The month of August is upon us here in Pinedale, and we are already three months into our Seeds of Success (SOS) internship. As SOS interns, we have amassed an expansive amount of seed from numerous species and populations within the Pinedale Field Office (PFO). We have observed a variety of different phenotypes from the species we have collected. A plant phenotype that our bodies have especially noticed, during our various collections, is the different heights of the plants. We have found, that each plant population requires several different body alignments for a most efficient harvest. Some of these positions can be quite physically challenging. However, if one prepares for the aerobic and anaerobic challenges in the field; the aches and pains of a full day’s work can be alleviated and avoided.

8 Recommended Practice Positions


The Jumping Frog                                             The Tired Harvester

Fabaceae Astragulus sericoleus                             Ranunculacae  Delphinium Bicolor


The Spread Raptor

          Polygonaceae Polygonum bistortides


The Bridge                                                      The Prayer

Asteraceae Achillea millefolium         Scrophulariaceae Penstemon humilis 

The Sleeper


The Arrow

Polemoniacae Pholox Hoodii


The Proposal

Asteraceae Stenotus acaulis

WARNING: These positions should be done at your own risk. Failure to do them correctly could result in serious harm or death. The following exercises are not approved by the Bureau of Land Management, Chicago Botanical Gardens or Conservation Land Management Program. 

 We also suggest taking up yoga, in addition to practicing these positions to your own mantra every morning or evening. We have found that our rigorous collection exercises have significantly increased not only the amount of seed that we pick every day but also our mind, body and souls. We would love to hear any input on any other valuable hints to other techniques to enhance our seed collecting.

Thank You,

The Pinedale Team

There and Back Again, Part Two

Training in the Grand Canyon, one of the great wonders of the natural world, was one incredible experience; meeting our wonderful bosses Krissa and Marian as well as ~75 fellow interns, learning to key flora of the West, watching a triple rainbow spread from rim to rim as well as breathtakingly beautiful sunsets every night…the list goes on and on. It was very special to be introduced to this beautiful and sacred place, not as a tourist, but as a biologist. The trip back was a bit nostalgic, but was still gorgeous and aided by waking up on the 4th of July in Canyonlands Ntl. Park. It was also a challenge transitioning back into the office workplace (no windows!), but we were kept busy with projects. I finished managing the Government Policy and Results Act on Invasive Animals spreadsheet, allowing data for FY10 to be entered. From there, I picked out all marine/brackish species in ocean and coastal parks from that list and combined them with the species that I had found in the Watershed Condition Assessment reports. Those lists were then combined with data Brittany had acquired from the Nature Conservancy. Our next hurdle is to tackle NP Species as well as data from the USGS. Once we have our comprehensive list, we will be turning it into a report and a website for our final project.

The week I got to spend doing field work in Rocky Mountain Ntl. Park was literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air. Technically, I was a volunteer with the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Network, spending my days outside (what a dream!) and my nights in the research dorms right outside of Estes Park. I got to assist with montane and alpine wetland sampling; locating existing well plots, as well as installing new ones. We assessed water quality, soil and site characteristics, and vegetation species cover and composition at each plot. Three days were spent in gorgeous Moraine Park and one day was spent at 12,000 in an alpine wet meadow, where I was able to marvel at the rugged beauty of life above the tree line. This consisted of a 20 degree temperature drop, a fabulous array of wildflowers, snow-capped peaks, a herd of over 60 elk, as well as the ever-so-consistent thunderstorms that come through the alpine every afternoon. After that fabulous introduction to the alpine, I cannot get enough, and even brought my mother there when she came to visit.  We got to see another large herd of elk, a small colony of yellow-bellied marmots, multiple pika, and many a songbird.

Now back from fieldwork, Brittany and I have had to strap in and make ourselves experts on our topics that we will be presenting at the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species at the end of the month in San Diego. My poster takes the macro approach, titled: “Managing Aquatic Invasive Species in Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Parks”. It’s quite daunting knowing that we will be representing our agency – quite the responsibility and privilege! We will be attending the conference for 4 days of the 9 days that we are there, so we will have a few days to explore and play in the ocean. Brittany and I both have friends in the area, so it will be a real treat to see them and have backstage passes to the city!

Still loving life in Fort Collins! Until next time…

Chenie Prudhomme
National Park Service
Fort Collins, CO

Fire! Fire!

