What are the perceptions of people from the Midwest and East Coast regarding Nevada?   This was the start of an interesting conversation with my coworkers last week!   

It is not uncommon to hear people suggest that Nevada is a hot, barren desert…

As I take a few minutes to reflect upon my experiences here in Carson City, I am challenged to reconsider my own perceptions of Nevada.  While Nevada can be a hot, barren desert, it is so much more.  My experiences over the past three months have provided numerous opportunities to interact with several of Nevada’s social, cultural, and ecological features, each providing me with so-called “food for thought.”  Nevada, like any other place, is directly influenced by the decisions that people make.  Here, these decisions are often demonstrated as the conflict between restoring native plants and grazing.  But, this is not the whole story…

…Nevada is home to many rare species.  Yesterday, as we walked through one of our field sites, we were able to see Polyctenium williamsiae, a state threatened species found in only a handful of locations.  And, in many places throughout Nevada, we have had the opportunity of seeing archeological relics from the people who have lived here for centuries.  So as I bring my post to an end, I’ll share two facts that completely surprised me about Nevada–  1) Nevada is the most mountainous of all the states in the US and 2) Mark Twain lived here!

-Brittany N.

Carson City, Nevada

Bureau of Land Management

Bird Nerd

  This is round two for me with the CLM internship program, last year I was with the BLM out of the Rawlins, WY Field Office within the fisheries division.  I learned much from my CLM internship last year and had many great experiences, which in large part is why I pursued a second CLM internship.  Before starting my second CLM internship most of my experience was in fisheries.  While I enjoyed my fisheries work I had become increasingly interested in avian research and conservation over the years and always wanted to pursue work in this field, but because I didn’t have much experience in this field no one would give me a chance, opting for those who had the experience; needless to say my frustration grew exponentially.  But Krissa, Marian, and everyone else who makes the CLM internship program what it is came through for me once again, sending my application materials out to internships that were bird focused.  One such internship was with the wildlife biologist of the Newcastle, WY BLM Field Office.  Well, luck was finally on my side as I interviewed with Nate West, the NFO wildlife biologist, and was offered an internship.  So here I am, in Newcastle doing bird work and loving it.

  And now onto my internship and the kind of things I’ve been up to.  As I’m sure others have been experiencing, the weather has been hampering field activities, turning roads to the bentonite batter that I so disdain.  But, being grounded has allowed me to study up on my protocols, bird identification, and the use of ArcMap.  Some other in office activities includes building a housing for an Anabat bat detection system, modifying flying squirrel nest boxes, and managing data.  It hasn’t been all rainy days and when venturing out in the field I’ve been checking on some of the field offices nesting raptors and relocating some of our collared sage grouse, both of these activities are great fun.  Also, I had the chance to go out with some biologist from the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory when they were conducting point counts in the Newcastle area.  As the field season progresses I’ll be performing habitat assessments for sage grouse, conducting mountain plover surveys, conducting northern goshawk surveys, conducting burrowing owl surveys, deploying Anabat units, trapping sage grouse, and putting up flying squirrel nest boxes.  I should also mention that my mentor is great, answering my endless questions and making sure I’m in the thick of it with bird work.  To be continued………………….

Dan Rapp, BLM, Newcastle, WY

Fishing in the Desert

I started my internship in Safford Arizona two weeks ago and have already gotten much and varied experiences since then. At the BLM office in Safford I am working for two great fisheries biologists and natural resources  experts  on several projects including riparian (streams and rivers) ecosystems in several picturesque canyons, and grassland restoration projects among others. I have also helped remove old fencing along BLM land bordering Mexico and helped build rock structures to prevent erosion in the Turkey Creek area of Aravaipa wilderness. On top of that my mentors and other coworkers are helping me understand what it takes to run some of the projects that they are in charge of.

I started this blog while in Albuquerque where my mentor was giving a talk on her work in Bonita Creek helping to conserve native fish of Arizona. From there we went to northern Arizona near Holbrook where we did some field work inventorying  fish. We hoped to find the native Little Colorado Spinedace in one of the stream areas but unfortunately we did not. However, there were a number of speckled dace which are native, and there were few crawfish, which is always a good thing.

There is much yet to do and still more experiences to be had! I will be here until October doing a lot more work, so… more to come next time. Unfortunately, I have no pictures yet. Half my pictures are on a disposable camera and the others are on my mentors camera, but I will definitely have plenty of pictures next time.

