The last two weeks in the Carson City BLM office have been action packed!

For the last few weeks our field team has been scouting for an appropriate site on which to conduct our mountain mahogany reforestation initiative. The week before last we finally identified an ideal burn spot in the mountains where lots of mountain mahogany had previously grown. After delineating our proposed reforestation boundaries with our GPS units, we then submitted the data to our archaeology department heads so that they could access our proposed reforestation site for its cultural relevancy. Towards the end of that week however, we received clearance and our reforestation went swimmingly (300+ trees)!
We have also had the opportunity to partake in a two day Poaceae identification workshop at the University of Nevada. This was a most enjoyable experience which allowed us to gain hands on experience identifying over 50 different species in the grass family, including some sedges and rushes! While many of us have prior experience in the identification of species in this family, the professors at UN and their high quality microscopes made for a truly engaging learning experience. One we all wish could be replicated for other families that are commonly found on BLM property in Nevada!
Until next month,

The first two weeks in the Mojave Desert

Hello, it’s been awhile since my last blog entry. I can’t say there was much happening during the inter-CLM times, which resembles to me a sort of dormancy period that I experienced the last two winters – very similar to plants’ strategy so to say. And, of course, another parallel that I find with myself is that after a long sleep full of hope and excitement for the productive and successful year each plant sprouts its leaves and builds a strategy for the year based on resources available. For me, the beginning of this season started two weeks ago, March 16, but this time instead of BLM’s botanical work I am in Mojave Desert, working with US Geological Survey as a plant ecology intern (I think this is the best definition of our role here for the time being). After a couple of orientation hours and introduction to the office organization we were left to prepare for the week out in the field starting the next day. It turned out to be the best start of a new job that I’ve ever had. The next day, we started our first measurements in the field. It was a super long day but full of emotional rewards and positive impressions. In general the idea of the project itself is very interesting, looking into how common species from different locations of southwestern deserts respond to Mojave Desert climate conditions and how suitable they are for restoration purposes. It was our first week, which of course was full of discoveries, learning, and for sure bright moments. To word, the Mojave Desert is now very close to its most beautiful period, when most of native species bloom. And I’m certainly very happy to be able to visit places around Henderson to enjoy their beauty during weekends. Well, it’s been a busy week and hopefully the tendency will remain in such current as it provides just an outstanding insight into Mojave Desert plants’ live. Until, next time!


Henderson, USGS

Part of the Mojave Desert landscape

Part of the Mojave Desert landscape

Soaring to New Heights!! The Search for the Golden Eagle!

Welcome to the City of Apples

Wenatchee Apple Capital
Hello everyone!! This is Justin Chappelle reporting from BLM Wenatchee Field Office in Washington State! This is my third internship with the CLM and I am very excited to have this great opportunity!

Wenatchee, Washington is considered the Apple Capital of the World. Everywhere you look, you see apple trees or something apple related. The hillsides for miles have orchards of cherry, pear, apricot, and of course apple trees. Apple advertising is everywhere! They even have an Applebees!  We are in pre-spring and everything is ready to bloom! The magnolias, fruit trees, and forsythia are already blooming, and farmers are beginning to spray the orchards with various sprays to make the fruit last longer, grow bigger, and have the flowers bloom for the pollination process. ^_^;

Fruit Trees!!

There are a huge amount of fruit tree cultivars that could be found in the Wenatchee Valley!

My previous internships were in Burns, Oregon and Buffalo, Wyoming. Both of these small towns were peaceful and had a population around 4-5,000. Wenatchee thinks of itself as a small town as well, but there are 40,000 people living in the area! They had the World’s shortest parade route for St. Patrick’s Day. Essentially, the parade was a block long and they did the parade twice to extend the duration. Wenatchee is a new adventure and I am very excited about working for the BLM in this town!

The Essentials

Every internship begins with the essentials in order to work for the Government. We had to be certified, watch all of the safety videos, and take all of the computer exams! This process went pretty smooth and we were certified for everything within a few days! I did have a problem with the FISAA+ exam. Every time I completed the exam, the computer would not print out my certification. I had to take the exam over three more times until I was able to get my certification. By that time, I also found out that the computer was sending the print work to another section of the BLM office, so now I am 4 times FISSA+ certified! No worries about computer safety tactics and malware, I am a pro at all of the computer documentation!

