It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…

After spending six months in Susanville without any real rain event, the weather that November and December brought was startling.  It rained for multiple days in a row with few breaks in the clouds.  Although I was not too fond of the many wet and dreary days, I am relieved that the land is finally getting a bit of moisture.  The plants’ dismal seed production this year showed that they were more than a little parched.  All the precipitation has also created great conditions to apply stabilization and rehabilitation treatments to the 315,000 acre Rush wildfire that raged through the Eagle Lake BLM field office this past summer.

The process of drill seeding the severely burned areas has begun.  The rangeland drill seeder is a beast of a machine and I think everyone in our field office is pleasantly surprised by its capabilities.  Our land is unreasonably rocky, making any of the treatments we are trying to apply extremely difficult to achieve.  Luckily, the drill seeder can handle the rocks and great progress is being made on that front.

We have also started planting antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) in the burned area.  Bitterbrush is an important plant used for cover and forage by deer, antelope, and other wildlife species, and much of this habitat was burned in the Rush Fire.  Finding rock free sites with deep soils to plant bitterbrush seedlings is challenging, however.  Site conditions need to be just perfect for efficient and successful bitterbrush seedling planting, as the chainsaw auger used to drill deep holes for the seedlings does not agree with rocks and shallow soils.  With the help of volunteers, we have managed to plant about 2000 bitterbrush seedlings before the snow came and the ground froze.

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting back on my experiences throughout the past year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out.  My first trip out West has been thanks to the CLM internship, and I have seen and done so much because of the awesome opportunity.  I have explored an astonishing nine National Parks in the short time I have lived in California, as well as visited several amazing cities.  I wasn’t anticipating being in Susanville for more than five months, but here I am seven months later, and just starting my extension.  There is still so much to explore and I can’t wait to see what the year 2013 holds!

Farewell to Farmington, New Mexico

My main project, Seeds of Success, has finished for the season so I have been gaining many new experiences in the Farmington, NM field office during my last month here.


I have been able to sit in on several office meetings with resource specialists. The most fascinating was a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) discussion with representatives of BLM natural resources branches and the project manager and consultant from Williams Oil and Gas. The company has submitted a proposal for a liquid fuels pipeline spanning from Ignacio, CO, crossing New Mexico, and ending in El Paso, TX. They were doing research on possible roadblocks that could occur on BLM land with regard to protected plants, animals, riparian areas, and cultural sites. It was really cool to see an active presentation, discussion and debate on this plan.  I believe personal communication is so much more powerful than email and at times even more efficient.


A couple weeks ago I went out in the field with our tribal coordinator, Esther, to scout the proposed pipeline route and make a tally of Navajo homesteads near the path of the pipeline. Esther will be consulting them about the pipeline and present information about the installation process. It seems that they don’t have weighted input for the pipeline but Esther is doing her best to explain the project and answer any questions. I wonder how the oil company views these homesteads. 


This past week I filled in for the threatened and endangered species biologist. The purpose of my last field trip was to record any evidence of golden eagle nests or eagle presence in the Largo Canyon area. There is an oil well proposed to be constructed above the main canyon wall and one of the contractors thought she saw an eagle soaring off the edge of the cliff. The golden eagle is a Biodiversity Conservation Concern species in New Mexico. It is a fairly stable species throughout its range but its small population size make it vulnerable to habitat encroachment. A GIS specialist, Adam, was anxious to get out of the office and accompanied me. The road we were going to follow to the target site had been closed to conserve the wilderness area. We climbed a couple of hills to view the canyon wall and eventually decided to bring our adventure deeper into the canyon to check out some side tributaries. With binoculars swaying and tripods teetering we hiked through the thin layer of snow up canyon. Adam saw a large bird swoop down in a hunting motion, but just for a glimpse. We documented a few sites of whitewash (poo) on the walls, but there were no recent nests to be seen. It was still a lovely day to be outside as my last field day in New Mexico. We did see some fresh and cool tracks in the canyon wash- a large cat and a bear.

Adam using the spotting scope to scan the distant canyon wall. The crisp magnification on that instrument is absolutely remarkable


This is my last week in Farmington and I am devoted to trying to finish up my last project. I am working on a plant identification field guide that will accompany the new reclamation seed mix requirements our office is administering in January. My mentor, Sheila, has removed most of the introduced species off the seed mix choices and developed mixes specific to 8 native community types in northwest New Mexico. It is a very rewarding project with which to complete my CLM term. I feel very proud and privileged to be working on this field guide. I see it as a form of environmental education that I only recently obtained the education and experience on myself. When I first came to New Mexico, I would have needed that field guide to look at the flora here. Now I have acquired the skills to create it with a familiarity of the plants. The guide will be used by our office staff who survey oil and gas well pads and also by operators, contractors and consultants who are responsible for reclaiming vegetated areas that have been disturbed by their energy projects.

