Farewell Carlsbad

Hi everyone,

As my internship comes to an end, I am starting to really think about all of the skills that I have learned and friendships that I have formed during the past few months. I am so grateful for this fantastic opportunity to work alongside some amazing people in the Carlsbad Field Office (BLM). The truth of the matter is that Carlsbad is one of the most difficult and busy field offices to work in due to the high oil and gas activity in the area. Thankfully, they have a great team that does their best to make the work environment as great as it can be and show that they really do care about each of their employees, even the interns.

Throughout the entirety of this internship, I have gotten to experience so many different things, both good and bad. I have helped monitor Bureau Sensitive Species, experienced just how hot the desert can get, hike in the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains, find out what it feels like to have prickly pear spines stuck in my leg, collect from some really amazing plants, and many more! Although field work can really test your patience and push your limits, it also allows you to get out and experience an ecosystem that you might not have had the opportunity otherwise.

I am truly thankful for the practical work experience that I have gotten from this internship. I am especially grateful for being placed in a Bureau of Land Management Office. Being from Kansas, I had no idea that the BLM even existed. If I had not had the opportunity to work in this office, I may have never pursued this federal agency. Now that I have been in a BLM office, I would love the chance to work in this area of government again. It has sincerely been a fantastic experience.

Below are just a few pictures taken in our resource area:

A collection of Riddell’s Ragwort (Senecio riddellii) that we were able to do.

A really fun collection of Texas Madrone (Arbutus xalapensis) that we were able to do just last week!

More Texas Madrone

Some of the Texas Madrone seeds collected.

We found some Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) in the dunes of our resource area! I was particularly excited about this one because of my previous work in the prairies of Kansas.


This little Manybristle Chinchweed (Pectis papposa) was a cool find because of its lemon aroma.

You can often find some really cool animal tracks in the dunes of our research area. Maybe this guy was a Greater Roadrunner?

Speaking of Greater Roadrunners, we had a surprise visit while wrapping up a collection.

Below are more pictures from the area, but not in our county:

A hike taken through the Lincoln National Forest.

Another picture from the Lincoln National Forest.

This was taken at the “Top of Texas,” which is in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Another picture of the Guadalupe Peak.

As I finish up the next two weeks and begin my trek back to the sunflower state, I will be thinking about all the experiences I’ve had here in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I just want to thank the Chicago Botanic Garden for allowing me to be apart of the Conservation and Land Management Internship Program, it was an experience I will not forget. I also want to give a huge thank you to my new Carlsbad family for making the last five months fantastic, I am so grateful for the time I have had here.

Signing out,


Seeds of Success

Carlsbad Field Office (BLM)


P.S. I also can thank Carlsbad for a very special new member to the family, Ollie:

Fall is Upon Us

Hey everyone,

Fall is finally beginning to appear here in the Chihuahuan Desert. The cottonwoods are starting to change, the temperatures are dropping, and our chances for seed collection is starting to slow down! As usual, I have been spending most of my time collecting seed. However, the past few weeks have been uncharacteristically rainy. Since the rain makes most of our roads near impossible to drive on, I have been stuck in the office. This isn’t all bad though, it has allowed us to catch up on shipping seeds and doing our soil data.

Me assessing soil data when it was rainy for an entire week

Having been placed in the CFO BLM office, there have been quite a few opportunities to do some outreach! At the beginning of the month, I was able to visit the local zoo (The Living Desert Zoo) and help a few of my colleagues set up a table at a public lands informational event. A few weeks later the employees at the BLM had the opportunity to help judge the middle school’s science fair. These events have just been a few of the many different chances to help with public outreach.

Me and another BLM employee doing the tabling event at the Living Desert Zoo in Carlsbad, NM

I have also had the chance to do a little more cross training with other people here in the CFO office. Two weeks ago, my co-worker and I went to two of our major rivers, the Delaware and Black River, to help monitor riparian areas and assess the Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) of these rivers.

