One Last Picnic in Southern Utah

At this time last week, my fellow interns and I were harvesting Wyethia scabra from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, a scene probably already issued to us by Hollywood, which has used the Kenab area for its westerns and Arabian footage for years.  Collecting native seeds for programs such as drill pad restoration and the Seeds of Success initiative is a fairly typical day for us; however, our proximity to the end of this internship, as well as the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, where it all began with CLM’s training on the South Rim, inspired more introspection than usual. 

Powell Point, Dixie National Forest

Powell Point, Dixie National Forest

When we left the Grand Canyon in July, I thought that I had a fairly good grasp of what the next five months would be like.  I would learn the family, genus, and species names of Utah native plants, become more proficient in GIS, and contribute—albeit in a small way—to the long term storage and research of specimens that could otherwise be lost to invasive competitors, disease, or climate change in the coming decades.  While all of this turned about to be essentially correct, the backdrop of the work has been surprising in its beauty and complexity.  I have learned about the Waterpocket Fold, laccolithic uplifts along the Sevier Fault, and other

San Rafael Reef

San Rafael Reef

geological phenomenon in equal measure to desert flora made precious by its scarcity and evolutionary tenacity to survive in extreme environments.  I have learned Utah history from those who praise Mormon pioneers for their bravery and industriousness, as well as those who disparage them for their foolhardiness and anthropocentric worldviews.  I have built lasting friendships and learned from office spats. 

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Also, I could not have anticipated the more mundane glint of hundreds of gypsum facets along Highway 70, the absolute peace of the San Rafael Reef when a tendril of windblown Indian Ricegrass traces a line in the sand, the haunting petroglyphs that survey the area nearby, and a night sky so unpolluted by light and particulates that the Milky Way is discernable.  In so many of the most important ways, my CLM internship has been nothing like my initial expectations of it.  And I am deeply thankful for that.

Ben Miller, BLM Field Office, Richfield, Utah

Hello from the Great Basin

It’s been an adventure.  Coming from backgrounds in Eastern deciduous forests and the Pacific Northwest, both places with plenty of rainfall, it took a little while to get used to a desert flora but we’ve been amazed by how much lives here, and how most people just drive through at 75 mph and never see any of it.

We have been stationed at the Great Basin Plant Materials Center in Fallon, Nevada since June.  The PMC is responsible for developing new cultivars of native plants, mostly aimed at conservation and restoration of the landscape.  This PMC is special because it’s the newest, as well as the first to focus on the Great Basin.  We’ve been helping with that mission mostly by collecting seeds from the western Great Basin, both for the Seeds of Success program as well as collections specifically for our mentor, Eric Eldredge.  Hopefully some of those collections will result in cultivars released to the public in coming years.

Since this is the first year the PMC has had interns, we’ve been the guinea pigs.  It’s been a wonderful experience.  We’ve traveled to every county in Nevada, and two in California, and learned so much about desert grasses, forbs, and shrubs.   We’ve hiked through the Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains (the so called Swiss Alps of Nevada) during peak lupine season, walked through ghost towns and driven across the playa in the Black Rock Desert.  I think the most valuable experience we’ve gained is how to learn a new flora.  Even if we don’t work as botanists in Nevada, we will be able to take that skill with us when we enter a new area.  Learning how to drive a 4×4 truck on challenging roads is another great skill we’ve gained here.

Networking and meeting new people, is yet another benefit to being a CLM intern. Working with others from various organizations has allowed us to acquire permits, provided information, and helped to make invaluable connections. Working with these people has also provided insight into different government agencies.

We’ve also seen a huge array of wildlife in our travels: pronghorn antelope, coyotes, hundreds of antelope, ground squirrels and lizards, hawks, golden eagles, pelicans, rattlesnakes, desert bighorn sheep, three mountain bighorn sheep fighting, burros, horses, and lots of cattle.

After all the travel that we’ve done, and the data we’ve collected, we’re planning to make a series of GIS maps for our mentor when the weather gets too cold for field work.  We’re excited to lay out a guide for next year’s interns.

We’re both so grateful to the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Great Basin Plant Materials Center for this experience, and all that we’ve learned and gained from it.

Erin Cole and Robin Bennett, Great Basin Plant Materials Center, Fallon, Nevada

Resource Management in the Smokies

It is hard to believe that I am fast approaching the final month of my internship here in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although time has seemed to fly, the work which I have been fortunate to take part in here has been incredibly rewarding and has given me a whole new appreciation for all those involved in the stewardship of our National Parks.

Growing up in Minnesota, the stunning beauty and unmatched biodiversity I have experienced in these mountains has not disappointed for a second.  While splitting time interning for the park’s botanist and the vegetation management team I have been fortunate to be involved in a variety of projects which have taken me all over the Smokies.

At work I have been able to hone my GPS, plant identification, and data collection skills conducting high elevation rare plant monitoring while surrounded by some of the most spectacular views in The Smokies. Precise geographic and statistical data collected on the park’s remaining populations of rare plants enables researchers to assess the vitality these important species and helps ensure their continued protection. For example, I was recently reminded of the importance of our work while collecting geographic and percent cover data on a newly identified sedge which is endemic to the Smokies. It was our monitoring of this sedge’s limited habitat that likely prevented a large portion of the population from being dug up during upcoming NPS road maintenance.


Taking some GIS data on a population of rare large flowered purple fringe orchids (Plantanthera grandiflora) along the Appalachian Trail

Plantanthera grandiflora up close

Plantanthera grandiflora up close

Another rewarding project which I have been involved in is the park’s ongoing efforts to manage the invasive insect known as the hemlock wolly adelgid (HWA) which has devastated hemlock stands from Southeastern Canada to South Carolina. As one of the most common trees in the Smokies, hemlocks are extremely important ecologically and the park protects the largest stands of old-growth hemlocks left in the Eastern United States. By visiting conservation areas throughout the park to treat and monitor for the adelgid staff here have been able to keep numerous hemlock stands healthy in a variety of habitats.

View from Mout Cammerer near a Hemlock conservation area in the northeast corner of the park

View from Mt. Cammerer near a hemlock conservation area in the northeast corner of the park

There are a number of tools which have proven effective in managing HWA including sprayed surface treatments, insecticide, and biocontrol agents. Most often, I have been able to aid in treating individual backcountry trees by applying insecticides to soil around the base of hemlock trees throughout the park.  Applied chemical is absorbed through root systems and can provide individual trees with years of defense against the adelgid.  Currently over 100,000 of the park’s hemlocks have been successfully treated and protected in this way by vegetation management staff.

