My internship in Idaho is wrapping up. But I will continue to stay in Boise, as Lichen Curator at Boise State University through May or early June. I will continue to work on the same projects. I’m excited to stay and see the completion of the digitization of the lichen and moss records. Once that is complete, I will have the chance to finish some other projects, such as mailing off duplicate specimens. Boise, Idaho is growing on me, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to stay a bit longer. And unlike last winter, this year I am prepared for the cold weather, and have a bike to get around.
One of my last field days, myself and 4 coworkers drove out to an ACEC that has a rare sedge. It was thought extinct for many years, and then a graduate student randomly collected it, almost 100 years after it was first described. A road had been placed through the site. So we planted small sedge plants in the old road bed, to encourage the sedge growth. It was nice to feel that I made a difference, and I hope this small project goes a long way towards preserving this species. This sedge is only known from 2-3 sites in Idaho. However, my coworker, Pam, says there are probably more sites. Its stunning to think that in these large tracks of land, how much needs to explored. Even 10 months into my internship, it’s still hard to grasp how large and vast this country is.
Last month, a past CLM intern flew into Boise, Idaho to visit friends she made from her internship. Roger took us two and an additional past CLM intern out to lunch. It was very neat to have 3 interns in the same room, and I’m sure I’ll be back to visit the friends I made in Idaho in the future.
In other news, I am close to submitting an academic paper that my supervisor, Roger Rosentreter and I have been working on since June. It will be quite an accomplishment to finally submit it.
Every month when it comes time for me to write my blog I find, without fail, that I am astounded by the experiences I have had and the skills I have gained through this internship program. Last week we had a Conservation Corps Crew from Montana visiting our field office and we were able to get out several days with them to collect Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis seeds. It was a HUGELY productive week for us and a lot of fun to get to work with a team of highly motivated, like-minded individuals. It was great to hear the crew members stories and reflections about the conservation projects they worked on up in Montana. With the crew’s help, we were able to collect mind boggling amounts of seed, much of which will be used to re-seed previously burned sites in our field office.
This week was also an exciting week for Hillary (the other CLM Range Intern here) and myself because we were able to put out the first of thousands of freshly made sage-grouse fence markers. It is a truly great feeling to successfully go through the process of having an idea, making a plan, and then implementing that plan in the field. After weeks of mapping fence line, researching sage-grouse fence markers, and then making markers of our own, it is fantastic to be able to start marking fences in core sage-grouse habitat. We hope this effort will reduce sage-grouse fence collisions, which have been found to be responsible for 40% of total species fatalities.
As we’re on the doorstep of Thanksgiving (at the time this was written), I felt it would be fitting to [attempt to] try and compare management and policy implementation to Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is great, but a meal, it does not make. You need stuffing as well, probably some sort of potato dish (or 3), gravy, rolls, cranberries, blah, blah, yadda yadda – You get the picture.
It’s similar to creating and implementing actions and management plans for land use, wildlife, and resources, etc. Timing restrictions near sage grouse leks, a conservation plan does not make. You need habitat protections, and improvements. You need seasonal habitat ranges identified. You need a cornucopia (see what I did there?) of information at several different scales, and all the while, you still need to manage for other land use/purposes (recreation, minerals, etc.). Protection around winter roost sites alone doesn’t satisfy all there is to eagle protection, the same way if I slapped down a tofurkey and some green beans, you’d probably (and deservedly) label it one of the worst Thanksgiving dinners… ever (subtle message to some of you, leave your tofurkey at home).
And that’s just addressing the ingredients. A huge spread while eating it alone, a Thanksgiving meal, it does not make. Without different offices and agencies all cooperating and doing their best to address and identify a common goal to work towards, these plans can easily fall short. It’s important to keep in mind; one can clean the bird, while the other cooks it. I’ll peel the potatoes and you mash them. You distract so-and-so, and I’ll chuck the tofurkey in the garbage. Much in the same way, we collect the survey data, and they can collect vegetation information. In the end, in the same way you share a meal over the holiday season to increase the level of enjoyment, the best conservation plans and management goals are reached with similar cooperation and partnerships.
This is mainly off the heels of the kinds of communication I’ve witnessed at some level-1 team meetings here in Wyoming, where representatives from different agencies work together to share information and move towards common goals. I’ve also recently witnessed this at a workshop for identifying seasonal sage-grouse habitat where private sector and public agency personnel share input (both while sitting a large tables) to reach a goal with shared aspects. None of these plans will ever taste as good as a deep-fried turkey, but you get the picture… Happy Thanksgiving.
It has been an amazing summer of exploring the southwest here in Farmington, New Mexico. When I think back to all the field work and weekend adventures we had, it’s easy to see why time passed so quickly! For a while we thought there would be a never ending drought and the seeds would never come, oh how we were wrong. We found a gold mine down in Cuba and were able to make a total of 45 collections throughout the summer and check out some breathtaking country there too. Cuba, NM looks like it hasn’t changed much since the 50’s and that’s exactly the way the people there like it. The wildflowers and trees were lush and green all summer long and we would go whole days without seeing another soul on the back roads.
