Discovering Plant Populations

While my work with US Fish and Wildlife has so far been primarily focused on fish and other animals, these past few weeks have involved plant surveys for a species called Applegate’s milkvetch (Astragalus applegatei). Applegate’s milkvetch is a small perennial plant in the pea family that grows close to the ground and has delicate pinkish-white flowers.

Applegate's milkvetch

Applegate’s milkvetch

Applegate’s milkvetch is only found in the Klamath basin and due to development and other disturbance of its habitat, it only exists in small populations around the basin. The plant was federally listed as endangered in 1993. Until this last week, only four populations of Applegate’s milkvetch were known around Klamath Falls. Last week we surveyed one of these populations, which happens to be at the airport. The parade of fighter jets taking off and landing made for an exciting day of surveying.

A field we surveyed for Applegate's milkvetch at the Klamath Falls airport.

A field we surveyed for Applegate’s milkvetch at the Klamath Falls airport.

Based on a reported sighting of Applegate’s milkvetch by some local botanists, we ventured to a nearby state park to look for the reported plants. Having expected at most a few hundred individuals, we were surprised when hours of crawling on all fours later we had found upwards of a thousand individual plants. Between our survey efforts last week and today (which exclude one of the largest areas of the park), we have found over 4,000 plants. This is likely one of the largest remaining populations of Applegate’s milkvetch, far exceeding the recovery plan’s call for 1,500 individuals. While continued monitoring will be required, the discovery of this population may assist in down-listing and potentially de-listing of Applegate’s milkvetch.

A small area at the state park where we surveyed for Applegate's milkvetch. Each colored flag indicates an individual plant.

A small area at the state park where we surveyed for Applegate’s milkvetch. Each colored flag indicates an individual plant.

NYC livin’ and plant identifyin’

Hi all!

Moving to New York City was not what I expected when I applied for an internship with the CLM program, but I have totally embraced my life as a new New Yorker. I packed everything in my tiny car and prepared to move into a cozy apartment in Brooklyn. Being a new New Yorker, I have also embraced a new diet of primarily pizza, bagels, and donuts…kidding…kind of. I have only spent about 2 weeks here, but I am really enjoying all of the great food and the never ending things to do. As for the internship, we received our plant list on the first day, and I have been steadily trying to learn the list of over 200 species. This has been overwhelming, but I appreciate the challenge. I find it really great that my job consists of learning and getting familiar with these plants before our field season gets into full swing.

Last week, we did our training in North Carolina with the other Seeds of Success east coast interns. I was saddened to learn we wouldn’t be going to the Chicago workshop, but North Carolina was beautiful, so I can’t complain. We spent three days learning about the history of SOS and the protocols. On our third day, we got to go out into the field, which was a great hands on learning experience. We spent the first half of our day identifying common plants in the area and looking for possible plants to take seed collections from. We focused on grasses, sedges, and rushes, three groups of plants I am not as familiar with.  The second half of our day was spent doing a seed collection as a collective group. We collected seed from the plant, Glyceria striata, and it was a pretty easy seed to collect. So easy, that we apparently collected about ~500,000 seeds, which is a bit over our 15,000-30,000 seed goal, haha. That being said, it was a great experience to finally apply what we had learned the past two days (and be in the field, of course).

My internship has just begun, and it has already been great. I’m looking forward to the rest of this six months full of plant identifyin’, seed collectin’, and NYC livin’.

Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) seed

Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) seed

Identifying Poaceae! This is Dichanthelium scoparium.

Identifying Poaceae! This is Dichanthelium scoparium.

Signing off,

Barbara Garrow

Seeds of Success Intern

Greenbelt Native Plant Center in Staten Island, NYC.

Maryland State Parks for Days

Hello again! Jake Dakar here. I was a Seeds of Success (East) intern last year based out of the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, NC, and I’m at it again this year in the same location. During the interim period between November 30 and May 31, I stayed on as a temporary employee at NCBG doing a multitude of things, some of which were behind the scenes work in preparation for this year’s SOS East collecting season.

