Kolb Brothers Studio

July 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

Here’s a brief history lesson of some amazing people and the building that houses their legacy:

The Kolb Brothers Studio, located on the South rim of the Grand Canyon, currently houses art and historical exhibits. While attending the 2010 training trip at the Grand Canyon and checking out an exhibit on plants, I happened to run into the husband of the main historian. He had the most hilarious business card I had ever seen: his name with the word “Retired” underneath, a majestic picture of mountains and clouds, and the words “I have that day off…” While giving me, Marian Hoffner (CLM Internship Coordinator), and two other interns a brief history lesson, he noticed our rapt attention and enthusiasm and offered us a unique behind the scenes tour of the studio that usually only 10 visitors get to see every year.

A glimpse of the grandeur of the South Rim.

Kolb Studio in the present.

The Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, were entrepreneurs who founded the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon and built a ramshackle dwelling offically labeled an ‘entertainment studio’ literally hanging out over the canyon rim. They used to charge 50 cents per person and animal headed down the trail. In an effort to attract more visitors, they would stage daring action poses and publish the photographs. They also shot the first motion picture footage of the Grand Canyon while floating down the Colorado River in 1911. As the visitors were making the arduous trek down, the brothers would take their picture, race 8 miles down to the nearest water source to develop the film, and then race back up so they could sell the pictures to the tourists before they departed. It turned out to be a very lucrative endeavor.

The Kolb Brothers

One of the "daring" staged shots used to draw visitors.

We got to tour their original living quarters and photography studio, complete with all the original furniture (Tiffany lamps and elaborately carved wood) and an original photo of Teddy Roosevelt riding down on a mule. The controversial history of the building itself was relayed to our eager ears. When the federal government first acquired the land, the building was viewed as an eyesore. The government officials reluctantly agreed that the brothers could continue to live there until their deaths, after which it would be demolished. However, one of the brothers lived well into his 90s, long enough to make his house eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historical places. Eventually the ‘eyesore’ evolved into a national treasure. In the 1970s when the building was renovated, it was discovered that there was no foundation or secure method of attachment. The house was just hanging out all of those years. Considering the Bright Angel Trail is located along a fault line, it is astonishing that it survived such precarious placement for so many years!


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation

September 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

One of the unique experiences I had this summer was a chance to visit and tour the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP). Their mission is, ” to acquire, evaluate, preserve, and provide a national collection of genetic resources to secure the biological diversity that underpins a sustainable U.S. agricultural economy through diligent stewardship, research, and communication.” Getting to see where some of the thousands of seeds I collected this summer end up (in a minus 20 degrees Celsius freezer or vat of liquid nitrogen) really made my contribution seem a lot more salient. All the at times monotnous hours I spent out in the field in Colorado enables the valuable research that goes on here – to preserve food security and protect the biodiversity of our country. It was a nice reminder that even the seemingly menial and repetitive tasks you may have to perform as a CLM intern, such as seed collection, have important conservation applications and do make a positive impact.

A vat of liquid nitrogen.

Where the genetic material is kept.

This is how the seed is packaged for long-term storage.

Here is a current germination trial.

If you are interested in learning more about NCGRP, I encourage you to check out their website and take the virtual tour: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/site_main.htm?modecode=54-02-05-00


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

A Trip to the Natural Areas Conference in the Ozarks

October 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

I am going to tell you about the exciting opportunity I recently had to attend the 37th Annual Natural Areas Conference in Osage Beach, MO, part of Lake of the Ozarks. The 5-day experience was a great chance for me to interact with conservation-minded professionals, hear about current research, and hone my public speaking abilities by giving a formal presentation.

The majority of participants in the conference were career professionals and I was one of few students/recent grads/jobseekers in attendance. However, the theme of this year’s conference was “Connecting Across Generations and Disciplines” and the conference organizers expressed interest in attracting more younger participants in the future. They also expressed their frustration with lack of able communicators in the industry, and the difficulty of finding recent graduates who have applied experience, like the hands-on experience we have been fortunate enough to get from the CLM Program.

