A day in the life of a CLM Intern…. Hmm, I would rather say five months in the life of a CLM Intern. Granted I won’t discuss all five months and keep you captivated for pages upon pages of experiences and happenings that have made my life so incredibly amazing since the beginning of my internship. Rather, I just want to stress how important and connected each and every one of those days that would make up my time here in Vernal, Utah. Most of what I do is connected to what each and every one of you is doing as well. Hence: Conservation and Land Management. I came into this position with the hopes of expanding my knowledge of plant morphology and taxonomy. I’ve gained so much more than just that; I still have a month or so left!
The Bureau of Land Management’s Vernal Field Office is an Oil & Gas Pilot office for the entire northeast portion of Utah, which covers a HUGE amount of land with an incredibly diverse landscape and ecology across all the areas that make up our portion of the Uintah Basin. It’s absolutely fantastic to be able to go out into the dry high desert two hours south of Vernal and survey and monitor for two rare species of Penstemon one day and then venture up into the green areas northeast of the Ashley National Forest to monitor other bureau sensitive and/or federally listed species. All the while ventures around the entire area between monitoring stints to collect native seeds for Seeds of Success. I can honestly say that my bloody phalanges are entirely worth it since it means experiencing such diverse and astonishing beautiful landscapes in the process. And since Vernal is big with oil and gas, those seed collections that I collect go to something so important: reclamation and restoration of oil pads and wells that have been shut down or abandoned. And those rare plants I mentioned just a while ago…well, they are being directly impacted by industrial-type actions like drilling and similar money-making ventures that don’t typically take place in the traditional American backyard. Mind you, this isn’t a rant against the oil and gas industries. In fact, I understand just how incredibly important they are in our current society’s workings and going-ons. Do I wish there were stricter reforms in place to regulate exactly what they can and cannot do? Of course! If not for the betterment and advancement of our national culture, at least for the sake of the PLANTS!
With a fantastic mentor guiding me along the way and an amazing co-intern keeping me from zoning out in the desert sun…not to mention the countless other amazing people I’ve met out west (I’m from NYC, fyi), the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve created thanks to this internship have made it all more than worth it. Three words: Net-work-ing! Ok, I know, one word. But let me stress just how amazing this entire program has been in terms of…you know…”meeting people.” People that are incredibly beneficial to have in your little black book. After all, this field we’re all entering, trying to enter, hoping to enter, or just experimenting with, is an incredibly difficult thing to break into. Some might even say it’s all about the people you know…. We’ll see if that’s true….
Coming from the city that never sleeps to a place where most people carry the motto “I HEART DRILLING” can be quite devastating and demoralizing. In fact, it’s the opposite! It’s inspiring to become a part of an environmental movement at the national level where conservationists like me are working hard to save that which we love: those amazing landscapes I experience each and every day. At the same time, it strengthens my morals as I’m constantly tested and put in check by big-business and forced to question the goods and the bads, the rights and the wrongs and the choices each and every one of us have to make every single day we’re breathing on this wonderful continent (both the good air and the bad air, of course!).
I leave you now with a quote from one of my heroes:
“Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Daniel Winkler, CLM Intern, Vernal, UT