The halfway point of my internship came and went, and now I am only seven weeks out from finishing! After all of the anticipation for this internship during my last semester at Oberlin, it is hard to believe how fast it’s gone by. As always, we are keeping very busy out in the field and on the weekends. We have been continuing our schedule of the water rights inventory, juniper mapping, a few seed collections, tagging trees and some smaller projects that have come up along the way. As I update my resume for my current job search, it’s rewarding to see the number of skills I have gained while working here. We have been thrown into so many different situations, there is only time for us to figure it out as we go along. As someone who’s not the best and sometimes prefers not to plan, this generally works out fine. Lots of trial and error, but I am learning tons!
Two weeks ago Jocelyn and I went to some areas that were burned in 2012 Rush Fire and where bitter brush seedlings were planted in 2014. We were tasked with counting how many of the seedlings have survived the past view years. I really enjoyed finding the tiny plants that are trying to establish themselves in areas that have been invaded with cheat grass. Especially in areas that have been heavily grazed by cattle and horses, it was exciting to see the ones that had survived, but also disheartening to find 10% success rates in some places. I guess as land managers we can try all we can with the resources and time to help a landscape recover after a fire, but in the end it is up to nature if those efforts will make a difference or not. Hopefully in the next few years these shrubs will become more established in their areas.
Since we have mostly been doing inventories and monitoring of the land, I have realized that I am also really interested in restoration work. We have seen so many areas that have been invaded by cheat grass and medusa head, springs trampled by cattle and wild horses, juniper encroachment… but there is not always work that is done to improve these areas, which can be frustrating. I am excited to get to do a bit of restoration work in the next few weeks, as we are going to be planting some Atriplex canensis (four-winged saltgrass) seed that was given to our mentor from a local farmer who collected it. Last week Alia and I went out to search for some areas where we could plant the seed, looking for sandy soils, and open areas at around 5000ft. We found some sites that might work, so we will go back out to do the planting soon. Our adventures that day also took us to a new site: an OHV area that is managed by the BLM, and it proved to be a really beautiful spot in the field office. The OHV trails are very well maintained. We realized that there are a lot of resources and funding available to recreation areas, which is great for the people that get to experience it.
Cloudy day at Ft. Sage OHV area
As always our weekends have been spent outside on the trails! I’ve been back to Lassen National Park and we went to Yosemite last month. We had the most amazing hikes and views ever! We’ve also been hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165 mile trail that goes around Lake Tahoe. We are hoping to finish the last three out of eight total sections in the next two weekends. This weekend will be my first backpacking trip! I am really excited for it, but also a bit nervous for the cold temperatures and the possibility of snow. Just like this entire internship so far, it will be an adventure! Northern California is truly a wonderful place and I feel super lucky to get to spend time out here 🙂
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
our Tahoe hikes have taken us on sections of the PCT!
Lake Tahoe views
It sounds like the rest of our time will be spent with wrapping up office work for our seed collections, visiting a few more water rights (we are so close to being done with the project!) helping with some plantings, GIS work, sessions for a 6th grade science camp, and anything else that comes up!
BLM, Eagle Lake Field Office