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!