May: Restoration and Outreach

This is my second month here in Carson City, NV.  The job is great, I’m finally starting to understand what it is I actually do.  We have been doing quite a few outreach events recently and we are doing another one for the Memorial Day weekend.  This upcoming event will be at Sand Mountain, which is a 600 foot mountain of sand that has been slowly forming since the glaciers retreated and the ancient Lake Lahontan dried up. Today was the first real day it rained.  Normally we just get the “Nevada 15 minute rains”.

Last week we planted the willow cuttings that we harvested earlier in the spring when we cut several thousand sections of willow branches, each about 6 inches long. We then buried these cutting underground to allow roots and shoot to form. We planted the willows in two places: Red Rock and Winter’s Ranch.  Fires had removed much of the smaller trees and grasses in both areas,  so planted along rivers that were already showing signs of erosion.   We had buried the willows in several different locations, and one of the burial sites ended up being completely submerged by a raised water table.  We lost about a thousand willows that day to various kinds of fungus.  It was disheartening.   We did, however, manage to plant thousands of healthy, happy willows and I think the cuttings we planted will do well and grow.


“Adventure is out there!”

Hello, everyone! My name is Sarah and I am one of the new CLM interns at the Bureau of Land Management in Lakeview, Oregon. I just moved here from Ohio last week, and it sure has been an adventure! Being in a completely foreign place, making new friends, and working with new people was a little daunting at first, but so far it has been great. Everyone I have met so far has been very friendly and helpful. I am really enjoying the small town atmosphere and getting to know my four housemates and the other seasonal workers.

I am working on a project that involves mapping invasive annual grasses such as Meduasahead rye (Taeniatherum canput-medusae) and North Africa grass (Ventenata dubia); as well as other noxious weeds as we find them. I have a lot of learning do; the plant species are all unfamiliar to me. We haven’t been able to locate a sample of Ventenata yet, which is a good thing, but it would be nice to see it in person so I know exactly what I’m looking for. I am still learning how to use the handheld GPS units (Trimble Juno) which are pretty amazing little devices! The maps we create will be useful in analyzing Sage Grouse habitat, as well as invasive species monitoring and control.

My first week was great. The other interns and I learned how to properly load, unload, and ride ATVs. It was a completely new experience for me, but by the end of the day it was just plain fun. I’ll probably be using ATV’s at some point during the summer so I’m glad I learned how to use them right away.

Compared to Ohio, the Oregon high desert seems really desolate, but really there is life everywhere. Besides the great variety of forbs, shrubs, and grasses, I’ve also had the opportunity to see antelope, lizards, a horny toad, quail, a bald eagle and several other birds that I don’t know the names of yet. I am really excited to be here and I’m incredibly thankful to be a part of the CLM internship program. I think that Ellie from the movie ‘Up’ sums up my feelings pretty well: “Adventure is out there!”


This is a good gig

This internship continues to be an outstanding experience. Each week is something new, a different place, new species, or new interactions with the public. I am truly enjoying how each day is different from the last. I have really enjoyed working at the Springs Preserve and being involved with the different education programs as well as working with the horticulturalist and gardens team in the plant propagation facility. It has given me a chance to see how much organization and team work go into the Springs Preserve be the wonderful place it is. Still, as great as working at the preserve is, my favorite is going out in the field and working for the SOS program. I have not stopped learning about the local area, the different flora and fauna, and how not to get lost in the desert. We recently went to Gold Butte, which is about three hours north west of Vegas. We had the opportunity to do some seed monitoring and collecting with the Great Basin Institute seed techs as well as camp with them and the GBI restoration team. It was an amazingly beautiful area (you could still see the lights from Vegas tho), and a wonderful opportunity for Alison and I to work with a different group and ask question about the different project they were working on.