I will treasure the experience and exposure I had with many different resource types in the four corners area: plants, wildlife, canyons, rivers, rangeland. I will especially remember the friendships I have made here in the 7 months. When field work wound down I was able to get to know many fine people in our office and what their work entails. I wish the next interns good luck in their quest for seeds in this unique part of the country. Even though Farmington isn’t my dream town, I know I was meant to spend some time here. To learn and to love and now, to leave. 

Deidre Conocchioli

Farmington, NM BLM


View from the Farmington BLM office. It’s our first snow that has stuck around for a couple days




Farewell from the Land of Enchantment

A little more than eight months ago now, I packed up all my things in the back of my Ford pick-up truck and headed cross country from Maine to New Mexico. I had no idea what would be in store for me there or any idea of what New Mexico was like… all I knew was that I was traveling West for a position within the Bureau of Land Management as a CLM intern! Fast forward those eight months and I am so glad that I was willing to take that leap into the unknown, especially as a recent marine science graduate taking a position in the desert. Now looking back after completing my eight month internship, I can now see all of the benefits of this experience.

One major benefit of being a CLM intern is the opportunity to challenge yourself in more ways than one. I was able to challenge myself personally and professionally. Personally, moving cross country and establishing yourself in an area where everything is new to you and you know no one was a challenge, however, I was able to meet that challenge head on and I know that I have grown as a person from that experience. Professionally, this was my first opportunity to work within a federal agency yet with any position there is the challenge to do the best that you can do. Over my internship I did just that and worked very hard and challenged myself to do the best job that I could do, and as a result not only did I gain more experience, but I also made great connections with my co-workers and supervisors.

Another major benefit of being a CLM intern is the experiences and new skills that you gain.  As I mentioned previously, I graduated with a degree in marine science so as you can image when I received an internship position working as a range technician, I learned and gained a whole new set of skills. Although it may seem odd, the skills that I gained through this experience will help me in the future whether my path be in marine science or rangeland science because the skills that I gained can be applied in many different biological fields. I gained skills and experience in: a variety of monitoring methods, GIS, NEPA documents, data entry, and many more! These new skills and experiences will help me achieve my career goals.

One last benefit that I will mention, granted there are many more, is the ability to make connections with people in your field office both professionally and personally. After eight months of working with numerous people in the office, I entered as an unknown intern from Maine and leave as a co-worker and friend! My relationships with the people in the office made this experience even better. I want a chance to thank everyone at the Roswell Field Office for making me feel as part of the team! Honestly, everyone at the field office went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and a part of the group. I learned something from everyone there. Thank you again!

One last thing before I wrap this last blog entry up is a little advice for any person who is contemplating to apply for the CLM program… my advice is DO IT! You will honestly not regret in joining this program. This program is amazing! In this program you will gain experience, skills, and connections!

And last but definitely not least, I want to thank all of the people who make the CLM program possible! From the application process to completing the internship, this program has made the journey easy! The steps to apply and the steps to take during the internship have been laid out for you and are very easy to follow and for that alone I thank you! On top of that, everyone in the staff who I have had the opportunity to meet or speak with has been knowledgeable, helpful, and extremely nice! Thank you very much for this opportunity to be a part of the CLM internship program!

This was an experience that I will never forget… Thank you!

Stephanie Burkhardt

Roswell Field Office

Wet season in full force

Very little has changed here since my last post.  The wet season is in full force here and my duties have shifted to mainly office work.  I have re-entered the realm of GIS.  It is definitely a good thing I am doing this work because despite having taken a GIS course less than a year ago, it seems I have already fallen out of the loop.  Although the office work is not quite as appealing to me as the wonderful amazing superb field work I get to participate in, this rainy cold weather has also caused a dramatic increase in our wintering bird population numbers.  Tens of thousands of geese, ducks, and cranes have arrived here at the Cosumnes River Preserve.  The bird watching is in full swing and is reflected in the survey numbers we have recorded in our monthly bird counts.