April showers bring may flowers… May showers bring June flowers!

It has proven to be a glorious spring. The colors are remarkable. Hills splashed with shades of pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, orange… just about every color. And as if colored with scented markers, the hills and the spaces in between are deliciously thick and sweet with the smell of sky lupine. sky lupine is one of the most abundant annual forbs around the Monterey Bay area. Along the coast range you will find many types of lupine, but the sky lupine will shout for recognition from afar, radiating sun beams of purple frequency across the landscape and filling the air with sweet whiffs of pure spring magic.

This year has been especially great for wildflowers. From a short winter’s nap the chaparral awoke, first with the pink blossoms of manzanita. Week after week we spotted the slow emergence of new flowers, a blue forest of lilac, an occasional footsteps of spring, the highest ridge with a pool of shooting stars, milk maids in the understory by the trail side. I counted every species and wrote down every flower name and location. It seemed to be a slow awakening, when one day I looked around and saw so many different species flowering that I lost count.

Maybe there are so many flowers this year from all of that rain that we keep getting. I do not remember it raining last year in April, which is why I was surprised by this year’s April showers, and even more surprised by the rain we got all last week, in the end of May.

In the past the the fiesta flower, a white or purple flower that creeps about under the large lounging oak trees, was the first to disappear. By this time last year they were long gone. They have had a long run this year, and although they are starting to loose their petals and grow large pregnant styles, most of them are still showing off to the flies that pollinate them.

It seems to be that annual plants die because they dry out, desiccating in the dry earth and racing to set their seeds before they crumble to dust. The rain this year has supplied them with youth and longevity. The plants sip up what may not return for another year and nurse new buds in hopes of putting more seeds in the bank.

However, the months are passing quickly and the early spring flowers are beginning to set seeds. I become frantic with great plans for collection. On hands and knees I count the seeds of a shooting star. One seed falls to the ground where many small pink flowers are beginning to bloom. The ground is covered with the next batch of summer forbs, with which I am excited to meet and become acquainted.

sky lupine

Another summer full of adventure…

So this summer I find myself in Rawlins, Wyoming working with the Seeds of Success program out of the Rawlins BLM field office. The SOS project will entail collecting seeds from various species of forbs, grasses and shrubs for purposes of land reclamation and restoration. Rawlins is a high plains desert area with various species of sagebrush as its most prominent vegetation and though it might not seem like it at a glance, there is plenty more hidden throughout the landscape and underneath the brush. Since the mountains and hill sides have few trees, the baldness of the land allows for each depression and contour to be plainly visible from a distance giving the land a very strong and majestic presence. I find this quality absolutely intriguing and I enjoy every second spent outdoors surrounded by the emanating beauty of nature…

Our first couple weeks were spent preparing for field work and getting to know some of the area. Up to now me and my partner have been out several days looking for suitable plant populations to collect from and I never thought that finding wild flowers could be so exciting!! I feel like a child on an Easter egg hunt and every time I spot a target species I’m filled with the same ecstatic feeling. Each new species that we spot is like the discovery of a hidden treasure. Now that the springtime bloom is sweeping the land I can hardly bare the days spent in the office catching up on data entry and management. I am certain that this summer will be filled with exciting challenges and fulfilling accomplishments.

Fighting for Sage-Grouse

Today I looked at the calendar and came to the realization that I started my internship four weeks ago. Time is flying! The first week I was bombarded with a countless number of acronyms and planning handbooks. I am starting to get a handle on the acronyms. The planning process, on the other hand, is chock full of curve balls. By the end of my term, I will certainly have a handle on the required steps for new plans, revisions, and amendments that fall under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. I have quickly learned that the real hurdle is attempting to achieve collaborative planning. This may be more of an ideal than a reality, because stakeholders will not be completely satisfied with the final outcome.

By week two, my two wonderful mentors had me knee deep in Wyoming’s role in the listing of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Wyoming houses 50% of the population, so the welfare of the bird is truly dependent on Wyoming taking a lead role in the implementation of sage grouse conservation measures. The strategy going forward is called ‘core area’ protection (described in WY IM 2010-012 and -013). Sage grouse crucial habitat has been mapped and the plan is to set specific timing, distance, and density stipulations that keep disturbance to these areas at a bare minimum. Other key components to the strategy include maintaining habitat connectivity, reclamation of sage grouse habitat, and effective monitoring. Being that BLM land is managed for multiple-use and sustainable yield, there are a number of conflicting interests. It would be economically challenging to the state if the bird were listed. Therefore, it is in the best interest of industry to promote and implement the strategy which allows for the continuation of oil and gas leasing in addition to improved conservation measures.

