Crazy Things

I inquired about creating an environmental education opportunity in town. We ended up working the BLM booth at the Harney County Fair. We developed a nature, picture scavenger hunt for kids to explore on the fairgrounds. We made s’mores as prizes and handed out “Leave No Trace” materials. We received great feedback about the scavenger hunt directly from the kids, parents, and other vendors.

BLM Range is required to remove horses off of private land. I had the opportunity to be a part of capturing wild horses. I spent a day setting up the horse “traps”, which were portable horse corrals and “wings” coming off the edges that funneled the horses in. I sat on a hill to watch the capturing process. A wrangler waited with a pilot horse, as a helicopter herded the wild horses towards the trap. When the group of wild horses were close to the trap, the wrangler let go of the pilot horse, which was trained to run towards the trap, causing the wild horses to follow it into the trap. It was very eventful watching the wranglers herd the wild horses through the trap and into the trailer. The wild horses were brought to the horse corrals. If you want to buy a wild horse, they sell in the horses at the Hines, OR Wild Horse Corrals  for $125.

Wild horses captured!

While WSA monitoring, I got our truck stuck on a sand trap of a “road.” The sand was deceiving, my feet sunk at least 12 inches to 18 inches in the fine sand. My co-intern and I did not manage to get the truck out of the sand trap on our own. We needed reinforcement, so we contacted one of our supervisors. Our supervisor showed up about an hour and a half later, only to also get stuck in the sand trap road. The three of us could not get our supervisors’ truck unstuck, so we all sat in a truck for another two and a half hours until someone could help us. The guy who helped us made quick work of pulling us out with the wench on his truck. We were very thankful to be out of the sand trap, after having been stuck there for 5 hours. The worse part of the ordeal, is that the wind was constantly blowing sand. It felt like being in a sand storm from the movie Star Wars.

My foot sank 12 inches to 18 inches in the sand trap road.

There is already snow back on the Steens Mountains as of Thursday, September 21. It was an interesting experience to go from sunny weather at the bottom of the mountains, into the snowy weather heading up the mountain. Needless to say, it wasn’t far up the mountain before my co-intern and I turned around as the snowflakes became thicker.

First snow storm in the Steens Mountains.

A whirlwind of recreation activities.


The last month was a whirlwind of recreation activities. In the foothills of the Steens Mountains, I participated in a trail dedication to a family who lost their son to wildland fire fighting 20 years ago. There were many representatives from the BLM and it was a special time for the family.

I hiked Pike Creek trail, which is all up-hill, to monitor a remote campsite.

I spent a whole week up in the Steens Mountains putting up barbed wire fencing to keep cows out from the wilderness area. It was definitely the most difficult week I have had during my internship. The wildflowers, which are still blooming, were a great reward for such difficult work. There are four species of my favorite flora, Indian Paintbrush. The Indian Paintbrushes  were red, orange, yellow, and green.

I also found a beautiful multi-colored species of (what I believe to be…) columbine.

The Alvord Desert is a special recreation area, the most recent being for gliders. I was able to watch gliders take off and land, as well as sit in a glider!

Finally, I was recently able to shadow the archeologist. He is currently working on a dig-site that has been going on for multiple years with students from the University of Oregon. By dating volcanic ash, they have found evidence of life from 15,000 years ago! Making it one of the oldest dig-sites in the US.

Students from the University of Oregon are earning credits for working on this dig-site. Evidence dates back to 15,000 years ago! Making it one of the oldest archeological dig-sites in the US.

 Outside of work, I finally figured out where the recycling center is after two months of living in Burns. The recycling center is only open twice a week for a few hours. It is a major adjustment to have to physically bring in my recycling and sort it out. Back at home, in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, we have single sort recycling and it gets picked up at our house. Needless to say, the recycling center here has made me think more about my consumption of consumer products.

After two months, I finally found the recycling center!

First month as a BLM Recreation Intern

My name is Kelsey Piepkorn and I am from Minnesota. I started my internship at the end of May. I am a recreation intern at the BLM Burns District Office in Hines, OR. The BLM Burns District Office is responsible for 3.5 million acres! There is a wide variety of landscape throughout the district from sagebrush to the historical Diamond Craters as well as the Alvord Desert to the Steens Mountains. My internship has been filled with a variety of activities such as collecting data from traffic counters, hiking to monitoring remote campsites and rivers for the ability to cross, monitoring Wilderness Study Areas, and spending most of my time getting to know the Steens Mountains area. The locals say the Steens Mountains is a bit of an unknown beauty because it is overshadowed by the west coast. I have not been to the summit yet because there is still snow on top of the Steens Mountains. I went up most of the way with a mentor and it truly is breath-takingly beautiful. I also attended meetings and helped with Burns’ first ever “Gravel Grinder” bike race. I now understand how much effort goes into planning a bike race such as meetings, thoroughly marking the course, having people directing riders during the race, and having an Emergency Action Plan set. I was very impressed with the collaboration during the race to keep all the riders safe. I am honored to have helped make the first annual Skull 120/60 Bike Race a success.

Until next time.

Kelsey Piepkorn

Burns District, BLM

On the Steens Mountains as far as we could make it before the snow drifts. This is my office for the summer!

Up in the Steens Mountains area, there is this cool lake formed from snow melt.

In the Steens Mountains area during a 7-mile hike along the Blitzen River, I monitored remote campsites.