something good

View of Sierra Nevada Mountains from Pine Hill

When I moved to El Dorado Hills back in May, I had no idea if I would still be in California during the Christmas season…yet here I am. My experience as an intern for the Pine Hill Preserve (BLM Mother Lode Field Office) has offered me a plethora of opportunities to learn a wide range of management strategies, become familiar with a variety of plant species, and network with individuals from other organizations who are working from different directions toward the same goals as my mentor who is the manager of Pine Hill Preserve. During these past six-plus months I have been fortunate to be involved in various aspects of conservation and land management. In short, I have been involved in accomplishing something good. More specifically, I have…

  • gotten on my hands and knees in oak woodland habitat where poison oak is present to take pictures of and use a hand lens to identify male and female plants of the dioecious plant Galium californicum ssp. sierrae, a rare and federally endangered plant in the Pine Hill Preserve;

    Conducting point transect monitoring for Ceanothus roderickii

  • recorded and organized data for as well as photographed several rare plant monitoring projects–counted reproductive structures as well as measured height and diameter of Calystegia stebbinsii plants; conducted point and line transects to see how non-native shrub removal affected the growth of the rare Ceanothus roderickii; counted stems and reproductive structures of the rare Wyethia reticulata to determine effects of masticating equipment and chip deposition on its growth and population size; counted stems and estimated % cover of shrubs in a G. californicum ssp. sierrae habitat; measured C. roderickii cover along transects within plots to monitor its response to shrub removal;
  • surveyed proposed fuelbreaks for the presence of rare plants such as Fremontodendron californicum ssp. decumbens and Iris hartwegii;
  • collected seeds for the SOS program–a total of 17 collections of 13 different species (including 2 fleshy fruits);
  • operated a GPS receiver to map the locations of SOS seed collection populations, rare plants and weed populations in the field;
  • created maps using ArcGIS of SOS seed collections;

    Pulling Centaurea solstitialis (yellow star thistle)

  • pulled yellow star thistle and tocalote in multiple locations;
  • edited, revised, and reformatted a rough draft of an educational brochure about the Pine Hill Preserve and its rare plants that has now been printed and are available to the public;
  • created and presented a PowerPoint presentation about the Pine Hill Preserve to leaders of a group interested in organizing monthly service days with the Preserve;
  • participated in a couple of volunteer work days to lay jute matting and straw wattles to prevent soil erosion along a new trail;
  • introduced two girl scout members to some of the plants of Pine Hill Preserve by showing them the plants in the field (As a community service project, they will be creating educational childrens’ activity pages about the Preserve to post on the Preserve’s website.);
  • assisted with public meetings–in office preparations such as making sure the projector worked and making signs, setting up the meeting room, taking meeting notes, and cleaning up–regarding the community-based process to develop a management plan for Kanaka Valley, a newly acquired parcel of land;

    Viewing a relative of Calystegia stebbinsii

  • saw a potentially new species or subspecies of the rare plant Calystegia stebbinsii;
  • picked up trash on public land to keep the land safe, healthy, and attractive;
  • and posted signs to inform the public of land use rules and upcoming public meetings.

 As I near the end of my experience as a CLM intern, I look forward with confidence in the knowledge and skills I have gained through this internship at the BLM Mother Lode Field Office that I will be an effective employee for any federal, state, county or private agency whose primary aim is to manage our public lands and protect our natural ecosystems. There is much to be done in terms of biological and ecological research and land management, especially in the face of continuing development of communities, industries, transportation infrastructures, and major energy projects.

Pine Hill Preserve in summer

Before I entered this career field, I was very aware that conservation and preservation of our natural resources and ecosystems could not be accomplished by just one; it requires the contributions of many. However, that does not mean the power of one cannot positively influence conservation effort. My internship experiences have bolstered my belief of the following mindset: Just because one person cannot accomplish everything that needs to be done does not mean that one person cannot accomplish something good…and something good is far better than nothing at all.

Snowy greetings and data entry


The touch of the summery sun that used to fill me with heat has cooled with the passing days to a merely luke-warmth, the green leaves on the trees have turned bright reds, yellows, and oranges and have since fallen to the ground, to be been covered by snow! I have enjoyed what the Idahoan winter has had to offer me. I have gone snowboarding and sledding as well as enjoyed the snow showers and inspections of the intricate designs of tiny snowflakes (awe-some!). As I was removing the snow off the windows of my car one morning before work I realized, “I am definitely living in the thick of snow…how cool!” I had a more profound realization one evening after work when I was stuck in the snow in the parking lot! Eventually I was freed, but not without assistance (apparently you’re supposed to kick the snow out and not into the back of the tires. Whoops!). What a learning experience! Now if I could only get over my fear of driving in ice!

