Good-bye is not forever

We are officially wrapping up the last few things for the season. The coming end has filled me with a mixture of accomplishment, pride, joy, but also sadness. It is a day that I didn’t think would come so soon and as quickly as it did… yet, here it is. In spite of, it being a relatively sad time, it is also a time of reflection. To reflect upon what I have done, how I got here, and what the future may have for me moving forward.

It truly says something when you are out in the field and wild places when as though by magic you begin to recognize the intricate patterns of native plant populations. You build an intimate relationship with them and quickly realize some of their favorite “haunts”. Silver-leaf Phacelia prefers the comforts of forested habitat, Erigeron pumilus and Machaeranthera canescens, however, prefer the rugged and rocky landscape of the open country. It dawned on me only after the fact that our success may be due in part to our ability to recognized the terrain and habitat type. 

The irony, however, of these “wild-places” is that we never exist in isolation. It was very common for us to work with project partners or even run into other people out to enjoy the area or even living out there. These are some of my fondest memories, sharing passions with other people. We spoke often with landowners and the general public, and every time we found that people were excited to see us. It just goes to show that regardless of where we stand we often have the same goals, protect our natural areas. It is just our motivations and how we plan to get there that is the difference. 

I studied as an ecologist in my college years and, was a specialist in invasive species (primarily insects, trees, and herbaceous plant material). I, however, had never in my wildest dreams believed that I would move out West to Nevada and begin my career here. The people I have met and the skills I have groomed have changed me, on a deeply personal and professional level.  I have learned how to utilize GPS software and programs in ways I didn’t realize were possible. I learned about population viability beyond a calculation standard for the classroom. Most importantly I think, I met people, people who are as passionate and driven as I am to dedicate themselves to this lifestyle. Determined to leave the world better than when they found it. 

I don’t know what the future holds for me but, I am glad to have been apart of the S.O.S. program. I am grateful for all the opportunities that presented itself to me, the people whom lives I affected and those who affected mine, and also for rekindling my spark for conservation in a time of pure uncertainty. I hope that I can return to the CLM internship program to continue to work and continue to make this world a better place one day at a time.

Happy trails and may we meet again.

Season of Promises

Our Last trip out into the field- We got a nice send-off!

The chill is rolling across the Sierra Nevada mountains, reminding locals and interns alike that the desert still has the power to get quite cold. With the coming of winter comes the winds off the mountains and “Rabbit-brush Season”, woe to anyone regardless of allergies or not. Many of the native forbs and grasses are preparing to bed down for the coming winter. Still now isn’t the time for relaxation and staying indoor working on reports and administrative duties.

We are currently developing the next phase of the Seeds of Success Program (S.O.S.), the development of Plant Development Areas (PDAs). Most interns are gone by this time but, the luck and fortune of being a ‘late-breaking position has granted me a wholly unique and amazing opportunity to witness and be apart of the phase that comes after collection.

Planning out the plots for a forbs study!

Ready, Set, Plant! Finally marked out our plots

We had lots of help, from everyone at the office! USFS, Fire crews, Arizona Univerisity, and even our fellow interns for the Hydrology team. Who wouldn’t on such a nice and perfect day!

Two weeks of hard work has resulted in the creation of four research plots for our partners, and we will continue perhaps for another two weeks to get everything settled. It does come with its challenges, like the issues of hydrophobic soil (not so good for baby forbs) and predation by the rabbits and rodent that live in the sagebrush. However, it has been a time in which everyone can escape the office and enjoy the few warm days left to offer.

A Change of Pace

Scene over the Black Rock Desert Salt-pan 

Now with the field season over, well at least in terms of camping, we have switch gears excitingly. When not traveling out to places still accessible to us, we are becoming deeply engrossed in the process of SOS beyond merely collecting seeds.

Now we are collaborating with many groups, to clean data, and prepare and lay the groundwork for the next year’s intern. However, by a stroke of luck perhaps we will also be involved in the preparation, propagation, and rearing of native seeds given to us in common gardens and greenhouses across the county.

It is with hope that in mid-October we will be chain sawing, brush cutting and clearing, laying tarps upon common gardens to begin the process of understanding success and phenology, in a cultivar setting.

Beyond SOS

The month of August was both productive and fascinating. While we were busy doing seed collections we had the opportunity for exploring the land and seeing some amazing sites, as well as collaboration.

We worked with our partners in the Rocky Mountain Research Institute (RMRI) conducting vegetation surveys in many of the Northern reaches of Nevada. With their help, we formulated and tested vegetation surveys that will be carried into the future to affect the management of both BLM and USFS properties

A land in Recovery. West of McDermit, NV_Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest
Lamoille Canyon Fire, Ruby Mountains_One Year Later

We had the opportunity to learn and exchange knowledge with our partners as well as enjoy working with people who share a similar passion. After our work with them was done we took the time to explore our own districts. There is always a lot of ground to cover in such a big state. We had much success, and have had the opportunity to meet fellow botanists and interns in the ‘wild’.

Journey Into The West

An adventure of self-discovery and the path of Botany….

Dog Valley- Humbolt-Toyiabe National Forest, Verdi, NV

I graduate from my university as a student of Wildlife Conservation Biology, from the University of New Hampshire. I traveled into the west in search of working with invasive species, primarily plants. It was either through luck or good fortune. I met Dirk Netz, the botanist for the state of Nevada. Along with Nicole Spehn, we are entering an amazing world of Western Botany.

The goal of Dirk Netz, Jessica Kindred, Great Basin Insitute, Desert Research Institute, Burea of Land Management, and many more is to create a seed back that is viable in response to increase fire frequency and intensity. While grasses are well known and critical to the success of fire restoration, the perennial and annual forbs are also critical to the success of restoration.

Our first week opened the door to the amazing world to the world of Western Botany. We had the opportunity to travel into the Humbolt-Toyabie National Forest’s Dog Valley for hands-on experience in the identification of species critical to the ‘Seeds of Success Program’, other native grasses and forbs, and familiarize ourselves with the terrain and landscape.

Our second week we were able to team up with fellow interns from Great Basin Insistute, the volunteer group I worked with prior, and Jess Kindred, the leader for the program on the BLM side. With her and her team we were able to familiarize ourselves with the SOS program in-field. Our search lead us to Contact a small mining town in search of Thurber’s Needle Grass, a species of interest for the SOS program. We also learned how to collect tissue sample for plants of interest to determine possible speciation and regionality differences.

For our next week, we had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of people from both The Nature Conservancy and Desert Research Insitute. We were able to learn about programs beyond the SOS Program. We helped collaborate on assessment protocol on Nevada’s riparian habitat. This habitat is a relative unknown primarily because of few known locations, presence/absence, and due to Nevada’s ephemeral. However because of Nevada’s l, the landscape there are a wide and varied types of riparian habitats that exiist (saltwater, hotsprings, coldwater).

This week we are heading out to examine the success of our burned area reseedings. While this is an entirely new field for me I am discovering that it is a field that I am loving more and more. I cannot wait to continue to learn feeding and catering to my inner botanist.