gypsum Cave

me, smiling for the camera in the cave

CBG interns, GeoCorps and BLM crew all out exploring lava tubes in our PPE

More recently we’ve gotten the chance to tag monarch butterflies, but with little to no success. Unfortunately, “Monarch butterflies living west of the Rocky Mountains are on the brink of extinction, according to a new study”


Juicy monarch caterpillar munching on milkweed, you go dude!

1/3 tagged butterflies 13 Sept 2017, Tag number: B4701 Female

Enjoy the last few weeks of your internship fellow CBG interns!



Idaho Fish and Game

More work outside of BLM has been pretty fun lately. Aside from our new projects relating to GIS and GPS, we also get the opportunity to work on other projects throughout the week with Idaho Fish and Game.

Last week I was able to go out on a bat project. I honestly know very little about bat calls and bat biology etc. but it seemed like something I would enjoy and I’m glad to report I did!

I had previously gotten the chance to work with Ross Winton working on an entomology project, so he was a familiar face. It was fun getting to see his work with insects and bats, alongside Senior Conservation Officer Meghan Roos. The second day of data collection we went out with GeoCorps interns as well.

After dinner, waiting for the sun to set, waiting for the bats to emerge!

2 CBG CLM & 2 GeoCorps. After dinner, waiting for the sun to set, waiting for the bats to emerge!

We started our day at 3pm, set up microphones at designated spots, had dinner, drove a transect to capture 25 miles of bat calls and ended around midnight. We had a small hike to some of the points but were able to see a young queen bee, a beautiful sunset, a moose and her calf and hear coyote’s (wolves??) and investigate some pretty neat unknown plants. Overall, a very entertaining couple of days.

Queen. Captured by the talented Ross

I love the spatulate leaves on this plant. No idea what it is though, anyone have any idea?

In other news, the eclipse is coming up and Idaho is expected to have almost a quarter million people travel in the path of totality, if that’s you, be safe!



Our office engulfed in flames… not literally, but almost

July has been littered with new fires every weekend. July 4th weekend was scary because of all the dangers that come with fireworks are enhanced by the type of fuels that are here in Idaho. I read so many statements, fliers and posters all around Shoshone Field Office about the fire hazards that would emerge this month, and boy, they weren’t kidding.

Our first full week back after the holiday, the Antelope fire roared just a half mile south of our field office. We were expecting an office day filled with data entry and low stress levels. Instead, what we interns came across, was a day full of mild panic and furious curiosity.

Working right next to the BLM fire yard, I got to see fire trucks and supply trucks being loaded, dozers being hauled out, and everyone was on their cell phones with permitees on one line and dispatch on the other line.

The fire was expected to fizzle out the night before, and resources were pulled due to another, larger fire southeast of town. Unfortunately, once the temperature outside got hotter and relative humidity went down, wind picked up and gave new life, fueling our curiosity as well.

The next week, I got the chance to see the plans for rehabilitation, plans that were drawn up from the rangeland management specialists with input from the ranchers. A new program called Rural Fire Protection Agency (RFPA) voiced their opinion on the rehab efforts as well. They make up some of the firefighting effort on BLM land, which is a huge help since BLM struggles, at times, to come up with resources, if they’re needed else where. RFPA’s  may have the dozers and other machinery needed to combat the fire while getting to experience the fight and get to see what BLM has to endure on the fires as well.

This “fire culture” is so intriguing to me and maybe something I will look into after my time here. I think the science behind it is fascinating and coming together as a team to fight fire out there, I bet is so rewarding.


Catching endemic beetles

Just before the holiday weekend, my field crew finished our main field project and had the opportunity to join Idaho Fish & Game for a day field-trip. Many Burley and Shoshone Field Offices’ CBG Interns were able to join Ross Winton with Idaho Fish & Game on a hunt for a beetles on different species of Eriogonum, commonly known as Buckwheat.

Unfortunately, I know pretty much nothing about buts/insects/arachnids whatsoever, but I got into contact with Ross again and he filled me in on a few things about what we were looking for that day.

Our goal was to find any Chrysobothris beetle on Eriogonum or Crepis species, however the jackpot was Chrysobothris idahoensis, a wood-boring jewel beetle. This species is an Idaho endemic and a species of greatest conservation need. Ross let me know that, “they live as juveniles (larvae and pupae) in the roots of Eriogonum and emerge and often visit flowers as adults in June and July.” So, in addition to sweeping above Eriogonum flowers, we also dug up some roots of that same genus to perhaps find beetles emerging later.

Ross with mouth‑operated aspirator to aid in capturing samples to easily transfer them into vials (not pictured, his beetle-head belt buckle)

During the first hour or so we split up over the landscape switching off duties between sweeping and digging for roots. My first time sweeping, I found it, I had found the jewel beetle! I swept over strictly Eriogonum species for about 20-30 minutes and my beetle made it quickly into a sample vial full of acetone and ethanol. The little beetle was somewhat shiny and green, had a square head and a pointy butt, easily distinguishable from other insects in the same vial. My name went on the specimen and we all were excited to find more that day. Unfortunately, no more were found on the site, possibly too late in the season to see their emergence.

