Strengthening my weakness for next field season!

With my CLM internship extending into the next field season I have an opportunity to learn from my experiences. This awareness will help me through this next year, adding efficiency to the whole process. From field planning to data analyzing, it’s not an easy task to learn in one season. Well, not for me at least. The thought of having one more summer working with BLM’s Central Yukon Field Office (CYFO) adds a new layer of excitement and potential.
Coming from a lab background and working mostly with the microbes and plant molecules I hit a learning curve in the field. Since we can’t easily extract DNA and sequence the plants in the field ( there’s a tool out now I had not had much experience with plant identification. Although, I have a very good eye for spotting and recognizing them (helps to grow up in Alaska) it was an area I wanted to strengthen.

I’m taking a systematic botany course up at University of Alaska, Fairbanks and getting a great hands-on experience with proper identification.

Fabacaea (= Leguminosae) Order Fabales
Pea Family, Legumes
Specimens provided by Professor S.M Ickert-Bond at University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Collaborative Collection Management Solution (ARCTOS)

The most notable terrestrial plant invasive species in Alaska interior are Vicia cracca and Melitotus alba and they happen to be in the same family. It’s important to be able to find distinguishable features in order to do a valid vegetation survey. Can you find them?

Winter in AK and The National Native Seed Conference


Winter has happily settled itself in Anchorage-area. 185 inches of snowfall have been recorded at Alyeska Resort in 2017, leaving no doubt a true winter has returned despite several years of absence.

Photo 1. Alaska’s Kenai Mountains / Photo Jacob DeKraai

My presence in Anchorage has been facilitated by acceptance into a second Conservation and Land Management (CLM) internship, and although both internships were based in Alaska, the experiences are not comparable. The dramatic move from Copper Center (pop. 328) to the busy hub of Anchorage (300,000+) was initially a shock, but I have finally acclimated to city life. I can get used to traffic, angry people, shopping malls and higher cost of living, but most difficult to stomach was the necessary change in work attire from rubber boots to dress shoes.

I was brought onto the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Alaska team to work on several projects this winter season and assist in numerous botany projects the subsequent summer. The following tasks were of highest priority upon joining the team:

  • Prepare poster presentation and write-up to illustrate Seeds of Success (SOS) accomplishments in AK and how they integrate into the overall execution of BLM-facilitated mine reclamations. The poster was to be displayed at the National Native Seed Conference in Washington DC.
  • Assist in the design of monitoring regimes on mine reclamations for maximum statistical strength
  • Digitize new polygons from survey points during previous season’s invasive plant surveys and move into National Invasive Species Information Management System (NISIMS) database.
  • Help describe state and transition models for mine sites.

Developing the presentation for the Native Seed Conference was my first task, and initiated my investigations into the workings of BLM AK botany projects. In execution of this project, I have acquired valuable knowledge regarding the agency, the extent of SOS efforts, policies on mine reclamation, reclamations underway, native plant material production, alignment of efforts with the National Seed Strategy, and most importantly, partnerships necessary to make all of this happen.

Having the opportunity to contribute at the conference had me eager about my future in the current movement of native plant material production. I was honored to join my mentor in DC and experience the collaboration of many passionate, dedicated people working together to execute the National Seed Strategy. From small-scale private collectors to large, commercial growers to PhD students studying comparative germination requirements of upland sedges, all walks of life were present at the conference. Despite this diverse group, the atmosphere reflected that of a community with vested interest in others’ triumphs/discoveries.

Photo 2. The National Native Seed Conference / Photo Jacob DeKraai

Photo 3. Alaska Seeds of Success Program poster presentation / Photo BLM

All this talk of native seed has led to increased thought on the subject matter. In an effort to improve my literacy on the plight of native seed, I have turned to contemporary literature. I recently began reading the book “Seedtime” by Scott Chaskey. A poet and proponent of plant biodiversity, in his book he has illustrated the following analogy:

“Encapsulated in each seed is a story, a story held in a state of rest until released. Only with significant patience and effort can we interpret this language, which gradually is revealed as the cotyledons, or first leaves, unfold from a seed’s invisible center. A plants coming into being, or maturation, is such a quiet progression that we tend instead to focus on the fruit, the colorful prize of production and the vessel of taste. To grasp the whole story, however, we will have to look at the structure of a flower, how plants have evolved to attract pollinators, and how a flowering plant produces seed. Our entire food supply is a gift of the angiosperm revolution – the magnificent event that introduced flowering plants to the world 140 million years ago – and our heath and food futures are entwined with the way in which we choose to nurture or manipulate the seeds of that natural revolution.” – Scott Chaskey

In the US, 17,000 plant species tell individual tales together composing a complete anthology of plant evolution. This anthology represents both the evolutionary history of flora and, if also containing spacial information, the guidelines of how each individual tale branched, changed and is now presented differently in varying environments. The tales remain the same, but slight variations have led to stories with local adaptions, unique and individual.