California is famous for its wildfires. I always thought that only Southern California had the big ones, but maybe that’s all they show on the news. As it turns out, a couple of weeks ago there was a huge lightning storm within my field office boundary. That night and the next day, the BLM Fire crews were working like crazy to put out all of the smoking juniper trees. Unfortunately, with a ton of fires on their plate, one small fire started to take off. From a single tree, it burned 8 acres, then 50, then 150, and the next thing we knew, 11,000 acres of public and private land had been burnt. It would have been much more without the hundreds of firefighters working night and day for 2 weeks to contain it. I bring up this fire because it’s one more subject out here that I’m gaining knowledge in. If I weren’t working for the BLM through the CBG, I wouldn’t have had this experience! I can confidently say that before this, the biggest wildland fire I’d seen was a couple-acre prairie burn. Now, I wasn’t up-close and personal with this fire for safety reasons, but I got to see how different federal and state agencies come together to fight fire, the logistics involved, and how the landscape and weather affects how a fire burns. Tomorrow I’m going to the site to view what the habitat looks like now.  The fire actually burned up a portion of one of the juniper-cut areas that I flagged, so it will be neat to compare the before and after.

Other than that, some highlights of the last month or so include: vegetation monitoring on a fuels reduction site (juniper cut) 2 years post-cut, seed collecting in the picturesque sagebrush-steppe, and learning how to do Pygmy Rabbit surveys. I recently spent a couple of days inventorying a juniper-cut project site for sensitive wildlife species such as raptors, sandhill cranes, and sage grouse and really enjoyed it. Also, last night from 9pm-3am I helped the local Fish & Wildlife refuge with waterfowl banding; we netted ducks from airboats, brought them back to shore, and banded them. I had the time of my life!

I had one more work experience that is worth mentioning. Earlier this summer, I was hiking along a stream to flag an aspen stand on BLM land. I was only about 30 minutes walking distance from where my vehicle was parked near the highway when I stumbled upon a marijuana garden! The evidence was obvious, even for someone who didn’t know what signs to look for yet (we were having safety training and a marijuana garden presentation the next day, ironically): depressions in the ground with a few seedlings in each, fertilizer pellets in them, and black irrigation hosing to each depression. And I could see hundreds of these from where I was standing! I quickly snapped a few pictures and called my mentor who told me to high-tail it back to the truck. I had a long talk with our Law Enforcement Officer about what I’d found, and the next week they took a team out to raid the area and found nearly 10,000 plants. Wow! If I took anything away from this experience, I learned that there are definitely safety hazards when it comes to managing public lands – but I think I was prepared enough and equipped enough to handle the situation safely.

After a couple of months in tiny Alturas, California, the place is really growing on me. The wildlife work is exciting each day and the small-town feel is kind of comforting. I’m glad I still have a few more months!

Kristen Linner, BLM Alturas, CA

Still no aliens? What a rip-off!

I may have to do more investigating on the whole government cover-up ordeal, but I did manage to find out that BLM is not a source for information. Much has happened since my last post. As far as the internship goes, the Sand Dune Lizard project is almost complete for the season. The idea was to catch at least one lizard in each square mile in the Lesser Prairie Chicken/Sand Dune Lizard Habitat Expansion Corridor. If we catch one, the oil and gas companies cannot drill in that section. We managed to complete 9 new areas, which was almost double last year’s account. We used pitfall traps and stumbling upon them to obtain a lizard.  Now that the other interns are going back to school, it is up to me to catch juvenile Sand Dune Lizards in critical areas, such as herbicide sprayed areas.  I spent most of this week in one area looking for the nascent Sceloporus, and still haven’t caught one. Once I finish with the lizards I am able to create and begin my own wildlife project. It will be evaluating the bird communities in areas sprayed with Tebuthiuron (a general herbicide used to deplete Shinnery Oak in flat open habitats usually occupied by various grasses) and areas that are not treated. The idea is that areas with more grasses is better ultimately for the Lesser Prairie Chicken, but the more areas to hide (in the grass), the more diversity.  I am also to survey for insects (potential Sand Dune Lizard food) and reptiles, basically whatever I happen to see that day. I will be doing line transects for about 250 meters (five stops within for about 10-15 minutes to survey) and the line will be at least 200 meters apart from one another. All in all, I’m getting excited to start my project, but these dang lizards are holding me up.

Also, it was great to meet a bunch of you at the GRCA workshop and I look forward to checking out everyone’s posts on here as the year progresses. Have fun everybody!

