It is snowing!

It is finally snowing here in Big Bear Lake, CA as I sit here writing this blogpost. It is long awaited as it has not really felt like winter at all in parched California with the warm temperatures and nonexistent precipitation. It is definitely going to be a dry summer full of fire.

Since my last blogpost I have been working on many things. Mary (my fellow CLM intern) and I are nearing completion of an invasive plant species identification guide for the Cleveland, Angeles and San Bernadino National Forests. It has been tough finding photos for the guide as it is January. We have managed to gather together a good many though.

We also have been helping Kerry Knudsen, a lichenologist out of UC Riverside, compile a lichen flora of the San Bernadino NF. This is a great experience for me because there are mostly crustose lichens out here because it is so dry. I am much more familiar with the large macrolichens from moister areas like northern California. I got to see a historical lichen collection from the late 1800’s from a southern California lichenologist.

I was happy to have a few field days that last couple weeks. One day we went out to the Bighorn Wilderness to see what kind of invasive plant species are out there and brainstorm about what species could invade next and in what areas. After the invasive plants guide we will be writing a wilderness management plan for the Bighorn. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful place! Another day we monitored riparian habitats for disturbance and it was great to see some wetter areas of the forest.

I hope you enjoy these photos!


This is a good example of an infestation of invasive English Ivy (Hedera helix) in a riparian area.


The invasive tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca).


The flower of Nicotiana glauca.


Check out the berries on this manzanita! I think it is Arctostaphylos glauca.


Some awesome sandstone cliffs that we saw while out collecting lichens.


The giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) that we spotted in a riparian area. I would never have expected to see a fern this large in such a dry place like the SBNF.


The view east of the desert from the Bighorn Wilderness.


A really deep mine shaft that we saw on the Bighorn Wilderness.

I’m not sure what this cool lichen is…maybe a Caloplaca or Candellaria

Astragalus albens, which is endangered.


The sensitive species Long Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium longipes).


Dadder (Cuscuta sp.) is a beautiful parasitic plant that is vine-like.



The invasive castorbean (Ricinus communis).



A good looking Usnea phaea that is common on the SBNF.






First Post!

Hey all,

I would like to introduce myself and give a short background of my work. My name is Jeremy Sykes and I have lived in Wyoming all of my life. I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in Range Ecology and Watershed Management with a Minor in Forestry.  I have always had an interest in the natural resources of Wyoming. It has been my career dream to work with a Government agency such as the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S.  Forest Service, as a Range Specialist. 

My first seasonal job was with the BLM in Rock Springs Wyoming.  It was a job filled with hard work mending fence. Last summer I worked as a BLM Range Technician at the Kemmerer Wyoming field office. This job was important on the basis of working on a cattle and sheep allotment conducting monitoring and compliance that will be used in litigation. I took it upon myself to gain respect from the permitees on this particular allotment, which did not trust government employees. I was also able to work with Anna Moller. She was a CLM intern working in Wildlife. She helped me on the Smithsfork allotment, monitoring riparian areas for move on use indicators. She was a valuable and knowledgeable resource, helping me when it was needed. We also spent many hours working on her CLM project, mapping springs, seeps, and reservoirs. The data we collected will be used in the future, for habitat improvement projects, as well as range improvement projects for wildlife, cattle and sheep.    

So here I am, back in Kemmerer, but this time I’m the CLM intern, working in Wildlife. So far it has been great but nothing too exiting happening in the dead of winter.  With a foot of snow on the ground it’s hard to get out into the field. I have been working on NEPA documents, using some of the information we gathered over the summer.  It will be another two months until field season starts, with the onset of sage-grouse lek surveys.  I am hoping to gain more experience with the CLM internship program, to help guide me in my career path.

Kind Regards,

Jeremy Sykes

Kemmerer Feild office, Wy

 Bureau of Land Management


Winter Shrub Science Lab

Hello everyone, I started my internship in October and I am happy to say that everything is going well at the USDA Shrub Science Lab in Provo. This winter we are working with samples of Sagebrush that we collected in fall 2013. We have had good results in all our experiments of chemical ecology. Additionally my mentor is introducing me to new molecular techniques. I am still learning, but everything that we are doing is very interesting to me. Due to the weather we are on standby in the field, so instead I am working in the garden that we have in the lab.

I have been enjoying my experiences with the people of the lab. Recently I participated in a meeting where I was able to meet more people from the lab and get to know a little bit more about them.  There are a lot of things to do, but all my companions are supporting me in my assignments and experiments. My mentor is always teaching me new things, and I really appreciate all his efforts to make sure that I have everything I need to be successful in my assignments.  

I feel very good about all the things that I am doing.  But I feel more satisfied about all the things that I am learning. 