I attended talks on a wide variety of topics including the history of conservation and the Natural Areas Movement, identification of grass species, invasive species, pollinators in the natural system, and fire ecology. Each room had a separate lecture series workshop and each conference attendee could also attend a field trip related to one of the workshops. I chose to go to the hands-on application of prescribed fire. Had the weather been favorable we would have done a controlled burn on a 100 acre plot, but due to lack of rain we were unable to do so. It was still very interesting to see all the equipment, walk the area perimeter, discuss the various steps necessary to carry out a burn, and learn about typical fire behavior. We also visited burn sites in Ozark Caverns and Ha Ha Tonka Parks and compared the vegetation found there with that found in unburned areas.

Attending the conference cemented my desire to work in the field of natural resource management. Meeting so many individuals who were so passionate about their careers and able to make a real difference was very inspiring. One of the sessions I attended was a ‘World Café’ where we broke up into small groups and discussed how we could improve certain aspects of career preparation or effectiveness such as internships, higher education, and job skills. We rotated three times. In the first two rotations we listed any ideas that came into our heads and in the third session we prioritized the most important ones. A representative from each team then presented these ideas to the whole room. In the interest of allowing younger generations to acquire necessary communication skills, I was chosen to present the priorities of the higher education group to a room of over 60 people. This audience proved much larger than that present in the smaller session where I presented the CLM Intern Experience with Krissa (Conservation Scientist and Manager of the CLM program at the Chicago Botanic Garden) and my peers. While speaking in front of so many accomplished people off-the-cuff was a nerve-wracking experience, it made me a lot more confident in my abilities. It also served as an introduction that led to many more people coming up and talking with me than might have happened otherwise. If you have the chance to apply to attend the conference in the future, I would highly recommend it. It is a great learning experience and a lot of fun!

You can learn more about the Natural Areas Association here: http://naturalarea.org/


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

First Impressions

June 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

After growing up in New Jersey and going to college in Maine, I decided that I wanted to see some of the western United States. Having double majored in biology and government, I thought that the CLM internship would be an ideal combination of both my interests. Throughout my internship I will primarily be monitoring rare plants and collecting seeds for Seeds of Success Program with my co-workers at the Lakewood Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

From the moment I arrived at the office, I knew I was in for an interesting 5 months! On my first day on the job we went to Lair ‘O the Bear Park in the Jefferson County Open Space to collect Pulsatilla patens seeds. When the seeds are ripe for picking, the delicate wisps of this wind-dispersed plant easily fall off into your hand. We were able to make a substantial, but incomplete collection since many of the seeds were still green and needed more time to mature.

The very next day we drove to Dolores on the western slope where we collected Gilia ophthalmoides in Negro Canyon inside of Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. The landscape was unlike anything I had ever seen before! In addition to exposing me to many new plants, this trip also led me to encounter some ancient pottery and nasty gnats in the field. Luckily we were prepared with net jackets! After work, my co-workers and I had the opportunity to venture to Mesa Verde to further explore the natural history of the area.

During my second week we returned to Lair ‘O the Bear to finish our Pulsatilla patens collection. We were worried that the seed might have been lost in a violent storm the night before, but after scouring the hillsides we were able to successfully complete our collection. The next day we went to Green Mountain to scout for other potential seed collections. We found upwards of 5 species abundant enough to make collections, but they were still in flower. We will return later once the seeds are ready to be harvested. We spent Wednesday through Friday on Raven Ridge in Meeker monitoring the rare Penstemon grahamii. We used transect surveys of the total number of rosettes to assess the health of the population. Once we have performed our data analysis we will be able to see any changes that have occurred since last year. Past monitoring revealed no change and hopefully the population is still going strong! While monitoring the penstemon, we chanced upon a population of Astragalus chamaeleuce with collection-ready seed and made the collection.

So far I have really enjoyed learning about new flora and am excited about our upcoming training in the Grand Canyon!


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

The 37th Natural Areas Conference

I would like to share with all of you what has been the “cherry on top” of my CLM Internship experience.

As you know, we all had the opportunity to attend the 37th Natural Areas Conference hosted by the Natural Areas Association in Ozarks, MO. Myself, Diana, and Ben all had an excellent time at the conference this year.