Grant Izzo
Roswell Field Office-BLM

Big views and rare plants in Zion


Big views of Zion Canyon from Observation Point Lookout

It’s been a gradifying couple of months interning in Zion. When I arrived the weather was pleasant but soon turned hot.  I’m talking over a month of above 110 degrees in the Canyon.  No biggy here in Zion, I escaped the heat by taking several dips a day in the Virgin River.  My field time collecting new specimens to be placed in the herbarium moved from the canyon bottom to the higher elevation mixed conifer forests atop the canyon walls.  Here I found an abundance of moisture loving species.  My days have been filled with searching for some of the parks most rare and endemic species for collection.  Alas, I found them…Astragalas concordus, Heterotheca jonesii, and Erigeron religosus. Even on my hiking adventures outside of work I stumbled upon them, one in particular, Cymopterus minimus (Cedar Breaks biscuitroot), an endemic only to Garfield, Iron, and Kane counties in Utah. 

Cymopterus minimus a rare and endemic species found in Ashdown Gorge Wilderness on the "Twisted Forest Trail"

I found it while hiking in a remnant Bristlecone pine forest in Ashdown George Wilderness.  This species has only been found to occur on Claron limestone soils from 8,000 to 10,400 ft elevation in July-August.  Needless to say, during my time here in Zion I have looked at more rare species then I have in my whole career thus far. 

Reindeer Handling

July 8th

Today, this morning, we finished handling the Davis herd.  The process is one not easily put to words but I will try to recount as best I can most of what it involves.  It started weeks ago when we fixed the corral.  I thought some of the repairs to be over kill but some proved insufficient.  We then went out searching for deer to start pushing towards the corral.  Just getting the animals into the corral takes a weeks work, little rest, and mile after mile of rough and wet tundra.  But eventually and not without trouble we filled the corral.

It’s amazing to see these animals up close. A few of the boasted large fingered racks, still covered in velvet.  Large shovels grew out from one or both sides to form a plate between the eyes.  Being so close you could hear grunts and heavy breaths.  They are just loosing their winter hair.  Large clumps lay on the ground and hung off their side.  The deer circled, not stopping, moving like water in a whirlpool.  Antlers clicked and clanked together with a light rain-stick sound.

It was now 8:00 pm.  I had changed out my wet boots and socks, eaten some sandwiches and sausage and cheese, the sun was high and I was eager to work.  The process of getting just one deer through the corral processed is not easy.  The herd but first be split, a large group going into the “barge”, and then three smaller pockets funnel down to two squeeze chutes with a team at each.  At 8:30 we moved the first group through the barge and loaded the pockets and the first deer began to move through the chutes.  Here’s how it goes:

There’s a door at the end of the chute that connects it to the last pocket where there are maybe 12-15 deer waiting.  And the deer don’t wait calmly.  They churn and swirl, jump 10 feet high and smash the walls of the pockets.  Any loose wood comes off, deer try to squeeze through the slot between the doors, people are calling for deer, hair is flying, deer and coming-its a rodeo.  One deer at a time is pushed through the door and enters the first part of the chute.  There’s a small floor to walk on with diagonal walls coming up.  Deer don’t walk one foot in front of the other so having little room to walk on slows them down.  At the end of this there is a squeeze chute and a small mass of people.  As the deer are ushered down the ramp to the awaiting party they moved slowly and tentatively.  Then, usually just as they get to the end they bolt and someone, typically three people, have to be there to wrestle them and hold them down and close the chute.  The chute doesn’t hold them, it still take two to prevent an escape.  After a few dozen you get a groove.  I learned that If I grab the near antler and hook the nose with my forearm and pull the deer’s head towards me and then back holding it by the lower jaw it’ll arrest it quickly.  Once controlled the deer, in our case, is sexed, notched in the ears, tagged with an ID number, weighted, vaccinated, dewormed, bled, occasionally dehorned and collared.  The whole process goes very quickly when orchestrated well, though not when the animal is kicking and jumping about.  We would castrate a few of the mavericks, which involves releasing the deer from the chute while one person, me, holds the antlers and head and as soon as it’s clear, throwing it to the ground and holding it there as someone, Greg, makes two slits and removes the testicles.  Then the trick is to get up before the deer does, not always easy.  This went on all night, holding deer, fixing collars, calling out “maverick female” meaning a female that hasn’t been processed before, or “Davis bull,” a bull that already has a tag and notched ears.  Everyone’s got a job, clipping antlers and rubber banding the stumps to stop the bleeding, writing notes and data recording, counting the deer released.  The rodeo continued, two chutes working quickly to get the deer in and out.  The whole Davis family was there, more excited than usual as the herd hadn’t been handled in five years.  It was a homecoming of sorts, high spirits and laughter, jokes always at someone’s expense.  The sun rolled across the sky moving west to north and slowly stepping down.  It was still warm but not hot when we reached our grove, people tired, less laughter, work became a chore and then labor, but the sun kept us awake and working, not to mention the hundreds of deer to go.  At sun set, at 1:15 am, it wasn’t near the halfway mark.

