The New Year

While December was a slow month because of the holidays, things are really picking up now that it is January.

I’ve been assisting with a Plant Growth Monitoring project. Once a week, the monitoring lead and I go out into the field and monitor specific plants, measuring length of leaves, water depth (with the Willamette Valley’s on-and-off rainy weather, the depth of the vernal pools can really vary), and grazing/frost damage. Right after the  new year it was actually quite interesting: Eugene had a cold snap, and all of the vernal pools had a thin layer of ice covering them. We got to step through the ice (rubber boots are a definite must have) to find our plants, and most of them were frosted over.

After monitoring the T&E species during the summer field season, seeing the wetlands during the winter is quite the surprise–it’s such a drastic change! Where there were once green prairies, now there are huge swathes of water. Sometimes herds of Canada geese take refuge in the wetlands, easily located by their cacophony of honking; it’s very different from the silent butterflies and praying mantises that wended their way through the wetlands last summer.

Look! Hummocks! And possibly anthills.

Winter Time in the Desert

The past few weeks here in Roswell have been hectic and busy.  I was fortunate enough to go home for two weeks due to compensation time I saved up, and being back in the office has been a warm welcome back.  There have been a variety of meetings we have attended this week alone, which has spiced things up a bit.  One meeting was for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.  Referring to my previous blog, the Lesser Prairie Chicken is up for listing as “threatened” with the Fish & Wildlife Service.  The meeting was held here in the conference room at the BLM and a variety of people were there in attendance.  The room was filled with oil company representatives, conservation groups and other federal employees.  Two gentlemen from the Game Commission were running the meeting and one of them was a Lesser Prairie Chicken biologist.  He provided an interesting history and ecology on the bird, as well as statistics from the last ten years.  One of the interesting facts that caught my attention was that the numbers of birds has spiked within the last few years – solely due to increased precipitation.  They hypothesize that the numbers will go back up if there is an annual increase in precipitation, however the likely hood of that is unknown.  Not only was the meeting interesting to learn more about the bird, but the tension in the room was evident.  The oil companies have a lot on the line with their businesses and the conservation groups are adding other pressures.  Overall, it was interesting being the fly on the wall.


Besides the Lesser Prairie Chicken meeting, we also attended a meeting just for the Natural Resources section of the office. Until this point, I hadn’t fully understood what everybody else I work with actually does.  It was eye opening to hear all of the different things going on and actually understand how they are all related.


I have just about a month left until my internship is complete and I am having a hard time believing this!  My last couple of weeks here will probably involve finishing up various projects – including my wildflower brochure.  Almost all of the plant species are identified and the only thing really left is to complete the layout of the brochure.  I sincerely hope to finish this before my internship is over and add a link for it to my last blog post.


Jaci Braund

BLM Roswell, NM