Spreading the word

Since my last blog entry, this collecting season has been crazy! My team and I have made way more collections than we had by this time last year, and we’ve visited nearly all of our 84 or so sites that we have permits for.

In addition to seed collections, I had the opportunity to attend the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in Cullowhee, NC for 4 days! I had heard about the conference over the past few years, both working at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and studying at North Carolina State University for my undergrad degree. Everyone that had been to the conference raved about it. There were remarks ranging from “…you’ll learn more about native plants than you thought possible…” to “…it’s the one place I feel comfortable geeking out about plants…”.

I must say, my experience was leaps and bounds better than I imagined it to be, and I had pretty high hopes going into it. One part that I particularly enjoyed, and that is pertinent to this blog, was the poster session. I had the honor of presenting a poster on SOS East to anyone and everyone that was interested in learning about it. Most people were very familiar with seed banking, whether by first-hand experience, or indirectly via their own personal involvement with plants and seeds. Some people here and there were knowledgeable on Seeds of Success and its presence out West, where most of my fellow interns are enjoying their time.

Being generous, I’d say 10% of the people I spoke to were aware of SOS on the East Coast. The fact that my team and I, at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, along with the teams at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center in New York, and the New England Wildflower Society in Massachusetts, are doing large scale native plant seed collection on the East Coast was a huge shock to people. One comment that I heard, phrased in many different ways, was this – “It’s about time.” Every person I spoke to had a very strong opinion when it came to seed banking, and especially for the purpose of restoration on the East Coast. Don’t get me wrong, the need for seed in the West is huge, and I’m so incredibly grateful for the work everyone is doing out there, but the fact that until last year there was no comparable work being done East of the Mississippi River, is a joke. The East Coast gets battered by hurricanes constantly. The rate at which development here is happening at an ever quickening pace is painful to watch. Habitat loss is happening everywhere you look, and there is not enough locally adapted and locally sourced seed to fill the need for restoration efforts. Not to mention, most people don’t even know about the presence of SOS on the East Coast.

I did what I could to inform my fellow botanists, hobbyists, nursery managers, researchers, etc. on our work, and the response was fantastic. Everyone loved the work we’re doing, it seems word is spreading (albeit slowly) throughout the ‘plant world’.

My personal mission while at the conference was to get people thinking about how important the work that SOS does, truly is, and by the same token, convince people that SOS needs to broaden its reach. Right now, we on the East Coast only cover from Maine down to North Carolina. I believe it is of utmost importance to extent SOS East down south through Florida and West along the Gulf Coast, where damage is caused quite frequently. Anyone with memory of Hurricanes Andrew, Wilma, Katrina, Floyd, Fran… knows just how devastating storms on the East Coast are.

Anyway, I’ll end my rant there. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference and am forever grateful for the funding I received from the North Carolina Native Plant Society that allowed me to attend this year. I hope very much to attend next year and every year thereafter.

Here’s a photo of me with my poster:


SOS East poster at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in Cullowhee, NC

And for those of you wanting to see some nice native plants and seeds from my travels with SOS:

Borrichia frutescens

Borrichia frutescens flowers

Sabatia brachiata

Sabatia brachiata flower

Bolobschoenus robustus

Bolboschoenus robustus seeds

Viburnum dentatum

Viburnum dentatum fruits

Rubus hispidus

Rubus hispidus fruits

Asclepias incarnata

Asclepias incarnata flowers

Hibiscus moscheutos

Hibiscus moscheutos flowers

Schoenoplectus americanus

Schoenoplectus americanus fruits

Pontederia cordata

Pontederia cordata flowers

Rein Orchids and Restoration

The past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time working a restoration site located in the coastal grasslands of Fort Ord. After filling in a gully that was threatening to damage a nearby road, BLM planted a few thousand native plants in order to populate the barren earth and prevent future erosion. I have been monitoring the survivorship of those plants, as well as watering them by means of a large water tank truck and a few hundred feet of hose. I often work alone amid dense morning fog, which burns off to spacious afternoon views, with mice, mantises, beetles, grasshoppers, vultures, hawks, spiders, and plants for company.