Animals continued to come, hair flew everywhere, blood and grit and grime covered every hand and face and shirt, pain increased or just continued.  Energy reduced talk to just what’s necessary, the night continued.  Every deer that comes through and more so with the ones that fight hard or have to be taken to the ground tolls you body what feels like years.  Fingers, knees, feet, hands take a beating hour after hour.  Fawns were moved with the rest of the deer until the last pocket and then moved into a separate processing area.  I don’t know what went on in there, other than now and then one would mistakenly come through the chute and I’d pick it up and carry in into the pen and have one of the kids straddle it until someone could tag and weight it.  Everyone did his or her part.  The sun rose and still we worked, taking blood and vaccinating and collaring.  Pausing only to dry our hands of saliva and blood before the next deer came through.  Now and then, maybe four times through the night we would take short breaks while the pockets were refilled.  Some would get food or go to the bathroom or fall asleep.  It didn’t do much to help exhaustion.  Then the last of the deer were loaded into the pockets.  One more big push and that might be it.  On we went.  The same for every deer but not every deer was the same.  As the morning gained a footing the deer got more anxious to join the rest in freedom and would move more quickly down the chute and hit my body harder as they came to a stop. The largest ones came last as they had been able to avoid the first loadings. The last fifty or so took tremendous effort to restrain and process. At last it was the last deer.  Same as the rest, no easier.  And it was off, 452 deer, it was 8:30 am.

I fell asleep on the truck ride home.  Every joint and muscle had been beaten.  I had been kicked and bucked and now bruised and in so much aching pain.  I was limping and holding my arms in each other.  My hands had been pummeled by antlers and teeth, they were bloody, covered in saliva and grime.  My clothes destroyed.  I washed myself, surveyed cuts and bruises and assessed each limb.  Finally I slept, just enough to recharge for my softball game and regain a normal schedule.  It’ll take at least a few days to undo last night’s destruction, though it’s likely I’ll handle again within a week.  But that was done and the gargantuan effort was well worth it.  Each scar meant the job had been done and the Davis herd was once again in business.


Sure enough a week and a half later I was off to another handling.  This one was done a bit different and with a whole lot more deer.  Briefly:  there was only one chute, the corral was in terrible condition, and instead of 450 deer there were about 1500.  It’s hard to say exactly because the wind and rain picked up so much in the middle of the night we went to take a break and part of the corral blew down and after only 500 deer the rest of the herd escaped.  Instead of sending one deer down the cute and having it arrive at a squeeze chute they sent three at once and three guys would each grab one and half ride half wrestle it to the ground.  It went more quickly but was much more tiring.  We didn’t have to process them the same way either, just tag and cut the antlers and let them up.  It made for faster work but it was a miserable night.


Found some bats, but no Batman

CLM Blog Update #2

August 9th, 2010

Hello again from the BLM office in Needles, CA.  I am surprised to find myself getting used to the ridiculous heat.  Light clothing, sun block, shades and plenty of water have kept me going.  It’s going to be very interesting to return to Chicago and be raking leaves during a chilly November.

The internship has been a great experience thus far.  I had the pleasure to assist some coworkers with a birding presentation at the local library in mid-July.  Despite a young audience, most of the kids were very engaged in the discussion and excited to answer quiz questions.  Perhaps they will take time in the near future to visit our parks and identify wildlife.  It is always nice to get involved with the community and work outside the office.

I also had the fortune to help with bat surveys in the San Bernadino County.  On July 19th I helped some graduate students and volunteers to catch bats with mist nets in a wildlife refuge near Lake Havasu.  We identified species, gender, forearm length and general health for each bat. This was the first time I held bats.  I finally felt like one of the scientists seen on Discovery Channel or Animal Planet television programs.

On the note of bat biology, I also spent two days helping a bat scientist, Pat, and her mine-exploration partner, Eric, to locate abandoned mine shafts and assess future courses of action.  Do not fret – I did not enter the mine shafts.  The other Eric did that risky work.  Though many of these mine shafts are scheduled to be sealed, some serve as homes for bats and owls.  Eric even found some gopher and racer snakes at the bottom of one mine shaft.  Later in the evening, I used night vision goggles to do an in & out flight survey for California leaf-nosed bats.  Before departing to go home late that night, Pat was daring enough to walk past two rattlesnakes at the cave entrance to examine the inside, only to declare, “There’s three more rattlesnakes in here and they’re huge!”  I declined the offer to get a closer look.