Dan Goldbacher                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, NV




Peucephyllum schottii

May Days

Since my last post, I’ve been doing a hodge-podge of work. I’ve been making some seed collections, helping with vegetation surveys for the Mojave Fringe Toed Lizard, helping out with bat and owl surveys, and last night, helping the Bureau of Reclamation mist net bats near the Colorado River.

Despite the lack of rain this spring, I’ve been managing to scout out plant populations to collect seed from, and I’m hoping to be doing some more seed collections before the month is out and the weather gets incredibly hot. There are some beautiful locations within our field office, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know some new areas and new plants.

I’m also gearing up to attend a plant monitoring training in early June, which will give me some ideas for starting to set up monitoring plots for the Unusual Plant Assemblages in our field office.

That’s all for now, I’m sure I’ll have more updates soon!



Baby Bear Status

Goldilocks and the Three Bears serves as a great analogy for life after college. We are presented with many choices of varying levels of palatability and comfort. We try different proverbial porridges until something feels just right. It has been almost four years since I graduated college and I have tasted many porridges.

Oregon Spotted Frog habitat

Many have not been very tasty.  However,  I have been working at the Klamath Falls USFWS office for just over a month now, and I have never been happier in a job.

In my first week I strapped on my gaiters, snagged my binoculars and spent the early mornings trekking through snow fields to spy on nesting pairs of bald eagles. Prior to moving to the Klamath Basin, I could count the number of eagles I had seen on two hands, and that is after two seasons of raptor surveys. Now I would need many hands and feet to count the number of eagles I see in a week! Eagles are not the only species I will be working with this summer. Part of the joy of this position is that we have the opportunity to work with many different threatened and endangered species. Already I have done surveys for endangered lilies, and spent many muddy hours searching for Oregon Spotted Frogs.  Just next week,  my fellow interns and I will be spending a week in Modoc National Forest doing night surveys for Modoc Suckers.  They are a smaller benthic freshwater fish that can only be found in three limited watersheds in California and Oregon.

Yet another wonderful feature of this position is the leadership role we are allowed to take. Each intern is appointed as a project lead for various projects throughout the summer. Essentially it is our responsibility help conceive, plan and execute a monitoring project for a specific species. This includes coordinating with other agencies, establishing and refining a survey protocol, and leading the team while out in the field. We have the invaluable opportunity to work along side the permanent senior biologists in this effort. I am learning a lot, and it feels good to finally dust off some off the knowledge I acquired in college.

Taking this internship has reaffirmed my goals of becoming a field biologist. I have reached baby bear status, where finally I’m in a position that feels just right.

Reporting from HQ – Washington D.C. (2 weeks in)

My name is Alan Kroeger and I am the CLM policy intern here in D.C. I worked at the Chicago Botanic Garden last year in woodland restoration, but my academic training is policy. I made my way to DC in January working at The Wilderness Society for the last 4 months, and have now transitioned over to my CLM post as “the intern” for the Plant Conservation Program Lead.  The Washington office is one of many glass buildings on the waterfront where everybody rides the metro and has a favorite food truck. I have a lot of family in DC and have been coming here for years, but living here has been especially rewarding. I can see monuments from my office window and on the ride home, visit museums on the weekend, and I have been networking like crazy.

A critical part of life in DC is my ever expanding list of acronyms that I use on a daily basis, and have been in more meetings these past two weeks than ever before – it’s great!


my office and view of the landscape


Here in my office I will be working on several topics. I am part of a team that will be developing the Strategy and Program Development for the Native Plant Materials Development Program (NPMDP).  Also I am on the team that will be looking at a national Wildland Seed Collection Permitting Policy and Salvage Policy when dealing with site development, right-of-way permits, and personal and professional seed collectors. I am involved with the national Seed Use Survey data analysis where at the Washington office we are looking at how people in the field and state offices use native seed. There is also an ongoing website redesign project where we will be looking at our content for plants and evaluating how we can best present our work to the public and scientists alike.  Last week I was at the bi-monthly Plant Conservation Alliance meeting at NatureServe.  NatureServe presented their BLM funded project for developing a Climate Change Vulnerability Index for plants that evaluated sensitivity and exposure to climate change by species.