Pillarcitos restoration site and water tank truck


Friendly mantis

Black widow inhabiting one of the plant basins

Black widow inhabiting one of the watering basins

Meanwhile there has been a huge wildfire raging in northern Big Sur, 30ish south miles from Fort Ord. Luckily the prevailing winds are NW, but there has been some lingering haze and smoke smell in the area, as well as a few days of ash fall. One day however I accompanied our recreation manager to BLM campsites in the valleys inland from the fire, and fire’s effect there was surreal. Everything was enveloped in a yellow-sepia haze, which when coupled with the hot, barren oil field landscape created the atmosphere of a zombie apocalypse.

Smoke plumes visible from Fort Ord

Huge smoke plumes visible from Fort Ord

More recently I accompanied a longtime volunteer who conducts vegetation inventories across Fort Ord. We looked for elegant rein orchids in the coastal dunes, and ended up finding twelve individuals. It was incredibly refreshing to work in the smell and view of the clean, windless morning ocean, and trampling across the mats of invasive ice plant in search of scattered natives was fun too.


Elegant rein orchids amid ice plant

Sean Pagnon, BLM Fort Ord National Monument, CA

Wildlife of the Great Basin

The last two weeks has been filled with capturing bats, monitoring sage grouse,  and working on establishing protocols for measuring flow rate in various streams, stock tanks, and reservoirs in the Great Basin and Modoc Plateau regions. For collecting bats, we targeted perennial water sheds, stock tanks, and meadows scattered from High Rock Canyon north to the Oregon state line and west to the Hays Mountains. I teamed up with people from all over Nevada and California who came for the annual bat blitz. In four days we caught several hundred bats (one of the nights we caught 240 bats) and about 15 different species. The most notable species that we caught were the Townsend’s Big Eared Bat, Pallid Bat, Long Legged Myotis, and Long Eared Myotis.

IMG_5501The Townsend’s Big Eared Bat caught near Painted Peak in Washoe County, Nevada. (Photo by Jennifer Mueller)

During one of our office trainings that went over measuring stream flow rates, we decided to go up Hay’s Canyon. During this training we went over the use of flumes, V-notch weirs, the use of meters, and the use of the bucket method. We also went over which technique was batter depending upon stream size, velocity, and the characteristics of the channel. While we were going up the canyon we saw a single big horn sheep ewe in the rocks above us but didn’t see any others. After we did some flow rates in various springs and creeks in the area, we decided to do more recordings along Hay’s Canyon on our way back. At our last stop we looked up from the channel we were working in to find fourteen big horn sheep above us on the rock face. The big horn sheep had come down to drink where we were working. With them were several rams and some lambs and it was a nice treat after a long day. We also saw another band of at least eight big horn sheep coming up another slope to join the herd above us, so we had roughly twenty-two big horn sheep.



The majestic Big Horn Sheep. Both photos were taken in Hay’s Canyon by myself.

Finally, while I’ve been collecting grass seed in the area, I’ve also been doing fuel loading surveys, assisting in determining past fire histories in the region (especially in timber and sagebrush steppe areas), and monitoring sage grouse. The largest flock of sage grouse that I have seen so far was 66 individuals in one area with another flock of 18 individuals in an adjacent stream watershed. Every time I see sage grouse I take a GPS waypoint, pictures, and record the number of individuals seen. So far this summer I have seen roughly 132 sage grouse, and several raptor species.


Sage grouse found at Mosquito Lake in a site heavily dominated by great basin wild rye, prairie junegrass, western wheat grass, and low sage brush.

I hope everyone else is having a fun internship and is staying safe out there!