Despite its effectiveness the chemical treatment of individual trees is not a practical means of protection for the millions of untreated backcountry hemlocks due to the high cost associated with application. On the bright side, the park is currently using two using predator beetles which eat only hemlock adelgids in attempts to help maintain an ecological balance between insects and hemlock decline on a landscape level. Although promising, biological control will take time. Meanwhile, the importance of our conservation work is highlighted for me each time I enter a beautiful preserved old-growth stand or catch a view of the thousands of already dead hemlocks which dot the otherwise pure green slopes of the Smokies.

Healthy hemlocks like this are becoming increasingly rare throughout the Smokies

Healthy hemlocks like this are becoming increasingly rare throughout the Smokies and surrounding area

On days where I am not killing exotic plants, saving hemlock trees, or surveying rare species I have been involved in the Cades Cove field restoration efforts. This project more than any other has highlighted for me how extremely complex resource management within the National Park Service can be especially when combining both natural and cultural elements of stewardship.

In short, the Cades Cove historic district is a amazingly beautiful limestone basin surrounded entirely by mountains. With over 2 million tourists a year, the Cove is easily the most visited area within the Smokies, and a 10 mile loop road allows visitors to easily take in the stunning views. Cades Cove was permanently settled by Europeans as a farming community in 1818 and the valley remained inhabited until the Park’s creation in 1934. The NPS has chosen to preserve many of the unique early historic structures in the Cove for education and visitor enjoyment while ensuring that the open pastoral nature of the land’s settlement era is maintained.

View from the middle of Cades Cove

View from the middle of Cades Cove

In the past, the NPS managed Cades Cove under special use permits which allowed for large hay and cattle grazing operations throughout the Cove in order to prevent former farm fields from reverting to forest. Historically, large amounts of cattle were never present within the Cove and the huge expanses of pasture and hayfields lead to an unintended “golf course look.”  Furthermore, the environmental quality of Cades Cove was significantly degraded through permittee use and NPS actions which drained wetlands, straightened stream banks, and introduced non-native grasses to control erosion, and benefit permittees. Fortunately, in 2000 the expiration of the last cattle permit provided an opportunity for resource managers at the park to experiment with new ways of managing this district which will not only better depict desired pioneer pastoral scene but provide quality habitat for the park’s native species in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Through the restoration of wetlands and stream banks, removal of exotic grasses and the prescribed burning of Cove fields resource managers hope to encourage the establishment of native meadow species within the former hay and cattle leases. Native meadows will not only depict the pioneer agricultural scene more accurately than past methods, but will support native species of grassland flora which are now rare in the park. In turn it is expected that restored native meadows will support many more species of native vertebrate and invertebrates.

Personally, I have been able to participate in the park’s cultivation and collection of native plant seed within several designated increase and restoration fields. To ensure that local genotypes are preserved only native seed found within the Cove has been utilized and collected for cultivation and use in small restoration plantings over past several springs (it is apparent that many native grass species were present in parts of the Cove long before European settlement). While restoration efforts are still in the “interim stages,” I have helped to write and compile a draft of the “desired future conditions for Cades Cove” which details numerous planned aspects for comprehensive field management and restoration. Hopefully, this work will help form the basis of a long-term management plan for these fields which will provide protection and enhancement of this unique area for years to come.

Collecting some mountain mint seed from an increase field to be used in restoration planting next spring

Collecting some Mountain Mint seed (Pyscnanthemum muticum) from an increase field to be used in restoration planting next spring

Yours truly triumphantly returning with a large bag of Wide-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus) Seed

Yours truly triumphantly returning with a large bag of Swamp Sunflower seed (Helianthus angustifolius)

Former cattle pasture in Cades Cove now a restored native meadow dominated by Big Bluestem (Andropagon gerardis)

Former cattle pasture in Cades Cove now a restored native meadow dominated by Big Bluestem (Andropagon gerardis)

The important monitoring, treatment and research I have been involved in here has been extremely rewarding, educational and simply a lot of fun. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to have this experience and cannot wait to be involved in more exciting work here in the Great Smoky Mountains during the last month of my internship!

With 100+ species of native trees in the Smokies (more than any other park) I'm currently looking forward to a few more weeks of amazing fall colors.

With 100+ species of native trees in the Smokies (more than any other park) I'm currently looking forward to a couple more weeks of amazing fall colors.

Sunset Near Newfound Gap

Sunset near Newfound Gap

Best of luck to everyone else in their internships!

– Mike Wardwell, NPS Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Summer in the Sonoran Desert

Yosemite falls-a little side trip I took; it was AMAZING!

Yosemite falls-a little side trip I took; it was AMAZING!

The ride I took across the country-kidding a random awesome bus I saw in San Francisco

The ride I took across the country-kidding a random awesome bus I saw in San Francisco

Driving in from Vegas
Driving in from Vegas
Once you get outta town....

Once you get outta town....

Carnegea gigantea, the giant saguaro, one of my favorite succulents!

Carnegea gigantea, the giant saguaro, one of my favorite succulents!

Doin' work! Driving the pumps back after irrigating

Doin' work! Driving the pumps back after irrigating

Work with John is fun! I'm secretly trying to steal his job...

Work with John is fun! I'm secretly trying to steal his job...

    In the midst of the Sonoran desert lies the wonderful town of Yuma, AZ.  While the ‘Welcome to Yuma” sign boasts 122,000 residents, I am sure that must include the 50,000 snowbirds that are currently arriving.  Initially I was a bit nervous about moving to a small town from the bustling streets of Cincinnati, but I was amazed that all the stores/restaurants were the same as back home-with the exception of all the Mexican food, which has taken over all of my food groups.  Yuma is a fantastic place to live in the winter ( I love telling my frozen friends that I am still working on my tan!) but the summer was a true test of my love of hot weather (I arrived in July when temps were hitting 117-SCORCHING!).  According to the Guiness Book of World Records, Yuma is the sunniest place in the world-which I believe since in my four months here it has rained only twice and I could probably count on my two hands how many clouds I’ve seen.  California is about 5 minutes away and Mexico is about 15; there are more border patrol agents than police officers.  Another thing that struck me was the presence of agriculture EVERYWHERE in Yuma-it was the last thing I’d expect to see in the desert, but the soil is incredibly fertile due to the former floods of the Colorado River.  Add a little water and VIOLA- 90% of America’s winter crops-cantaloupe, watermelon, corn, cotton, citrus, dates, and more lettuce than you’ve seen in your entire life!  Overall I really like living in Yuma.  I thought it would be a lot harder moving somewhere all by my little ole self, but I was lucky to make friends quickly and have great co-workers too.