There were a variety of meetings that we had last week regarding weekly updates, visiting bosses, a potluck, and EEO. Everyone here was super friendly and welcoming! Jenny (The other intern) and I were thrown into the thick of everything and learned a great deal about politics, policy work, and all of the jobs each employee at this BLM had. Despite a smaller sized staff, each of the employees were doing all sorts of jobs and tasks! For Jenny and I, we found out that we would be doing a lot for our field season, which was exciting to hear!!! (I am a little nervous, but in a good way! ^_^;;)

This is a horned lizard we found!!

This is a horned lizard we found!!

Enter Into The Palisades

We had our first field day last Tuesday! The field biologist (Erik) and the botanist (Molly) took us to the Palisades, which was an area located to the East of Wentachee. This place had amazing topography, which was carved out by prehistoric floods. Recently, there was a fire that occurred in this area the previous year. We were checking on the seeding efforts that were going on. There was a tractor pulling three seeding devices. These devices made indents into the ground and planted the seeds at the same time. This process looked amazing! The actual process did not till up a lot of soil, but just enough to plant the seeds. The machines even ran over a glass bottle and it was not broken!

The till and seeding process

The till and seeding process

The fire was not very intense, and a majority of plants were recovering nicely. Molly, our botanist, was showing us all of the plants in our area. Normally in March, the other field offices had a different calendar for Spring time and many flowers would start to bloom at the end of April. In Washington, there were many flower species that were blooming. Lomatium, Dodecatheon, and Rancuclaceae flowers were everywhere! I was impressed about the diversity at this time of year. I even saw a sagebrush species I have never seen before, the stiff sagebrush (Artemisia rigida). Jenny and I found a horned lizard that was crawling on the ground and we took pictures with it. Haha!! The Palisades were an interesting place to visit and we were probably going to come back to this area for ESR activities later in the season.

Ranunculus glaberrimus!!!

Ranunculus glaberrimus!!!

The Rundown

Our bosses, J.A. and Erik, were extraordinarily helpful for our first week of the internship. They made sure we were set up and kept us busy for the first week. We recently had a meeting with both of them about the activities Jenny and myself would be doing this field season. They gave us a lot of tasks, which sound fantastic!! Our top priority goal was to perform Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) surveys throughout the massive Washington District. We would travel to the southern border by Oregon to the Canadian border for different nest locations. We would make note if the eagle nests were occupied, if there were chicks present, and if the nest was being used through the whole nesting season. We were to make note of any other bird of prey nest that would be located on the BLM lands of Washington. We were also tasked with doing sage grouse, Washington ground squirrel, and pygmy rabbit surveys. We would be doing various field methods and make elaborate notes on what we would see. These tasks would require a lot of use of GPS systems and the various GIS programs. Combining my skills of GIS with my love for nature, makes this a dream job for me! I am very excited to be doing these tasks for the first section of my internship.

The rest of the tasks would be performing habitat assessments, working with the Great Basin Institute, GPS fence lines, do watershed assessments, make allotment visits, GIS geodatabase organization, and develop ESR reports. Another main focus would be to do sage grouse surveys. Different vegetation surveys would be completed during the Summer time. As you can see, we have been given many huge tasks to undertake! We will do the best we can for this internship, and learn a lot of techniques that will help us in our future careers!!

A local marmot sends her regards.

A local marmot sends her regards.

Can You Find the Golden Eagle Nest?

This is what we first see when we come to a site...Can you find the eagle nest???

This is what we first see when we come to a site…Can you find the eagle nest???

An example of a Golden Eagle Nest

Congrats!!! You found an active Golden Eagle Nest!

On the Search for the Golden Eagle!

