Sac Valley Grand Finale

I left home 6 months ago with a definite uncertainty of what was to come. As a recent graduate, it seemed like the world was beckoning for me to come calling. I had just finished up a degree, which had my entire focus up to its completion, and the opportunities all looked quite enticing. Ultimately, I chose to leave my home and embrace what California had to offer with open, albeit anxious arms. I knew I was in for hard work in a challenging and unfamiliar environment, especially arriving amidst one of the Central Valley’s many summer heat waves. I knew that I was going to be without the family that has been such a crucial aspect of my upbringing. I also knew that I was going to be living in what some people consider to be the middle of nowhere.

What came next was one of the most rewarding learning experiences I have ever been engaged in. Even beyond college. Every day was truly something new. New problems to solve and trouble to shoot. Frustrating at times. On the whole, it was an experience in very hands-on management that sometimes meant long hours of hard labor in a seemingly unrelenting heat.

There were many days I came home absolutely exhausted. Enough energy to fully rehydrate, cook a quick meal, and then retire to the comfort of a chair to clear my mind with the guitar that accompanied me on this cross-country expedition. Weekends of adventure were numerous. In a short period of time I managed to see the Pacific Coast in its summer glory, Big Sur in particular, Yosemite, the Desolation Wilderness, Lassen, and many other fantastic places. It’s not hard to see what Muir and many others since have been on about when it comes to this state’s beautiful places. I learned to adventure and make new friends through these adventures, something I was previously disinclined to do.

I learned what it means to have a job that you take, and are expected to take very seriously. This thanks to my mentor, who taught me to have confidence and trust in my abilities to figure out what needed to be done and when with minimal interference. I also learned just how incredible it is to manage wetlands and see the changes of such a system through the seasons. In summer the ponds are dry and don’t really resemble a pond at all. Of course, by looking at the vegetation you can see their purpose. Once flood-up starts you quickly learn that fresh water being pumped into these ponds really brings them to life. Cranes and egrets begin to poke around and then more geese and ducks as the ponds continue to fill to their planned levels. There are intricacies to every pond that I don’t think I even began to scratch the surface on understanding, but that are certainly observable given enough time and the eye to spot them. To me there is still nothing quite as rewarding as seeing ponds go from dry ground to wetlands with thousands of birds in them. It isn’t hard to feel like your work is appreciated by the birds in whatever way they might feel appreciation.

I don’t know if I truly understand all the ways in which I grew through this internship, or even all the ways in which I have changed or learned. I do know, however, just how inspired I feel to continue to go forth and engage in conservation as a full-time focus of my life. Who can say where it will take me, but I am certainly excited for the ride. There will always be my found memories of this time no matter where I end up and it will undoubtedly be a crucial step in the story that is yet to unfold.

With that, I am very grateful for this opportunity and all that are involved in making it possible for young folks like myself and so many others that are hoping to put their love and appreciation for the land and beings around us to good use. I am very appreciative for all the wonderful people I met, worked with, and was mentored by along the way. It’s reassuring to know that there are people working hard to set a precedent upon which those of us just recently entering the “real world” can build on and learn from.

Signing out—

Tyler Rose
CLM Intern
Cosumnes River Preserve
Galt, CA (Mother Lode Field Office–Folsom, CA)