    My main responsibility is to maintain a riparian restoration area next to the Colorado River.  3 days a week I bring irrigation pumps and filters to the area and pull water from the Colorado River to the trees via drip irrigation systems.  At first I thought it was ludicrous to have to water cottonwood and willow trees in the middle of the desert, but my mentor explained that it was prime habitat for an indigenous bird, the Willow Flycatcher.  I’m pretty sure Murphy’s law was created in reference to irrigation work; I can’t remember the last smooth day I’ve had where at least SOMETHING didn’t go wrong.  It can be incredibly frustrating, but I’ve become quite a handy gal and learned a lot about irrigation (especially in the aspect of repairs).

    My other 35 hours a week are pretty random.  I’ve explored abandoned mine sites with the geologists (which can be really interesting/creepy), helped build kiosks for public lands, ridden up the scariest mountain road imaginable to check NEPA compliance, searched lakes for exotic invasive Quagga mussels, attended meetings for releasing endangered antelope into the Cibola Wildlife Refuge, planned a revegetation project for an old mining site and taken many classes pertaining to NEPA and BLM policies to name a few.  I have spent the vast majority of my time helping the horse and burro specialist survey our lands for grazing areas and burro overpopulation (basically, looking for poo).  We have recently set two burro traps in the glorious small town of Bard, CA, where the farmers were furious at the date-loving burros.  We have caught 5 burros thus far; they will be taken to a holding facility and eventually adopted out.  I have a newfound love of these little fellas and have vowed to adopt one someday…

   I am excited to see what the last month of my internship brings, as it has been full of surprises thus far. I may even stick around another 5 months and enjoy a sunny and toasty winter in the desert…..

Ashley Schnitker, BLM intern, Yuma, AZ

From the Colorado Rocky Mountains

CLM Internship May-October 2009.  After a long arduous journey in graduate school I was somewhat nervous and anxious to begin to apply my knowledge and skills at the Bureau of Land Management.  My mentors, Carol Dawson (the Colorado State Botanist with the BLM), and Peter Gordon (Carol’s co-worker for nearly 5 years and newly hired botanist) made me feel at ease right away.  I began in late May, 2009 during a spring in Colorado that was breaking precipitation records.  It just kept raining and raining and raining.  Big snow storms in late March and early April shifted to massive thunder storms in May and June.  And oh how I loved that weather.  By the final days of spring, Jefferson County, Colorado had accumulated 10 inches of precipitation.  In comparison, the spring of 2008 barely spit out half this amount with about 5 inches of rain.  It was a great time to begin this internship.  I knew a big part of my job was to collect native seeds, and tons of water meant tons of seeds (well in most cases)!   I also knew we would be monitoring some very rare plants in Colorado, and I wondered what kind of an effect an extremely rainy spring would have on both the vegetative growth and fruit production for some of these rare plant species we would collect data for.

Some mycological results of a rainy rainy summer....they just were popping up everywhere.

Some mycological results of a rainy rainy summer....they just were popping up everywhere.









Astragalus shortianus a Kew collection from Green Mountain.  One of our first journeys out into the field was to locate and evaluate Astragalus shortianus for a possible seed collection with the Seeds of Success program.  The neat thing about this species was the fact that it would be a collection for Kew at the Royal Botanic Gardens.  This means that the seeds of this plant had not been collected previously…we would be the first collectors.  As a new intern this notion intrigued me.  Folks had been collecting seeds all across the western United States for some nine years, and no-one had ever collected A. shortianus.  Amazing.  I knew this plant well, and I had always admired it as one of my spring favorites.  The really great thing about collecting seeds is that you get to know the plants up close and personal from the time they begin to bloom to the time they set seed.  You keep a close eye on each prospective seed collection species as if it was kin.  [Maybe I am strange, but these plants often feel like family to me].  And you keep watch until it looks as if fruit dehiscence and seed dispersal is imminent.  And then we pounce with collecting bags in hand, clippers, a Munsell soil color chart, lunch, water sun screen, boots for potential rattle snake encounters, etc, etc.  An attitude was also necessary to assist us in accomplishing the daunting task of collecting 20,000 seeds for Kew.  All in all it took Carol, Peter and I two and possibly three journeys to Green Mountain to obtain enough seeds to send out. 

Green Mountain, Colorado is in the distance.  We collected seeds from at least four different plant species from here.

Green Mountain, Colorado is in the distance. We collected seeds from at least four different plant species from here.

It is can be hard work searching for plants and tediously bending down to find and collect the seeds, although it is the kind of work that gets rather addicting.  You get addictied to finding that next plant that will possibly hold a treasure of beautiful plump fruit full of healthy seeds.  And each plant is one more addition that adds to a final tally of 20,000 seeds.  You not only find the plants you are looking for, but since you are wondering around like a lost hiker off trail zigzagging here and there, you come across other really great treasures of nature.  We came upon and pondered a small population of Physeria bellii, a lovely little endemic mustard plant that is restricted to shale formations in Colorado’s Front Range.  So not only is seed collecting quite zenful in and of itself, it also inevitably forces you to stumble upon additional natural history treasures.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  I think it was early June when I first heard we would be heading off to Dolores, Colorado in the south west part of the state for a couple of days.  Our mission was to train a Forest Service ecologist the specifics on Seeds of Success procedures.  Since I was just learning these procedures, it was a great way to practice my recently acquired skills.  The best part about this adventure was meeting some great folks at the BLM/USFS office in Dolores.  This included the local archeologist who shared all kinds of amazing stories regarding archeological digs, and some of the crazy scary encounters with people attempting to steal artifacts in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.  These thieves dig tunnels underground like rats to search for ancient artifacts.  The amount of open space in this area is so massive; they often easily get away with these horrible acts.  This kind of robbery is so difficult and sad to imagine.  We headed out early in the morning to look for Plantago patagonica, a small little plantain they were hoping to collect.  This is a species that blooms early (March) in the southwest, and sadly the rain did not begin until late March so the seed set was low.  After much time examining the seeds in numerous individual plants, we decided we needed to save this for a possible 2010 collection.  We headed out to have lunch in Canyons of The Ancients National Monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in South West Colorado.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in South West Colorado.

near some ruins these local scientists knew about.  It was amazingly beautiful, and I got to learn a lot of new plants growing locally in that extreme desert environment. 

