The Enchanting Rogue Valley

It has been an exciting time for wildflower surveying in and around the Rogue Valley. My partner and I are reaching a lull period where we wait for the plants in the locations we have scouted to go to seed. Through scouting locations and surveying for botanicals we have discovered a number of incredibly scenic hikes, of which one of our favorites is the Enchanted Forest Trail in the Applegate Valley. If you happen to visit or live in the area and have not been on this trail, check it out!

This week we have had the fantastic opportunity to help a crew of professional and amateur botanists survey French Flat in Cave Junction, OR for the rare and endangered plant Lomatium cookii. This has proven to be a very rewarding experience. We have had the opportunity to work with this rare plant while also scouting the surrounding area for suitable populations for voucher pressings and seed collection. Very knowledgeable researchers for the project took us on naturalist hikes to become even better acquainted with the flora of the region.

Also while waiting for our populations to seed, next week we will be photographing plant vouchers here at the Medford BLM office to help digitize their herbarium and link all of the images to their plant database!

All in all we have been learning TONS of previously unfamiliar flora while enjoying the last bit of Spring here in southern Oregon. If you haven’t been out here in the spring time, I highly recommend it. There is always more to see!

Take it easy,

– Jason Wilson

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Over the hills and far away

Well, one drastic change that I have noticed is that I can no longer sleep past 5am.  I get up for Sage Grouse monitoring at 3am all week, and now even on weekends I am up before the sun making breakfast.  It is very quiet in the early morning, while drinking my tea I often watch the sun creep over the hills and sagebrush, across West Valley, and up and over Likely Mountain.  Although the early morning sunrises are pretty wonderful, my favorite time of everyday is the early evening.  As the sun retreats, the sky becomes ablaze with oranges, yellows, and pinks.  The Warner Mountain range to the east catches the last rays and turns pink and blue, the snowy tops shining against the deep blue of night’s approach.

I have seen many grouse at different distances.  Sometimes I use a spotting scope to look across a dry lake bed, other times I use binoculars and look out the truck windows, and every now and again, I have to hike right up to the proximity limit and count them without any visual aid.  One important lesson has been to trust my instincts.  Often the GPS points are off or the lek has shifted and/or the map is wrong.  Looking through a scope or binoculars, it is easy to misread the terrain as well.  It seems very flat and the map does not indicate much topography, the birds are supposed to be right there, but where are they?  I hike over and begin to hear them.  I keep going and as it turns out, there is a depression that you can only see up close and they are all within.

Many plants are finally beginning to come up and bloom.  Many more, however, have yet to show themselves.  The drought is taking its toll on many plants.  Even some of our invasive grasses like cheatgrass and  medusa head have not come up in some locations.  The flowers that have come up I have very much enjoyed, they have transformed some pretty bland areas by bringing color into a green and drown landscape.  I often wonder how I am going to be able to remember all the plants from Ohio after this, so much Latin so little time.

Pictures from top to bottom

Greater Sage Grouse captured for banding and measurement as Massacre Bench, NV

Sunrise from Cinder Pit, CA at about 5:30am

View from the Top of Tuledad Canyon, CA

Abandoned homestead found in Surprise Valley, NV

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Spring Time Update

Hello again! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time being a CLM intern and enjoying the chance to expand our knowledge in the field that we are interested in.  I sure am enjoying my internship with the BLM, in Kemmerer, WY. 

It’s now the end of April and field season has started for most everyone. Last week I was able to drive a UTV up into a cattle allotment I managed last summer. The weather was gorgeous, highs in the mid 60’s and just a small breeze, in my opinion the mid 60’s is the perfect temperature.  Although lots of snow still exists, it was a real treat to see what the area looks like in early spring.  After enjoying the beautiful spring like weather for a week it’s back to snow and cold this week. Being from Wyoming myself, I should be used to getting teased with spring, then going back to winter; but I am not and I don’t think I will ever be used to it.