After months of work, countless email correspondences, and the tireless help of many involved, I recently received good news – we had succeeded in getting permission to collect seeds at 19 different Maryland State Park properties. Most of them are surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River, as well as one on the Atlantic coast, and a few inland parks.

Just a couple of weeks ago, my mentor, Amanda, and I visited 18 of the 19, the 19th being Assateague State Park, which would have been extremely out of our way. We spent the entire week State Park-hopping to survey plant communities for our collection season this year.

It’s difficult to remember every detail about each park, but I did take pictures at a bunch of them.

We started off our tour at Seneca Creek State Park, where we found great populations of Asclepias syriaca, Kalmia latifolia, and Gaylussacia frondosa. Here is a picture of the Kalmia.


Next we stopped at Patuxent River State Park, which was really pretty, but wasn’t suitable for our needs.

After that we went to Patapsco Valley State Park. The traffic was awful getting there, but we got some beautiful views of old railroads and some pretty rock formations. Again, though beautiful, we didn’t find large enough populations of species on our target list.

We ended our first day at North Point State Park, where we found good populations of Prunus serotina and Cornus amomum, though we saw Phragmites australis growing everywhere, including in the woods.

The next morning we started off at Gunpowder Falls State Park where we noted a nice population of Carex vulpinoidea. Here is a photo of the very first Adiantum pedatum population I’ve ever seen in the wild!


Next we stopped at Rocks State Park where we saw, once again, a really nice population of Kalmia latifolia as well as some Rhododendron viscosum var. viscosum which is the first population we’ve seen large enough to make an SOS collection from!

Following that we went to Susquehanna State Park where we found a population that may be large enough to collect from, of Asimina triloba, which would be a fun collection to clean, as the Paw Paw is our continent’s largest fruit, and also one of my favorites. Here is a photo of some water fowl around one of their ponds.


Our last stop on day 2 was Elk Neck State Park, which was a really great spot. We saw tons of Kalmia latifoliaPontederia cordataGaylussacia frondosaAsimina trilobaTeucrium canadensePrunus serotinaTypha latifolia, and the list goes on. Here’s a picture of the lighthouse at the tip of the neck.


The following morning we began at Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area, where we saw a bunch of Viburnum dentatum, Pontederia cordata, Cornus amomum, and Asclepias sp. (the flowers weren’t quite ready yet.

This isn’t a MD State Park, but we had time to stop off at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, where we saw a great population of Typha angustifolia, Iva frutescens, Schoenoplectus americanus, Spartina patens, Distichlis spicata, and Juncus roemerianus. Here is a photo of some Amorpha fruticosa.


Our next stop was Tuckahoe State Park. We found our first great population of Iris versicolor, as well as lots of Saururus cernuus, Sambucus canadensis, and Cephalanthus occidentalis. I took a photo of a plant I had never seen before, Medeola virginiana.


We then visited Rosaryville State Park, which unfortunately didn’t have anything for us, but it was nice to visit, since we pass it quite often during our travels.

Our last stop on day 3 was Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, where we saw some Pinus virginiana, and a nice wetland that will be a little difficult to access. Here is a photo of some Juglans nigra I found there.


In the morning we headed off to Calvert Cliffs State Park, which was fantastic. There were incredible populations of Gaylussacia frondosa, Kalmia latifolia, and Pinus virginiana. I couldn’t help but photograph a caterpillar (maybe someone here knows what type) on some Packera aurea.


Next was Greenwell State Park, which didn’t have much in the way of natural areas, but had a well developed Equestrian area, pictured below.


We then visited St. Mary’s River State Park where we found our very first population of Rubus hispidus, as well as some Dichanthelium scoparium and many species of Eleocharis. Here is the Rubus I mentioned.


Following that we visited Point Lookout State Park, which looked very familiar to a lot of places we collected last year. There was Solidago sempervirens, Spartina patens, Iva frutescens, Smilax rotundifolia, and Juncus roemerianus, among other things. Here is a photo of some Diospyros virginiana.