Provo, UT

USDA Shrub Science Lab

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Birds missing

Hi All,

I’m stationed at the Cosumnes River Preserve just south of Sacramento, CA.  If you don’t already know, California is experiencing a sever drought right now.  Despite the wonderful upper 60’s lower 70 degree daytime highs, this could potentially be very bad.  Although this is supposed to be our rainy season, we have not had any precipitation in over a month, and forecasts are already predicting no rain in the month of February.  The Folsom reservoir, which supplies water to the greater Sacramento area, is under 20% full for this coming “dry” season.  The water is so low in the reservoir that a city that was flooded in 1955 with the creation of the lake is now once again becoming visible.  The city of Sacramento has already asked residents to begin reducing water usage by 20%.  This is going to be an especially dangerous fire season in California if this dry weather continues.

The unusually dry weather has also had a major impact on the wildlife migration patterns in our area.  The Preserve acts as a major winter refuge for birds using the pacific flyway.  This year, the birds just haven’t shown up.  The wetlands here would typically be blanketed with a solid covering of birds this time of year.  Unfortunately, we have yet to see any substantial numbers in our bi-monthly bird counts.  Many birds further north are not making the trip down this year thinking they are still in summer season, while others that have already made the trip to our area are heading back north thinking winter is over.  These birds seem to be very confused, and it is disconcerting to think of how this might impact future populations.

My tasks here are never ending (I am perfectly happy with that).  Most recently I’ve been working on GIS maps, facility maintenance (gutter repairs, sign installations), invasive plant recon, permitting for some of the restoration projects I am working on and equipment maintenance in anticipation of the outdoor work (summer) season.  In addition to my primary responsibilities I typically help with general tasks here like wetland water management, and all activities relating to our integrated pest management program.  I should be federally certified as a pesticide applicator by the end of February.  That being said, life is good here (at least while the water lasts).

Great trainings, great experiences, great employment preparation. CLM

Stay warm-

One Last Blog Post From Carson City BLM

After spending eight months in Carson City working for the BLM I can say that I have learned a lot, I have met some awesome people, and I am ready to move on to something else. At times it was a lot of hard work, at times it was difficult to deal with exhausted and grumpy people in the field, and at times I felt like none of us knew what we were doing. However, these are the kinds of challenges that you are going to face over and over again throughout your life! Once you get over being uncomfortable and learn to work through whatever you’re facing, that’s when you really start growing as a person.
During my time here, I have gotten a lot of practice keying and verifying plants, and I learned lots of new techniques for classifying and quantifying environmental characteristics. I have gotten some serious practice with GIS and navigation in the field. I have a much clearer understanding of how the BLM functions and what they have to deal with every day.
Highlights: seeing a super cute bear cub, finding lots of obsidian arrowheads (even a 3” spearhead), plenty of beautiful scenery, and LOTS of good times with the great people I was working with.
For future interns: stay hydrated, keep a level head in the field at all times (no matter what the conditions), enjoy yourself, enjoy the great people, and enjoy the beautiful lands all around you!

A New Year and New Jobs

With the new year rolling around additional tasks have been added to the list I am responsible for. One of those tasks is to look into how to implement habitat into some modeling and finding such models in the literature to utilize for this task.  Along with the habitat information, additional climate information needs to be found and added to all of the other parameters that will be a part of the model by the end.  The issue is to determine the best way to monitor the species of interest and the best way to implement that monitoring across bureau lines, specifically with the Fish and Wildlife Service.  We want to establish a monitoring protocol that is simple and functional so that usable data can be collected, compiled, and used to better manage and monitor the species.  With this additional amount of collected data, potential problems within the species population might be detected earlier and actions might be able to be implemented to resolve the problem.

Along with the additional responsibilities, other opportunities have become available for me to take advantage of. Workshop on the BLM’s National Invasive Species Information Management System (nisims) and the opportunity to get an applicator’s license are just two of the potential resume-enhancing opportunities that have been made available to me.

I am looking forward to the upcoming year and all of the potential career-building opportunities that this internship will provide.  I am thankful for all of the experience it has given to me during the first part of the internship.



Nathan Redecker

BLM Colorado State Office

Lakewood, CO

Happy New Year!

The beginning of 2014 has found me lucky enough to still be working at the Safford, Arizona BLM office. While the funding has been rather up in the air since the government shutdown, my mentors have been fighting to keep me working out here, and for that I am grateful. I was able to travel home to Arkansas for the holidays to visit my mom and friends which was wonderful. Even got a healthy dose of winter weather thanks to the polar vortex! And now I am ever so pleased with the 60 degree and sunny weather that Safford is maintaining.