I also found out we will be having another CLM intern (Cody) joining us at the office starting next Monday. He will be assisting in grazing permit renewals, monitoring efforts, and helping me with unauthorized cattle use and many other associated tasks. I think Cody will benefit in so many ways joining the CLM team.  I hope everyone enjoys their spring, and until next time, try to have fun!

Jeremy Sykes

Bureau of Land Management

Kemmerer, WY

Sagebrush and Leks in Twin Falls, ID

Hello everybody!

Beautiful snow-capped mountains!

Beautiful snow-capped mountains!

Just finished up a whirlwind first week here in the Jarbidge BLM Field Office in Twin Falls, ID and it’s been great so far! Aside from training, I got to join along an agency tour of some sites managed by my field office, which was amazing! It is still cold enough in the higher elevations that the mountains were still snow-capped. I was also lucky enough to get out before dawn to see some sage grouse leks and help with the male counts, which was really cool!

On my free time, I’ve checked some of the hidden gem spots between Twin Falls and Boise, which offer tons of recreational activities, especially hiking and photography, two of my favorites. I’m amazed by how much history is packed into this state and the different landscapes! Some recommended places are Malad Gorge, Bonneville Point, and anywhere in Thousand Springs State Park. I’m a bit of a history nerd, so I was pretty excited to learn more about the portions of the Oregon Trail which ran through Idaho, and it was cool to see the marked pass points and wagon wheel ruts that still exist today.

The sagebrush landscape

The sagebrush landscape

Ritter Island was still closed from the winter season, but it’s supposedly a birder’s paradise, so I plan to go up there pretty soon again because it looked beautiful from the gates.





Next week we start some monitoring projects and spend more time out in the field. Can’t wait!


Maria Paula

Jarbidge Field Office, Twin Falls, ID

Indian paintbrush!

Indian paintbrush!

Everyday is TREE Day at the Truckee!

Fellow intern Andrii exploring Centennial Park with Carson City in the background.

Fellow intern Andrii exploring Centennial Park with Carson City in the background.

Balsamorhiza sagitata

Balsamorhiza sagitata

Iva axillaris breaking through asphalt at the base of C hill!

Iva axillaris breaking through asphalt at the base of C hill!

Erythranthe carsoniensis

Erythranthe carsoniensis

What a busy few weeks it has been! We’ve added another intern to our team, mapped the illusive and beautiful Webber’s Ivsia (Ivsia webberi), surveyed for rare monkey flowers (Erythranthe carsoniensis and Mimulus ovatus) and monitored drought conditions on grazing allotments. We also got the chance to help out with the Truckee River Environmental Education (TREE) day. This proved to be a welcome chance to play outside while doing something good for the planet on Earth Day.

TREE Day is an environmental education event for 4th and 5th graders from Reno, jointly hosted by the Nevada Nature Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s held at the McCarran Ranch, just west of Sparks, right on the Truckee River. About 250 kids came to rotate around the many interactive stations and learn about the ecosystem they were visiting. There was a water quality station, a meandering river station, and a wetland wildlife station complete with tadpoles and snakes. The other interns and I were responsible for two stations: a Botany Safari and an Invasive Weed Game. I took on the responsibility of editing and running the Invasive Weed Game and it quickly changed from a responsibility to my favorite pastime. I designed a race for resources meant to describe the competitive advantage that makes noxious weeds such a threat to native plants. When the game finally debuted, it was a hit! The kids were thoughtful and bright, energetic and ready to have fun. The game leaders fed off their energy and enthusiasm for nature and the station was a grand success! It was such a joy to hear 9 year olds shouting “Go Sagebrush Go!”

Who knows, maybe we met some CLM 2026 interns on TREE Day!

Happy Earth Day!



Carson City, BLM

Rare plant work: Ivesia Webberi

Ivesia Webberi  is a proposed threatened species that is native to Nevada and California. We had the pleasure of trying to seek out this low growing plant that has a way of melting into the landscape and mapping out its occurrence within Eagle Canyon (area located North of Reno). Eagle Canyon is a large OHV area full of dumping sites and shooting range disturbance.

