Well, it was a great two weeks at home but I admit I’m glad to be back in Buffalo, WY (though it is kind of confusing knowing there’s more snow in Indiana right now than Wyoming). I’m sure Wyoming will catch up soon so I can try my hand at some cross country skiing.
It’s mainly office work at this point in the season. We’re trying to check all the range improvement files in the online database and using GIS to make sure they are where they say they are. Other than that, we have the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey to look forward to this weekend. Hopefully we’ll get a good number of eagles this year.
Despite the recent drop in temperature and the increase in snow on the ground, my winter has been very busy thus far. I am still amazed at the fact that I get to do field work during the most disagreeable months of the year. Luckily, the National Forest where I work includes land at high and low elevations. So, although our drive time is increased, we can still do out-plantings and rehabilitation work at restoration sites “down the hill” as we call it here (a.k.a 5,000 feet lower in elevation).
When I wake up in the morning in the mountains, temperatures range from 10 to 30 degrees. When we load the truck, we have to breathe hot air on the tool shed lock in order to unfreeze the dials that unlock it. If we need to fill up the water tank to water our transplants, we have to do so at a Forest Service Station at a lower elevation. Everything takes a lot longer with the inclement weather, but our team remains in good spirits. Once the first hole of the day is dug or the first fence post pounded, and the sun’s desert rays start to thaw our hands, our work seems that much more gratifying because of the morning cold we endured.
If I am not installing a restoration site, I can either be found in the office revising our restoration monitoring protocols or out on some Forest Service road monitoring already established sites with my coworkers. The days are filled with laughter, fun, and hard work, so needless to say I still love being a CLM intern!
Lizzy, San Bernardino National Forest
I have happily been extended as a CLM intern. As the weather got cold (there is a high of 18 degrees today) it was a transition from field work mainly focused on collections for the Seeds of Success Program to more indoor activities including lab and office work. My time is split between the University of Wyoming and the BLM state office in Cheyenne.
As the Sate office, I have been experiencing all the behinds the scenes work that makes the SOS program run. We have been coordinating reports and compiling data in a map. I also did a bit of research to find out what forb and grass seeds native to Wyoming are available commercially. I was struck by how few forb and grass seeds are available that represent the local genotypes and genetic diversity. Many of the plant species I collected seeds from this summer are not available on the market. This provided a lot of prospective on how important the SOS program is. Not only does it provide seeds for long term storage, but also for research with the hope that one day local seeds will be available for restoration projects around the United State.
This provides lots of perspective for the other half of my intern experience at the University of Wyoming. I work in a lab exploring germination variability in native seeds using many of the seeds I collected this summer. I record data on the germination totals for seeds and get excited when the root tip emerges for a new species. The variation in growth forms, germination requirements, and speed of germination both among and between species is amazing. I know that this work is an important step in the process to get viable native plants into the ground for restoration.