In a time of mass habitat destruction, we wonder how many unique stories we have permanently lost. Genetically appropriate seed is a key component to increased success in ecological restoration.

As the conference began to wind down, I started reflecting on my goals as a young conservationist. Beyond my work as a CLM intern, how do I positively impact the National Seed Strategy? Do I join the restoration community or pursue integration into the native seed industry? Finding a niche can be difficult, and it’s easy to feel without direction in a room full of accomplished professionals of diverse disciplines. I imagine this is a common thought of many up-and-comers in our field, but those of us working in these botany projects must find pride in our work. That invasive plant survey, that seed collection in Idaho or that week you spent doing inventories for a rare plant and didn’t find a thing. These are all small chunks of information and material that consolidate into large informational packets or accumulations. These informational packets are used to help make decisions that impact our cause, and every single accession is part of an overall accumulation, increasing the genetic diversity of our seedbanks.

What an exciting time to be alive. We have the opportunity to be engaged in a movement for science, conservation and ecosystem health. Protectors of the past and activists for the future. Pretty cool.  For now I remain focused on current efforts with the BLM and maintain excitement to support the National Native Plant Materials Development Program and the Native Seed Strategy through SOS and mine reclamation in the state of Alaska.

Thanks for reading!


Back in the field (kinda)

In the recent weeks, winter has slowly released its grasp on Central Oregon.  Things were so bad at one point that we recently celebrated being able to see the ground and especially grass.  However, most of the snow has melted, opening up opportunities to head back out into the field and escape the doldrums of the office.  At the end of the snowy period I had the opportunity to go out into the field and trek through the snow.  I set up closure signs that needed to be set up for golden eagles.  These signs restrict travel into areas near golden eagle nests to ensure limited disturbance to allow for successful reproduction.  While heading out to the field was wonderful, hiking miles through 4-12 inch snow was slightly less fun, although it was much better after the fact than during!!  Two hikes were especially tough, post-holing (sinking deeply into the snow with one leg, then extracting it, then rinse and repeat) for miles to put up signs, often without clear trail demarcations due to the deep and ubiquitous snow.  I also got to to install deflectors on fences to reduce sage-grouse collisions with fences.  All in all, I have really enjoyed getting back out into the field, and cannot wait for the beautiful spring weather and the emergence of the forbs.

In other news, two major events are occurring in the office.  The first is a fitness challenge where teams of 7 people record the number of minutes they exercise daily and enter it into a spreadsheet.  Out team is crushing it, with all of the team members greatly contributing towards the overall goal.  It ends in a while, but if we can continue our momentum it looks like we are going to be on our way to victory.  There is also a state-wide photo contest going on.  Our office had open entries and the top three in each of the eight categories will move on to the State office and the overall voting period.  I entered 8 photos, but it looks like one will move on to the state round.  While I was hoping that my photos would do better, there were some great photos to contend with.  Below is the photo that I believe will make it to the State round.

Ferruginous Hawk

Well, the next few weeks are going to be full of training, so I am not sure that my next post will be terribly exciting, but I will see what I can do.

Mapping New Botanical Discoveries

Hello from the office in Prineville, OR! East of the Cascade mountains we’ve been dumped on with snow after snow, and few folks have gotten into the field (it’s been hard enough just to get to work!) except those who go out to plow some of our BLM access roads. Something to keep us from getting too much cabin fever is the office photo contest. I submitted several entries, so wish me luck! I’ve been keeping busy by snuggling into my cubicle and mapping away in a program called GeoBOB. Oregon and Washington BLM use GeoBOB (Geographic Biotic Observations Database) to track special status plant and animal species in GIS. I’ve gotten much better at using computer programs and GIS during the course of my winter CLM internship. I’ve been documenting our revisits of the sensitive plant populations we monitored over the summer, and I also had a little fun creating some new polygons.

These represent the areas where I stumbled upon a newly listed Oregon BLM sensitive species, Astragalus misellus var. misellus, pauper milkvetch. We only were aware of one location of this species, so it was a big surprise. At first I mistook the plant for a different milkvetch (anyone else agree that Astragalus can be a challenging genus?) but something about that conclusion just didn’t feel right. So I kept at it, keyed it over and over and examined drawings of the plant, photos of the other milkvetch, and thought a lot about the differences in habitat between the two, which are pretty distinct once you know which plant is which. What finally gave it away was the fruit size, shape, and curve. Without fruits it’s terribly difficult to distinguish from similar milkvetches.