Fall’s Finest

September and October have been lively here at the preserve. As we continue to flood up more ponds each week, more birds continue to arrive. With birds arriving, so too do the visitors. In general, there has been an uptick in how busy and lively things feel.
Mainly, my time has been split three ways. I have been continuing to learn/help with the wetland program. I have also been working on some more botanically-focused priorities. My third overall task has been putting my time into day-to-day operations of the preserve—things like installing signage, doing equipment maintenance, and other odd jobs.
With some minor setbacks being squared away, the wetlands program is in full swing as we shoot for 100% flood-up. I will be finished before that time, but it has still been incredible to see the changes as ponds are flooded up each week.
Botanically, my time has been spent helping with a vegetation monitoring crew, producing a map of potential upland restoration areas, and collecting some seeds. Given that the preserve has many partners, I was able to go out with a vegetation monitoring crew that works for The Nature Conservancy. Though I only spent two days with them, I learned a lot of new species and about the surveying protocol that they implement here at the preserve. This experience was quite rewarding and helped me to hone my botanical skills a little more.
Producing the map was quite an experience. With no experience in ArcMap prior to this project, I had quite a learning curve. Nonetheless, I was able to draw on my experience with the open source QGIS system to complete my task–creating a map of potential and current upland restoration sites on BLM-owned and managed land. While frustrating at times, I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn a little bit about ArcMap and how to troubleshoot within the program.
My third botanical task was to collect some more seeds for an operational collection. I was able to collect seeds from Euthamia occidentalis (Western flat-topped goldenrod) and Grindelia camporum (Great Valley gumplant)–both species of the Asteraceae. These seeds will be put into storage and hopefully, serve as a source of seed in future restoration projects here at CRP.
I find it hard to believe that I am done in two weeks time, but my work here has kept me very engaged. I continue to do all that I can to learn and help out on a daily basis and am looking to finish out these last couple of weeks in a good way.
Until next time,
Tyler Rose
Cosumnes River Preserve

Updated Happenings

It has been very busy here at the preserve. Each day seems to bring something different–which really helps bring some excitement when the weather has been predictably warm, dry, and sunny. Whether it be out in our ponds treating primrose or spending the day working on seed collections, it is truly a joy to spend so much of my time working outdoors. Though the Central Valley has been hot, the work has been fulfilling and I have found myself slowly becoming more comfortable with the heat and sun–two things I am not exactly used to.

Among my more exciting tasks has been helping one of our wildlife biologists on one of the current projects being undertaken by our office. With a productive rookery for several different species of birds present, part of the work has been setting up for and collecting data. My particular role was/is working on determining the size class, and age class if possible, for the trees being utilized in this rookery. This has entailed going out and getting DBH and height measurements so that we have an idea of how to best promote healthy habitat for these birds in the future.

On the flip-side, I have been involved in some more management-based activities as well. With our flood-up season in progress, I have had a few opportunities to learn and put in to practice our methods for flooding and managing our wetland ponds. What birds are not here will soon be looking for some stopover opportunities in the delta and we intend to have habitat and forage for them when they arrive.

While I could go on and on, there have simply been too many different activities to possibly sum up succinctly herein.

This opportunity has been challenging, exciting, and altogether wonderful every step of the way. With about two months left, the birds, and cooler/wetter weather on the way, I am looking forward to each and every day.

–Tyler Rose

Cosumnes River Preserve

Down in the Valley

Another month has come to pass and I cannot imagine where the time has gone. Here at the preserve, I have been very busy with a multitude of activities and a myriad of new experiences that have kept me well occupied and learning every day.
Chief among these endeavors has been supervising a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crew. Over the past few weeks, I have seen the small group grow as individuals and as a whole– a truly rewarding experience for someone with not much experience supervising any sort of crew. We had them doing all sorts of different projects at the preserve and it was great to teach and learn with them for about three weeks.
Having come to us with little to no experience with tools like a weed-eater, the crew members now know not only how to operate such equipment, but also how to maintain and properly care for such equipment. With such skills, we were then able to clear a large number of the preserve’s water control structures, which are crucial for controlling our wetlands during the flood-up season when we are providing habitat for our beloved avian visitors. By clearing these structures it makes flooding up and draining the wetlands easier and more efficient. Two things that we are always looking to improve at an office with relatively few hands.
This crew also helped us with a cleanup of one of our levees that had been littered with debris from the floodwaters of this past winter. With the help of some local youths from the Galt School District and some California State Office employees, we were able to clean a large amount of debris, ranging from tires to tree limbs to a fishing net. Having such a mix of ages out in the field together was very exciting and I hope the experience really inspired the young ones to respect and care for the environment and keeping it clean. I would never have guessed it could be such fun, but we even had kids that didn’t want to quit when it was time to go!
We also embarked on a mission to repair a retaining wall that had been damaged by flood waters–a feat which really allowed us to work on teamwork and building with different tools and skills. Although it was relatively arranged for us by the previous builders, we had to do a lot of on-the-spot improvising to really work certain areas into place and get the pieces to fit. All in all, our work was quite productive and the wall is looking good and is close to finished. Having never built such a wall myself, this was a learning experience for us all.
In addition to these more work-intensive activities, we were also lucky enough to get out and enjoy the riparian parts of the preserve’s namesake. On two separate occasions, we took the crew out canoeing, both with the school district students and as a small group. On both occasions, we had excellent paddling conditions and were able to all share in a really fun experience. Many of the students older and younger had never experienced canoeing before, making it another great learning experience for us all.
In terms of more personal happenings, I am now UTV and IPM Herbicide trained. This was a crucial step for an intern at the preserve, mainly because we have so many weeds that need to be treated and this year has presented us a great chance to get some of them under control. With the major flooding of this past winter, many of the once heavily infested areas that have been battle grounds in years past are now relatively clear, presenting us with a great chance to get ahead of the weeds and keep our waterways relatively clear. Water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) are our main aquatic foes in these areas and they do not relent.
This has thus been a big focus of my past few weeks. I was able to go out and treat primrose and hyacinth on two separate boat operations as the applicator. In addition, I worked with our lead applicator for several days following my training to treat primrose, as well as yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis).
While this may make it seem as though all that we have are weeds, we actually have a good diversity of native plants and an abundance of wildlife. I have not been as good a botanist as I would hope to be with learning all of the beautiful and unique plants around the preserve, but as I get out and do some scouting for our preserve’s two SOS collections I will keep my eyes out as we always do here at the preserve. You just never know if you will happen upon some river otters, owls, waterfowl by the bunches, or maybe even a mountain lion.
As I continue my internship here, I can’t wait to see what each day brings. I am sure I will have more to share soon!
Until then–