Our last stop on day 4 was Smallwood State Park. We found lots of good stuff there, including Saurus cernuus, Carex lurida, Alnus serrulata, Typha latifolia, and Glyceria striata. Here is a photo of some Salix nigra in fruit!


Our first and last stop on day 5 was Chapman State Park. We saw pretty much the same flora there as we found at Smallwood, since they are within 15 minutes of each other. I did, however, take a photo of Liriodendron tulipifera.


All in all, it was a very productive scouting trip, and we had a lot of fun botanizing and seeing the beauty of MD State Parks.

I look forward to a fruitful season with SOS once again. Until next time…

Jake Dakar, NC Botanical Garden, SOS East

(/O_O)/ The Meeting of the BLM Legends: CLM Ultra Blog Edition! \(O_O\)

Alternative Training: Drones
I am truly excited!! I had an alternative training opportunity in Laramie, Wyoming learning about remote sensing and drone technology! This was a two day symposium talking about drone capabilities, cameras, research, and GIS technology. I learned that drone technology was still a brand new venture for many people, and a lot of researchers received their drone and pilot’s license within the last year!

Drones came in all kinds of shapes and sizes! I witnessed that they could weigh up to 1.5 to 40 pounds. Some of the drones looked like very bizarre-looking helicopters with go pros attached to their undersides. Some of the drones looked like mini Styrofoam planes that had a built in camera and GPS device. These plane drones follow a computer program and GPS line transects automatically without any person manually operating them. Some of the cameras were really powerful and could generate point cloud maps of a canyon or river basin. These point cloud maps are usually over a terabyte of data and the pixel size was 1 cm by 1 cm. The details of these point cloud maps were amazing, you could pick out individual species of grass!!

The different kinds of drones that were used.

The different kinds of drones that were used.

There were many drones being developed for research projects throughout the world. Drones could be used to count animal species in harsh climates like in the Arctic, they could be used to cross the Atlantic Ocean to detect hurricanes, and they could be used to fly near forest fires to record and monitor fire movement. They used drones for a rainforest project, where they had to monitor canopy tree species in this one forest preserve. With remote sensing software and drone photography, they were able to accurately map almost every single canopy tree species!

There were a few problems that the researchers did encounter when operating drones out in the western United States. One of the major issues were birds of prey. Hawks and eagles always considered drones a threat to their territory, so they would fight the drones in the air! The researchers always brought extra parts for the drones in case the birds of prey wreck any parts. Wind was another issue people have encountered. Sometimes, the wind would be so strong that it would crash the drone immediately after take-off! The Styrofoam drones fared better than the plastic drones. Some drones were shot out of the sky by a land owner or hunter, because the drone was passing through their property to a study site.

In the future, I believe drones would be an important tool for GIS and remote sensing research. They have many capabilities and were extremely useful in collecting hard to obtain data. They were controversial right now in the United States. Many of the laws were brand new and were still being developed in terms of regulating drone activities. The general public was still wary about drones and UAVs. Drones could be very useful in data collecting, but they could also be used to video record and spy on neighbors. Someone used a drone to record some geysers in Yellowstone, and the drone crash landed into a geyser!

Drone technology and regulations are still developing. In the future, I believe that drones could be very beneficial for data collection and monitoring for many scientists. There are still many problems and hurdles this type of technology has to overcome. As of now, I am on the border with using drones. I see all the great possibilities and capabilities drones have for research, but I could see why there is backlash and concern over the use of this technology.

Beyond the symposium lectures, on the second day we got to fly and view different drones! We saw drones fly outside in an open parking lot and we got to see drones maneuver in indoor stadiums!  Unfortunately, people crashed some of the drones, so some of the presentations were short. Fortunately, these drones were easy to repair! One of my favorite drones to watch were the Styrofoam drone planes. They weighed about two to three pounds and they automatically flew in the air without the aid of a human flying it. The drone coordinator inputted GPS lines for the drone to follow and the drone flew those lines exactly and safely crashed near the coordinator without any damage!