In between all the meetings and briefings I also went through background checks and fingerprint scans, and am now ready to get to work. My most recent project was working with the DOI and the Office of Science & Technology Policy to enter information about CLM internship program for the Federal Inventory of STEM programs so that this program will be recognized as a STEM certified DOI program.

I have enjoyed reading the other blogs and especially all the pictures of vistas across the West.

It’s only the beginning, two weeks in, and I am just starting to get an inside look at the workings of “the Bureau”.

Database update- almost done

I just completed five months of my internship, and I’ve been extended another 5 months. Its incredible how time flies. I am still working on cataloging, databasing and shipping off Florida lichen collections. I am sure that next week I will finish shipping off the specimens and will complete this project. With the completion of this project I can proudly say that I know how to use Microsoft Access, and can work at an herbarium digitizing samples. This is a useful skill, since many herbaria are in the process of putting their records on the internet.

I am also working on a short academic paper on range extensions and documenting a few lichens new to North America. It is exciting to see how many discoveries and ideas for future research were generated from examining just 1,000 specimens. The discoveries are best documented by photos!  Two species, Lecanora barkmaniana, and Coccocarpia filiformis are new to North America. There is also range extensions of 10 species, two of which are shown below.  All photos taken by Pamela Hess.

Coccocarpia prostrata

Second collection in North America

Endocarpon petrolepideum– growing on snail shell!

Lichens on snail shells



Surrounded by beauty

When I left Arcata, CA to begin my internship in Las Vegas, I told myself that I was capable of finding beauty anywhere, even in a place as busy and populated as Las Vegas.  Having never visited the city and having only ever driven through the desert en route to more lush and colder destinations, I admit that I had low expectations for my new home.  After spending just a couple weeks here, however, I knew that I had landed in a beautiful spot.  Now two and a half months into my internship, I feel so lucky to live here and do the work that I do.  Two days out of the week I participate in the Seeds of Success program, which has allowed me to explore many different types of landscapes surrounding Las Vegas.  Those are my favorite days of the week, and before each drive I anxiously await the discovery of new plants and new views.  My partner and I  spend time scouting in Creosote-bursage communities, climbing our way over passes to reach rocky Pinyon-Juniper woodlands. Every lunch break offers a different view, each one uniquely peaceful and breathtaking.  The city itself can be overwhelming at times but I can always count on a day in the field to make me smile and calm me down.  Here are a handful of photos of some of our collection sites, as well as a couple weekend trips:

Early morning view of the Colorado River on a weekend trip to the hot springs

The view from the top of Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon

Sunset at our camping spot in Gold Butte

Christmas Tree Pass on a blissful rainy day

Lovell Canyon

Lava Butte Road offers some fun driving

Lunch spot at Cottonwood Pass

The past few weeks here have been wonderful.  We have gotten some rain and the desert is starting to come to life.  I completed the Seeds of Success Training with some fellow CLM interns and left feeling so proud of the work that I am doing.  This program is led by some truly dedicated and enthusiastic folks and I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet and chat with some of them.  Each day I feel more confident in my abilities as a botanist and as a member of the SOS team.  I’m looking forward to what the next couple of months brings!

Allison Clark

CLM Intern: Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, Nevada

First Impressions: Alturas, CA

I was headed South on 395. I had just left Bend, Oregon where I spent the winter working near Mt. Bachelor. After enjoying a cold and crisp winter I began to be more intimidated by the thought of driving further and further into warm Sagebrush country. About 100 miles from my destination of Alturas, California the clear sunny day unexpectedly became a blizzard. Soon at least 2 inches of snow covered the desert-like landscape. The snow continued to fall as a drove on when about 5 miles from where I would be living I saw a very large cat nimbly crossing the road… not even my first field day and I had already seen a local mountain lion! This summer was looking to be a interesting one.