Summer Continued

It’s hard to believe that we’re already getting to the later stages of summer. The weeks come and go and I lose track of time. Our focus has been to survey as many BLM parcels as we can reach within the areas burned by wildfires in the last few years. We’ve kept track of the areas we have hit and it’s amazing to see how long our completion list is. With that, however, our list of easy access areas grow slim. Many of the parcels remaining require trekking across private property or hiking a ways to reach. The other week we took a UTV out to reach a rather large area. It’s very dry by now, which means the vegetation (especially grasses) are more prone to catch fire from heated engines driving over them. So naturally our main concern was to not cause one, for that surely would not look good on a resume. Despite the occasional whiff of what I can only describe as a burning pizza smell, a fire has yet to be started. Go us.


Our trusty UTV

Anyways, after so many weeks of figuring out logistics and weed surveying, our crew needed a short change of pace. Two weeks ago we went into the field with our office botanist and assisted her with her surveying for rare plants. It was nice to look for good plants for once! The two species of concern were Nicotiana attenuata and Iliamna longisepala. Nicotiana can be found all over the western US, while Iliamna is endemic to central Washington. Both, however, do well in areas recently burned, so it’s right up our alley. I didn’t manage to grab a picture of the nicotiana but the common name is coyote tobacco.


Iliamna attenuata

So we helped our fellow botanist out for a few days in the the burned area of Douglas Creek. We were successful and found quite a few plants for her inventory. We did come across one obstacle on our search. A familiar faced foe blocked our path. But we demanded entry and didn’t take no for an answer (aka we spent 15 minutes throwing tumble mustard off the road).


A soldier in the middle of battle

When not at work, I try to invest a little time fishing in the area. As many of you know the Columbia River is the route for many migrating salmon. The salmon fishing season opened July 1st and Wenatchee exploded with anglers hitting the river. Having dabbled in the sport of fishing myself, I felt I needed to check it out. All I can say is it has been a humbling experience so far…. I’ve caught, in total, about 20 pounds of grass and snagged a rock, which took my line. It seems I am playing with the big boys now. To regain some pride I did some fly fishing in the Wenatchee River one afternoon, go for something a little smaller than a salmon. While that too ended with an empty stomach, the spot I chose was absolutely gorgeous so I wasn’t too disappointed.


Hopefully my next post will have a picture of me with a fish, cross your fingers.














Lynx/Snowshoe Hare Habitat Surveys

Our last and final day monitoring amphibian habitat was a success. The last allotment was located in an area that was surrounded by a private landowner who did not permit us access on their roads. To get around this obstacle, our only option was to drive on a National Forest road and hike in through the woods a few miles to get to the point. I know, so unfortunate, right?




Enveloped with willows, the slow moving streams and creeks were jumping with Boreal Toads: a relieving and hopeful site to see this sensitive species doing well and as hoppy as ever.


juvenile Borel Toad


adult Boreal Toad


Fun Fact: Each toad has a unique spotting pattern, like a fingerprint. Researchers can photograph the underside to identify individuals (without cutting their toes off)!

Check out this site to learn more! : http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchBorealToad.aspx


It’s a good thing they stand out so well in the foliage …

All of our data is collected and inputed into the database. For now, we will leave it be until it is time to write the report once the weather turns on us in October. We are moving on to our next project — Lynx and Snowshoe Hare Habitat Assessments.

Across BLM land are a number of aspen (Populus tremuloides) stands that have been burned or “treated.” Aspen stands often get choked out by spruce and fir trees. Ecologically, is this a bad thing? I cannot say. But I do know that underneath a dense, mature spruce stand lies a whole ‘lotta nothing. A combination of blankets of acidic needles and almost complete, constant shade results in a barren and unproductive understory. When the focus is to support large herbivores, mainly elk, these kinds of stands serve little purpose. A rich understory of young aspen saplings, shrubs, forbs and grasses is like one, huge salad-bar for herbivores. Additionally, no understory means no refuge for Snowshoe Hare, and no Snowshoe Hare means no Lynx.