Overall, I learned a lot about drones by attending this symposium. When regulations ease up on drones, I would like to get my drone license, and use this type of technology for my future job! Hopefully, I can use drones to help detect invasive plant populations, so that they could be mapped and treated at a further date!

AIM Training in Rock Springs! BLM Legends, Assemble!!

Wow! I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Rock Springs, Wyoming for AIM (Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring) training. This type of training was essential for rangeland monitoring, plus it looked great for the resume! We had to learn various techniques on rangeland data collection. We had to dig soil pits and identify soil profiles, we had to measure canopy gap, learn about vegetation density, update our line point monitoring, collect surface soils, and learn about various plants! Each day began with lectures and field exercises. Most of the day had beautiful weather conditions, but in the late afternoon, it would thunderstorm out!

BLM Legends learning about how to identify different soil textures.

BLM Legends learning about how to identify different soil textures.

There was another reason why I was super hyped about doing this training… I got to meet all of the Wyoming and northeastern Utah BLM Legends! I never seen so many BLM Legends and staff in one room before! When we went out in the field, there was usually a forty car caravan of BLM Legends traveling to a site for field exercises. It was hilarious to see people from the public stop by and ask why there were so many Government trucks! Beyond the BLM legends, there were GBI interns! They were similar to CBG interns, but they were with the Great Basin Institute! They were there to learn about the AIM protocol as well!

There were too many There were BLM Legends everywhere, you could not count them all!

There were too many BLM Legends everywhere, you could not count them all!

Our first day, we were in the field learning about soil profiles and how to identify soils! At the Rock Springs, BLM we got to test out different soils and identify them! That was a lot of fun, but many people got dirty due to the crazy amount of clay in some of the soils. Afterwards, we went into the field and dug soil pits! That was fun, even if we had to take a break when an active thunderstorm blew by. I loved the amount of forbs I saw out there! Penstemon (Penstemon spp.), wall flowers (Erysimum spp.), and Hood’s phlox (Phlox hoodii) were prevalent. I even got to learn some new shrubs I have never encountered before like the spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa)!

Rock Springs wildflowers!

Rock Springs flora Phlox, Penstemon, wallflower, and hopsage !

The next day we attended some lectures in the morning. Later, we went to the south of Rock Springs to a beautiful piece of BLM land that was covered with lush Wyoming sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)! We learned all of the field methods when we were out there! Unfortunately, the final lesson was cut short due to a nearby thunderstorm. This thunderstorm was a doozy!! It hailed triangular hailstones on us that hurt like the dickens!! We survived and headed back to the field office, where we learned about statistics …the lecture really put everyone to sleep. ^_^;

The mighty hailstorm coming our way! Triangular hail really hurts!

The mighty hailstorm coming our way! Triangular hail really hurts!

Thursday was a large test for all of us! We had to do all of the AIM techniques on a mountainous hill near Rock Springs. We collected soil samples, measured canopy gap, looked at line point intercept, and preformed other various types of data collection. There were some ticks present, but they did not bother us! It was a beautiful day and I got to learn more cools forbs. I had the pleasure of studying black sagebrush (Artemisia nova) when I was monitoring! We were not stormed out this day, which was great!!

Ticks I have found when I was in the field.

Ticks I have found when I was in the field.

The final day, we took a test and finished up with lectures! Everyone did well on the open book test! We were released early, and our group got to look at wild horses and various Wyoming landscapes on our trip back to Buffalo, Wyoming! Overall, this was an amazing training opportunity! I am glad I took this training and I suggest that any intern in the future should take this training, even if they are not a rangeland monitoring intern!!!