The I. Webberi that we were documenting has a knack for hiding within communities of Lomatium austinae, which also has yellow flowers and is low growing. I. webberi has a distinctive red stem protruding from a rosette that leads up to its beautiful star shaped flowers as well as, lobbed red tipped leaves that are numerous, 4-8 leaflets per side. This beautiful little plant enjoys sandy clay soils and is associated with Artemisia arbuscula communities.

The beautiful little Ivesia webberi.

The beautiful little Ivesia webberi.


A wonderful image showing the red tipped leaves of I. webberi.

A wonderful image showing the red tipped leaves of I. webberi.

We as a team canvassed a previously mapped out polygon indicated Ivesia webberi existence within a large area. We were able to refine the polygon by finding and mapping out the occurrence and presence of these plants within the large polygon. We helped determine and refine search areas for future mapping surveys.

Within the new small polygon communities that we were able to find, we had the opportunity to set up a few photo plots. It was educational to see all the work that goes into creating a photo plot. A photo plot aids in monitoring the species over time, helping managers see how communities change and hopefully see competition that is occurring.  I will give you a small insight into a quick version of work put into setting up a photo plot. This is only a very quick representation of the work and a few key point needed for a photo plot.

Quick Key points needed for a 1 meter square Photo Plot:

  1. Find a patch of the species of interest within the associated polygon of distribution. This patch of species should contain a grouping of native perennial plants that live in association with the species of interest.
  2. The plot needs to be set up with the leading edge facing north.
  3. Hammer rebar into the ground at two of the 1meter squared corners, make sure the rebar is not sticking up to far or is so low that is will be hard to find later. You want to find the plot in the future.
  4. Take a picture of the plot. It is after all a Photo Plot.
  5. GPS the center point of the photo plot. DO NOT stand in the middle of the plot to take this point. The idea is to document the area without disturbing it with your large feet.
  6. Draw out the plot, yes with pencil and paper. This includes documenting the species both annuals and perennials, as well as any key identifying features, such as large rocks.
  7. Count and document the number of species and their size. Number each of the species of interest, they are their own individual.
  8. Count the amount of flowering stocks on each flowering individual, keep each count specific to that individual.
  9. Document the stage class distribution of the plants ex: Seedling, Juvenile, Mature (flowering and Non-flowering), Senesced and Dead.
  10. Measure the distance from the center of the photo plot to the transect. The transect is the line of interest that was run through the polygon community, so the relative number of individuals within that whole area could be counted and documented.

This is only a small simple version of some of the work that goes into setting up a photo plot it is in no means a complete accurate representation of all of the work and documentation that goes into setting up a photo plot.


Working hard in the Provo Shrub Science Lab

Hello everyone, following my last post, I keep moving forward with my experiments and developing our research methods, at the Provo Shrub Lab. Our results with the electronic nose are very promising. Additionally we are now receiving sagebrush samples from Idaho to analyze. And we are planning to work with some samples from the warehouses to adapt our experiments to the seed analysis. Last month I continued collecting some samples and I had the opportunity to visit the Desert Experimental Range in Southern Utah, and learn more about the Great Basin region. My advisor is encouraging me to publish our results, so I have started to work more with the data analysis. Like my previous posts, I have to say that every day I am learning more from my advisor and my companions.

Thank you CLM for this opportunity, it is a pleasure to work in such a nice place like the Provo Shrub Science Lab, and have this learning experience.