A stand burned 3 years ago

As Lynx rely heavily on Snowshoe Hare for food, our habitat assessments are mostly catered to their desires and needs for a good home. A number of sites were identified in a grid-like pattern, using rebar and flagging, throughout both burned stands (treatment) and unburned stands (control).


Within a 22 inch radius, Snowshoe Hare pellets are searched for and counted.


Snowshoe Hare pellets

At each of the four cardinal directions, we estimate the “horizontal cover,” which is a way for us to quantify how dense the understory is (how much refuge and forage for hares).


horizontal cover board

We also calculate the density of seedlings(<1cm DBH)/saplings(1-4cm)/mature(>4cm DBH) trees. Consequently, it is imperative that we are able to identify the different species of common trees at all life stages.

Lynx also feed on squirrels, so we look for and take note of any sign (visual or audio). Where a squirrel has used a tree stump or log to tear open the cone, they call this a “plucking post.” It looks like this :


plucking post

Where they have cached tons of cones, large mats are formed by the sheds. There are often visible holes where they have stored the cones :




a closer look

I am really enjoying this new project as I learn and see new things every day. The woods feels like home to me; I am so grateful to be in this field of study and work.


moose track





Val Stacey

Pinedale, WY

Summer Well Spent

Finally a Blog
3 months in and finally working my way into the blog-life, and with what amounts to a full summer of field-work and fun I should have plenty of topics to cover!

Back in May I moved into Buffalo, WY for my internship focusing on rangeland management with the BLM. For this internship I have been working with my fellow intern Corinne doing AIM (Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring) on public lands managed by the BLM. Assigned to us was a list of plots for monitoring, and with the task ahead it didn’t take long to realize the immense amount of plant identification I’d need to learn. And beyond identification was learning the ins and outs of the BLM, what exactly it means to manage these rangelands, how to map out our routes, how to plan for the field season, etc. Well now that 3 months has passed it’s safe to say it’s going splendid. Time has flown by with both a busy field-season and fun-filled freetime.

Seeing as there is a wealth of topics to cover from this summer, I will just touch up on some of the highlights.


Wyoming has some pretty incredible places. Outlaw Cave, West of Kaycee, WY. Nearby many of our sites this summer.

Training (May-never ending)

Plant ID, AIM, 4×4, UTV, First Aid, CPR, CLM Workshop, more Plant ID, more AIM. The training going into the position was quite extensive. While it almost felt like the field work would never start, by the time it did I was both thankful for the amount of training there was and also still loaded with questions. Besides the basic intro to the job, including tours of the office, meet and greet, and a brief overview, our first trip included heading to Rock Springs, WY for our training on AIM. Included was a full week of lectures and field-work with a handful of other BLM employees and partners. Ultimately this created a rather comical train of government vehicles heading to and from field sites! All in all this was an outstanding chance to learn the AIM methods I would be using all summer long. This included line-point intercept, measuring gaps, soil stability tests, digging and classifying a soil pit (although this is task Corinne and I were lucky to not have to do for every plot!), identifying every species in a plot, and general site descriptions.


A sea of government vehicles. Just outside Rock Springs, WY.

Also included in our Rock Springs trip was the chance to eat at the many fine dining locations! This certainly felt like the topic of the week. Rock Springs is by no means a large city, but with Buffalo being as small as it is it was nice to have some options to eat out, which included Sushi! Although I wish I had been aware of the Rock Springs burger challenge beforehand, as it required just 4 different burger dinners in the month of May, and included the prize of a Burger Challenge T-shirt, and a certificate congratulating your achievement (a good resume builder).

With the end of a week of Rock Springs training, and a trip to Chicago not far in the future, things were starting to come together. The gap was filled with some limited monitoring and range team visits to previous year sites. This was a great chance to see the magic happen. The full group would each use their skills to describe the condition and health of the rangeland being monitored. This was one of the better chances we’ve had to kick back some and learn from the experts. Between rangeland health indicators and soil profiles it was great to see exactly what we are working towards with our upcoming monitoring.