Summer Season

Just a few weeks ago, it felt like Winter was still prevalent… now Summer was in full swing! Due to the additional amount of rain we have received in May, wildflowers were blooming like crazy across the Bighorns and the Powder River Basin!! The second part of my internship began at the beginning of June! All of a sudden, I got three major jobs with ten smaller jobs! I am super excited with a full schedule! My main priority was to ground truth all of the cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) areas I detected during my remote sensing. This task may be huge, but most of the areas I could drive past and take five minutes worth of notes at each site. I could easily visit fifty sites if I wanted to along county roads. My next job involved NISIMS and salt cedar (Tamarix spp.) data collection. I would go to a specific area located east of town and record all of the weeds I have encountered. I would also have to look for salt cedar in many of the draws. All of the salt cedar sites have been chemically and mechanically treated, and my job involved me going to each of the treated areas to make sure there would be no salt cedar left. Another job involved looking for bird nests in the sagebrush community. I would be going out with wildlife biologists and look for various bird species and nesting sites. I am excited to do all of the above jobs. If the weather was not suitable for field work, I get to work on indoor projects such as the continuation of look for cheatgrass using supervised classification, scanning old orthophotographs, working on soil profile identification, working with data management on oil and gas sites, typing up cheatgrass reports, and working with plant identification. Hopefully, I will have time to work on my blog!! ^_^;

Summer highlights so far!!

Summer highlights so far!!

Here is a gypsum crystal I have found when I was out looking for cheatgrass!

Here is a gypsum crystal I have found when I was out looking for cheatgrass!

Looking for the Blue Gems

I had a great opportunity to help out with bird monitoring for an entire week! One of my specialties was bird identification and I was thrilled to help out in any way! There was a study on sagebrush obligates or birds that use the sagebrush steppe as a breeding area. We had to look for nests of any bird species that used the sagebrush as a nesting area. Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri), vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus), spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus), loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), and sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) were the main bird species we were looking for!

I had to help out these Canadian wildlife biology technicians find nests that were hidden in the sagebrush. I thought it was going to be easy…unfortunately finding bird nests was extraordinarily hard! These nests were buried in dense sagebrush. The three most common bird species were Brewer’s sparrow, vesper sparrow, and the western meadowlark. The brewer sparrow’s nest were located towards the top of the sagebrush and the eggs were a bluish- turquoise color. The vesper’s nest was buried in the bottom of the sagebrush and was usually covered with grass, making it extremely difficult to find. The meadowlark’s nests were grass domes hidden usually by the transition areas by grassland and sagebrush. It took me two days to actually find an active nest!! Usually, we would spread out and rub a leg along each sagebrush we encountered. Rarely, the female would quickly leave the nest, and we would quickly find the nest she left, mark a GPS point there, and move onto the next area. Another way to look for nests would be to watch the bird couple in their territory in the morning and see where the female goes. I had to be wary, because the male would pretend to enter the sagebrush and lead me astray!! I was able to eventually find more nests! I found many bird territories including a sage thrasher territory! Later, a nest was found in the area. I did find two active Brewer sparrow’s nest. Finding the eggs was like finding blue gems in the sagebrush! It was a welcoming sight! Some problems we encountered in the field were snakes, many ticks, and high temperatures!  Overall, it was a great experience and I learned a lot about birds and their nests!!

Some of the nests that were found when we were all out in the field. Sometimes we would encounter snakes, so we would have to be careful when stepping near sagebrush.

Some of the nests that were found when we were all out in the field. Sometimes we would encounter snakes, so we would have to be careful when stepping near sagebrush.

Moment of Zen

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Here are some cool thunderstorm cells I saw recently!!

Hello, World!

Hello to all,

This post marks the very first CLM blog post of my internship and the end of my first 2 weeks. Finally getting to start my internship with SOS East and the NCBG team has been so great. I’ve spent the past 2 months counting the weeks down to when I’d start and these first two weeks just flew by.

Week one had me getting to know my new teammates, ordering our new gear, and even making one or two excursions to the field. Everyone seems really great and I think we’ll all get long well. It was so much fun going shopping with them and lunching together. I’m mostly used to working solo or with one or two other people, but this has been a nice change of pace.

On the field trips we made we came across a crawdad graveyard, a tiny toad migration, and a great blue heron. My favorite spot was a recently acquired parcel of land which was just beautiful and was where we saw the heron fly by. All the fun wasn’t just in the field though, because we were able to spend a lot of time touring the botanical garden, getting acquainted with some of the plants we’d be collecting, meeting the rest of the garden staff, and meeting some of the animal visitors to the garden, including rabbits, birds, toads, and one box turtle. I wooooould share some pics, but it appears the site can’t handle this many megabytes of awesome.

