Winter time in Colorado

As the seasons change and the temperature drop I transfer from the field to the office.  Here in Denver we have had a little snow but less than back home (Southeast Missouri).  In Missouri, they got over ten inches of snow on top of 1/2 -1 inch of ice, and here in Denver we have only gotten about 6 inches total thus far.  This will all change as the new year begins and the big snows start to come.

In terms of work I have transitioned to a desk and have accumulated numerous books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and field reports that all are to do with population modeling and with the way to determine the status of a plant population with currently available data.  I’m trying to determine if the previously collected data on file can be used to perform a population viability analysis for the Phacelia formosula population that we monitored this last field season.  Several other monitoring efforts were completed in the late 80’s, early 90’s and on into the 2000’s.  Carol (my mentor) started her current monitoring of the species in 2010.  In order to aid the Fish and Wildlife Service on future actions with regards to this species, Carol was asked to try and streamline monitoring efforts so that a better understand of the species ecology could be obtained.  As a part of this effort, I was asked to try and find a way to best present past data and to determine what type of monitoring might provide the best understanding of the species ecology in the future.

As I search the literature pertaining to population modeling and PVA and the kinds of data that they were requiring to achieve an acceptable degree of accuracy we are gradually concluding that population numbers might not be the way to pursue our wanted solution.  In light of failing to find a suitable model that could be used with the available data, a different angle might be needed and that angle might just be to look at the associated habitat and try and configure some habitat models to achieve what we want to achieve.

In my next entry maybe we will have found that solution and I can share what we decided to do.




Nathan Redecker

Lakewood, Colorado

Colorado BLM State Office

Farewell Nevada

Well, well, well. The end of my internship has finally come. It is a difficult task to try to summarize my time here into a blog post. The 10 months I spent in Carson City were good ones and I am certainly glad I had this experience.

I now know what it is like to work for the federal government (both the good and the bad). I have gotten so many opportunities to gain experience and build my resume including some really useful trainings. The field work was my favorite part of this internship. We worked in some extremely remote locations, got to drive big trucks on bad roads, and camp in some beautiful locations throughout the desert. My time in the field really gave me an intimate look at the land and a chance to appreciate all the life that exists here. That’s not to say it wasn’t without its challenges. Over the year I’ve learned the importance working as part of a team, taking care of yourself while working in harsh conditions and the alternative uses of tire cleaner.

Some of my favorite moments happened outside of work. This was my first time out West and Carson City proved to be a great launching point for some excellent adventures; perhaps my favorite being the nearby Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe basin.

This year had its fair share of up and downs. There was an incident halfway through the year that tested everyone’s ability to function as a team, even after a long day of working in oppressive heat. We didn’t get out into the field nearly as much as I had hoped for a variety of reasons. Some specific workload demands for the office were shifted and our team helped other programs with their needs.

Overall, I had a great time and learned a lot. My botanical knowledge increased tenfold including many things I don’t think I could have learned in a classroom. I got experience working for a branch of the federal government. And finally, I made great friends who all shared this unique experience with me. So, farewell Nevada, it has been swell. Now I am off to my next adventure.

View from first campsite in the Pine Nut Mtns

Dynamic December aka final blog post

I first heard of the CLM Program through an email from a biology listserv from my school. The description for the opportunity was pretty short, but it sounded interesting, so I looked into it. I really liked what I saw from the website’s description. I applied not really knowing what to expect, which actually may have been the reason I had such a great experience. I was open to any opportunity that allowed me to work outdoors with California’s native plants. The coolest part of this program is that everyone’s experience is different and unique, so you can never be 100% sure about what to expect. Fortunately, the CLM coordinators do an excellent job at paring us up with an opportunity that matches our interests.

I remember how nervous I felt the first day of my internship. I had just arrived to Redding that night and didn’t even have access to the apartment I would be staying at yet, let alone the electricity in the apartment. I waited anxiously in my car until the office opened up. I had no idea what my mentor looked like and everyone looked like they could be him. Then, I saw someone walking towards me and he asked if I was Sonya, and that is how I met my mentor Chase. He introduced me to the office and some of the people there. I even got a small tour of some of the BLM lands that I would be working at during my internship. After work, I headed over to my home for the next five months. It looked way too big for my small amount of belongings. Since I didn’t have my electricity set up yet, I had a cold shower that night. That’s when I realized I probably should have prepared better for this… The rest of my first week was very nice; I went to the employee meeting where I was formally introduced to the rest of the staff and got a tour of the different BLM areas I would be working in.

My mentor was great at letting us do our own thing. He trusted us and gave us the freedom to do what we most desired and what we found to be important. He didn’t dictate a list of things for us to do; instead he gave us suggestions on what could be done and allowed us to decide what we wanted to focus on. He was always there when we had questions, needed advice, or just wanted to brainstorm ideas of what to do next. His methods/approach with handling us interns allowed me to grow a lot as a person. I learned to plan ahead, be creative with ideas, and have the confidence to communicate plans and updates.

I have so many precious memories of Redding. I was able to do a variety of activates and enjoyed each and every one of them. I’ve collected all kinds of native seeds from three different counties –Shasta, Trinity, and Tehama- and cleaned some seeds, planted native plants in restoration areas, helped conduct mussel surveys in the Sacramento river as well as other wildlife, collected data for an elderberry survey that was part of a mitigation project, helped with nighttime owl surveys, helped set up wildlife tracker cameras, removed invasive weeds using herbicide and sheer force, helped with vegetative inventories –marking invasive weeds along the Sacramento River, maintained a greenhouse full of native plants, led groups of youth in planting native seeds at the greenhouse, helped prepare a site for restoration (mowing, placing or removing tree tubes, making cages for the grown oak seedlings to keep deer away long enough for them to grow, and tilling), went on an office river float in Trinity river, and much more!

I definitely enjoyed my internship. Through this experience, I feel that I have grown both personally and professionally. I came into the program knowing I enjoyed working with native plants and restoration, but not really knowing how I wanted to apply those interests to finding a job/career. Thanks to this program, I have a better idea of how and where I can utilize my skills. I have also further developed important skills that all tie into being an efficient, reliable, and knowledgeable employee. I was able to feel integrated in a professional setting and experience the dynamic of the work environment. I met lots of great people, developed my professionalism, and gained personal independence. I will never forget the city of Redding and the people I have met. While I am very sad to leave the BLM -the office where I have finally grown comfortable in- I am happy and excited to see what opportunities lay ahead. I know there is a lot of learning ahead of me and I can’t wait to further expand my knowledge and skills.

A few bullets of advice for future BLMers:
**Try not to isolate yourself. Be a part of as many meetings as you can so that you feel a part of the office environment and later know who to coordinate with in order to get your job done

**Set goals for yourself or small projects that you can see yourself accomplishing and stick to them

**Keep a journal of your activities, to-do lists, hours worked, etc. so you can look back at them in the future

**Spend a good amount of time staring at a map and getting familiar with main streets etc.

***Take tons of pictures!!

Farewell Redding, you will be missed!!

*Sonya Vargas