Provo, UT

Forest Service, Provo Shrub Science Lab



Spring Botany in the San Juan Islands



My name is Jen.  I am writing and working from the San Juan Islands National Monument this summer,  where I will be helping to create a baseline biological database for monument lands.  If you aren’t familiar with the area, the San Juans lie in Washington’s Puget Sound, roughly halfway between Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA.  From quaint village scenery to rugged grasslands, these islands hold some of Washington State’s most beautiful landscapes.  In the span of a 30 minute car ride (hour bike ride), you might pass protected harbors with anchored sailboats, picturesque churches surrounded by sheep pasture, and mixed forest ending with gnarled krummholz battered by ocean wind, usually ending with coastal bluffs looking out to crashing waves.  Not too shabby.  I have been living here for the past six months and am thrilled that I am getting to live in this beautiful spot doing the type of work I feel passionate about.  I’m equally stoked to be living somewhere long enough to get down to some gardening.

The monument land presents an interesting challenge in terms of monitoring.  Unlike the expansive rangeland usually owned by the BLM, the monument consists of just over 900 acres, most of that on small islands and disjunct parcels of land.  This land is generally heavily vegetated, comparatively lush.  A lot of these areas are heavily visited, with three lighthouses on BLM land and a number of destination locations.


Lunch break at Patos Island Lighthouse, one of the heavily used tourist destinations in the San Juan Islands


Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island.

Considering these and a few other factors, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what i want to be recording in this areas.  One of my main focuses in this early stage is to understand the environmental indicators and to figure out how to best use standard baseline monitoring protocol in this non-standard area.  My other focus in this planning stage of the project is to do some vegetation mapping based on previously created databases.

Though I’ve been in the office most of April, I have managed to spend some sunny afternoons outside.  There is a huge local enthusiasm for plants so I’ve enjoyed opportunities to botanize with a number of people and learn really cool stuff about the local flora.  There are a few federally or state endangered species and there are lots of unique plant communities.  I thought I’d share a few of these pretty plants I happened upon during some of these walks.



Sedum lanceolatum on Iceberg Point, Lopez Island. In terms of stonecrops, the islands also have Sedum spathulifolium (broadleaf stonecrop) and Opuntia fragilis (brittle prickly pear cactus).



The 10+ petals of Ranunculus californicus (california buttercup), Iceberg Pt. This is considered nationally stable but critically endangered in Washington state.


Cotyledons of Lupinus littoralis (seashore lupine), Iceberg Pt. I couldn’t identify this for weeks. I was a little shocked when I saw lupine leavings sprouting up. Mystery solved.


Viola adunca, Iceberg Pt


Gooseneck barnacles Iceberg Pt. Did you know you can eat them? They have really nice scallop/abolone-like flesh.


I’m looking forward to a fun plant-based summer and I hope you are too!


Vale: the Western Experience

It’s the middle of my second week interning with the BLM in Vale, Oregon. So far, so good. Well, great actually. I am extremely happy with my experiences here thus far, and am excited for what the next five months have in store.

Everyone in the office has been more than welcoming, and I could not have asked for a better mentor. This is the second year she, Susan Friits, has hosted CLM interns, and I’m overjoyed to be working with her. I know I’ll be able to learn a lot from her. Not only because she’s intelligent, but also because she’s kind, accommodating, and genuinely wants to help us learn and achieve our goals this summer. I say “us” because I am one of two interns working with Susan. The other intern’s name is Jeremy, and I’m looking forward to working with him as well. We’ve been working really well together so far. He seems very intelligent. It will be nice to be able to learn from each other as well as from Susan.

The past week and a half has been a mixture of work. There has been a bit orientation, driving training, sitting in on meetings, getting into the field, keying species, becoming familiar with species in the herbarium, and compiling data from previous interns’ work in an effort to define our targets this summer. Our main goals over the next five months will be collecting seed for the Seeds of Success program. We’ll target species from which have yet to be collected, or very few collections have been made. We’ll also monitor a few sensitive plant species in eastern Oregon, and work in the herbarium in Vale. I’ve already learned countless new botanical terms, how to identify several new plant families, and am getting more comfortable with ArcMap. Next week we’re going out to watch a lekking of greater sage-grouse. I cannot wait!