After the deeper study, I felt pretty confident in my identification of this species, but I still sent 2 herbarium vouchers I collected to the Astragalus experts at Oregon State University. I was really excited when I heard back from them that I do indeed have A. misellus var. misellus. Additionally, I gifted the herbarium at OSU the specimens to add to their collection. They were thrilled to have them, and said that it’s the first collection of the species that they’ve had in nearly 100 years! While the species is a sensitive endemic, I came across it in the field quite frequently and even on my time off when I was just out hiking with my dog. I don’t know how this little plant slipped under the radar in the past, but now we have several mapped locations so that we can learn more about its ecology and develop a strategy for its conservation. To add to that, I just got word that a new to science plant species was discovered on BLM land nearby.

So the moral of my little story is: keep your eyes peeled, key plants, and do not assume you know what everything looks like even after you’ve learned them, and trust your botanical intuition! You never know, you might find a whole new species or a brand new location of a rare plant! Google earth is great, but there is still soooooo much to discover on our planet. You might just get lucky. Keep up the good work CLM interns. You are the curious botanizer, inquisitive scientist, the enthusiastic protector of plants, work station: Planet Earth.

One of the photos I entered in our district photo contest. Coincidentally, the milkvetch was found nearby on this day of fun.

The distinctive fruits that finally gave away her identity…

Astragalus misellus var. misellus

Winter Wonderland

The winter has hit full throttle up here in Wenatchee, WA. My fellow intern and I both took about 6 weeks off to return to our respective homes for the holidays, filling up on good food and good company. We returned to work last week reenergized and ready to work in the field. Mother Nature thought differently. Since our return we’ve been hit with winter storm after winter storm. Just yesterday afternoon/evening it snowed 8 inches, the office even closed early due to adverse driving conditions! So..we’ve been stuck in the office more or less working on various tasks to get ready for the busy field season ahead instead.

Sitting at a chair in the office all day can get old, so every once in a while it’s good to find an activity to get a little movement in. Such as cleaning the snow off some of the field trucks.

Work vehicles covered in snow..brrrr..

View from the front door of the office

One day last week I was even able to get out into the field to assist a fellow co-worker. The BLM has several large geodatabases (GDB) that store geographic datasets and attributes using ArcGIS. There a many different GDBs that store sets of similar kinds of data, such as a GDB for noxious weeds and another for wildlife species of interest. There’s also a GDB that stores data on BLM structures such as fences, buildings, troughs, etc. This was the GDB of interest on this particular field day. Not all fences located on BLM land have been recorded and put into the structures GDB since many were built way before GDB’s were a thing so in order to get them in there someone has to go out to these BLM pieces and find the fences to mark in a GPS. Additional details such as the direction of the fence, the condition it’s in, what it’s made of, and if it contains reflectors (to make it visible to birds, specifically greater sage grouse) are also added in. Alright, now that that’s explained, back to the field day. So our mission was to set out in this particular area, known as North Douglas, to look for fences and mark them in our Trimble units. There was a good foot and a half of snow out there in the sagebrush steppe and the plan was to snowshoe, however, the top of the snow had melted and turned stiff with ice so we didn’t fall through while walking on it, except for the occasional step. Snowshoes were no longer needed and we could easily walk on the nearly two feet of snow! We spent 4 hours hiking around the hills and flats looking for fences. It was a gorgeous day despite the low temp. (maybe 15°F).

North Douglas

What made the day even cooler was that we saw two sage grouse. We used some nearby tracks and a dropping to confirm that’s what they were.

grouse or possibly dinosaur tracks


suspected grouse dropping

By the time we returned to the truck, the sun was already beginning to set and we were all completely exhausted. But not too exhausted to try out some cross country skiing real quick.

Overall, it was a great first day in the field of this new season. It’s supposed to be warming up after this weekend, so hopefully we’ll get back out there again soon.

And while walking on the snow was pretty fun, I was a little bummed about not getting to use my snowshoes, so, I went out over the weekend with a buddy and made up for it.

Snowshoed to a ridge overlooking the Wenatchee Valley.

Until next time.


Busy spring on the horizon

The winter months have not been filled with field work, unfortunately, but they have allowed for some much needed planning for what is looking like a very busy field season.

