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.

Lizzy Eichorn 

The Bold, the Beautiful and the Ugly

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.

New projects keep on coming

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.

RFO’s Public Lands

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!

Thank you Colorado!

When I first arrived at my CLM internship at the BLM in Grand Junction, CO – I knew very little about the BLM and how public land is managed for multi-use.  I came from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and was now surrounded by unfamiliar plants and a very different ecosystem.  However, I had the unique opportunity to work with two experienced professionals in the field each day, rather than fellow seasonals.  Harley Metz and John Toolen are very familiar with the western slope and were happy to answer the thousands of questions that I had.  I learned how GJFO manages its land to support so many uses and conservation initiatives, which seed species are planted following a fire, what the most palatable forage species for cattle are, and the mechanical techniques that were used to remove Pinyon-Juniper encroachment to improve Sage-Grouse habitat.  More importantly, I now understand that the field office is still learning how to combat certain issues, like how to eradicate Cheatgrass is such a dry environment.  While I would like to say that I left my internship with a sense of conclusion and understanding of land management in the desert, I am actually leaving with even more questions and a desire to return to Colorado to learn more.

Although the primary focus of my internship was conducting Land Health Assessments, I also participated in a variety of fieldwork.  I chased after a ridiculously-fast graduate student and learned to use radio-telemetry to track radio-collared desert bighorn sheep.  I hiked in the Piceance Basin, one of the largest natural gas reserves in the country, to search for rare Phacelia habitat.  I also accompanied the botanists and CLM interns from Colorado State Office to survey for Penstemon debilis and later to collect Artemesia frigada seeds.  But probably the most exciting for me was visiting a recent wildfire with the BAER team and monitoring the vegetation post-fire.

On that note, my next adventure leads me to the Sandhill Crane NWR on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where I will work as a Fire Ecology Intern.  I will be monitoring fire-effects and conducting prescribed burns.  While I am sad to leave the western slope, I am really excited about this next adventure.  I have learned a lot about working for a federal agency, and by working with people in different stages of their careers, I have a new found sense of direction about my own.  Working as a CLM intern was an incredible experience, and I am so grateful that I had this opportunity.



Grand Junction, CO


The beautiful western slope.

Canyonlands, UT:  It’s incredible!  Go there!


T minus 1 week

I’ve always had a fear of getting stuck in a permanent job, especially one I didn’t like. But since I’ve been working in Cody for just over a year and a half, I feel like I have been working a “real” job, not just an internship. I know the field office, I know the projects, the people, the wildlife, the plants, the tools, how to keep myself busy and prioritize tasks… In short, I know the job. I suppose this is what a “real” job feels like, and it’s not that scary. Granted, my internship has been extended in 5-month chunks, based on funding, which probably eased my phobia of permanency. Nevertheless, if I can approach a new grown-up job with the same confidence that I have when I sit down to my computer in the morning here, turn the key in the ignition of a government-owned vehicle, drive miles out to a remote work site, and accomplish the task I prioritized for myself for the day, I will have no problem taking on a “real” job. New jobs never start out that way, but I know I will get there. I know this because I’ve done it, piece by piece. I have acquired more skills and absorbed more knowledge than I probably even realize, and by putting it all into practice day by day at a job like this, knowing the work is valuable, I have finally acquired the confidence to go with it. I work hard. I am responsible. I can learn new things. I get stuff done. I am employable. These facts will not guarantee me a job, but knowing them does dispel the feelings of inadequacy that usually accompany the thought of getting one.

So now I am facing the last week left of my favorite job, in the coolest place I’ve lived, partaking in some of my favorite activities. It’s sad, but I feel accomplished all the same. It’s going to injure my pride a little if I cry when I leave, but I would bet my breakfast I’m going to do it anyway.

Some of the projects to be wrapped up in order to finish out my internship are: writing up the wildlife section of the Cody Field Office website, gluing and labeling herbarium vouchers, explaining all the GPS points I’ve been collecting and how they go together, and helping my mentor refine the first draft of a paper involving statistical analyses of sage-grouse lek attendance related to vegetation treatments. Guess this next week will be a busy one. I hope that will keep my mind off leaving.

I still remember my first real work day (the one after the introductory meet-the-office day), on May 13, 2011. We left the office sometime during the 4 o’clock hour in the morning to head out to Chapman Bench and count sage-grouse, right at the end of the lekking season. I had never used a spotting scope, seen sage-grouse or smelled sagebrush, and I couldn’t figure out why everything smelled minty when I rolled down the window until I asked my mentor about it. The alpine glow on the Beartooth Mountains was lovely, and I kept taking pictures. Then my mentor drove us up this rather steep, bumpy little two-track onto Polecat Bench, talking casually all the while as I glanced (with mild anxiety) out the back window of the truck. At the GROUND. I am from Nebraska, and had never been in any vehicle traversing this sort of topography. I believed he knew what he was doing, but Phew. This was new.

Sometimes when I encounter situations or environmental conditions that seem a little iffy I think to myself, “what would my mentor do?” Sometimes it’s not worth it to proceed. Sometimes it isn’t as bad as it looked initially, after some cautious evaluation. I appreciate my mentor, he’s a great boss and Wildlife Biologist. Good bosses always make jobs better, and I certainly can’t complain. I also appreciate my “alternate intern keeper,” one of the resident Geologists. And the other friends I’ve made… I will miss them, but I will be back. I couldn’t stay away now. But alas, just for now, it is time to do a little more life stretching. So here goes.

It’s raining in Oregon!