Another great shot of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Another great shot of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Driving home was great fun as we ventured through Moab, Utah (lunch stop), and _MG_3188_89_90_tonemapped

Moab, Utah.  Close to our lunch stop on the way home.

Moab, Utah. Close to our lunch stop on the way home.

stopped in Rabbit Valley (I-70 on the boarder of Utah and Colorado) to collect Calochortus nuttalli.  This is a lovely mariposa lily that blooms only on the west slope of Colorado in a deep shade of purple pink, not the color I was used to with Calochortus.  On the eastern slope of Colorado, another species called Calochortus gunnisonii blooms in shades of creamy white, and we collected two populations of this species later in the season.

Grand Canyon National Park.  How could I possibly be getting paid to do this?  I flew into Phoenix and a very nice lady (Marian Hofherr) picked us all up in a van and we arrived at the National Park late that night.  The lodging, the people, the training, the food, and the hiking were all fantastic.  Over the 7 full days we were there, one of the most astounding sights I witnessed was seeing the rare and endangered California Condors soaring tirelessly in the mouth of the great Grand Canyon.  These moments viewing an endangered species back from the brink of extinction were spiritual moments for me.  And I just kept asking myself, I am actually getting paid to be here?!  I think the greatest part of the training for me was participating in the presentations that Dean Tonenna and John Willouby gave.  Dean is a botanist with the BLM in Carson City, Nevada.  (I just paused for a moment to send Dean an e-mail to tell him I would love to work with him next spring).  Dean was brought up in the traditions of the Kootzatudadu people who live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.  He has in depth ethno-botanical knowledge, and he integrates this knowledge with his work at the BLM in California.  He gave an ah-inspiring talk on the ethno-botany of the Sierra Nevada area.  The amazing thing was that the talk he gave was from 7-10pm after a long day of lectures.  Everyone in the audience was completely enthralled and interested in the topic.  I think folks would have stayed until midnight asking questions if the National Park Service would have allowed it!  Dean also gave a talk on the power of using GIS when studying the impacts of rare plants in a dune ecosystem.  It was all about the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly that is known to occur only at Sand Mountain (a dune system located in Nevada).  This tiny bluish butterfly depends entirely on the Kerany Buckwheat which is a long lived perennial shrub.  The larvae feed on the leaves and adults feed on the nectar of the flowers.  By using his superb GIS skills, Dean was able to show over a few years time, the actual impact that was occurring to both the shrub and the butterfly due to Off Road Vehicle use in the area. GIS maps revealed and emphasized layers of abuse the shrubs were attempting to withstand as ORVs literally drove over the shrubs.  Therefore Dean was able to secure a large sum of money in the form of a grant (I think 1 million dollars) and put in place (via actual enclosures and signs) strict management measures to protect the plants and the butterflies. This presentation was inspiring.  I was impressed by Dean’s commitment and ability to use his knowledge and skills to make a difference and enforce needed protection for these precious species.  I also learned a great deal from John Willouby’s presentation on monitoring plant populations.  Not only were John’s presentations dynamic and alive we also went into the field to apply our classroom skills first hand.

Monotoring Colorado’s rarest of the rare.  In order to manage rare, threatened and endangered plants they need to be closely monitored.  This process involves collecting quantitative data over a number of years and constructing statistical calculations.  After years of data collection and number crunching, particular trends may appear regarding population stability or instability and real recommendations based on real facts can then be made. 

 Penstemon grahamiiWe set out to monitor Penstemon grahamii sometime in June.  This is a little wonder of a plant.  Tiny and tenacious as it is endemic growing only on certain types of oil shale formations in both western Colorado and eastern Utah.  For years efforts to list this species as threatened have been unsuccessful.  Sadly, the struggle to get these little jewels listed seems to be related to our (Homo sapiens) constant push and need for oil.  Penstemon grahamii habitat is desolate, dry and downright rugged.  I think Vince Tepedino sums it up well.  This exert is taken from a 2008 article Vince wrote for the Salt Lake Tribune: “Developing the oil shale lands of eastern Utah would require overcoming staggering obstacles…But even if we resolve these difficult issues, what of that glorious native wildflower, Graham’s penstemon, in all the world, known only from the oil and gas lands of eastern Utah and western Colorado?  Are we content knowing we’ve converted all its known populations to car exhaust for a few idle moments’ diversion? Is this the best we can do with the gifts we’ve been granted?”  What a notion.  How down right stupid are we?  

Penstemon grahamii.  Photo by Sue Mayer.

Penstemon grahamii. Photo by Sue Mayer.

I must admit monitoring the rare plants were some of my favorite experiences during this internship.  I stand in awe as I gaze at the little plants.  These rare beauties with the seemingly extra large (proportionately) flowers that are happily growing in some of the extreme environments the west has to offer. 

And so we got started counting each and every plant in predetermined micro-plots within a well designed larger macro-plot.  This was early June, and as the day and the work of counting, documenting and searching for new little baby plants proceeded, the temperature continued to rise.  All I could think of was how hot it must get in this spot in the middle of August!  I asked Peter Gordon what sort of results we obtained from the data this year compared to all other years.  As of moments ago (2:19 pm, 15 October 2009), it appears this Colorado population remains stable.  This includes vegetation density, #fruiting stems and # of rosettes.  These results include quantitative data back to 1986.  So I suppose we can sigh a breath of relief and continue to be in awe of this hardy little Penstemon growing so persistently in the face of such harsh conditions.