First of all, who knew Missouri was such a beautiful place? The Ozarks are really incredible and unique, encompassing wide expanses of natural areas that include tallgrass prairies, cave-fed springs, wild rivers, deciduous forests, endemic wildlife, and some vast cave systems that are home to a variety of fascinating creatures.
Being a part of a conference made me feel that I was a part of something important. Natural areas professionals from all over the country (mostly the mid-west) came to the Ozarks to talk about big issues and share ideas about what needs to be done to effectively manage our land for conservation purposes, and how to best-prepare future biology professionals that might one day be charged with managing rare flora, fauna, and landscapes.
That was the theme of the conference “natural resource connections across generations and disciplines”. So really, the conference was about us! The opening presentations focused on putting natural areas management in a contemporary prospective, providing attendees with some history of the field and where it is headed today. I had the opportunity to listen to various speakers and natural areas professions talk about what they feel future foresters, biologists, ecologists, wildlife biologists, and soil scientists need to know. Speakers discussed ideas for college degree programs in natural areas management, relevant training courses, internship programs, and other creative ways to build a framework for educating people in land management and natural resource issues. I participated in a “world cafe” session, where conference attendees openly shared their ideas regarding these issues. It was really amazing to interact with different experienced professionals in my field, and to get to share my ideas with them! I almost felt as though I got to guide my own future because I was contributing to ideas that might one day turn into a real-life opportunity for me.
One of the challenging parts of the conference was meeting people. There were so many amazing individuals there with jobs I would love to have one day that it was overwhelming in a way. But I just put a smile on my face and asked a lot of questions. People were usually very happy to share what they did and talk about my experience as well.
The field trips were fun, the people were interesting, and I learned a lot. I listened to a variety of natural resource professionals talk about their research and some of the most important issues currently facing our natural lands in the mid-west. Additionally, I got to share my internship experience with professionals and potential future interns, which is not only a great resume line for me but a very deserving plug for the CLM program.
Overall, the conference was an empowering and inspiring experience. I really feel that it opened my eyes to a whole new side of the field of biology. Sharing knowledge and information is incredibly important to the evolution of natural resource management and preserving biodiversity. This idea seems obvious and fundamental, but when you experience discussion and collaboration among peers first-hand you gain a greater understanding of what makes that process so valuable. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in that discussion and develop some perspective on where natural lands management stands today and where it is headed. It was inspiring to meet so many passionate individuals that are working hard to preserve native wildlife. That experience reassured my interest in conservation and reminded me that I am certainly not the only one who cares about protecting our natural areas.

Goodbye, Utah

So, my internship has ended, and it is time to reflect…

It was amazing! I was really impressed with what a valuable experience my internship turned out to be. I spent most of my summer conducting Mexican spotted owl habitat validation surveys. Myself, a fellow intern, and a BLM biological techncian ground-truthed about 30,000 acres worth of a GIS model that was used to predict all of the potential MSO habitat on the Arizona Strip. The great thing about this project was that it wasn’t just about hiking around staring at cliffs, we got to use our brains. I used GIS to glance at the areas we would be visiting, develop travel plans, and make maps to be used while we did our site visits. Driving out to these places was an experience in itself. Sometimes when I was bouncing down these roads like a hillbilly rock-crawler-in-training I thought to myself “Wow, I think I must have driven on some of the worst roads in the country at this point”. Then I would think about all of you fellow CLMers and wonder who REALLY drove the worst road in the country this summer. I bet it was one of us.

One of my favorite things about my internship was my mentor. Coolest lady ever, lots of amazing experience and really committed to helping my fellow intern and I achieve our career goals. I think one of the most valuable things this internship offers is the opportunity to work with someone who isn’t just a boss, but a real mentor. That’s exactly what recent college grads need. Someone to help give them ideas, tips, and a good word to future employers.

Now that I am in the process of interviewing for jobs again, I’m finding that the experiences I gained as a CLM intern have helped me feel confident when I tell people about my work experience, and also that employers are really excited to hear about what I have done. What an amazing feeling! The past five months have really served as jump-start for my career as a wildlife biologist, which is exactly what I hoped this internship would do for me.

It was a pleasure to have met all of you at the training workshop this summer, and to read about your adventures around the country. I wish all of my fellow interns the very best of luck in their careers. Remember, you guys are all awesome field biologists now, go out there and use what you’ve learned to make a difference!

Last words from an Alaskan weed warrior

My first few weeks on the job I didn’t know where I fit into my work environment and I wasn’t sure what was expected of me.  The feeling of being in limbo never left entirely (that’s part of being an intern), but as I learned more about my coworkers and non-native plant management in Alaska I discovered that most of the time I could direct myself on where my project should go next.  Having limited supervision was scary at times, but the experience of planning and carrying out projects mostly one my own is one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge I will take away from this internship.