Identifying vegetation at the Black River site – featuring my SOS co-worker and mentor

A storm rolls in while assessing vegetation a the Delaware River site

Below: random pictures from the field

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

Sacred Thorn-Apple (Datura wrightii)

Black Swallowtail friend while we were collecting Verbesina encelioides













Caitie W.

Carlsbad Field Office BLM – Seeds of Success Intern

Frozen Toes, Nose, and Fingers

Hi everyone,

It has now been a little over two months since I have started my internship, and I have had so many opportunities that I had not expected. One amazing experience was a conference I was able to attend the first weekend of September with the Native Plant Society of New Mexico (NPSNM).

Sitting near the base of the Gila National Forest is the quaint town of Silver City. This is where Lucy (the other SOS intern) and I got to spend our three-day weekend presenting posters for the conference. The relaxed nature of the NPSNM made it easy to talk about something I am very passionate about: conservation. My poster outlined the different effects of the oil and gas industry, which has been booming in our resource area. Although all land use changes can cause numerous negative side effects on the surrounding landscape, it is easy to see that the presence of “pumpjack forests” has begun serious degradation to the habitats around them. Aside from the obvious destruction to the land, these oil fields can also cause wildlife poisoning, air pollution, and even change the hydrology of an area. This is why environmental education for this industry, and many others, is so important.

Poster for the Native Plant Society of New Mexico conference.

An amazing double rainbow in the Gila National Forest.

One of the three field trips taken during the conference. This trip was to look at the restoration efforts of an old ranch in the Gila National Forest.

Who doesn’t love a baby Horned Lizard!

Me (left) and Lucy (right)

In other news, the monsoon season is still in full swing here in the Chihuahuan desert. Many new plant faces are starting to appear, which means we will be very busy for the next few months! I still continue to be astonished by the concept of rain in the desert… Especially when the temperature can drop from the normal 80°-100°F range to a chilly 50°-60°F range due to this rain. Needless to say, I spent this last week with frozen toes, nose, and fingers while traipsing around collecting our precious seeds.

An example of storms in the desert. (No worries, I was not driving in this picture)

(Again, I was not driving)

Look close! The desert can hold the tiniest of little treasures.

Just another tiny treasure.



Carlsbad Field Office, Bureau of Land Management

Welcome to the Chihuahuan Desert

Hi everyone!

A large amount of seed production begins in late summer here in the Chihuahuan Desert! Since many desert plants rely on the summer monsoon season to begin flowering, I have only been in Carlsbad, NM for a little over a month now. Being from the tallgrass prairies of Kansas, the desert has been a drastic change in scenery! However, desert ecosystems are fascinating and being an SOS intern means that I get to see so many unique plants and help to collect their much needed seed.

One of the biggest challenges so far has definitely been the heat. During my first week in Carlsbad, the temperatures were reaching 106°F! This is why the monsoon season is welcomed in the area, since rain brings cooler weather and a lush landscape. Another characteristic that takes some getting used to is the prominent presence of the oil and gas industry. Aside from the obvious habitat degradation the industry causes, the oil and gas pads emit gases that have the potential to cause serious harm. One gas of note is Hydrogen Sulfide. This gas, which is colorless and odorless, can be fatal if the concentration is too high. Since this is a major health concern, we need to have H2S monitors handy whenever we are in the field. Despite the potential hazards of the desert, I am having a great time becoming familiar with this ecosystem and all of its associated flora and fauna.

An example of just how many oil rigs can consume an area.

Believe it or not, this is an oak forest! (Quercus havardii)

Proof that this plant is indeed an oak.

One of my favorite desert plants so far, Chilopsis linearis.

Aristida purpurea (One of the plants that we have made numerous collections of so far.)

Yucca elata

One of the many storms that we have seen brewing in the distance.



BLM Carlsbad Field Office

Seeds of Success Intern