It has been over six months since I started my internship here in Wyoming and what a six months it has been. I had the fortunate opportunity to extend my internship and was happy to accept the offer. Now that the weather has taken a turn and the snow has prevented field surveys, my project has turned to data analysis. After close to six months of met tower surveys, every day, I can happily say it was a great experience. It seems that after a slow start to the field season, my partner and I started to find quite a few dead birds at our met towers, mainly during migration. Now we get to analyze the data and figure out what our findings mean. I look forward to finding out the results and seeing how much of an impact, if any, these met towers have on birds.
On my way to the field
Toward the end of our field surveys it was a little cold and windy
As far as living here in Rawlins, it has been a different experience but absolutely worth every minute. Not only have I had the chance to visit Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, I have had the opportunity to view amazing wildlife and get in some great camping. I am now getting used to living here during the cold months. Being from Texas, I never knew that a place could have a constant sheet of ice on the roads for weeks in a row! I am learning fast how to drive safely in these conditions. It’s been great so far and I have a couple of months left, lets see how those turn out.
Bureau of Land Management
Buffalo has been good to me—an office full of friendly, helpful coworkers, a backdrop of Bighorn majesty, and a job that’s provided me with a myriad of skills. I have had hands-on experience with radio telemetry, rangeland health monitoring, 4WD, GIS, seed collection, office decoration, a cave survey, aquatic sampling, and I’m sure the list could stumble on. Because my time here has been pleasant I sometimes forget that other aspects of what I have learned at this office have been less comfortable. The Powder River Basin has tremendous natural gas and other energy resources, and the Buffalo Field Office has been charged with stream-lining the permitting of such development. My friendly coworkers are asked to permit development plans at slippery rate, face-off with industry reps., and generally make tough decisions on a daily basis. I do not like what is happening to the landscape of the Powder River Basin- thousands of miles of new roads are quietly, almost benignly fragmenting an expansive landscape to pieces. Not enough people care, or have seen, the cumulative effects of this development, and so it continues quickly and thoroughly from east to west across this basin. When I was conducting range monitoring, I noticed that much of this country can boast of a robust native grasses, forbs, and big sagebrush, that is, when one steps slightly away from the weedy corridor that almost inevitably surrounds every road and disturbance corridor. I am concerned that the prospect of reclamation of these lands, once disturbed by increasing amounts of infrastructure, is not as neat and assured as it is written down on paper and told to land owners. I am concerned that sage-grouse may face local extirpation in this area that bridges important population centers for the bird in central Wyoming to Montana and South Dakota. Wyoming’s ratio of people to antelope (the latter outnumber the former) is one of the reasons I am in love with the state. It may also be a reason, in my opinion, why places like the PRB are being sacrificed for national benefit; there are not enough backyards out there to defend. Domestic energy development has to happen somewhere, and economically speaking, may often need to happen at a good clip. This position has challenged me to understand how politics and biology interact and prescribe land management. The introduction to these realities will be invaluable as I continue to pursue conservation, land management, and science. Thanks again Krissa and Marian for placing me in a beautiful state, in a position where I have gained many new skills, and in this office that has provided so much food for thought.
These past six months as a CLM Intern at the Vale BLM district office have been wonderful. The things I have learned, the people I have met, and the places I have gone have all made me a better person both professionally and personally. After completing this internship and collecting countless seeds, the number of plants I have learned to identify has doubled, if not tripled, and my love of botany has grown even more. Being stationed in Vale, Oregon allowed me to experience a part of the country that few people live in or ever think about visiting. Working everyday in such a remote place allowed me to really get in touch with nature and understand how a desert ecosystem operates. Working in the BLM office also furthered my understanding of how a government agency works and has given me a much greater appreciation of all the people who work to manage our public lands. This internship has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn more about environmental science and working for a government agency.
CLM Intern Vale, OR