Our second week of our internship was to go to various golden eagle nests close to the city of Wenatchee. Some of the eagle nests were built next to each other and had a history of occupation. The first site we went to was the Three Devils. We definitely found one nest, but the other one could not be seen. There was whitewash (bird poop), but we saw no evidence of any golden eagle using this site anymore. We went down to the Douglas Creek site, which had five nesting areas along this butte structure. This area was very slippery from the rain, so we could not drive up the narrow road. We eventually hiked up to the area and scouted to see if we could find any nests. Haha, the eagle nests were very hard to find and we found out that the battery life on our GPS was very short. We headed back to the office and planned for the next day!

Three Devils Nesting Site

Three Devils Nesting Site. The little white splotch towards the top of the rock structure was the whitewash.

The slippery mountain roads we had to deal with on our first day.

The slippery mountain roads we had to deal with on our first day.

The next day provided better results. We went to two sites north of town known as the Wenatchee Game Office nests. At first we drove along the cliffs, but there was nowhere to pull off to search for golden eagles. We eventually went across the Columbia River and visited many fruit stand parking lots that had a view of the cliffs. Again, finding each of the nests proved to be difficult. Our last observation point was in a taxidermy shop’s parking lot. We did see a golden eagle pass through the area and there was a red tailed hawk that thought of itself as an eagle. We could definitely tell the difference. 😉  We did find out later that most of the nests were abandoned the previous years due to the hot summers. Maybe they would return in the future to this area.

Our next stop was in Rock Island. The small town to the south had a huge dam and many steep cliffs. We tried to get a good vantage point, but the nest was hard to see. We did see a golden eagle fly near the nesting area, so we promised ourselves that we would come back after we talk with the electric company, so we could have access to see the potential eagle nest. The last nesting site we visited was the Douglas Creek area. When we exited the car, a sub adult and an adult Golden Eagle glided closely overhead!! We were very excited!!! We looked to see where they were going, but they flew away. We scanned the cliffs for possible nesting sites, but we did not see any activity for hours. During this time we saw two Northern Harriers doing a courtship display….well the male was doing the courtship and the female was just flying around looking uninterested. We also saw American Kestrels, Red Tailed hawks, and Prairie Falcons in the area. Canyon Wrens, Western Meadowlarks, Mountain Bluebirds, Brewer’s Sparrows, and White Throated Swifts were flying all over the place, singing. European Starling and American Robins were also noted. After an hour of scanning the cliffs for eagles and potential nesting sites, we saw a Golden Eagle soaring near the nesting site!!! O_O Yay!!!!! It flew right over the area where the nests were supposed to be, but then a murder of American Crows flew at the Golden Eagle and were pestering it! D: Come on, American Crows!!!! Stop bothering the eagle. We want to see where it lands!!! The eagle flew away into the distance and out of site. :/ When we did our office day research session, we found out that there were many active nests in Douglas Creek last year, so we will try this site again to see if we could find those Golden Eagles.

Douglas Creek Nesting Sites

Douglas Creek Nesting Site Area

The next day we were venturing up North near the town of Chelan! Our first site was called Chelan Concrete. They said it was occupied twenty years ago, but the nest was destroyed recently. We could not find a nest here, but we did watch a golden eagle male fly along the cliffs for a good hour. It landed a few times to preen and look for chukars. We made many notes about this site and a possible nesting area nearby. We made our way to the Ice Caves afterwards! This site was on a huge granitic structure located north of the Chelan Airport. After searching the cliffs for thirty minutes, we saw a male Golden Eagle fly around. Then we actually found a nest!! We watched the male swoop by the nest and we saw a female rise and communicate from the nesting site!!!!!!!! We were both ecstatic that we actually found an active nesting site with a Golden Eagle couple!!! \(OoO)/We watched the site for almost two hours. After taking many notes, we moved onto the next nesting site by the Chelan Airport. The documents said this nest was abandoned in 1981. After a lot of searching, we concluded that the nest was destroyed and was within the territory of the eagle couple by the Ice Caves, so no eagle would like to nest there now. The final project for the day was to do a small ES&R monitoring project on our way back home. The burned site recovered nicely from the low intensity fire. Overall, this day was fantastic!!!