Astragalus osterhoutiiThis is one of those Latin bi-nominal’s that is just plain fun to pronounce.  Oster-hooo-tee-i (with an emphasis on the hooo)!  And the plant itself is one that only a botanist could love.  Anyone else would wonder why the heck we even care.  It has the appearance of a gangly weed sort of homely plant.  Carol Dawson spent years and years studying every detail of this species for her PhD research.  It was fun to constantly ask her questions about the plants as we carefully counted every single individual within the micro-plot.  This plant is listed as federally endangered (that is why we counted each and every individual rather than individuals from just a few pre-chosen micro-plots). I like to think you are truly in the presence of nobility when you are with the plant. 

Astragalus osterhoutii and Colorado endemic federally listed as endangered.

Astragalus osterhoutii and Colorado endemic federally listed as endangered.

I doubt the off road vehicle riders feel that way as they zoom around close to and sometimes even over these rarities.  The plant happens to be growing in what the BLM signifies as a “Play Area” which is basically a place people and their beloved dirt bikes etc. can go to rough up the land a bit (too much sometimes in my opinion).  The other cool thing about this plant is that it is one of a few in the genus that signifies the presence of selenium in the soil.  Quite simply the plants stink with a metallic sort of stench (some say garlic, but I would not give the smell that much credit.), and if eaten can poison ungulates, especially cattle.  The selenium incorporated in the tissues of this species come from the Niobrara, (another fun word to say), Shale in Grand County, Colorado.  They say it is so narrowly endemic that it only occupies about 800 acres of land in north central Colorado.  We monitored two entire populations of the plant over two days. 

Astargalus osterhoutii's habitat.

Astargalus osterhoutii's habitat.

Peter Gordon informed me that the population numbers at Wolford Mountain Dam were slightly increasing up until 2005.  In 2005 hungry blister beetles attacked and thus the number of flowering plants went way down.  These numbers have been recovering since the feast.
Heading to southern Colorado to help monitor Eriogonum brandegeei.  Mid-summer was upon us as we ventured south toward Canon City, Colorado to find Brandegee’s Buckwheat.  Townshend Stith Brandegee, an excellent botanist, was the first collector of this species and lived in the early 1900’s.  Ahhh, south central Colorado has a sweet place in my heart.  I spent many summers attending to the pollination biology of the rare and endemic Penstemon degeneri.  But this time instead of heading south from prison town USA, we headed north toward a couple of small populations occupied by E. brandegeei.  On the way up the dirt road, we were blocked Colorado style by a group of local horseback riders.  So we moved along at a horse walk pace for about a mile, (ok maybe ¼ miles) and the riders seemed to think nothing of the inconvenience.  You got to love it.  As we hiked toward the first population to meet folks from the Denver Botanic Gardens, we stumbled upon the decayed head of a horse with the red wiry forehead hair still intact against the bone white skull.  Another sign we were in the heart of Colorado.  Of course I had to stand there for a few minutes and wonder how this horse got here and then subsequently died.  As the three of us stood there gazing at the poor animal, Carol suggested some rancher may have driven out here and dumped the carcass for the dining pleasures of vultures.  I had not thought of that nasty possibility.  Meanwhile Denver Botanic Garden folks were waving from a rather steep slope in the distance greeting our arrival to “Brandegee country”.  Once again my botanical heart kind of skipped a beat just knowing we were now in the presence of not only a dead horse, but some very rare plants.  This day of work went by surprisingly quick with a total of 7 people counting plants.  Sadly on our way out of town the Ford Escape had a melt down.  We hung out in a Mexican restaurant eating chips and salsa, while the American mobile was checked out (luckily Canon City is home to many car dealerships).  The day in the life of a CLM intern can be amazingly diverse.

 Seed Collections for Success.  With a goal to collect 20,000 seeds from each species, Carol Dawson, Peter Gordon and myself collected over ½ million seeds!  That is just nuts.  Actually we did not collect any nuts.  Although nutlets were collected from Ligusticum porteri, sumaras from Acer glabrum and Acer negundo, capsules from Penstemon gracilis and Penstemon virens, and legumes from Astragalus shortianus, A. bisulcatus, and A.laxmannii.  The seeds came from vines, shrubs, trees, forbs and grasses.  Sometimes a handful contained literally thousands of the gene packed little jewels, and other times you struggled to obtain 20 in one grab. 

Calochortus gunisonnii, the Chalochortus that grows east of the Continental divide.  The west slope species is rose colored.

Calochortus gunisonnii, the Chalochortus that grows east of the Continental divide. The west slope species is rose colored.

Seed collection can be a zenful process with every seed collecting adventure is different.  Many days I was out all on my own wandering around the woods with a purpose, and yes, constantly amazed I was getting paid for this!  I even was able to collect Delphinium geyeri right from my house.  I live adjacent to Jefferson County Open Space, and I had my eye on those lovely Delphiniums for many weeks.  With all the rain the plants produced a huge amount of seeds.  It took me a full 8 hours to collect 20,000 seeds, but how wonderful to wonder out your back door for a collection!  And you run into the most interesting things.  While grabbing handfuls of Nine Bark seeds, I saw the biggest puff ball ever.  At first I thought it was some strange blob of mud, but

The fruit of Calochortus half full of seeds.  We obtained 3 collections from two species within this genus.

The fruit of Calochortus half full of seeds. We obtained 3 collections from two species within this genus.

than I realized that is a huge pile of spores (2’x2’) just patiently waiting for a strong gust to carry them hither.  And the ant hills were gorgeous, big, and intricate and obviously well organized mounds of detailed work. 

The ever lovely Frasera speciosa.  I came upon 1000's of these plants while searching on west Mount Falcon.  Each plant contained 1000s of seeds making it an enjoyable collection.

The ever lovely Frasera speciosa. I came upon 1000's of these plants while searching on west Mount Falcon. Each plant contained 1000s of seeds making it an enjoyable collection.

Once I watched a goshawk drop straight down out of a Douglas fir tree onto the ground most likely in pursue of a small mammal. It did not know I was there, and I had know idea what this animal was until I could see its birdly shape standing somewhat awkwardly on the ground.  I just stood there and eyeballed the raptor for many quiet and delicious woodsy moments. 

Watched this baby American Dipper at Lair o'the Bear park while scouting for seeds to collect.

Watched this baby American Dipper at Lair o'the Bear park while scouting for seeds to collect.