Finally come mid-June and with the CLM workshop in Chicago over and done Corinne and I could dive into our monitoring.

Red Walls and AIM

After getting some smaller sites out of the way, our first big venture was to the Red Wall and our sites located around the Hole in the Wall. The Hole in the Wall was a location where Outlaws had spent time to live and dodge lawmen, and also where they could pass through the Red Wall. This location is also where you find cows grazing and rangeland technicians measuring grasses, but that may be less exciting and not warranting of a movie.


A wonky cow near the Hole in the Wall, perhaps one of the infamous outlaws.

In total there were 10 sites in this country and without camping it is uncertain as to how some of the sites would get accomplished. With slow going roads and roughly a two hour drive just to get into the Southern entrance to the area it was quite the secluded area to spend our week. No surprise as to why outlaws enjoyed this area, with its Red Wall to the East and canyons breaking up the land from North to South. The week included lots of red soils, sage-grouse, many unknown plants, nighthawk nests, lots of hiking around, extensive need for maps, gps, and compass, and wind (lots of it).


A good look at the Red Wall

While that week may have been our busiest, we have also had many trips in the nearby area as well as sites spread across the Southern Bighorn Mountains. Just recently we had finally called it on our sites for the field-season, and are now hitting up the office work. While it’s slow going with data entry, it is a welcome break from the elements.

Fun Times Outside Work

Field-work has been a blast, and at the end of our main portion I certainly feel accomplished, but ultimately my free-time is where most of my memories have been made this summer. Great friends and incredible trips have filled just about every weekend thus far. Whether it was camping, fishing, hiking, running, biking, music,or just getting out and traveling, it has been one busy summer and it’d be hard to say I’ve wasted any of it.

One of the greatest weekends of all time probably came from a trip into the Northern Bighorns for the Antelope Butte Summer Festival. I can’t say that I have ever attended a music festival in my life and this could be a hard one to beat if I make it to others in the future. A weekend of smaller music shows, running and biking competitions, food, camping, great people, yoga, and a pancake breakfast. Quite the combination I’d say. It was also my first chance to run in a competitive trail race, and at 15.5 miles (25km) it was a big step for me and my muscles (which hurt a good amount after). I was also delighted to have convinced someone to run in my race with me just the night before. I was beyond impressed and motivated knowing he had not been running much, if at all recently, and by the end he kicked some serious butt(e).


The stage at Antelope Butte. Felt like a close knit crowd with the small numbers!

One of the most recent weekends I am sure I could go on about is a trip to Grand Teton National Park, but I’ll keep it brief. This area has become one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. With intimidating mountain ranges and beautiful lakes, I could spent a fair amount of time here I’m sure. We were thrilled to have camped at a backcountry site in the park itself. While it wasn’t our original choice, we did end up at an incredible site by Phelps Lake in the Southern section of the park. With a great view and a cliff to jump off of into the lake it was quite the spot!


Phelps Lake at Grand Teton National Park.

There is certainly so much more to the summer, but with office work in the future there should be plenty of time to work on the blog.

Til next time! (Hopefully not 3 more months)

Nick Melone, Buffalo, WY


Just a couple sheep blocking the road.

Summer in the Desert with Pupfish!

My how time flies! I have made it passed the half way mark on my internship. I am surviving the desert heat and still have yet to be bitten by a rattle snake, though I did have a very close call a few weeks back while making a seed collection. Luckily the snake and I came to a very quick mutual decision to get the heck away from each other as fast as possible. We were literally less than a foot away from each other! Despite the hardships of the desert, the heat, the sweat, and all the salt everywhere, I am truly going to miss this place in a few months when my internship ends. I can’t believe I’m over the half way mark.