Occasionally, we have still been experiencing “nice” days here and there.  These momentary breaks in the rain provide much needed outdoor work time.  I was fortunate enough to have a group of volunteers assist me with a hedgerow planting that I have been working on (weather permitting).  With the help of the volunteers, we were able to plant a combination of 180 native shrubs along one of our properties which borders an interstate.  The planting will serve as bird habitat for passerine species as well as a “trash rack” to intercept pieces of garbage blowing off of the roadway.  With Christmas right around the corner, many of our employees are taking time off for vacation.  I’ll be looking forward to spending some time with family as well.  Merry Christmas!!


Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!

Everyone seems to be getting into the holiday spirit here in Buffalo! Main Street is lined with tinsel and lights and there was a huge turnout for the annual Christmas parade.  There has been no shortage of festivities around our field office either! We’ve had potlucks, chili cook-offs, and a kid’s holiday party here in the office so far. I was lucky enough to score the role of woodsy the owl for the kid’s holiday party and let me tell you it’s not easy being an owl. I was surprised how tough it was to move around and see out of one of those costumes! It was all worth it to see the looks on all the little kids faces though (half were horrified & half ran up to give me a big hug).

I have also been pleasantly surprised by how much we’ve still been able to go out into the field. Lately we’ve been mapping invasive saltcedar in an extensive drainage system.  It is awesome trekking around in a maze of drainages because the abundance of wildlife and strange rock formations; I’ve been stumbling across porcupines, coyotes, deer, and antelope on a daily basis.



Woodsy & Smokey!


Mapping and staying warm

Now that field season is over, I am doing a lot of mapping and even helped the state office with a map of all SOS collections for the state. I’ve also been fortunate to be sent to some wonderful training workshops: Restoration of Sagebrush Ecosystems in Boise, ID & LANDIS-II forest modeling software training in Portland, OR. They’ve been great learning experiences and a lot of fun!


My CLM internship and summer season projects of seed collecting and plant monitoring have come to a close. We have completed a total of 25 seed collections, which is an amazing accomplishment considering how awfully dry the summer was this year. Overall, I am so very happy that we reached our year 2012 goal for the S.O.S Program. Its amazing that I have been working at the Colorado State Office for almost 7 months and I have honestly been enjoying every minute of this wonderful experience.

Lately things in some areas of the office have slowed down since its getting closer to the end of year, but being a CLM intern means there are still many projects planned for me to tackle :). I have had the wonderful opportunity of being offered an extension. I am so grateful and excited about my winter project, which involves processing and submitting the herbarium specimens from the years 2009 – 2012 to the Smithsonian Institution to be entered into their Herbarium Database! I will keep you guys updated on my next adventures. Stay tuned…

Here are a few pictures of the sights I have seen thus far since being in Colorado!

P.S. Winter is here in Colorado…happy skiing 🙂

Monitoring Trip in Walden, CO

Phacelia formosula plant population in Walden, CO


Ericameria nauseosa was by far the most anticipated collections of the season (the seeds didn’t set until late October!).


Colorado Blue Bird

Colorado Blue Bird. I followed this bird in hopes to get a good photo (the last one I took was of him giving me a “go away” stare…so I did).



Aly and I collecting seeds at Pine Valley Ranch

Aly and I collecting seeds together at Pine Valley Ranch!


One of our last collections, you can see why. Snow on the ground can been seen looking through the aspen trees.

One of our last collections, you can see why. Snow on the ground can been seen just through the aspen trees.

Thanks again for the incredible experience,


Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office

Farewell for Now, Modoc

My last week here on the Modoc has finally arrived.  When I first arrived in early May I had no idea I would end up spending over 7 and a half months here.  I have gained many experiences and learned much during my season working for the BLM in Alturas, California. Even though I was extended I still don’t feel I am ready to leave.

  I have spent these last few weeks working on a project I have found to be very exciting and fulfilling. During the summer I surveyed four different plots for several rare plants. The plots are located in Ash Valley, which is south on 395 near the town of Madeline. The plots are located in a range allotment and have data recorded dating back to 1985. The three rare plants I helped monitor for are Ivesia paniculata, Erigognum procidiuum, and Astragalus andersonii. In order to keep the data consistent, we used the same monitoring techniques that were also used back in the 1980’s. These techniques included pace/frequency transects with 50 hits and photo plots.


