New experiences

Aside from seed collecting, the past few weeks I have been able to explore other field work at the BLM. I went out with the fisheries crew one day and helped them survey two sections of a creek, which happened to be loaded with fish! There was a lot more diversity in those prairie streams than I would have expected. Another day I went out with the seasonal wildlife biologist to assist with a swift fox study. I helped take down several camera traps to check the results after three nights of their being out, and we also set up two new transects with camera traps. It was a pretty neat process, and it was cool to see some of the pictures of skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and jackrabbits. I was also invited to tag along with a group to a recently burned area south of Miles City, for training on BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response). It was really interesting to learn how to assess a burned area on the severity and intensity of the fire on the landscape, and what different treatments might be appropriate, depending on the rating.

Outside of work, I recently volunteered at the annual bluegrass festival in Miles City, and helped sell food and slices of pies (70 total pies, of all different types!). That was a neat way to get involved in the community and hear some local talent. I also met a local woman who has been kind enough to teach a beginning quilter! That is something I’ve always wanted to know how to do; I’m almost finished with my first quilt, and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Area burned in recent fire south of Miles City

Bees and streams

This last month has been spent mostly doing data collection for different projects in the Bodie Hills.  Bodie was a mining town in the 1880s, but is now a ghost town and state park.  The land surrounding the park, however, is managed by the BLM.  We’ve been spending a lot of time working on projects there while many 0ther BLM lands are too hot to work on.  Recently, we’ve started working on riparian transects – collecting data about the contours of the streambed, how impacted it is, etc.  It is not always easy to work along the streams, with the willows and the rosebushes, which sometimes make access both difficult and painful.  I’ve found that my favorite part of doing these transects is the hunt to find the starting points that were established in the 80s.  Its like hunting treasure – you have a map with the location of the old rebar that marks the end of each transect loosely sketched.  From there you can infer were these rebar relative to the landmarks (which are mostly sagebrush bushes) of twenty-three years ago.  The fun doesn’t always stop there though.  Last week, we enjoyed several encounters with hornets/yellowjackets who decided in two different locations that they did not want us around their nests, and proceded to sting several members of our team, including getting me a couple of times. There was a lot of grabbing of the equipment, and running.


stream 1

A tough stream and some don't have any water at all!