At the end of my time in Alaska I have to comment on how many exciting opportunities I have participated in as part of this internship.    I’ve spent  surveying for non-native plants on a BLM property in Anchorage, helping collect native seeds, attending my first professional conference in Fairbanks, working with volunteers on several projects at the BLM office in Anchorage and even treating infestations of non-native plants!

One of my favorite experiences from the summer came on National Public Lands Day.  Before working with BLM I had never heard of this event, but I soon found out that at the Campbell Tract it is a big deal.  We had almost 150 volunteers in attendance and spent most of the week prior preparing.  On the day of the event (a Saturday) I and a BLM employee lead a group of volunteers on a re-vegetation project near the entrance gate to the facility.  We pulled weeds, spread topsoil, and sowed seeds over an area of about half an acre.  Many of the volunteers shared their enthusiasm for the event and make a tradition of volunteering at Campbell Tract every year on this day.  One gentleman has been attending for 15 years, since the very first National Public Lands Day at Campbell Tract!  Strangely, this gentleman also sustained the only injury during the volunteer work (a small cut on his ear).  As it was a minor injury during the closing ceremony with all of the volunteers one staff member gently teased that this  man had heard 15 years worth of safety talks at events like these and still managed to hurt himself.

There have been lovely moments (like serenading a moose with my trumpet) and not so lovely moments (spending several weeks entering data) as a CLM intern, but as a whole the experience comes as advertised.  I got the opportunity to work with a government agency, work outside in a new environment, and develop professional skills relating to my interests in conservation and botany.  Thanks for a great internship!

Carl Norlen

Anchorage Field Office

BLM, Alaska

Natural Areas Conference, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Being selected to represent the CLM internship and my seed collection team back at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden this past week at the 37th anual Natural Areas Conference in Osage Beach, Missouri was a unique and enriching opportunity for me to connect with professionals in the land management field. The conference brought me back to the Midwest in time to see fall colors still clinging to the trees in the Missouri oak woodlands. The conference was held on the scenic Lake of the Ozarks with opportunities to explore Missouri’s natural areas through various field trips. I went with a group of ecologists and land managers on a trip out to one of Missouri’s few remnant prairies where we learned about prairie chicken conservation, prairie management with fire and grazing, and seed collecting on the prairie. We went out with some botanists who showed me the wealth of grasses and forbs that were still in bloom late in the fall.

Talks and presentations at the conference covered a wide range of subject matter related to land management and conservation including invasive species, fire ecology, land restoration, and forest, prairie, cave, and wetland ecology. There was even a talk about the flora and invasive species of Jordan in the Middle East. During the conference, I connected with several professionals in the land management field throughout the Midwest including my home state of Michigan. Getting to see what types of ecological research are going on in the region has since motivated me to work hard towards gaining employment in the botanical field around Michigan or Wisconsin so I can return to the deciduous forests of my childhood.

Missouri was a phenomenal location for a conference based on natural areas, with a wide diversity of ecosystems to explore. The area was pleasant as well, with wholesome food and friendly people, a nice change from everyday life in the Los Angeles area. The people I met and experiences I had at this conference further convinced me that a career in the land management field would get me in contact with the type of people I could spend a lifetime working with towards the bold cause of preserving our nation’s natural areas. In closing, I would like to thank the CLM internship program for getting funding and sponsoring us interns to attend this conference, which was my first professional conference.

Drew Monks

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Claremont, CA

As the weather cools down, the field season in the Colorado Desert heats up

As so many of my fellow interns have been reflecting on the end of their time with the CLM program, I am just finishing up my first month as a CLM intern in the Palm Springs, CA BLM office. September may seem like an unlikely time to start a field job, but in the Colorado Desert, where we still had temperatures topping out above 100° at the end of the month, fall is the beginning of our busy field season. Much of my duties as an intern will be focused on a 350 acre restoration project at Dos Palmas Preserve. Dos Palmas is a 14,000 acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) made up of federal, state, and private lands. Dos Palmas is a unique area in that the striking desert landscape is peppered with native palm tree oases.