I’m living six miles outside Vale with a woman named Shelli who also works in the BLM office. I’m more than pleased with my living situation. First off, I love Shelli. She has been so helpful, and a real joy to get to know and spend time with. I love the house too. It’s a good size and quite quaint. Not having to bring or buy any furniture or kitchenware was an amazing selling point as well. Although I do yearn for a washer and drier. More than half the machines at the laundromat here in Vale are out of service. The house is in the center of a small farm, two horses in a pasture to the east, and a small herd of cows grazing to the west. It’s peaceful and simply beautiful. Watching the sunrise and sunset are two of my favorite times of day at home.






I was able to spend a week in Vale prior to my starting date and had a few exciting experiences during that free time. My first being an encounter with the herd of cows at the house. The owner occasionally locks all 30 or so of them in the gates that surround the house in order to do some work in the much larger area that they’re usually in. I was aware that this, and had no problem with the idea. However, I didn’t realize how nerve wracking it would be to try and leave the house. I can laugh now, but being home alone and having to walk through a herd of about 30 large animals that I’ve never been that close to before was scarier than I was expecting.  Once I left the front door they all looked right at me. As I started to move through them, they all stood up and kept staring at me. At first I went right back into the house and called Shelli. She laughed and told me to grab a jacket and wave it at them with confidence while walking. It worked. They didn’t trample me. It seems silly to be afraid now that I look back on the moment.

I was also able to watch and help out just a bit at a cattle branding. This is the season for ranchers to brand their livestock, and Shelli invited me to one in Harper, about twenty minutes east of Vale, my first weekend here.  I was nervous that I’d be a nuisance, but have come to learn that brandings are social gatherings. Several people and families usually get together on these occasions to help where they can, watch, and enjoy one another’s company. I was able to ride on a UTV and experience how the UTV and people on horseback steer the herd from pasture and into the necessary gates for branding. We tried to lure the cattle from pasture with hay at first, but once they saw the horses they started running in the opposite direction. We sped downhill and around the far side of the herd to stop them before they got too far out, and were then able to more slowly guide them out of pasture, down the road a ways, and into the proper gates near the house. I found the experience extremely exciting. Then the cows were separated from the calves, and the calves were caught, tied down, branded, given two shots, and the males were castrated. The process was hard to watch at first, it’s not anything I’ve ever seen before. I’m realistic about where our food comes from, and what it takes to raise and grow that food, so the process didn’t surprise me. It’s just a bit hard to see for the first time. Eventually I was able to help castrate one of the little bulls. This was an idea I had to be talked into, but it was not nearly as bad as I thought it’d be. Since it’s been so hot here, they decided to bind instead of cut, which is essentially putting a small, thick rubber band around the testicles. Then they eventually fall off.  In all, I’m really glad I went. It was a great learning experience and I met some really kind people.


Getting her tied down

I’m getting used to, and enjoying the “small town” experience so far. I have had to adjust my concept of distance since arriving. A forty five minute drive into Chicago used to be far to me. Now it’s twenty minutes to a decent restaurant, better grocery stores, and any kind of shopping. It’s an hour and twenty minutes to Boise, Idaho, the nearest city, which doesn’t quite feel large enough to be a city, and an hour to four hours to most of the sites Jeremy and I will be collecting seed at this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing the state, more so than I already have. There is so much to see, explore, and experience in this county alone. I plan on learning from and exploring as much as possible from the area this summer. It’s going to be a great five months.


Colleen Sullivan-BLM Vale, Oregon Office


Weeds season is in full force here in the central valley of California. I’ve been spending about half of my time treating huge stands of noxious invasive weeds. The other half of my time is dedicated to writing permits for a giant garter snake restoration project I am currently working on. In my “free time” I am beginning the irrigation schedule for a native plant restoration site I installed a few months ago. I am also very actively working to expand my work qualifications and certifications through various training workshops. The BLM has been instrumental in helping me to expand my skills and certs. The weather here has been fantastic lately, and I am hoping to get out on the trail this weekend for some backpacking. Hopefully you’re getting the same where ever you may be stationed!