Many hours have been spent stationed at my quarters toiling away entering data.

Posted in Uncategorized

Winter in Wyoming

The first few weeks of my internship at the Bureau of Land Management State Office in Cheyenne, Wyoming were packed full of reading procedural manuals and scientific articles, deciphering acronyms, shaking new hands and attending meetings.  It can be described as nothing less than a fire hose of information to the face. I found that the only way to make sense of the planning process was to dive in head first and hope that I made it up to the surface for air. After weeks of long days in the office, hours of reading, countless cups of coffee, and dutiful guidance from my supervisors, I am beginning to grasp (and even apply) some components and processes of land use planning.

These "snow fences" along highways are a novelty to me and took me a few miles to figure out what they were during my drive down to Cheyenne.

Upon my arrival to Cheyenne, my focus has been directed at a land use plan amendment and associated Environmental Impact Statement for six of Wyoming’s Field Offices. These amendments will revise Sage Grouse and sage brush habitat management for 15 million acres of public land. The purpose of the amendment is to address needed changes in the management and conservation of Greater Sage Grouse habitats. The need for these amendments is partly due to the Greater Sage Grouse being classified by the Fish and Wildlife Service as a species that is warranted for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded by higher priority listing actions. The bird is currently listed as a candidate species. Because the BLM in Wyoming manages over half of all remaining sagebrush habitat in the United States (more than 57 million acres), these amendments will play a crucial role in the preservation of Sage Grouse habitat. The goal of the amendments is to prevent the Sage Grouse from becoming listed as a threatened or endangered species, as this listing would have a “significant adverse effect” on the economy, customs, and culture of Wyoming. Sage grouse numbers have been decreasing in part due to loss, degradation and fragmentation of sage brush grassland habitats. Causes of habitat fragmentation and loss include but are not limited to oil and gas development, mining, and wind energy developments. Currently, the BLM is in the process of finalizing a list of management action alternatives that will be applied to designated key sage grouse habitat areas in Wyoming.

While working on the Sage Grouse amendments, I have found that communication, clarity, and consistency are key components for creating an effective, usable amendment. The Sage Grouse amendments may only apply on BLM- administered lands, but dozens of other organizations/ agencies are working side by side with the BLM providing information, input, and advice on issues at hand. The ability to communicate effectively not only within your own agency, but externally with numerous other agencies is instrumental for the progress and development of these amendments.

Communicating clearly is important if the Sage Grouse amendments are to be applied in the context at which they were intended to. Management actions need to be written in a way so that they cannot be interpreted in multiple ways. This is much harder than it sounds! A single phrase may yield multiple changes before the right tone and intent is achieved. This art of “wordsmithing” obligates planners to parse out what needs to be communicated, analyze how the words could be interpreted by other people, and consider who will be applying this language specific to a particular resource. The resulting language should be a clear and concise statement that can be easily understood and implemented by all parties involved.

Consistency has also been a matter of contention while working on the Sage Grouse amendments. First of all, any management actions the BLM implements must be consistent with any previously enacted laws, statutes, acts, etc. The amendments also need to be consistent with existing BLM policies. While crafting the amendments, planners also need to be consistent within the document as well. Definitions of terms must stay the same throughout the document, and these terms cannot be changed. For example, the words “variance” and “deviance” have a similar meaning. However, these two words could be interpreted differently in the amendments when applied in different ways. Therefore, consistency throughout the amendments not only contributes to the clarity of the document, but also effectively communicates the intended message to the reader.

Sagebrush grassland gives way to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in southeastern Wyoming.

After spending 2 months in the Wyoming State Office, I finally had the opportunity to leave Cheyenne’s city limits and explore some of Wyoming’s BLM land. I was in awe of the abundance and diversity of the species that I observed utilizing sage brush habitat. Scattered between the pronghorn, coyotes, deer, rabbits and raptors, were the footprints of human activities utilizing the same resources. I observed oil pads, natural gas compression stations, a surface mining operation, wind turbines towering 500 feet above, cattle grazing, roads, fences, and transmission lines among the sagebrush landscape. Seeing how many uses this land offers reminded me why a land use plan with the goal of “multiple use and sustained yield” is so important (and difficult). In some areas, in order to protect the resources needed by Sage Grouse to persist, other resource uses may be limited. Additionally, in some areas, other resource uses must not be compromised. Observing this delicate balance of resource use first hand was an eye opening experience, and gave me a better perspective of the purpose, need, and goals of the Sage Grouse amendments.

-Katie Klein

BLM, Cheyenne WY