Week two had us in a 3-day training session with the rest of SOS east down at the garden. We all ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, and listened to speakers including but not limited to the man, the legend, and author of Weakley’s Flora, Alan Weakley! *Cheers* On the last day of training we all went down to Mason Farm and made an official SOS collection of Glyceria striata. This little adventure had me squelching my way around this soggy wetland area in my muck boots, surrounded by an ocean of Glyceria just waiting to be collected. Turns out we actually collected about 10 times as much as we needed, but I guess it’s easier to do that when you have 14 interns all collecting a single species.

Anyway, that’s all I have for this week but stay tuned! The NCBG team will be making its first multi-day trip to the coast this week, so I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share in my next post.

Until then, good luck and happy plant hunting!

Rose A.


A New House in Taos!

After a crazy and exhausting week of graduation, and a long and reflective drive across the country, I have finally made it to Taos, New Mexico all the way from New England! Both I and my now slightly-whirring car are undoubtedly happy to be here. Even though my trip consisted of ascending and descending the Appalachians, driving through the countryside of Kentucky, and throughout the flatlands of the south, my arrival in New Mexico provided sights completely unparalleled to those of the journey on the way here. Having grown up in the west but venturing out east for school, I was confronted by many sites and environments that made me feel nostalgic: big outcrops of sedimentary and volcanic rock, snow-capped mountains, and winding roads through coniferous forests. While I definitely already miss the East Coast, I definitely have no complaints about the biology and geology of northern New Mexico.


While I’ve only worked for just three days so far, my time has given me a sweet taste of the promises contained in the rest of the season. For instance, my first day consisted of driving to an agricultural research center to pick up some saplings slated for landscaping on government property–providing a new home for some native plants and hopefully their pollinators too. On this stop we were also able to gnab some free green and purple asparagus! We also headed out in the field to attempt to collect seeds of Hesperostipa, and although they weren’t quite mature enough, this gave some perspective on what most of my season working with the BLM will contain.


It takes time getting used to new places, a new apartment, new people, and new plants, but I’m already excited and motivated to get all I can out of this experience. This past week, although short, gave me a glimpse into the different environments I’ll be able to work in as well as the wealth of biology, culture, and post-college life I have all to learn about. I’m looking forward to checking back in next month, with new experiences and a greater knowledge of New Mexican flora under my belt!


Jack Diedrich
BLM Taos, NM


A blog?

Blogging is something I have never done before and never thought I would be doing today.  I always saw “bloggers” as the people who sit in their houses all day and write about things that are of no importance to me or anyone else.  My views have changed as the years have gone on, but I still thought I would never be writing one.  Boy, life is strange.  I am currently working for the Chicago Botanic Garden as a Conservation and Land Management Intern through the Bureau of Land Management in Lander, Wyoming.  Never been there?  You’re missing out.  Of all the places I have lived, it is my absolute favorite.  There is never a shortage of fun activities to do.  In the winter you can cross country ski, skate ski, snowshoe, downhill ski, backcountry ski, snowmobile, hike, ice fish, etc., etc., etc.  The list for summer is even longer.  The trailhead for the tallest peak in Wyoming is not very far away and the fishing in the Wind River Mountains is absolutely incredible.  The people are nice and always willing to help you even if they have no idea who you are.  But, to get back to my internship…  I have never worked for the BLM before and wasn’t sure how it would go.  So far I absolutely love it.  I get to be outside all day every day in  remote country where the chances of running into other people are low.  There are elk, deer, antelope, moose, coyotes, birds of all kinds, and a whole host of different bugs to be seen.  The flora is even more impressive than the fauna.  I will be monitoring several riparian areas to determine use by grazers and overall health of the area.