The Wyoming State Office is heading the project of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement and Resource Management Plan Amendments for Casper, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Rock Springs, Newcastle, and Rawlins field offices. For each involved field office, I was assigned the task of transferring all the decisions from the resource management plans into tables and organized them by resource. For each resource, I took a stab at whether or not the decisions would need to be altered based on sage grouse policy and whether or not an Environmental Impact Statement would be required. The following week, I joined my two mentors on a whirlwind tour of four BLM field offices to kick-off the sage grouse amendment process. I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with two gentlemen that are extremely passionate about outdoor Wyoming. I have the inside scoop on Wyoming’s best fishing holes….hopefully I will lean to fish sometime soon!

At the first meeting, I was flabbergasted that it would take 2.5 years to complete the amendment process. This is supposedly a ‘rushed’ time schedule. I knew policy moved slowly in Washington, but my goodness keeping a high level morale among the people will be an additional task. Overall, the sage grouse kick-off meetings went quite well. There was some commotion and apprehension to jump on board to a daunting work load, but that is expected and warranted. The people are concerned about the welfare of the sage grouse and certainly want to do their best. By the end of the week, I had a full understanding of the tremendous amount of work that would be involved and clearly understood why a 2.5 year schedule would scare all involved parties.

Tiffany Gregg

Bureau of Land Management

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Rain, rain, go away

Starting our internships with the Bureau of Land Management in Roseburg, OR, has been an eye-opening experience for both of us. We are from New Hampshire and New Mexico, respectively, and neither of us had ever been to the Pacific Northwest before. We have had a lot of work to do just learning the hundreds of plant species we come into contact with every day. Additionally, we’ve been attempting to simply acclimate to all the moisture Western Oregon receives – so far it’s rained, snowed, or hailed every day we’ve been in the field, though we’re told in a few short weeks the green hillsides will all dry up and we’ll begin to battle the summer heat.

We’re collecting thousands of native seeds for the Seeds of Success program, so most of our days are spent learning the long list of target species and scouring the district for populations large enough to collect from. Roseburg had a long, wet winter, so many of our target species have yet to bloom. All this moisture gives us hope for a good seed crop though, so we’re patiently waiting for the rain to stop to finally begin our true task for the summer.

Despite not being able to begin our collections, we’ve managed to stay very busy for the past month. We’ve explored much of the Roseburg District, attempting to learn the immense network of active logging roads that we’re still learning to navigate safely, avoid the treacherous and tenacious poison oak that covers much of the landscape, and quickly learn to identify many species we’ve never before seen. So far, the most important thing we’ve learned since we began our internship in Oregon is how much work and dedication goes into seed collection. We’re the first Seeds of Success collection team at this BLM office, so most of our time has been spent simply hiking in the woods, learning to use a mobile GPS device, and hunting for wildflowers. Once we’ve located populations that are appropriate to collect from, we hope to provide the basis for collections for years in the future, aiding in both restoration and research.

Liz Thompson and John Boornazian, Jr.
Roseburg, Oregon

Beatty Creek Research Natural Area, jointly managed by the USFS and BLM, and one of our favorite collection sites

Beatty Creek Research Natural Area, jointly managed by the USFS and BLM, and one of our favorite collection sites

Calochortus tolmeii, one of the only target species to bloom so far!

Calochortus tolmeii, one of the only target species to bloom so far!

A Columbia white-tailed deer fawn, a federally threatened species, that we discovered while looking for target species populations

A Columbia white-tailed deer fawn, a federally threatened species, that we discovered while looking for target species populations

A Fresh Perspective

During this internship, I’ll be working out of the Los Lunas Plant Materials Center in New Mexico. Our job is to collect seed from the southern portion of the Colorado Plateau in New Mexico. This is my first year as an SOS intern and already it has been a great experience. Thus far, I have learned an incredible amount about botany, going from as basic an understanding of plants as my Environmental Science degree allotted me to learning how to recognize families in the field and possessing a growing vocabulary of terminology used in the keys.