I have now been working in Alturas for the BLM and living in Likely, CA for about two weeks. It is only May and the heat is already intimidating to someone who grew up in Western Washington. Not to worry though, I am collecting an entire arsenal of sun protection. The time is already passing very quickly. The town of Alturas is small, remote and seems quite friendly. Many of the storefronts have CLOSED signs hanging in them. The ones that remain open seem all the more charming and welcoming because of their empty neighbors. And thankfully yes, there is actually a Thai restraunt in town. (:

The people working at the Alturas Field Station are even more welcoming. I am working as a Botany tech this summer, however, I have already had offers from the archeology, wildlife, fire and range departments to come along with them for some training and new adventures in Modoc country. Everyday has been different, radio training, inventorying with the weed-crew, GIS work, rare plant surveys, exploring different range allotments. I quickly realized I do not know much about the flora and fauna of this region, but I soon will. A couple field days have entirely been spent looking for several rare plants, driving down back-country gravel roads, hiking up and down ridges, around dried up creek beds and vernal pools … it is like a botanical treasure hunt!

One of my favorite days so far was spent driving West towards Mt. Shasta to Falls River Mill, here the landscape not only includes Sage and Rabbit brush but Juniper, White Oak and Grey Pine trees as well. This diverse canvas of trees and shrubs is enhanced by numerous wildflowers sprinkling the landscape with brilliant pinks, bright purples and florescent yellows and oranges. (I am still learning their names) On this particular day my partner Joe drove us to a place for lunch near where we were taking some herbarium vouchers. We sat on lava rocks looking out over a valley, in the distance was Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta, I could not imagine a better lunch hour. I couldn’t help thinking- there is so much knowledge to be gained, experiences to be had and people to learn from here… I definitely need to make the most of all these opportunities and I can’t wait!

Enlightenment within, without, but most importantly, out and about! -G. Gobbato

They say enlightenment has been reached when we individually shed all the layers giving us the illusion that we are an identity; that we are somehow removed from the everything continuously occurring around us (and within us). In a sense, when we shed these layers, we metaphorically become lighter beings, less weighed down by the everyday complications ranging from angry roommates to data entry. It is also said that wild places facilitate these realizations where many people find themselves being a part of the everything. It is easy to feel that way here in Zion National Park.

Checkerboard Mesa

Kolob Terrace Road, post burn

The last couple of weeks have been exciting for the herbarium because I am trying to daily go somewhere in the park, and target specific species that are missing in Zion’s collection. I have collected 50 species, most of them new to the herbarium. I have also recruited: the Vegetation crew; the Fire FX crew; the Chief of Resources; and even an amazing botanist who has worked in this region the last ten years, to all collect and look for the species we are missing. I am hopeful that in this upcoming month we will be able to drastically reduce the number of species we are missing.

On that note, I have had some really exciting finds recently. I went to a hidden hanging garden with a new vegetation seasonal employee who also happens to be my new, very cool roommate. He is amazing with plants and also knows the animalia and fungi kingdoms. He was great to have out in the field. We found the rare local endemic Viola clauseniana, which according to USDA plants, occurs only in this county. We wonder why it is not federally listed. It is the first time I’ve ever seen it; our Annotated Checklist of Vascular Flora of Zion NP states that this species was described here in Zion NP in 1936 by Baker.

Viola clauseniana

The other awesome plant I found was Cheilanthes feei (slender lipfern). Mostly, it is awesome because it was the last fern I had to find and collect in order to have found all 19 ferns; Historic, Rare, and Present in Zion.  C. feei is also very special regardless of my perception of it because it has uniquely glabrous leaflets above and very finely scaled white underbelly- xeric adaptations. And, for a million other reasons I probably struggle to comprehend, such as that it is a cosmopolitan genera, and its DNA sequence is probably triple mine.  I am glad I am, in a sense, a part of it.

Cheilanthes feei

Gear for collecting the last fern for the Herbarium!