The Ice Caves Site with an active eagle nest...somewhere on the mountain.

The Ice Caves Site with an active eagle nest…somewhere on the mountain.

I was reading many of the blogs recently and it sounds like everyone is having a great time with their internship!!! I hope all is well on your end!

Justin Chappelle: Wenatchee BLM

And now….Your Moment of Spring Zen

Narcissus/ Daffodils!!

Narcissus/ Daffodils!!

Back in Vale!

I’m back in Vale, Oregon and I will be doing botany this field season! These first few weeks have involved lots of mandatory training and practice in Access databases.

Last week, I was able to go out all week and monitor sage grouse leks with our horse and burro specialist! It involved long days of early mornings and rough driving, but it was worth it since we got to see 4 leks with sage grouse actively lekking on them. I had never seen them in person before and it was awesome to be so close!  I even got to practice driving the manual rig off-road for the first time and I only stalled like 10 times, so I’d call it a success!

I’ve been out in the field a few times now and I’ve been working on learning the native plants. Sagebrush has always all looked the same to me, but I am finally able to tell a few species apart. I have even discovered a species that I actually enjoy the smell of!!! Additionally, we’ve come across a decent amount of plants that have already begun to bloom. Mainly, we’ve seen ranunculus and phlox with a few other species mixed in. It’s scary how early they’re blooming, but at the same time it’s nice to see the flowers which hint that spring is finally arriving.

 This week, I’ve been working trying to get the ESI team’s Access database containing soil descriptions and the species composition of sites to spatial data.  It is a work in progress, but once the database has spatial attributes we will be able to query out species of interest, find areas where they were found in abundance, and use that data to navigate to the sites to potentially collect seeds.

I’m so excited for this upcoming field season and I can’t wait to start collecting!  Hopefully, by my next post I will have completed a few collections!

Month 1-CO State BLM Office

This is my second CLM internship. Last year I worked in Vale, Oregon, and this year I have been given the opportunity to work with Carol Dawson at the Colorado State BLM office. I’m so glad and thankful to be here. I’m really looking forward to my work, and love living in Colorado. This year I will do some Seeds of Success collections, but most of my work will entail rare plant monitoring. So this month I have been familiarizing myself with several of the rare species we will be monitoring over the summer. I’ve become most familiar with a few Penstemon species, P. grahamii, P. scariosus var. albifluvis, P. gibbsenii, and P. debilis.

The BLM has been monitoring P. grahamii yearly since 2005, excluding 2006-2008 and 2013, using a permanent macroplot and restricted random sampling method. Last year the study population had been decimated, with only 16 individuals remaining, as compared to 148 in 2012. The severe decline is presumed to be from a herd of sheep mistakenly allowed to graze in the area. This year we will return to the location in order to evaluate whether or not continued monitoring is possible. Most likely, a new, larger population will need to be located and a new study site set up. The other CLM intern here, Nathan, has been working on new population locations for us to consider. P. grahamii is one of the species for which I have been preparing a status report.

Penstemon grahamii

A photo of P. grahamii I found online-I’m hoping to see it in flower this season, but is unlikely

The other species for which I’ve been preparing a status report is Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis. This species shares a very similar habitat to P. grahamii. Both are endemic to the oil shale barrens of the geologic Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin, and face the threat of oil and gas exploration. The CO BLM has yet to initiate any demographic monitoring study for this species. We plan on implementing such a study this summer.
P. gibbensii and P. debilis are two more rare Colorado species and congeners of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis. There is extremely limited genetic information about P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis, so I’ve been reading through the available information on P. gibbensii and P. debilis in order to gain a better understanding of their genetic structure, which may shed light on the possible genetic structures of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis.

Penstemon scriosus var. albifluvis

A photo of P. scariosus var. albifluvis I found online-I’m looking forward to posting my own pictures soon.

I have also been brushing up on my statistic skills. I won’t really be analyzing any data until after the field season, but I’ve been making some box plots and normal probability plots with the data from previous years of Penstemon grahamii monitoring. This allows me to see if the collected data follows a normal distribution, and thus how accurate statistical estimates are.