Being my first blog, I really don’t know what to tell you other than what is written above.  I’m not a long winded person.  Straight, to the point, short and sweet, blah, blah, blah.  I hope everyone is having a great start to their summer and I look forward to meeting some of you at the upcoming CLM training workshop in Chicago.  Till then, see ya!



BLM – Lander, Wyoming

Cynister Cypripedium

We have turned the focus of our rare plant revisits from the very showy Fritillaria gentneri to the fairly inconspicuous Cypripedium fasciculatum. In Oregon, the BLM has Cypripedium fasciculatum (CYFA), commonly known as the clustered lady’s slipper, on its Sensitive Species list. A population viability model completed by the Institute for Applied Ecology for CYFA predicts that sites with 10 or fewer CYFA plants, especially those at low elevation (< 3000 feet), are more at risk for population decline. We are visiting a subset of the CYFA sites composed of 15 low elevation sites and 15 high elevation sites, all of which have 10 or fewer plants, in order to determine if what we find in the field agrees with what the model predicts.

Two flowering Cypripedium fasciculatum

Two especially droopy flowering Cypripedium fasciculatum

Some more sad CYFA

Another sad CYFA

We get to be more selective with our site choice for CYFA, so we have mostly been revisiting sites that are close to the road. For efficiency’s sake of course. The CYFA sites are often very lovely, with locations near drainages populated by Douglas-fir, madrone, mountain dogwood, western chestnut, canyon live oak, tanoak, and more. The clustered lady’s slipper can be incredibly small and easy to miss, so Lillie and I make sure to really take our time during our site visits.

While looking for CYFA, we have encountered some other cool Orchidaceae species, including two sites that have another rare lady’s slipper called Cypripedium montanum, or mountain lady’s slipper. This is an exciting find because it’s rarer and, in my opinion, more beautiful than the clustered lady’s slipper.

Cypripedium montanum

Cypripedium montanum

Cephalanthera austinae, the phantom orchid!

Cephalanthera austinae, the phantom orchid!

A closer look at the phantom orchid's flower

A closer look at the phantom orchid’s flower

Corallorhiza maculata

Corallorhiza maculata

And a parasitic Ericaceae for good measure! Sarcodes sanguinea

And a parasitic Ericaceae for good measure! Sarcodes sanguinea

Though most of our days involve searching for CYFA, we have also been able to get out and help with seed collecting. One day we collected seeds from Alopecurus geniculatus and Agoseris grandiflora on top of Upper Table Rock, which has got to be one of the prettier collection sites out there. Since I hadn’t collected seed before this internship, I was excited to get the opportunity to do so. My internship continues to offer new opportunities for growth, and even though I think the time is going by WAY too quickly, I’m happy that I look forward to each day of work as much as I do!

Until next time,

Kiki, Grants Pass, OR

62° North.


I am happy to be reporting from the land of the midnight twilight where I have had a spectacular introduction to the Alaskan wilderness. I came here to work with plants, but with the impact of bear, moose, salmon and mosquitoes on life in Alaska, it appears my association with the animal kingdom is inevitable.

This summer I will be working for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park with the Exotic Plants Management Team. To shortly describe our summer activities, we will be focusing our efforts on surveying for the aquatic invasive Elodea spp., periodic management/surveying for newly discovered and prior existing invasive terrestrial plant populations, monitoring of aspen phenology and leaf miner damage, community outreach efforts and native seed collection for our restoration projects… We are certainly not void of projects. The last few weeks have been primarily focused on mandatory all-personal park training (aviation, bear and ATV training), and also specialized work training to get familiarized with navigating the NPS network drives and managing GPS and GIS data. It was a tremendously long process, but we are finally getting out into the field!

A glimpse of the Wrangell range from Willow Lake. From left to right: Mt. Drum, Mt. Stanford and Mt. Wrangell.

A glimpse of the Wrangell range from Willow Lake in the Copper River Basin. From left to right: Mt. Drum, Mt. Stanford and Mt. Wrangell.