2,700 Miles to Home?

Let me begin by saying I am a New Yorker by birth and by heart. But, I cannot (and will not) go on and on about how great New York City is. For one thing, I am not a big fan of cities. For another, I grew up far from NYC–where dairy cattle, cornfields, vineyards, and old small towns dominate the landscape.

Through the CLM Internship Program I have found myself ~2,700 miles from home at a little place (~50,000 acres) called the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) in Galt, California. Much like the town that I grew up in, the name probably means very little to outsiders. What I did know before coming out here was that it was somewhere in the Central Valley and somewhere about 30 minutes south of Sacramento (a name I was familiar with). However, having never been further west than the Detroit Airport, this still did not mean a whole lot to me. What I soon found out was that it isn’t too awfully different from home. I have found all the cattle, corn, vineyards, and small towns you could ask for, but also so much more.

Here at the CRP we fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office which is in Folsom, California. If that sounds familiar, it may just be because a pretty famous country artist once wrote a pretty famous song about a prison there, but I digress. While the Mother Lode Field Office is quite substantial in terms of the area managed and the staff based at that office, the CRP is fairly small in comparison. As a partnership, there are many people involved here. That means that on a daily basis I get to interact not only with people from the BLM (my mentor included) but also with people from The Nature Conservancy and other partners. Nevertheless, the office is fairly small and we keep ourselves fairly busy.

There is no shortage of stuff that needs to be done. Managing riparian and wetland habitat for waterfowl, while also working to maintain and conserve habitat that is rare and imperiled in the Central Valley Region of California, is no small chore. Having just started on June 5th, before attending the Chicago Botanic Garden CLM Training Workshop, I am still learning the ins and outs of day-to-day operation here. However, one thing that has become clear, as my mentor likes to say, there is always more work to do. Working with a Youth Conservation Corps crew, providing trail maintenance, and planning for future projects are just a few things that have kept me busy. With more training in my future, I have my eyes set on getting out in the field and helping to control our invasive aquatic species– primarily water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) and a handful of other terrestrial and aquatic plants that make managing for native and natural wetland/riparian habitat difficult.

After quite a trek by car and some settling in, I have had interesting run-ins with wildlife, dealt with heat I never dreamed of, and learned so much in the first 2 weeks here at my new “home” that I cannot wait to see what the next 5 months bring. While I have mostly been preoccupied with training, I hope to have plenty more to post about next time (especially more about the beautiful flora and fauna).


(BLM Mother Lode Field Office–Folsom, CA)

Cosumnes River Preserve–Galt, CA

Sunset on the hot California Delta