Last Thursday was one of my favorite days of the internship so far, it has been great to end everything on a high note. Deidre and I were able to help the riparian coordinator, Sarah Scott, and the threatened and endangered species biologist, John Kendal, asses the health of the San Juan River here in Farmington. All summer we had made plans to get out and paddle the river outside of work, but other adventures just kept getting in the way. Running the San Juan with Sarah and John was so much better because of the wealth of knowledge they brought along. John was identifying every bird we passed and Sarah was showing us where and how the river had changed since the last Proper Functioning Condition assessment. We had some moments of excitement on some mini rapids but everyone made it to the takeout dry and unscathed.
Our first mini rapid.
The San Juan in November
Huge patch of Cleome Serrulata in Cuba
As the season comes to an end, I would like to thank my mentor, Sheila Williams, for all the knowledge and support she passed on to us throughout my time here. It has been great to learn the local flora here on the Colorado Plateau as well as the inner workings of our busy office. Hopefully the future holds more exciting and fun jobs like this one!
This is my closing blog post for my range technician CLM internship. I am so incredibly grateful for the experience I have had in Oregon. The internship went above and beyond my expectations.
Buildings, farms, signs, and people from the Midwest were replaced with desert, mountains, dirt roads and cattle in my new setting out West. The nearest big box store was two hours away instead of two miles. It did not take me long to adjust and appreciate my new surroundings. My favorite part was being so close to trails and other outdoor activities. Oregon is such a beautiful place, I just might not leave.
The job itself was not exactly what I anticipated. Being from the Midwest, I don’t think I understood what rangeland was. What I understood was that I was going to be identifying grasses in the rangeland. I didn’t know that I was going to be identifying grasses that had already been eaten by cattle. Besides grass identification and plant monitoring, I learned quite a bit about government agencies and land management. I took a GIS course on ESRI and was able to create a project in hopes of improving the job for the next range tech. I got certified to ride an ATV/UTV, learned how to drive a big manual truck, and the list goes on and on.
Another big part of my experience was the people I met. As many of you are aware, Lakeview, OR had a lot of interns. Most of us lived in two government provided trailers in the parking lot of various government buildings on the south side of town. It was like living in a nature sorority. There was never a dull moment and we went on numerous camping excursions around the area. I did not expect to make so many good friends in such a small town!
After exploring life out west and working in a government agency, I have a better idea of what kind of work I would like to pursue in the future and where. There were opportunities that directly related to the range tech experiences, but I don’t have the underlying interest in range to follow that path. I am hoping that if I could do another internship in a position that more closer related to my interests, opportunities would arise again and in the right direction. I have no definitive plans for after my internship but I am hoping to try for another CLM internship in 2013. Whatever happens, I am excited for the adventures ahead!
Six months have come and gone. I am wondering how time could have possibly flown by so quickly. Did time seem to speed up because of all of the friends I have made? Was it because I enjoyed my job every day? Was it because of all of the new and exciting places? All I know is that time HAS flown, and I have all of those reasons plus so much more to look back on and be happy about. All of the people I will never forget and the experiences I will treasure have made being a CLM intern one of the greatest experiences ever.
Awwwwww Lakeview interns
I began the summer with some professional qualities that helped me get a great start in the field. I ended the summer with a stronger sense of those qualities and an entire grab-bag of different ones. I was able to work in Lakeview with a great group of interns and supervisors where I explored a new ecosystem while identifying plants that were unfamiliar to me. I learned a great deal about range management and several other departments including wildlife, botany, and fisheries. I completed stream and riparian vegetation surveys as well as grazing utilization studies and Range Health Assessments. I also developed several new survey techniques that are used widely across the BLM. I took field trips to the Bend Seed Extractory and the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensics lab. The week of training at the Chicago Botanic Garden was also one of the coolest parts about the summer, and I strongly suggest attending.
I honestly cannot believe what a great program the CLM turned out to be. The people involved seriously care about us as interns and young professionals, and they want to help us to make connections for our future. Everyone should take advantage of this opportunity and APPLY NOW! I know I cannot wait for my next opportunity with CLM. Thanks for a great summer and great experience!
Right after my last blog entry, I received news that my extension went through so I will continue working for the San Bernardino National Forest through late May 2013. I am absolutely thrilled because I love the people I work with/for and continue to learn new things literally every day. I am gradually switching over to working for the restoration program rather than the botany program because that is where the funding was available.
During the last month of my first batch of funding, I entered almost all of the data I collected during the summer- which made me feel like all my hard work wasn’t in vain! Although the task of data entry seems dry, I actually enjoyed it because I was able to improve my geodatabase skills because the database we use here is supported through ArcGIS. My supervisors worked out a deal so that I can continue doing data entry for my first boss and field work for my new boss which will work out well for snowy days.