Sorry this is such a boring post. Until next time!


Colleen Sullivan


Big Bear Lake February-March


Dark red onion


Desert five spot

We spent three days in the Deep Creek area in mid-March with a 10 person Urban Conservation Corps crew, slashing and seeding unauthorized OHV trails.  The area is a challenging one to work in becuase it’s open, relatively remote, and not regularly patrolled.  Right now, we are focusing on “defensible” sites, where we can do work that won’t be moved or bypassed.

We’ve had several great volunteer events this month.  In partnership with the Southern California Mountains Foundation, SBNF restoration staff hosted a work day for a local community college ecology class at our Lytle Creek nursery.  Yesterday was our first yearly Green Thumbs volunteer day at the Mountaintop greenhouse, an event we host montly beginning in March.

I spent three (personal) days last week in the Newberry Mountians Wilderness, and am headed to the Orocopia Mountains as we speak.  There’s a lot blooming out in the desert right now, such as the charasmatic desert five spot (Erelmanche rotundifoila) and dark red onion (Allium a great time to go botanizing!

Mountaintop Ranger District

San Bernardino National Forest

Grass Class and Fire Restoration

The Sierra Front District BLM botany team is now complete. Stevie, the final member of our team, and my roommate arrived last weekend. The six of us interns are now gearing up for a busy field season. Of course, in this first month we have all been busy completing various trainings. Much time has also been spent on processing herbarium specimens from previous years.

During the beginning of this past week, we all attended a grass identification course at the University of Nevada Reno. As part of the class, we dissected and examined under the microscope 49 different genera of Poaceae, as well as several genera in Juncaceae and Cyperaceae. I have done work with grass in the past but have never had such a comprehensive overview of the family. I’m sure the information I learned in this class will prove to be quite useful going forward.

Field activities over the past couple of weeks have revolved around post-fire restoration. As reported by Olivia and Maggie, we spent a good deal of time scouting for locations to plant Mountain Mahogany seedlings at the TRE fire site. We found a site with a bunch of charred Mahogany remnants and determined that it would be suitable for planting the seedlings. We were all excited for our first camping trip of the season and the trip did not disappoint. Just fewer than 300 seedlings were planted successfully and the crew was treated to some amazing views of the Sierra and Sweetwater ranges.

Today the six of us will depart for Boise for the Integrated Pest Management and Pesticide Application Training and Certification. This certification is valid across all government agencies and will likely be very valuable in future job hunting endeavors.

My First Month in the Great Basin Desert and Sierras

It has been three weeks since I left Colorado and moved to Carson City, Nevada. I hadn’t spent much time in Nevada or in the Tahoe area before. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first arrived here. As I drove westerly across Nevada on Highway 50 – the Loneliest Road in America – I kept thinking how I was going further into the desert and more into the unknown. The Great Basin Desert is unique and far from any desert that I’m familiar with. It is different than the red sandstone arches and pillars of southeastern Utah, the petrified forests and badlands of New Mexico, and the Saguaro deserts of southern Arizona. At first glance, one might think of the Great Basin Desert as a barren and desolate landscape, devoid of life and water. But, as I have pleasantly discovered, the farther you venture into the desert, the more life you find. Multiple species of sagebrush, salt brush, greasewood, grass, and herbaceous forbs are scattered across the landscape. In less than a month, I have gained a great respect for the Great Basin Desert and an appreciation for the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The time has flown by quickly. My days are packed full with learning and working. I have learned more about the Bureau of Land Management, the various land management practices and protocols, the pressing and archiving of herbarium specimens, as well as local geology and botany. This past week was busy. We spent the first portion of the week looking at grasses through microscopes and the second portion of the week planting seedlings.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we attended a Basic Grass Identification Class in Reno. Before attending this course, grass identification was a weakness of mine. In the past, I could readily classify grasses and grass-like plants to basic groups and families based on key characteristics (e.g., the two-ranked leaves of Poaceae [Grass Family], the usually triangular stem of Cyperaceae [Sedge Family]). But I had found it quite difficult to key grasses to genus and species. Grasses comprise a major component of the environment and can indicate the health and status of an ecosystem. Therefore, it is vital to understand how to identify grasses. The class involved identifying over 45 species of Poaceae and several species of Juncaceae and Cyperaceae. We learned how to identify grasses and grass-like plants based on floret structures (i.e., presence versus absence of awns, bearded versus non-bearded calluses, number of florets within a spikelet, etc.). We applied our knowledge to dichotomous keys and were able to determine the genera and, most of the time, species. The course has provided me with more confidence as a biologist and botany intern. I can use my knowledge to determine the presence or absence of certain native grass species, which could influence the collection or planting of native grass seeds.