The two most recently visited field sites happen to be accessed by the mere two roads into our park, Nabesna and McCarthy. Given that Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest park and preserve in the United States with 13,275,799 acres, this presents a bit of a problem. The answer? Aviation. This park is SO remote that we will be flying via bush planes/floatplanes with frequency to backcountry field sites inaccessible by The Nabesna and McCarthy Roads (I’m quite excited about this).

Nabesna Road was our first destination where we convoyed ATVs into the backcountry to the Copper Lake Trail-Crew Camp. The trail is undergoing a serious rerouting project and we were there to assess the habitat damage during its construction and map potential sites for restoration and re-vegetation on unused or expired off-road vehicle and equipment trails. We even got our hands dirty cleaning up light inhibiting debris that was successfully choking out vegetation on many of these trails (see before/after photos).

Mapping restoration plots on the Trimble GeoXT.

Mapping restoration plots on the Trimble GeoXT.


First stage restoration  – Before


First stage restoration – After

In Alaska, many environmental hazards exist that have the power to seriously harm or kill if unprepared. Whether it’s the wildlife or weather (rain and freezing temperatures), it seems that this rugged wilderness is always testing the most seasoned of outdoorsmen/women. Despite these challenges, I’m convinced that insanity driven by mosquitoes is the most daunting obstacle in Alaska.  Somehow the experience of 200+ tiny dipterans piercing their proboscises of 21 micrometers in diameter through a material layer and into the flesh causes folks to lose their cool. The DEET-less summer is going to be more difficult than I ever imagined.

After Nabesna area our team visited McCarthy and the Kennecott Mines to scout more potential restoration sites along with a manual treatment of a Leucanthemum Vulgare population. From the mine are phenomenal views of the Kennicott Glacier, Root Glacier and Stairway Icefall.

Looking through the trees to Kennicott Glacier.

Looking through the trees to Kennicott Glacier.

Lateral rhizomatous sprouts of Leucanthemum Vulgare present quite the challenge for manual treatment.

Lateral rhizomatous sprouts of Leucanthemum Vulgare present quite the challenge for manual treatment.

In our spare time we have been busy botanizing, gardening, picking spruce tips and traveling outside the Copper River Basin. I arrived in Alaska during the pasque flower bloom and was lucky enough to stumble upon a calypso orchid my first week here.

A striking Calypso bulbosa in boreal forest of the Copper River Basin, AK.

A striking Calypso bulbosa growing in Sphagnum substrate of boreal forest understory in Copper River Basin, AK. Photo by Maura Shumacher.

Pulsatilla patens is a anxious spring wildflower. for it's brief period of bloom in Wrangell-St. Elias we found it most commonly on river bluffs and open patches of woodlands. Photo by Maura Schumacher.

Pulsatilla patens is an anxious spring wildflower. For it’s brief period of flowering in Wrangell-St. Elias we found it most commonly on river bluffs and open patches of woodlands. Photo by Maura Schumacher.

Life is sweet in Alaska and I am learning something new every day. Truly ecstatic to meet the other CLMs at training next week!

Hasta luego,


Cactus Eyes

Hiking 40 transects throughout the central Utah desert in 100 degree weather, getting chased and bitten by deer flies and counting cacti – this has been my fieldwork experience in a nutshell. Recently, my fellow intern and I have had the opportunity to work without the supervision of our mentor. Along with two other ACE interns, we have been collecting data for a Sclerocactus population study. In addition to the amazing adventures that being outdoors naturally brings into our lives, this project has been the most eye-opening experience thus far at this internship. Before this point I have always felt like I am really good at working in groups, mainly because I have no problem taking directions and going with the flow of other people’s decisions. These past three weeks I set myself the goal to contribute more to the execution and collection process of the study. I forced myself to speak up and be more assertive about how I feel the data should be collected. I think that practicing this sort of leadership has helped me be more decisive and confident as a field scientist and I am looking forward more than ever to what else this internship has in store for me.

Here are a few photos of the desert terrain and a cactus species we encounter on our hikes:



The beautiful, Echinocereus triglochidiatus.

Until next time,


BLM Richfield Field Office