Also I had the pleasure of coming upon a young American dipper at Lair o’the Bear park while Another time while collecting Liatrus punctata, I came upon a harem of deer.  There was one big beautiful buck enjoying the company of at least a dozen females.  His head moved slowly as it was top-heavy with a giant antler rack that apparently was working well for him.

A special population of spurless Columbine known only from one location in Colorado.  Some of the flowers had no spurs at all, while others like this one had little nublets for spurs.

A special population of spurless Columbine known only from one location in Colorado. Some of the flowers had no spurs at all, while others like this one had little nublets for spurs.

While searching for a population of Carex to collect just North West of Boulder, Colorado, we randomly ran into another botanist.  He showed us a population of Botrychium (moonworts) close to where we had parked our vehicle.  What are the chances of running into another botanist, especially a moonwort specialist?  He said he figured we were botanists because he noticed the field press in the back of our vehicle. 

Gaillardia aristata getting pollinating 6 weeks before we collected!

Gaillardia aristata getting pollinating 6 weeks before we collected!

Other strange things happen as well.  As I was hiking down from the top of Green Mountain, I noticed a woman approaching me.  As I got closer she asked if I was alone, and she told me she was confident she saw someone else with me.  I assured her I was alone, and just out here searching for Astragalus plants!  And then I noticed she held tight in each hand a large stone ready to launch if I suddenly posed a threat.  I also had a Rottweiler dog want to eat me for lunch.  It could have been my large sunhat that provoked the canine, but I waited while the owner struggled to get the dog past me on the trail.  The lessons learned (although I had learned these lessons before) include keeping your wits about you, and following your instincts as you move through out the woods collecting seeds.  This is especially true if you are on your own.

Possible new discoveries while collecting.  Penstemon gracilis var. gracilis is a somewhat rare Penstemon in Colorado, but because of all the rain one particular population was blooming like crazy.  I heard about the plants in early June and went to check them out up at Reynolds Park, Colorado.  There were 1000’s of plants blooming, more than I had ever seen in this location.  I checked to see if the species had been collected before, and that particular variety had not been collected.  I was excited because that meant it would be a Kew collection and the seeds would go to the Royal Botanic Gardens! 

Penstemon gracilis at Reynolds Park, Colorado.  I think you can see an Osmia bee in the center flower.  These little Penstemon pollinators were everywhere on these plants.

Penstemon gracilis at Reynolds Park, Colorado. I think you can see an Osmia bee in the center flower. These little Penstemon pollinators were everywhere on these plants.

I returned to obtain voucher specimens and as I was carefully digging up the plants, Formica ants began to attack.  Crawling all over me and biting viciously anywhere skin was showing.  I was able to obtain the vouchers, but I was glad to be leaving those lovely lilac Penstemons alone to the ants and the bees.  I kept a watchful eye for the next 6 weeks or so, and finally I returned to collect the seeds.  As I began to collect I was struck by a familiar very strong smell.  It was the smell of a squished Formica ant.  I used to rock climb a lot, and every once and a while as climbers we would situate a belay near an ant nest (Formica ants), and I would smell that smell of formic acid.  The smell is distinct and rather nasty in large doses.  Every part of these plants smelled of formic acid including the stems, the leaves, the fruit, and the seeds!  I began to wonder what was going on.  Is there a connection between the ants and the plants?  From the early season attacks when the flowers were blooming and now to the strong smell.  I just happen to tell the story to a botanist and an animal behaviorist who studies ants at University of Colorado Denver.  Their eyes lit up and suggested the seeds may contain elaiosomes.  Elaiosomes are oil droplets that contain lipids and sometimes proteins.  These droplets are attached to the seeds and are meant to attract the ants.  Apparently fats and proteins are limiting substances for ants, and they go WILD for them.  We looked at the seeds under a microscope and sure enough we could see what looked like tiny little white bulb-lets on the ends of the seeds.  This made me wonder if other populations of this Penstemon gracilis smelled like formic acid as well.  I searched the Boulder Herbarium records for other populations and after a lot of searching and assistance with a ranger botanist person I know in Boulder, I was able to locate a few more plants.  Sure enough, the plants 50 miles away in Boulder, County smell like formic acid and the seeds also look to have possible elaiosomes.  Now I find myself with a dissecting scope, tiny little P. gracilis seeds (smaller than pepper grains), sharp forceps and a razor blade painstakingly attempting to remove the “elaisomoes” so that we can analyze what they are made of.  I think this was one of the most fun consequences/observances that happened during the CLM internship while collecting seeds.  I suppose the lesson here is keep your wits about you, observe what you see and what you smell, and you might just make a new discovery!

Hello from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore!

Hello from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore!  About 50 miles southeast of Chicago, the Lakeshore runs 25 miles along Lake Michigan.  I started my internship in July and right away started working with five seasonal staff on wetland restoration. 

A view from the Dunes

 However, before I tell you what I’ve been up to, hearing a brief history of the park makes all our hard work more rewarding.   This park has one of the greatest diversity of plant species in America.  Because of this, the area has always attracted the best scientists, including the famous Henry Cowles.  During the late 1890’s, Henry Cowles studied vegetation succession on the Lake Michigan sand dunes and is still considered a main influence in our ecological studies today.  There is now a wetland named after Henry called Cowles Bog, in which we do a lot of our restoration work.  Yet, because this park is fairly new (It was authorized by Congress in 1966), it has a HUGE problem with invasive species crowding out these wonderful and diverse native plant populations.  Our job is to protect and prevent the invasive species from winning and keep the necessary native habitats sheltered from human destruction. 

Working on identifying plants in the bog

Working on identifying plants in the bog

 Like I said before, I’ve been a part of the wetland restoration project, specifically focused on restoring Cowles bog.  Currently, this once diverse area is covered in cat-tail (the invasive version) and phragmites which shade out any beneficial sedges, grasses and forbs.  To began, we apply herbicide to the invasive plants.  Then by pushing the dead cat-tail down, we can suppress the seed bank until replanting the area.  The whole processes of getting these native plants into the ground requires time spent seed collecting, seed cleaning, propagation and finally transplanting them in our greenhouse and then planting them in our recently cleared sites.  It is quite labor intensive (walking through very mucky areas with heavy equipment and often hot weather in the summer) but our group tends to make jokes out of the situations and we laugh a lot.  And seeing the results after planting a cleared area, either with brush cutters or herbicide, is rewarding.  Immediate results are not always visible, however, and this was something I struggled with at the beginning.  Now I understand how important each little advance is and that restoration work takes time.  A lot of time!  This restoration plan for Cowles bog is scheduled to take anywhere from 10-15 years and even then it will still need to be monitored.  One of the biggest challenges for this park is the amount of invasive species that are encroaching along the park’s many boundaries and it has been rewarding to help restore the park’s original flora.Going into the cat-tail of no return!