In addition to seed collections and plant monitoring I have been doing a lot of work with the desert pupfish. This includes monitoring, surveys, and relocation efforts.

These are male pupfish in their breeding colors at Dos Palmas

These are male pupfish in their breeding colors at Dos Palmas

Here we see both female (brown with stripes) and male (blue) pupfish at Dos Palmas

Here we see both female (brown with stripes) and male (blue) pupfish at Dos Palmas

These fish are protected under the federal endangered species act and only occur in a very limited number of places. As summer temperatures persist, local streams and other habitat is prone to drying up. It is then that we go in and execute rescue missions, trapping and relocating populations to safer, more stable waters to ensure their survival.

This work is very rewarding and when I go back home at the end of the day, wash off the sweat and mud, I get to think of all the endangered fish that now swim happily among other of their species in safe waters that won’t dry up this summer or there after. I even made the weekly BLM news bytes: /https://blmca.sites.usa.gov/2016/08/11/from-the-field-releasing-pupfish/ And here too at the Fisheries and aquatics program blog: http://fisheriesprogram.blogspot.com/2016/08/pupfish-conservation-in-dos-palmas-acec.html and a video which is on the BLM’s Facebook and Twitter pages!





Four years ago, when I went to Maine for college, I learned that blueberries could be divided into 2 different categories: high bush and low bush blueberries. Until that point, I never thought of it as such–they were just blueberries, a delicious treat! Yesterday, my understanding of blueberries was augmented further when I learned to identify six different species of blueberries–3 high bush blueberries, and 3 low blush blueberries. And, to complicate the matter more, the species of blueberries can hybridize!

Yesterday, we got to spend our day hiking a mountain, as opposed to our normal routine spent more along the coast or in fields. North Pack Monadnock is located at the end of the Wapack Trail in Greenfield, New Hampshire. In addition to getting to hike a mountain, we got to collect blueberries along the way. In other words, best day ever (and to add to it, the high temperature was only supposed to be 80 degrees!!)

View from the summit of North Pack Monadnock

View from the summit of North Pack Monadnock

To begin our day, we needed to ensure that we understood the difference between the species of blueberries. From a previous plant survey on the mountain, we knew that Common Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Velvetleaf Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides), Early Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), and Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) are all found on the mountain. Vaccinium corymbosum is the only high bush blueberry on the list, making plants taller than about 3 feet pretty easy to identify.

Vaccinium corymbosum

Vaccinium corymbosum

However, this is not the case with low bush blueberries (the other 3 species mentioned). Vaccinium myrtilloides is the easiest to identify, as it is covered in fine hairs on both the twigs and the leaves, and feels very soft or velvety to the touch.

Vaccinium myrtilloides

Vaccinium myrtilloides

Unfortunately, the ease of identification stops there. Vaccinium angustifolium and Vaccinium pallidum are very similar, and the best identifying feature according to the Flora Nova-Angliea is the width and length of the leaves. V. angustifolium has smaller, skinnier leaves for the most part. To our knowledge, we only found V. angustifolium. 

Vaccinium angustifolium

Vaccinium angustifolium

Fortunately for us, we had a species list to use to springboard our identification because in New England there are 3 species of high-bush blueberries, and 6 species of low-bush blueberries. The other species of blueberries don’t grow in the habitat where we spent our day, so thankfully really understanding those species can be saved for another day.

All in all, yesterday was a magical day spent in the woods, picking blueberries, meeting friendly dogs, and staying out of the sun!

Happy campers in the woods!

Happy campers in the woods!

I can’t believe we are already halfway done with our internship! We have gotten to explore so many great places, and I have learned to identify so many plants. I look forward to collecting more seeds, hopefully seeing some rain, and getting to further my knowledge of plants as the internship continues!

–Julia Rogers, SOS Intern, New England Wild Flower Society


IMG_6376  IMG_6323 IMG_6255 IMG_6302 IMG_6202IMG_6332

Farewell to the CLM team

My last blog post as a CLM intern is definitely a bittersweet occasion. Although I’m excited for the next step (grad school), I will miss working with such a great team at my field office and beyond.