Calochortus near Farmington, NM

Calochortus near Farmington, NM

What’s great is I’m already able to apply some of this new knowledge in the field and I’m even able to recognize some of the genera and species characteristic to the region. So far, it has been a rewarding opportunity to tilt my education in a direction more suited to my career path and I look forward to how I might be able to use this experience in the future.

Several trips to public lands outside of Los Lunas to determine what’s out there have revealed some of the species we now know to be on our target list. One of the highlights of this internship is being able to travel to new sites and meet some of the people involved in Seeds of Success, including many botanists and BLM folks here in New Mexico. This week, we are in Farmington getting acquainted with some of the species on the more northern portion on the New Mexico-bounded Colorado Plateau.

Townsendia incana

Townsendia incana near Farmington, NM

I’m beginning to view this landscape from a different, rather refreshing, perspective. To the untrained eye, especially at higher speeds and in passing, the flora of this region may tend to appear rather homogeneous. However, the Arizona New Mexico plateau, as I’ve experienced it, is actually an ever-changing, diverse collage with a seemingly endless array of possibilities. The diversity that exists in a region with relatively low annual precipitation is truly amazing.

Having gotten a firm grasp on our target species list, next week will mark the beginning of our field excursions to seek out these populations. I look forward to what we might find.

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium near Farmington, NM

Tessia Robbins
Los Lunas PMC, NM

Powder River Country

I’ve always wanted to live in Wyoming.  In my imagination the state embodied everything you could want from the western United States – untamed forests, rugged mountains, vast open ranges, and a minimal amount of people.  For the most part I’ve found those things I was looking for in Buffalo, Wyoming where I’ve been working for the past three weeks.  Well, everything but the vast open ranges

The Powder River Basin which lies east of Buffalo is coalbed natural gas territory.  The landscape is home to thousands of roads, wells, compression facilities, and reservoirs.  My internship has revolved primarily around the water that is produced by coalbed natural gas development and frequently stored in reservoirs.  I spent my first week or so working with the hydrology techs on the monitoring of water quality and well depths around the reservoirs.  Since then I’ve been working with ArcGIS and Excel to organize and manage the database associated with the reservoirs.  Each reservoir has to be bonded so that it can be reclaimed once production is finished.  I’ve been trying to discover which reservoirs were actually built in order to assure they are bonded for reclamation.

I also had the chance to attend the Energy Resources and Produced Water Conference at the University of Wyoming.  It was a great opportunity to see the issue of coalbed natural gas from the perspective of industry, consultants, and researchers.  One of the most interesting presentations was about the recent development of coalbed natural gas in Australia.  Seeing pictures of the Australian landscapes compared to the Powder River Basin made it clear that many of the measures being taken in Wyoming to reduce the impact of coalbed natural gas production are working.  The use of telemetry to reduce site visits, reclamation of roads, and the burying of powerlines all seem to be help reduce impacts on the landscape.

My internship has been a wonderful experience so far and I look forward to seeing what the next four months will bring.  I don’t have any pictures from work yet but I’ll post some from my meanderings around the Big Horn Mountains and the surrounding country.

-Jacob Dyste






Greeting From the East Coast!

Hello everyone! I’m Allen, and if the 2010 CLM intern list was any guide I’m the only intern on the east coast. Today marks the 4th week I’ve been a CLM intern with the C&O Canal National Park and I’m glad to have had the chance to do different things almost every week in different places. My first two weeks I worked with the NPS Inventory and Monitoring of DC and learned the identity of many plants as we worked plots in some of the National Parks in central-northern Virginia and central Maryland.

The 3rd week I spent in Catoctin Mountain Park in northern Maryland, marking with GPS and reporting the state-endangered Long-bracted Orchis. Though rather inconspicuous, it was still somewhat exciting as this was the first endangered plant I had seen in the weed.

This 4th week was different yet again. I worked with EA Engineering, Science and Technology employees  at the C&O canal in Hancock (western Maryland) and identified all plants along an unwatered stretch of the canal that is planned on being rewatered in the future. In addition to being a learning experience, this also ended up being a test of my botany skills and I was pleased to be able to keep up with the employees and be a true help rather than just a burden. Unfortunately my only photos are from this week.

If this past month is indicative of the future months to come, I think this will be an excellent summer.  See some of you at the Grand Canyon training in a couple weeks!

Allen Dupre

Hagerstown, MD