I can’t believe a second month has passed! The time is going by so quickly.
Recently, I have been working on a lot of cheatgrass monitoring projects. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an introduced annual grass that is widely distributed on rangelands throughout the western U.S. This grass is considered opportunistic, meaning it spreads rapidly throughout habitat, it is extremely tolerant of grazing, and it increases in population with frequent fires. With these cheatgrass monitoring projects, we set up permanent transects in heavily populated areas so that we can get an estimation of how much cheatgrass is in that area. After monitoring that site the BLM hires a contractor to go out and spray those sites with herbicide to kill off the population and combat it from spreading elsewhere.
I have also been able to participate in the Port-O–Potty Owl Project (aka the Poo-Poo Project), by the Teton Raptor Center. This project was started with the idea to prevent wildlife entrapment within vent pipes found on vault toilets by installing safe and effective screens. Many small owls are attracted to small spaces and dark holes because they are cavity nesters. The vents on the outhouses are like tunnels for these birds and once they fly in they can’t get out. For this project I went out and installed about 25 screens on top of toilet vents throughout different public lands that the BLM Casper Field Office is responsible for. I really enjoyed participating in this project because I know that it will make a difference in protecting different cavity nesting species by blocking off unsafe pipes.
I was also finally able to review a couple of wildlife camera trap images that were taken from the last six months. I am excited to say that a known bobcat in the area had kittens this year! Five to be exact! We got an awesome picture of them playing on top of a guzzler that was installed previously by the BLM.
This month I am very excited to start on some Ute Ladies’-tresses monitoring. Ute Ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis) is an orchid flowering plant that is officially listed as threatened in the U.S. This is due primarily to habitat loss. They are also considered extremely vulnerable to other threats because their populations are so small and their reproductive rate is very low. This plant occurs along riparian edges, high flow channels, and moist to wet meadows along streams. To monitor this species we will be going out once a week to survey areas of known populations. We will then record the number of plants we see and whether or not they are flowering at that time.
I am so grateful for my time here at the BLM and I can’t wait to learn so many more new things in the coming months!