Thursday and Friday involved the planting of Mountain Mahogany seedlings. On May 22, 2012, flames from a fire in a residence’s backyard were released into the foothills of the southern Pine Mountains. The escaped embers resulted in the TRE Fire – a fire that burned for five consecutive days and burned more than 7,000 acres. A majority of the fire encompassed BLM land. Native perennial plant species were burned in the fire, including Single-leaf Piñon (Pinus monophylla), Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), Desert Peach (Prunus andersonii), and Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius). Our job this past week was to plant about 300 Mountain Mahogany seedlings in a portion of the burn area where the tree used to thrive. The seedlings were grown from seeds collected by previous Seeds of Success Interns. It took two days, an overnight camping trip, and six interns to complete the planting. The beautiful weather, positive attitudes, and laughter made the planting gratifying! The project contained no impasses and was relatively smooth. When I was in the midst of planting some of the seedlings, I looked around at my fellow comrades and smiled from delight and zeal. Not only were we having a good time, but we were also restoring a species to a recently disturbed area. We were making a difference in the world of ecology and our work was important. I was encouraged to see how the collection of seeds can be used to restore and ameliorate an ecosystem. This project is a great story for the Seeds of Success program and emphasizes the importance of collecting seeds for future restoration efforts.

TRE Fire, Pine Nut Mountains, NV - This north-facing slope is where we planted the 280 Mountain Mahogany seedlings.

TRE Fire, Pine Nut Mountains, NV – This north-facing slope is where we planted about 300 Mountain Mahogany seedlings.

CLM intern team planting Mountain Mahogany.

CLM intern team planting Mountain Mahogany.

Aaron Rosenblum carrying a bag of Mountain Mahogany seedlings.

Aaron Rosenblum carrying a bag of Mountain Mahogany seedlings.

John White planting Mountain Mahogany.

John White planting Mountain Mahogany.

Maggie Grey planting Mountain Mahogany.

Maggie Grey planting Mountain Mahogany.

Olivia Schilling planting Mountain Mahogany.

Olivia Schilling planting Mountain Mahogany.

A view of the Sweetwater Range and the Sierras.

A view of the Sweetwater Range and the Sierras.

Burned Mountain Mahogany.

Burned Mountain Mahogany.

Steven Jesselson planting Mountain Mahogany.

Steven Jesselson planting Mountain Mahogany.

A Mountain Mahogany seedling in the foreground  and a burned Mountain Mahogany in the background.

A Mountain Mahogany seedling in the foreground and a burned Mountain Mahogany in the background.

My seasonal allergies are beginning. Sneezing, runny nose, and swollen, itchy eyes – it must be spring! The leaves on trees are budding, rosettes are appearing more and more, and flowers are beginning to bloom. I’m immensely looking forward to more days out in the field, surveying plant species and collecting seeds.

Beginning work at the Cosumnes River Preserve (Again)

Hello everyone,

It has been an interesting few weeks here at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a wonderful 50,000 acre conservation partnership in California’s Central Valley. I began working here in the Federal Pathways Program in 2011 and thought my time here was ending when I graduated in January. As I was wrapping up my projects and prepping my resume, a co-worker and former CLM intern informed the staff that he was leaving to take a new position in his home state of Iowa. This as it turned out was very fortunate timing for me (though I will miss working with him, great person and great employee) as I was able to take over his position as the Project Manager of a giant garter snake restoration project that is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2015.