After a peculiarly hot and dry summer, rain has finally made an appearance in the Willamette Valley. And coinciding with the rain is an opportunity for a little bit of field work. For me, field season was officially over in August with the end of monitoring, and I have since then settled into the office working on reports. However, it’s restoration time in the wetlands, and prime time to reseed the bare ground left by ecological burns.

Seeding has been an entirely different creature than monitoring; there is quite a bit of preparation involved before actually spreading the seed. First, we picked up the seed from the City of Eugene, one of BLM’s partners in preserving and restoring the West Eugene Wetlands. The City of Eugene sorts and packages the native seed by site for us so that it’s almost all ready to go. We store the seed in our seed cooler until we are ready to begin, at which time we have to mix the different species of seed together. Finally, we are ready to start spreading the seed.

In addition to seeding, I also had the opportunity to attend a grantwriting training workshop at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The workshop ran for three jam-packed days full of valuable information. It was completely awesome. The refuge itself was also beautiful. Our “classroom” had a huge window in the back that looked out over the refuge, through which we could view the local wildlife (mainly egrets, great blue herons, and even a few eagles).

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge–it poured the entire time I was there!


Signing off for now,

Mackenzie Cowan

A Great Experience



I can honestly say that after reflecting on my time in Lakeview, OR, I feel very blessed to have been a part of the CLM Program and to have been placed with so many great people. I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in working for government.



View after an intense hike


This summer I was able to grow both professionally and personally. I had the privilege of working with a great group of interns through the CLM program. This internship has helped me to figure out which direction I would like to go in the future. Now that I have returned to the Midwest, I find myself citing skills and experiences from my time as an intern in CLM in interviews repeatedly.


Just a few quick tips for future CLM participants:

1. Go to the CLM Workshop if you can- there are great workshops and it’s always fun to hear about other interns and their experiences.

2. Travel on the weekends- Make the most of your time, wherever you are, and take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. You will be done before you know it!

3. Keep in contact with those you meet- both professionally and personally, I made some great contacts and I hope to stay in touch with them in the future.

4. Don’t be afraid to pursue/request specific skill sets- Your mentors are there to help you and take the time to discuss your interests with those you work with.

Those are just a few off the top of my head but just make sure you take advantage of your adventure! If any other future interns have any specific Lakeview questions, feel free to ask one of the many interns available.


I feel very lucky to have been placed in Lakeview, OR for 5 months in the West. Best of luck to all of the other CLMers in their future endeavors!

Fall in New Mexico

5 months flies by fast!  But, thankfully, I have 3 more months of extension!                                     


Since I’ve posted last, we have been settling into fall.  Being from Pennsylvania, I know fall.  And I know it well.  I also know that New Mexico does not have nearly as many deciduous trees.  So as fall was quickly approaching, I wasn’t expecting much.  I was in for a pleasant surprise.  In Fort Stanton, which is one of the recreation areas in our field office, there are a few different species of shrub-sized oaks.  Cruising through there one day for work, all the different oaks were wonderful bright reds, yellows and the occasional tan.  It was beautiful!  And not only were the shrubs vibrant, but also the cottonwoods along the rivers, and the grasses!  I’ve noticed the grasses shimmer in the right sunlight – especially Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) and Burrograss (Scleropogon brevifolius) both having exceptional fall tones.


Best of luck to the other interns who are all finished!



Roswell, NM

The Latest and Greatest Collections

The season is beginning to come to a close. Looking around the different field sites and local parks, I noticed that the aspen leaves are beginning to desiccate and produce the most brilliant, golden yellow and amazingly, beautiful orange hues.  Even though the season is almost over, we are still very busy with collecting seeds, such as Chrysothamnus sp. populations, Mentzelia nuda (bractless blazingstar), and many other plant species that we have been scouting and monitoring all season long.

This has been an absolutely amazing opportunity. There are some very beautiful things happening in Colorado this time of year, and I am very excited and looking forward to experiencing winter sports and fall festival events in downtown Denver. Here are a few  photos to show some of the events that have happened thus far.

One of our collections for the S.O.S. Program

During one of my favorite collections, Humulus lupulus. While out in the field collecting, we saw a garter snake  (quite harmless).

Snake in the grass

Can you find the snake hidden in the grass?

Last week Sama (another CLM intern at the BLM Colorado State Office) finished her CLM internship. It was very sad to see her leave and its very different to see people move on to their new adventures. Truly, I think that I have made some great friendships through the CLM program and I know that I will stay in contact and remain friends with them even after the CLM Internship Program.

Last day of internship for Sama

At Pine Valley Ranch Open Space Park, Sama and I together on her last day of the CLM internship.

I was able to spend time with other interns from different field offices in Colorado. At Anvil Points, we monitored the Penstemon debilis rare plant population, which lives in areas high in shale deposits on about a 5 degree slope that suddenly drops down into a valley. Its great being able to see Alison Gabrenya (Ali) again, we met at the CLM Workshop in Chicago and we have been great friends ever since then. For the day, I was able to show her exactly what we do at the Colorado State Office to study, monitor, and assess rare plant populations. 

Spending Time with Friends

Spending the day with Ali Gabrenya and Christine Chung on a rare plant monitoring trip for Penstemon debilis at Anvil Points.

I’m looking forward to staying until the very end of this seed collection season and continuing to increase our numbers of plant species for the S.O.S. Program. I have learned so much from this wonderful opportunity and gained a large amount of confidence in identifying Colorado native plant species. Being a girl from Georgia, the flora and even fauna are vastly different in the south in comparison to the west. I’m excited to see what the month of November holds and the spectacular events happening throughout this beautiful state. I have fallen in love with Colorado and all of the friendly people here!

Happy Seed Collecting (because there are still thousands of seeds to continue to collect before the season is officially over).

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office