The end of December found our team finishing up our SOS work; we got all 44 of our collections sent to Bend before the New Year. If we ever get any winter rains, our spring collection season will begin in late February. Non-native removal efforts in Bonita Creek continue.While the days are warm here, the nights and early mornings are quite brisk. This makes removing fish early in the AM quite cold. I will be happy when the water warms and we don’t have to wear three layers under our waders.

We have some restoration projects coming up in February and March. An American Conservation Experience crew will be out to help us get some of this work done. All and all it looks like 2014 will be a great year. I’m looking forward to however long I am able to stay in Safford and am optimisitc about other opportunities I may get to explore when it is time to leave Arizona.

Uncharted Territory

I fondly remember how I packed my little blue car full of all of my belongs and traveled almost 2,000 miles from Georgia to Colorado. I finished my internship in late December. I am proud to say that I have been a Conservation and Land Management intern for 1 year and 7 months at the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office where I worked for Dr. Carol Dawson. I learned so much during my time here in Colorado. The CLM program is the best opportunity for recent college graduates interested in gaining experience in botany and wildlife conservation and land management.

My first field season in Colorado was a whirlwind of excitement. I enjoyed working with such an amazing team: Carol, Dr. Peter Gordon, and Sama Winder. With the help of Carol and Peter, we were able to expand our Colorado flora knowledge – and even fauna. During my second field season, I had the great opportunity to become lead intern of our team with Katherine Wenzell – who was always willing to be a team player. I was able to share my experiences and contribute my knowledge as a second year intern. I feel lucky to have had Carol as my mentor – she truly is the best. I am very thankful and grateful to have earned this opportunity. Overall, I have learned a lot about myself and who I am, I have become a stronger person and better botanist, and learned how to welcome the unknown and celebrate the feeling of leaving all things familiar to embark on a new journey.

There were many projects that I was involved in during my internship including outreach environment activities, seed collecting, vegetation surveys, rare and endangered plant monitoring and assessment projects, and plenty of retirement parties (it’s always fun to support those around the office…and eat cake!). I’m excited about all of the friends that I have made. I am sure I will continue to stay in contact with many of them. During my free time, I joined a Denver kickball team, learned how to ski, dined at Denver’s best restaurants, became a volunteer at the Denver Botanic Gardens, hiked part of Mt. Evans (literally), attended some pretty awesome concerts at Red Rocks, and visited the X-Games in Aspen.

To mention a few exciting events happening after my internship, I accepted a full-time, permanent position within the government working in a forensic laboratory in Denver. I’ve been happy to learn more about botany and wildlife biology; however, I am looking forward to getting back to working in a lab and becoming more directly involved in research. It’s been a fun and educational experience. Thank you to Chicago Botanic Garden and past employees – Krissa, Wes, and Marian. You are the best. Thank you again to everyone who supported me, the great friends that I have made, and I look forward to the new chapter of my life.

If you find yourself in Denver, I’m sure I’ll be see you around!

Happy Trails,

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office

Moving to Colorado inspired me to explore the west. I planned a trip and hiked my way into the Grand Canyon (seriously, this is the steep trail that I took).

Moving to Colorado inspired me to explore the west. I planned a trip and hiked my way into the Grand Canyon (seriously, this is the steep trail that I took).


Post-Burn in Soldier Basin

Months after the Soldier Basin Fire scorched the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona in May 2013, I was lucky enough to pass through the aftermath while scouting out plants and collecting seeds with Steve, a skilled botanist and ecologist, and Gooch, a tracker and guide. While this mid-December walk was certainly a successful trip in terms of scouting and collecting from one of the major preserved canyons and intact drainages of the watershed, we also got to explore post-burn habitat.

As I peaked a ridge, the first observation that stunned me was the sea of crisp trees, covered with charcoal. They were in patchy patterns, with clumps of live trees, shrubs, grass and ground cover intermixed with armies of tombstones on bare soil.

Drainages were generally less scorched than mesas and open flats. While there were many plants that had been dislodged, namely succulents, many of the shrubs and trees were still rooted, holding back soil.

Most impressively to me, Manzanita shrubs were not only still rooted, but many were still alive when half of their branches had been burned off. Perennial grasses that had been burned down to the soil in the inferno were some of the most productive plants after a relative dry spell. Like the phoenix – out of death comes life.



Burnt Mesquite



Desert Spoon fire bomb



Steve and Gooch explore a burned landscape

Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey

This past weekend I participated in the nation-wide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey.  During the winter many Bald Eagles migrate south from northern areas like Alaska.  The purpose of the survey is to monitor the status of Bald Eagle wintering populations.  Along with the amounts of Bald Eagles seen, supplemental data on where they were located and in what habitats they were located in were also recorded.  Across the country, non-overlapping designated routes are driven during the same time each winter.  Overall, we saw 12 bald eagles.  Unfortunately, country-wide data is not yet available.BaldEagle1 BaldEagle2 BaldEagle3