After graduation I had the month of February off and used that time to do some travelling. My wife and I went to Park City, Utah for a week, then did some backpacking in the beautiful Desolation Wilderness, and finished with a trip to the Big Island in Hawaii. Needless to say there was a brief struggle in returning to work, but I have jumped in head first and am moving forward with the Badger Creek Restoration Project here at the Preserve.

Though it has only been a few weeks, I am already getting some excellent (and not so excellent) introductions to the wonderful world of state and federal permitting. I have written a few NEPA documents in the past, mostly for small projects/actions here at the Preserve, but this new project is a significant step up in complexity. I am currently working on wrapping up a joint NEPA/CEQA document that will cover both the state and federal requirements necessary to obtain proper permits and complete the project. This should be finished in the next few days (the previous CLMer had already completed a good portion of the document) and we will begin the review process. I will have much more to discuss in the coming weeks regarding the process but I thought I might end with a brief description about what we are doing at Badger Creek (I just realized that this post may end up looking like a Tarantino movie by the time it is over, introduction last?).

The Badger creek restoration project involves two separate but connected parcels of preserve lands that will be restored to provide habitat for the federal and state listed threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas). The western parcel, known as Horseshoe Lake, is infested with yellow water primrose which will treated and/or mechanically removed to restore open-water foraging habitat. The eastern parcel, the Bjelland Unit, currently exists as ag land with a channelized portion of Badger Creek running along the southern property boundary. This parcel is going to be recontoured to create wetland and upland habitat which connects to the Horseshoe Lake Unit. The final product will be an additional 1.5 miles of restored habitat, and restored connectivity to the existing Badger Creek population of giant garter snakes. I am very excited to be working on this project and will check back in soon with an update.


Sand dunes and science fairs

Greetings from Arcata, CA and the Humboldt County sand dunes! I have just wrapped up my first week as a foredune conservation/rangeland monitoring intern under Jennifer Wheeler at the Bureau of Land Management, and what a week it was. In seven days I had my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge as my plane landed from Canada, my first drive up the famous California coastline, my first chance to botanize in a sand dune ecosystem (Yes, I made botany a verb), and my first time judging an elementary school science fair. It couldn’t have been more fun!

The BLM of Arcata is responsible for the conservation and management of more than 200,000 acres of land in Northern California, including the unique dune system that makes up the coastline of Humboldt County. I jumped right in to this sandbox after a bit of bureaucratic orientation and spent everyday at a new monitoring site, learning the flora and performing transect monitoring. Though European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) and Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) are a continuous menace to the native species, the level of restoration that the BLM, in concert with their partners, has managed to achieve is a bright beacon of hope in the sometimes dark world of ecosystem conservation. I was thrilled to see the amount of diversity (over thirty species in one transect!), curious to see the effect of the competition between the natives and the invasives, and enamored with the two special status endemic plants, the Humboldt County wallflower (Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense) and beach layia (Layia carnosa). These charismatic little guys are a conservation priority and their persistence in this damaged and ever changing system is in large part due to the ongoing restoration efforts of the BLM.

Jennifer Wheeler at the Samoa Dunes site

Jennifer Wheeler at the Samoa Dunes site

Humboldt County Wallflower (Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense)

Humboldt County Wallflower (Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense)

While I could have happily spent the entire week on the beach, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a judge for the local science fair. Over 130 students from fourth grade through high school participated, with the winners advancing to county and state fairs. The curiosity and ingenuity displayed by the students was a colourful and fun reminder of why we all got into science. Who hasn’t wondered which type of fruit will fly the furthest?! A sense of wonder, anticipation of the unexpected, the thrill of a discovery. These are the simple things that we must nurture to form our future scientists and they’re the things that the most fortunate of us retain through our entire career. I for one plan to approach my entire summer with this mentality!

This student understands that good science is accessible to the general public.

This student understands that good science is accessible to the general public.

This student wants to inform the public and improve our health with her science.

This student wants to inform the public and improve our health with her science.

This student who appreciates the cost of science!

This student who appreciates the cost of science!