Goodbye Klamath Falls

Here’s a look at the town from on top of a hill at sunset ūüôā

It is time for this internship to end. It was nice to have an internship that was five months instead of 3, your field season is longer and you get to spend more time with friends you meet at work. This internship placed me in Klamath Falls, OR which was a transition area between a high desert and and coniferous forest. Learning about different landscapes really helped me to understand other ecological systems, because here water is so scarce. There are different issues of concern than the Midwestern states I’m from.

I learned a lot of different plants, which is awesome because I love identifying plants and trees. I have a pretty good idea what a botanist’s job entails. I like doing the work, I just think working in an area that received more rain than Klamath Falls would be ideal. I miss my green grass. The terrain here was quite interesting, every step landed on volcanic rock, so you definitely spend more time looking at the ground than anywhere else. The scenery was gorgeous, there were 2 mountain peaks (Shasta and McGloughlin) in the distance and the rest of the area was full of buttes. Quite a nice change from flat Minnesota.

Besides working with plants, the thing I liked most about this internship was being able to work with a government agency, the Bureau of Land Management for me. I loved the people that work here, and it’s great to meet all the people from different departments: fire, wildlife, forestry and archaeology. I’m really glad I met these people, and it’s all thanks to the Chicago Botanic Garden!

-Erin Strom, Klamath Falls, OR

This is the last thing on aliens, I swear.

Unlike most of my co-workers at the BLM (and most of Roswell in fact), I was curious about the whole alien thing upon arrival. I expected to see people in the streets dressed as sci-fi characters, preaching about how they will return and save/destroy humankind.¬† That is not the case at all.¬† Aside from the alien newsletter that only the 6 alien themes shops carry (which coincidentally is collaborated by the owners of those¬†6 shops),¬†no one really cares about extra terrestrials.¬†¬†Despite this, something inspired me to watch sci-fi movies during my time here, as well as westerns.¬†¬†Anyway that’s all¬†I have on aliens, “the truth is out there.”

As I finish up my last handful of days here, I realized that I learned a lot in the past five months.  I learned about an ecosystem that I was completely unfamiliar with beforehand, regards to biology, geology, and a little anthropology.  My favorite part was seeing new species of all kinds; crazy insects, succulent plants, variety of reptiles, new birds on my life list, and lots of big game mammals.

Something I didn’t¬†expect to be a part of the job was the amount of manual/mechanical labor. What I mean by¬†that is¬†assembling wildlife waters, fixing fence, and using things like water pumps and tractors.¬† I never¬†experienced any of that before and¬†now i can say¬†that I am somewhat “handy.”¬†

In my last post I mentioned that I was working on my own wildlife project dealing with species diversity in an old mesquite treatment.  In case you were wondering, bird and plants species were greater on the treated side by about nine species each.  Birds and plants were the easiest to observe, but i did notice differences in reptiles, mammals and insects too.

Also since my last post I helped with the Lesser Prairie Chicken surveys – it was really cool to see the males do their fall dancing display.¬† Another great opportunity was helping with the Restore New Mexico tour organized by some folks in the office. Restore New Mexico is a program that is run primarily through the BLM but with other partners like US fish and wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, NM game and fish, ranchers, and several others.¬† The office put on a tour of all the major projects they completed to show the partners where their money went.¬† I assembled the booklet (which is harder than it seems), prepared posters, and helped clean up at each stop.¬† Although that doesn’t sound like much fun, it was. I got to hear a lot of good speakers discuss what’s best for the land and have an awesome lunch.¬†

I accomplished other things outside of work. I studied for the GRE and took that almost two weeks ago, which was not fun.  I also participated in a 20 mile bike race and finished sixth, which was fun.

So overall, I had a great experience here in New Mexico. I learned a lot of great information, was able to go places that most people can’t, met cool people, see things unique to the region, and lots of valuable things that I may be forgetting right now. Now time to focus on that next step, whatever it might be.

Thanks everyone

Grant Izzo
Wildlife Intern-Roswell Field Office
Roswell, New Mexico