 Variety is always important with field work and luckily we have had plenty to keep us busy.  I’ve also been participating in many other restoration initiatives, including work in a wetland called The Great Marsh.  This area was historically stretched for miles parallel to the lake but because of urbanization and damming, much of the marsh was lost.  We have maintained old home sites that have been recently torn down, as well as done invasive plant removal along roadsides of the marsh to allow visitors to see our luscious native plant populations and animals.  The park’s resource management (which I work with) also has a prairie restoration team which I’ve helped collect seed for and assisted with monitoring rare plant species.  This past August, I got to take a trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the upper peninsula of Michigan to assist in a research project that included identifying cat-tail species genetically to track the invasive trends of Typha angustifolia.  This research project involved setting up transects, collecting cat-tail samples, measuring height and width of selected plants and collecting soil samples to identify what was in the site’s seed bank.  Seeing another lakeshore was not only a learning experience (for something to compare Indiana with) but also extremely fun and beautiful!
Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

 Overall it has been a great experience working for the National Park Service, not only because I get to live in a beautiful area with freshwater beaches! But also to learn about how this organization operates and the difficulties they face with the public and with funding to continue to preserve the magnificent population of plants and animals.  I get to live in a National Park house not far from work, and recently just got two roommates from the SCA program that are going to take the place of the seasonal employees who sadly just ended their part last week.  I’m excited for the new adventures and slightly different tasks that we will be concentrating on. 

The seasonals

The seasonals


Checking some water depths

Checking some water depths




 Good Luck Everyone!

Christy Goff, NPS, Indiana Dunes, IN

Eastern Deciduous Forest Topped with Scenic Railroad

A Deer Exclosure Encompassing MCB

Deer exclosures do well keeping out such herbivores, but some plots allow for invasives, like Rosa multiflora, to thrive.

During most of July and a bit of August I have been collecting data on several deer exclosure sites here in the eastern deciduous forest of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  A fellow resource management intern and I drive and then hike out to these 10 x 10 m plots, which are situated in one of four terrain types: upland and bottomland fields and forests.  Once there we focus on the vegetative aspects of each of the paired exclosures and their respective controls.

In order to verify the extent of the impact that the deer herds are having on the park, we must determine how the vegetation is being affected.  So, we take note of several things: the pin-drop method is used on three 5 m transects within each control and each exclosure plot to analyze species composition, and also if the individuals hit have been browsed; a vegetation pole is used to record the heights of vegetation at the ends of each transect; saplings are counted and recorded by species; canopy cover and percent composition of various vegetative aspects are estimated; a 10-factor prism is used to quantify tree density in and immediately around the plots, and also a few other dimensions are considered in this data-collecting process.  As much as I love all of the various fieldwork, the odd rainy day does come in handy for data entry.

Yes, poison ivy here, there, poison ivy everywhere.

Toxicodendron radicans - it will even attempt to be a tree!

Besides all of the research that I am helping to conduct, there have been some other items of interest involved with working at this particular park.  Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of the more recently established National Parks.  Even though it has been part of the National Park System since 1974, until the year 2000 it was known as ‘Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.’  I mention this due to the fact that there are people (visitors and the like) everywhere, and the park itself is right in between two heavily populated areas, Cleveland and Akron.  If truth be told, when I first arrived here after our workshop in July I did not consider this area to be parkland, but rather it felt and still feels more like its original name.  There is no established park entrance, and highways such as I-80, 271 and 303 run right through the center of this 33,000 acre (fragmented) park.  With so many people around, random interaction is soon to follow, and it does.  There have been more than a few amusing side conversations with passersby as we drive and hike out to the sites that we are assessing, whether we go by road, trail, or up a tiny ski slope nearby.

 One of the best things here in the park (besides my job!) is that since the park was created to incorporate a large stretch of the Cuyahoga River, inevitably it also contains a big section of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath.  This provides such a scenic daily ride, as I often have been biking to ‘Homestead’ (aka Resource Management), which is the office where I work when I am not in the field.  I also enjoy watching the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) trains go by, as they run north to south, back and forth through the park Wednesday through Sunday, well into the fall.

 I feel so privileged to be here… hopefully everyone can wake up in the morning and be as excited to go to work in such a great place as I am!

 ~Maria C. Brown, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

From east to west across NC

Greetings from “Chapel Thrill,” North Carolina!

It has been over four months since I started working at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, thousands of miles from where most of you are located. Despite being a lifelong resident of North Carolina, in the past few months, I have really gotten to know the state in a new way. With my co-intern, Jill, and our mentor, Andy, we have crisscrossed the interstates, rural roads, and rutted paths of North Carolina, sojourning in both the easternmost and westernmost parts of the state. Our primary occupation is seed collecting, for the BLM as well as for other agencies, but we have also assisted in quite a few rare-plant monitoring projects, collaborating with people from the Garden, the NC Natural Heritage Program, the Forest Service, etc. . .

A few months ago, I would have treated Pender County as just another piece of land to blast through on I-40 on the way to the beach. Now I also know it as home to Shaken Creek Nature Preserve, which hosts a shocking array of native plants. Sprinkled among the soft undulating masses of wiregrass are the garish chartreuse trumpets of the yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava), the elegant pale star-shaped bracts of the white-topped beak sedge (Rhynchospora latifolia), and the ubiquitous pink of the meadow beauty (Rhexia alifanus). Deep red lilies and orange fringed orchids, roughly the hue of Cheetos, complete the palette. Despite repeated warnings from our mentor, we rarely have run-ins with snakes, and have yet to see a black bear. However, even constant vigilance with duct tape and Cutter did not save us from the torments of chiggers, ticks, and mosquitos throughout the summer.