When I showed up for my first day at the Motherlode Field Office, I didn’t know what to expect. I remember waiting confusedly outside, not sure whether to use the public or private entrance, and not wanting to call my new mentor yet because I was a bit early. Luckily someone showed up and let me in, and Graciela (new mentor) took me under her wing, introducing me to everyone in the office.

Since then, I have gotten to visit amazing landscapes and have learned countless new skills. To avoid a making a laundry list, I will highlight three of my biggest take away lessons.

First and foremost, I learned how to work in a team. I have always been an independent person, generally preferring to work alone rather than in a group; but of course a nationwide effort like SOS can’t materialize from a bunch of lonely botanists refusing to talk to one another. Working with my mentor and coworkers, and training new volunteers and interns, taught me a lot about how to coordinate the efforts of many people towards a single goal and how powerful it is to do so.

Another big take away was to be ready for anything and that attitude is key. The nature of our fieldwork is such that plans can easily go awry – weather, dead electronics, locked gates, steep hikes, and countless other obstacles can stand in between you and your 10,000 seeds. Staying positive and on task no matter what was crucial in this internship and has been a good general life skill.

Last, I have learned that opportunities will unfold if you seek them earnestly and enthusiastically. Graciela and other BLM/CLM employees have opened so many doors for me – I am grateful and humbled to be moving on to my next step with such wonderful allies.  Thanks to all, and best of luck to current and future CLMers!


I took this photo in my first week.  My mentor and hero, Graciela Hinshaw, alongside a rare Ceanothus roderickii


Castilleja foliosa, one of my all time favorite plants!

My You’re Pretty

Bounty has come to us in Northern Country. In the form of seed. So many varieties each sporting their own colors, sizes, textures, shapes, and personalities. It is no easy feat to scope seed and have timing just so for a successful harvest in a land this vast. The target areas for Seeds of Success (SOS) collections this year were the White Mountains up the Steese Highway (Northeast of Fairbanks) and Dalton Highway around Coldfoot (North of the Arctic Circle). That’s right seed collecting North of the Arctic Circle, how wild and how wonderful. Both locations yielded productive collections. The White Mountains charmed us with their blustery alpine tundra and challenged us with the sedge seed succumbing to blight. Up the Dalton Highway we were surprised to see fall colors descending down the hillsides heralding the season’s change. Some highlights include our hands being dyed pink by the fireweed, our ears entertained by the musical pea seeds, and our eyes held in wonder at the Dr Seuss like fluff of the Eriophorum.

Much thanks and happy harvesting! Kim Hack

Blight on a sedge.

Blight on a sedge.

Oxytropis deflexa ripe for the picking.

Oxytropis deflexa ripe for the picking.

A bumble bee visiting a cheery Potentilla fruticosa

A bumble bee visiting a cheery Potentilla fruticosa

Pillars of Pedicularis seed.

Pillars of Pedicularis seed.

Seed collectors, Justin Fulkerson and Sam Snodgrass, must be mighty in the alpine

Seed collectors, Justin Fulkerson and Sam Snodgrass, must be mighty in the alpine

Feathery beauty of the Calamagrostis.

Feathery beauty of the Calamagrostis.

Fall colors have begun north of the Arctic Circle.

Fall colors have begun north of the Arctic Circle.

Barbed wire like seed must be plucked with caution.

Barbed wire like seed must be plucked with caution.

Avalanche of seed overtakes Justin Fulkerson.

Avalanche of seed overtakes Justin Fulkerson.

Eriophorum seed makes a compelling mustache on Justin Fulkerson.

Eriophorum seed makes a compelling mustache on Justin Fulkerson.

Eriophorum seed makes for a lush fluffy bed.

Eriophorum seed makes for a lush fluffy bed.