Snow! It has already started coming. As a consequence, we’ve been working on restoration projects at lower elevations. This past week we started a project in the Big Horn Wilderness which is northwest of Joshua Tree National Park. We have been re-enforcing the boundary between BLM property and US Forest Service wilderness. One of the qualifiers of “wilderness” is the absence of motorized vehicles and wheels of any sort. Currently, the spaghetti OHV road network on BLM land is crossing the border into Forest Service wilderness. This project is a quintessential example of interagency cooperation: the BLM, the Forest Service, the San Bernardino National Forest Association, the Urban Conservation Corps, and the Student Conservation Association are all involved. We spent the last week installing posts that we will string with fancy cable that can’t be clipped with generic wire cutters. Next week we’ll string the cable and disguise the roads we are closing with slash. I’ve been able to take a bit of a leadership role on the project because my higher ups have been stretched pretty thin recently. I’ve enjoyed managing the different crews out in the field and am grateful that those I work with trust me enough to leave me in charge.
So, if you can’t gather, I’m still stoked on my CLM experience and love every minute of my job, so thanks again for those who make it possible!
Urban Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association crews lining out where the fence should go and installing the fence.
The San Juan River at Simon Canyon, NM
Seed collecting is wrapped up in Farmington, NM, and the seeds themselves are wrapped up in packages waiting to be opened by the Bend Seed Extractory personnel. We unloaded the pickup of our gear, trash, sand, and seeds in preparation for its complete purging at the auto shop. I think fall cleaning takes more energy for field workers than spring cleaning. Finishing up the SOS collections has allowed us to help other natural resource folks in the office.
Living in the desert has instilled a deep fondness for cottonwood trees
The last collection- Chenopodium graveolens
We went out with the Threatened and Endangered Species Specialist to look for the Mesa Verde fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus mesae-verdae) in areas where a powerline will be installed. We encountered a couple of oil wells that were not actively pumping, but leaking oil. The San Juan basin has over 18,000 active oil and gas wells in urban and remote areas. I will be seeing how the process works to report an oil leak and hopefully more attention will be paid to some of the remote sites that can easily slip under the radar.
Mesa Verde fishhook cacti
An oil well leaking oil in the San Juan Basin
Old car grazing the San Juan river
The right fork of the San Juan river is shallow this time of the year
The rock in the horizon down river is Shiprock, a sacred site of the Navajo that can be seen for miles around the four corners area
Yesterday we finished canoeing a section of the San Juan River to assess its proper functioning condition- a national criteria to evaluate riparian health and potential. There were numerous areas of illegal dumping- the weirdest being a large metal framed boat and an old car. Even so, it was an absolutely gorgeous day as we spent what I believe is the last day of summer-fall. Winter fall is not far behind.
Well, my first internship has officially ended, but thank goodness for extensions. Pretty much all of the range field season is over, but new projects just keep popping up left and right, so we’ve been extended here for awhile. One of our latest projects involved making sage grouse fence markers. For the record, using tin snips to cut vinyl undersill is not very effective, but a tile cutter works great. We’ll be choosing some fences near active leks to start putting these on, in hopes of preventing the extremely high mortality rate from fence collisions.
Another new project we’ve just started is the mapping of saltcedar. We are still working out the logistics, but we are hoping to get a very detailed picture of where and how much saltcedar can be found in local draws, especially around manmade resevoirs. Once we know the distribution, focused efforts to remove it can be undertaken. I’m excited for this project because walking through these draws, looking in all the nooks and crannies, is so different from surveying the rangeland. It should make for another interesting experience from Buffalo, WY.
As our numbers of interns have dwindled over the past few months, with most of the interns returning back to school, we are now down officially to two. The last two standing are both CLM interns and we are working as one well oiled machine! As I have been at the Roswell Field Office for over 6 months and Jaci has been here over 5 months, we both have a very good idea of what we need to do. We have seen and learned the full process of the monitoring aspect of range. We can now independently perform all of the different types of monitoring needed at the field office, process and enter our results into the database, and write the corresponding NEPA documentation needed for that allotment. I now fully comprehend the work that I do and why it is needed. The reason I say this is because when I first began my internship I learned the monitoring techniques and the plant species, which was no small task, but I focused most of my attention on learning this first step. After this step, I learned how to analyze and enter our results into the database; consequently, increasing my understanding of why the BLM needs to monitor and obtain certain data. Then recently, I have begun writing the NEPA documentation for the field data that we have collected and entered and this is the step where it all clicked. I have now completed the process and now I truly understand why monitoring is such a vital part of the BLM. And this process is never ending as the Roswell Field Office alone manages 1,490,000 acres of public land. All of those 1,490,000 acres needs management which for the most part includes a certain type of monitoring and that is just the first step in the process. I understand what a huge task the Roswell Field Office takes on, and that this is just one field office within one state of all of the BLM. The task to properly manage all of the public lands is a colossal task but it is a crucial one. I am very thankful for all of the people who work hard to not only maintain our public lands but who fight for access to these lands so that everyone can enjoy them. Here are some pictures of the beautiful public lands managed by the Roswell Field Office!