The goats of Roan

The goats of Roan

North Carolina’s long east-west profile also encompasses some mountains (in size, nothing compared to what you westerners have, but I would like to think that they give the western mountains a run for their money in natural beauty). One of the most memorable trips we took was to Roan Mountain, where we helped monitor Geum radiatum, which clings to cliff faces on high peaks, and find populations of another Geum species. While we were up there, we encountered Jamie, alias the “goat guy.” His self-imposed responsibility is to live on the grassy bald at Carver’s Gap and maintain something akin to the prehistoric grazing regime, by means of a squadron of hungry goats and some gigantic but adorable guard dogs.

Turk's-cap lily in the NC mountains

Turk's-cap lily in the NC mountains

One of the sites we visited that turned out to be an unlikely favorite of mine was basically in my backyard, in Durham County. Located in the middle of a highly developed industrial park (RTP), it was an old roadbed with a unique geology and basic soils that support a very interesting plant community. Though environmentally degraded, the uniqueness and diversity of this community showed through. Unfortunately, our visits mostly had a tone of desperation. The Garden, in partnership with the EPA, who owns the surrounding land, was collecting seeds and individual plants to save some of the genetic diversity of the site – it was slated for destruction to make way for a new expressway. What a feeling of disappointment when we heard the logging equipment had rolled through. In spite of such setbacks, the experience has been enjoyable on the whole, and I have expanded my knowledge not only of plants but, in many senses of the phrase, of how the world works. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!

-Quentin Read, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The view from Roan Mtn.

The view from Roan Mtn.

Dinosaur Nat’l Monument

I have been working in Dinosaur Nat’l Monument under the park botanist, Tamara Naumann.  Located in northwestern Colorado, Dinosaur Nat’l Monument is home to over 60 miles of the Green and Yampa Rivers, and boasts a seriously impressive landscape.  It is like no place I’ve ever seen before, and it’s standard to get the sensation of being on another planet.  The geology of the Monument, which I will not get into, could easily be an entire post by itself.  But, if you would like more info on the Monument’s unique geology, shoot me an email at  The scope of my internship has been primarily focused on river ecosystem health and function.  The Yampa remains the last wild/undammed river in the Colorodo River system.  The Green River has been regulated upstream by the Flaming Gorge Dam since 1964.  Dams are known to disrupt the physical, chemical and biological connectivity of rivers.  The Green and the Yampa rivers collide in the heart of the Monument at a place called Echo Park. Because the two rivers were so similar during Pre-dam conditions, and are located in such close proximity to each other, a unique opportunity arises to study the impacts of large dams on big western rivers.

The Yampa Canyon

The Yampa Canyon

Gates of Lodore.  Green River

Gates of Lodore. Lodore Canyon, Green River

 For more info on the Yampa, check out



In which we electrocute fish

One of the benefits to being a wildlife intern is that I get to handle animals.  Usually it’s limited to the arthropods and herps I find out in the field, but sometimes it’s even more exciting.  Most recently, Michelle and I were sent out to check on fish populations on Forest Service and BLM land.  There’s a decently sized stream that runs through both FS and BLM land which has a number of indigenous species (Lepidomeda alicia, Rhinichthys osculus, and Catostomus platyrhynchus) as well as the accurséd Salmo trutta.

As an aside, I need to say that the BLM riparian vegetation was in infinitely better shape than the FS parcel thanks to more responsible grazing methods.   Just sayin’.

<i>Lepidomeda alicia</i>, leathersides, are not for eating.

Lepidomeda alicia, leathersides, are not for eating.

As I expected, in order to estimate the number of fish in a stream it’s necessary to capture them.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the equipment: a forty-plus pound backpack full of electronics and a very large 24 volt battery.  It turns out that the preferred methodology for catching fish is to use this Ghostbusters cast-off to run an electrical current through the water.  The field wreaks temporary havoc with their little nervous systems which causes them to drift aimlessly into our waiting nets.

We were warned beforehand that there’s usually low mortality with this technique, but not non-zero.  Larger fish have greater surface area and therefore take a harder hit from the current and have a tendency to die.  The current was actually very mild; I unthinkingly shoved my hand in the water to grab a fish while the stunner was running and only spasmed slightly. I’m marginally larger than even a brown trout, so I think that it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a horrible experience for them especially given that we didn’t lose a single fish.

Our field office doesn’t have waders large enough for me, so I didn’t get to wield the stunner.  Instead, I was given an even better job which I know sounds crazy—what could be better than electrocuting fish—but it’s true.  I was take-the-fish-out-of-the-net-to-put-in-the-bucket guy.  That means that I got to handle the fish directly and admire them and their nematode parasites.

Michelle proudly holds the <i>Salmo trutta</i>, brown trout, I accidentally dropped.  Repeatedly.

Michelle proudly holds the Salmo trutta, brown trout, I accidentally dropped. Repeatedly.

Now, prior to this field excursion, I had appreciated fish as theoretically pleasant creatures.  Now I desperately want to take ichthyology courses so I can handle more of them.  I can’t begin to describe what fantastic and beautiful pieces of engineering these things are.  For example, the Salmo trutta (May their tribe decrease!) secrete mucus which makes handling them, or presumably eating them, much more difficult.  I personally dropped the same brown trout at least five times while trying to pose for a photo. Michelle got a better picture with it just because I had stunned it already. I was also sort of secretly hoping that one of the larger fish might spontaneously die so that I could dismantle it but that in no way changed how I treated them.

We swept each stretch of creek twice: the first time was to catch as many fish as possible so that the second sweep would yield no more than 40% of the first catch. By doing so, we made the statistical witchcraft that estimates the total population more accurate. It meant a lot of work though. We caught several hundred on the first pass at one site. Luckily, doing a proper job the first pass makes the second a breeze.

The data that we gathered was some of the first for this particular system, so more will be gathered in the next few years as the monitoring continues. There’s some talk of (Euphemism alert!) “removing” the brown trout seeing as they’re an unwelcome species from Europe imported for sport fishing. The hope is to introduce trout endemic to Utah and restore the stream to its former native glory. Until then, most of the focus is on adjusting grazing schedules to repair the riparian communities along the banks. Having seen photos of what this stream looked like a few years ago, I’m proud of my field office’s handling of the situation.

Nelson Stauffer, BLM Cedar City Field Office, Over and out.