Ash Valley Pace Frequency plot



  When surveying these plots it was noticed there was quite a bit of soil pedestaling and erosion throughout the area. There looked to be heavy range use all around several of the plots.  After recording the data for 2012, during these last few weeks, it has been my job to add and calculate all the years of data based on percent of frequency, cover and composition per key species. I then took all of the results for each of the plots added them into excel and converted them into graphs.  When calculating the data I also included a non-rare native plant, Calyptridium umbellatum for comparison. Looking at the trends represented, there has been some definite downward trends of the rare plants in several of the plots.  The data and graphs I have compiled will be used later this year to assess this particular allotment and area range use/plan.

I have worked on portions of projects like this before, however I have never been able to play a major role from the monitoring of a site to the completion of the data results. I have always said I would rather be out in the field any day than behind a desk, but when I worked on this project I did not mind the hours in front of a computer screen. I am not ashamed to say I enjoyed it! I look forward to hearing the outcome of the assessment.  My boss informed me, funds permitting, he would like to try and hire me as a full time seasonal for the BLM next year. I would love to come back to continue to learn and improve the land I have begun to appreciate.     

It has been an incredible season with many adventures and learning experiences. I have been fortunate to watch all four seasons pass across Northeast California. From the late frosts in late spring to the much colder snow flurries of winter, here are some of my favorite pictures. ..


Fall colors at the Pit River Campground



On the way to one of our collection sites. Mt Shasta in the distance


Working this season through the Chicago Botanic Garden, Seeds of Success program and the BLM, I have come closer to realizing what I want to pursue as well as ignited a desire for engaging in this type of land management.  This Conservation and Land Management internship aided me to follow my passions and kindle new ones for this type of work and landscapes. Thank you for the awesome opportunity!    

Field Fun in Fall

As I write this, I’m sitting on a bed of pine needles with a  spotted owl transmitter placed a few feet away on a stick while my coworker uses snazzy instruments to try and locate me in the forest. It’s the best hide and seek game I’ve ever played because I get to read my book in nature and bask in the sun all the while contributing to science! Due to the fact that I have a much more flexible schedule than most in my office, I get to help out with a lot of different projects facilitated by the BioBot staff (as we call ourselves). Currently, I’m pretending to be a spotted owl whose location is known and my coworker is following the normal tracking procedure so that we can gather information that will allow us to calculate the experimental error for a paper that the wildlife biologists are writing on a previous experiment.

In addition to pretending to be an owl, I’ve been keeping very busy at work. Last week we completed our restoration project in the Bighorn Wilderness in the transition zone between the San Bernardino Mountains and the Mojave Desert. We built a pipe and cable fence along the BLM/FS property boundary that will hopefully stop the use of unauthorized Off Highway Vehicle roads in the wilderness area. I mentioned in my last blog post that this project entailed a lot of inter-agency cooperation. I really enjoyed the experience I got in field-crew management and fostering an inclusive work environment for folks of differing socioeconomic backgrounds (we had some very different groups working together). After we completed the fence, we seeded and disguised unauthorized road beds and did our best to restore the integrity of the wilderness area. We all came away from the project with a sense of pride and empowerment because we accomplished a major effort in just two weeks of work.

Looking into the Bighorn Wilderness, what we are aiming to protect with our fencing project!

The other main project I’ve been involved with is developing a systematic protocol and geodatabase for our restoration site monitoring efforts on our Ranger District. The details are a little dry, so I’ll spare you, but I am learning so much that I feel like it won’t all fit on my resume! Enough said!

Thanks for the experience,

Lizzy, San Bernardino National Forest

Winter in the Wetlands

November was a relatively quiet month at the office. A large rainstorm hit the Pacific Northwest late in the month, and Eugene became a bit flooded. This led to quite the change in the West Eugene Wetlands (WEW); our vernal pools have filled up, and ducks and other waterfowl can be seen gallivanting in their depths.

Two months ago, this was all dry!

Earlier in November, I assisted the Willamette Resources and Education Network (WREN) with one of its student fieldtrips. Although earlier in October, I had aided WREN with a student ethnobotany/seed-after-burn project, this was trial by fire: leading my own group of second graders through the trails that surround the WEW Partnership office. The students were excited to be out of the classroom and full of energy; I was terrified. However, it turned out to be tons of fun! The kids learned about Queen Anne’s Lace and Pennyroyal (which, although a non-native species, is a good indicator of vernal pools), and enjoyed seeing ducks and other animals in the wetlands.

In addition to my short adventure outside, I also started training in GeoBOB (Geographic Biotic Observations). The GeoBOB database works in conjunction with ArcGIS, so I’m getting to brush up on the new GIS skills I acquired during the summer.

Anyway, November was a rather quiet month. I”m looking forward to things to come!

‘Til next time!