Chrysobothris idahoensis, species of greatest conservation need

A quick glimpse of other neat creatures we caught.

Again, sorry I know nothing about entomology

A giant, gross/cool wasp?

Other beetley things

Pollinator on a mariposa lily

I’m glad I was able to get in touch with Ross again and we all got the chance to work a day with an entomologist. So neat! 10/10 would recommend to a friend



Never have I ever been out West

My first week after graduation was filled with excitement and anxiety. I actually skipped walking across the stage during graduation because I was moving in to my new house that same weekend. I finished my last day as an undergraduate on a Thursday and started work in a new state the following Monday! Thankfully, I have very supportive parents that helped me trek my way with each passing minute farther and farther west than I had been before.

Our drive was only supposed to take 2.5 days, from Madison, WI to Twin Falls, ID. It turned into almost 4 because we got swamped with a snow storm in the middle of May!? Never would have thought to pack snow boots for May weather as I had already experienced 70 degree weather coming from Wisconsin. We ended up getting stuck in Cheyenne, WY for 9 hours. But here’s my dad as we happily continued to make our way as the roads cleared!

My dad with a smile as we finally are able to get onto I-90 from Cheyenne to Twin Falls, ID

The following first two weeks were flooded with new information and training. Besides all the online training, we also had some great hands on training in the field. I work directly with 4 other CBG interns, there are another 3 at my office.  All 4 of the CBG CLM interns I work with come from different states and are familiar with different flora, so learning new plants in the arid environment of southern Idaho has been quite entertaining!

As a contractor working for the BLM, I am assessing habitat cover and preferred forbs for sage grouse.The methods we used to do this assessment was modified as soon as the interns arrived, so as we learned the ins-and-outs of the methods, so were the crew leads and supervisors, to some extent. This was quite a bumpy ride to start as we all were interpreting specific methods differently and encountered different scenarios than were provided in the new manuals. Each day we came up with new questions and each day we solve them with gusto and readiness to continue the following day, knowing we’d come back with still more questions.

Shoshone, ID modified AIM crew. Our first time out in the field together, 4 CBG interns, our crew leads, & our mentor

Out with my crew, my mentor and other range techs from my office

Throughout the next few weeks I learned to adjust to the lack of trees and the beautiful diversity that can (surprisingly) be found here! I started to learn common grasses and forbs and learn varieties of sagebrush.

As my roommate and I got a feel for the area, we began most of our weekends traveling to some touristy sites. These areas were nice to visit while we’re learning about the area because they were so chock full of historical information and just fun random facts that are super useful for newcomers like us!

Bitterroot at Craters of the Moon National Park

Back out in the field the following week, I started slowly discovering I had some favorite plants and animals we continue to run into. I had studied trees for my undergrad but I’m finding myself drawn to some of these little forbs in southern ID.

Little horned lizard that I kind of love

Lupine! I’m slowly falling in love with this plant for some unknown reason

At the start of the next week I traveled to CBG for the Workshop, which was an incredible opportunity and I am super grateful I was able to attend. I had the chance to meet other interns in the neighboring field offices for the BLM. I was happy to be back in the Midwest and actually had the chance to see my parents again after a month in Idaho.

Back in Idaho, our big group split into 2 groups of three people, we were officially on our own! Driving to any one of our plot points may take anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours one-way. The drive can be a little daunting, but each location is so unique and the views there are so absolutely incredible, it’s always so gratifying once we arrive.

Upper Davis Mountain view about 4 miles away from our plot point

Coming from Wisconsin and having spent a lot of time up north where there are unpaved roads, I knew how to drive a pick-up truck on gravel roads, but some of the “roads” out here barely warrant the name. Thankfully, I have stellar crew lead that has extensive experience driving on these same roads last summer! Also, I will admit, I have a really poor sense of direction, so I am thankful for her navigation skills too.

I’m also learning how to use USDA plant codes for these common plants. I’ve worked with plant codes previously doing monitoring but since the locations of these plots may have upwards of 45 species, keeping up with all plant codes and numbers following each code has been a struggle of mine. I tend to learn the common name first, then the scientific name, then the code. But sometimes the same code can be used for  2-10 different plants so you also have to remember which number corresponds to which plant!  Ex. ERNA6 & ERNA10, one is a forb and one is a shrub, and you could possibly have both on the same site!

Penstemon with a little visitor wasp

To help me with learning plant codes and scientific names I’ve made a little “key” of all the ones we’ve come across and keep the booklet with me out in the field. So far, it’s been pretty useful and have only used it 2 days but have to update it already!

Quick lunch break before finishing modified AIM transects. This location actually had upwards of 35 species, 12 of which were unknown to us! (We’re still working on keying them out)

I’ve been in Idaho exactly a month and I really cannot wait to continue exploring this state. I’ve been trying to convince all my family and friends from home to come visit me, because there’s so much here to see! One month down, four more to go. So far, this has been one of my favorite summers, yet.