Dos Palmas Preserve in the Colorado Desert

The San Andreas fault runs directly beneath the preserve, and the underlying geology of the fault has resulted in a higher water table than can be found elsewhere in the desert. Unfortunately, this increased water availability has made the preserve vulnerable to invasions by an aggressive non-native shrub, tamarisk (Tamarix ramossisima). In areas where water is readily available, tamarisk soaks up massive amounts of it, leaving little for native vegetation. Conversely, tamarisk is also able to withstand periods of severe drought, allowing it to out-compete native plants when stressful situations occur. For the past 10 years, the BLM has been waging war on this invasive at Dos Palmas. Now, in areas where it has been successfully eradicated, our task is to restore the landscape to productive wildlife habitat.

One of my first projects was to plan for and oversee several volunteer planting days at Dos Palmas. The local Palm Springs School District had been approached by a European inventor who wanted to test his invention, a planting box designed to aid plant establishment in arid environments, in some of the world’s harshest desert locations. At 200 feet below sea level, with annual rainfall accumulation of less than 4 inches a year and temperatures that reach over 120° in the summer, Dos Palmas seemed like an ideal location to implement such a test. We agreed to host groups of high school students planting the so-called ‘Waterboxxes’ in some of our restoration areas.

Two students assemble a Waterboxx

The Waterboxx was recently nominated as one of Popular Science’s top 10 inventions of 2010; getting plants to grow in the dry heat of the desert is no easy feat, so we’re very excited and hopeful about trying it out! For more details on how the Waterboxx operates, see the company’s website at: www.groasis.com. In short, a box filled with water is placed around the area where seeds are planted, and each day a small amount of water is leaked out onto the planting site through a wick that comes out of the bottom of the box; this creates a moist microenvironment that allows the seeds to germinate and develop deep roots that can reach the groundwater table. The box is designed to prevent evaporation of the water inside of it, and to collect fresh water whenever a rain event occurs.

A Waterboxx with a mesquite seedling growing in it collecting rain water during a rare Dos Palmas shower!

We had a great time learning about the Waterboxx, participating in an international experiment, and teaching the high school students about Dos Palmas! The students did a great job, and we’re hoping to plant more Waterboxxes soon. Most of my prior work experience has almost exclusively involved conducting field work, so it was an exciting change for me to coordinate a volunteer project and to teach other people about conservation! We’ll be monitoring the growth of our seeds in the Waterboxxes over the coming months…more volunteer projects (and hopefully some Waterboxx success stories!) to come…

Students take an interpretive walk through the San Andreas Oasis

Teaching a group of students about the edible fruit and the desert adaptations of the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera)

Katie Kain
Palm Springs, CA

My Time in Nevada

I can’t believe it has been 8 months since I started this internship, so many experiences, events, and people I’ve encountered during my time here that it’s nothing short of astounding. I still remember on my first day in Nevada there was that terrible snow storm that just buried Reno, and now before I leave snow is once again on the mountain peaks. To be completely blunt I’m not really going to miss the weather of Nevada. That aside I’m most certainly going to miss my mentor Dean Tonnena and my fellow CLM interns who I have had the joy of working with these past few months but who I also have the honor of calling my friends. Starting with Dean he was a great mentor in that he always went out of his way to see that we had as many educational opportunities as we could. But also I learned a lot from Dean personally, for one thing I admire the fact that he is not reliant on technology like so many people I know, I mean he goes out and collects material so he can weave his own baskets and he grows his own fruits and vegetable. I have especially come to admire the fact that Dean has not once ever gotten angry or lost his nerves, he always has a calm demeanor, even when we would deal with locals who would be rude to us Dean would take no offense at all. And the interns I worked with, each of them were great. I like the fact that every one of us was different in terms of personality, work experience, education, and much more yet we were all collectively dedicated to our work in Nevada, and I can say everyone did a tremendous job at it. Also it was great to meet people my age who know who Dr. John is because none of my friends back in Oregon know who he is, so that was a plus. And what I’m especially going to miss is the Nevada landscape, it is just so beautiful watching the sun set over the hills, mountains, and prairies; there is just so much diversity here which I never realized when I first came here, and I feel that the land here has a wild, untamed quality about it and I’ve come to appreciate that.

I could go on for hours listing all the training I’ve had, all the amazing field excursions we’ve made, all the good times we’ve all had together so I’m just simply going to say this…I learned a lot, worked in many fields, had moments where things were stressful, scary, amazing, and absolutely exciting, and what I’ll take from this internship is a stronger work ethic, a new approach to life, and a eagerness to do my part in solving the environmental issues facing our planet.