Monsoon season is expected to hit soon, meaning that some populations of late-flowering plants will produce seed for additional collection.  This is good news because the majority of plants in the region have already shed their seeds.  I am also assisting an effort with my mentor to disperse seed on a stretch of land near Horsethief Spring that used to serve as an allotment for cattle.  The patch of land currently contains dense populations of red brome and there is a serious lack of native grasses and forbs.

It’s hard to believe that two months have already passed.  To my fellow interns I wish you the best in your future endeavors.  The Grand Canyon workshop was one of the best times in my life and it was a pleasure to meet so many of you.  I speak highly of the internship opportunities and the workshop.


– Eric Clifton

Life in the High Desert

After my previous post, Molly (another intern) and I finished monitoring and began seed collection. Despite new responsibilities our daily schedule has remained nearly the same. We arrive at work, meet with our mentor, sign out and drive the two hours between our work site – Beatty’s Butte – and the Lakeview BLM office. While spending four hours in the car everyday sometimes gets tiresome, we often meet excitement along the open road. On one occasion a dust devil ran in to the side of our vehicle. It snuck up on us from the other side of a cattle guard. By the time we saw it, we only had time to take a big breath and hold it before a whirling wall of dust smashed into our faces. Another day a cattle drive down the highway blocked our path as about two hundred head of cattle surrounded us. I have added both of these events to my list of “things that don’t happen in the Midwest.”

This never happens in Iowa.

When we arrive at our work sites we usually spend about a half an hour scouting for an appropriate place to collect seed. When we choose our site, we collect herbarium vouchers and then begin collecting the actual seeds. After only a few weeks of seed collection, Molly and I appreciate the potential of seed collection to lead us deep into thought (borderline insanity?). The other day we realized that we had begun thinking of large, seed-filled, plants as treasures. When I found myself imagining that I was pillaging plants for their seeds, I knew that it was time to take a break, look around, and reconnect with the real world for a moment. None-the-less we enjoy our jobs and love being outside!

Often we camp near our sites to avoid the drive. Camping also allows us to experience the desert in the cool light of the morning and the warm light of sunset. The desert seems like a completely different place out of the heat of the day. In the hours surrounding sunset and sunrise we’ve flushed a number of sage grouse and heard the yips of coyote pups near our tent. The other night we also saw the sun reflect off the sides of the surrounding mountains, creating a ball of light and giving the illusion of a floating lantern. We are currently trying to spread a ghost story surrounding this incident. So far no one believes us but we’re having fun.

Amy Hadow

Lakeview, OR


This is where we work!

Seed Collecting in the Great Basin Desert

I grew up on the far eastern region of the Great Basin Desert. I didn’t realize what a biodiverse treasure this area was, probably due to the fact that 3/5’s of Utah’s population lives in this area which is a continuous stretch of cities over 100 miles long. I never really ventured too far out into the desert west of my home. I only saw the vast and desolate pure white stretch of the Salt Flats once before beginning this internship. I had originally thought that the minimum of 5 seed collections per month would be nearly unobtainable, but i was wrong. There are so many plant populations in the Great Basin Desert, with each species beautifully adapted to the environmental conditions which seem so harsh and overpowering. From these plants I’ve been chasing, with the three others on my team from the Provo Shrub Science Lab, we’ve made over 200 collections in the past 8 weeks! The only downside to making so many collections is that there is little time to reflect on the beauty that surrounds me in the desert. We are down to about 10 collections per week, now that all the lowland species have born seed and died back for the summer. I think I might have a little more time to enjoy the desert. Check out the picts of our collections and the beauties we’ve been chasing!

Jason Stettler

Provo Shrub Science Lab

Alaska- You can see Russia from here!

It has been 2 months now that I have been living in Anchorage, Ak. I have had so many encounters with Alaskan wildlife. We have seen bears, moose, sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, and the salmon running. Our most exciting encounter was in Valdez, Ak. We had the chance to see a sow and her 3 cubs fishing for salmon in the ocean and river. It was so interesting to watch these animals in their natural habitat. We have also been startled by a few bears while scouting and collecting seeds. I did not do the right thing, and went with my instinct to run from the bear. Thankfully, the bear was more afraid of us and didn’t feel the need to chase me down. Ever since that incident, I have been calm in my bear encounters.

Besides our exciting animal incidents, we have been doing our job! We have already made a total of 30 seed collections. This is very exciting for us, since Alaska is very hit or miss with it’s seeding schedule. We have a trip to Nome coming up very soon and we are all very excited to collect up north! Our adviser, Mike Duffy, has already scouted areas in Nome for us and we already have a game plan for when we arrive.

We have been able to see so much of Alaska due to this amazing internship and I can’t wait to see more of it! Here are some pictures of our adventures. Until Next time. Chrissy