The last month I got to do a little more work with fuels reduction on the Pine Hill Preserve (PHP). The PHP, where I put in the majority of my time, has 10% of CA’s native flora and 8 rare plants. The unique flora of this area historically benefited from disturbance from fire but increased urbanization has lead to suppression of fires for public safety reasons. Anyhow, after taking the S212 chainsaw course I went out and helped to re-thin the fuel breaks between the dense chaparral and the neighborhoods.

Cleaning up a downed gray pine in the fuel break of PHP

My supervisor and I also went to a way out section of our field office that gets less attention to scout for possible seed collections for this field season. After the rain kept me in the office for most of January it was a pleasure to get out into the field and it was a beautiful day to do so. It looks like we have the potential of getting at least 6 or so seed collections from just this site and I am hoping that, with this being the second consecutive year of somewhat adequate rainfall in our part of CA, we will have plenty of seed collections throughout our field office to chose from.

View from our Bear Valley unit. In the distance we could see El Capitan and Half Dome at Yosemite!


At the end of the month PHP staff will be presenting a couple of small talks to a local community college on PHP’s flora and pollinators.

Wish us luck!

-Landon from the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in El Dorado Hills, CA

From Chihuahuan Desert to Southern Rockies

Today I leave the plants, people, mountains, and place I have grown to know and love over the past eight months. Before the beginning of June, when I first started my CLM internship, I had never set foot within New Mexico. But the blind faith of wanting to work in a new place, and in the southwest, paid off. I feel very lucky to have been able to live and work in Santa Fe, NM.

My guiding goal when I set out on this adventure was to immerse myself in a new flora. I feel I achieved that goal thoroughly, as well as gathered many other benefits and fuel to guide me on my next adventure. The slow act of gathering seeds from wild plants also really helped some principles of plant biology to sink deep into my brain and bones!

One of the best aspects of my internship were the people. My mentor, Zoe, was there to support me on my very first day when someone tried to steal my car, and she was incredibly helpful at the end of my internship when I was searching for my next position. Ella, the other CLM intern at my field office, has been the best field partner, roommate, and friend that I could have possibly imagined. Not to mention all of the many other excellent people I had the chance to work with and learn from!

Ella and Rebecca inspecting a new location for seeds

Besides being part of a stellar team that made 100 collections for SOS, I also had the opportunity to dip into the world of rare plants, including monitoring Townsendia gypsophila, a plant that occurs in just a small band in one county of New Mexico.

Rare plant monitoring

Townsendia gypsophila — Gypsum Townsend’s aster

After a long field season, mounting and organizing plants for the UNM herbarium and a new herbarium at the New Mexico State Office was a great way to cement my knowledge of the local flora. Following are a few of my favorite grass species:

Sporobolus cryptandrus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Sporobolus airoides

From summer monsoons to winter snow, from Chihuahuan desert to Southern Rockies, from red chile to green chile, from Bouteloua gracilis to Ipomopsis sancti-spiritus — thank you New Mexico!

Ella and I botanizing at Aztec Ruins

Becoming like a mushroom to see something small in the Jemez Mountains

Laura Holloway, BLM New Mexico State Office

Last day at the West Eugene Wetlands

This internship has been such a fantastic opportunity for me! I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to help manage the West Eugene Wetlands in Oregon, with some of the most critically important habitats left in the Willamette Valley.  As CLM Intern for the wetlands, I had the opportunity to implement management treatments focused on controlling invasive species to maintaining and enhancing habitat for threatened and endangered species. During my internship, I coordinated youth crews in conducting habitat restoration activities, worked with mowing and mastication contractors, performed site inspections and assessments for field going operations, assisted in sensitive species monitoring, and conducted other various tasks, repairs, and general maintenance activities in the wetlands. I loved the variety of work and the hands-on, physical aspect of the position. It was a perfect fit for me! I also acquired a number of new skills including Pesticide Applicator Certification, JUNO GPS training, GeoBOB Flora and Fauna training, NEPA Concept and Analysis training, and how to hitch and back a trailer! I also had the opportunity to work and network with a number of different partners of the wetlands partnership, forming new relationships and learning from experts in their field.

I also had a great working relationship with my mentor. She was very supportive in helping me acquire as many skills and new experiences as possible. I really appreciated how she was interested in what I had to say and the knowledge I could bring to the table in the decision making process. She also trusted me to carry out tasks independently and had confidence in my leadership abilities. This position exceeded my expectations by helping me explore my career goals and expand my resume, and allowed me to apply my knowledge and background in botany, soils, and restoration of native habitats. I also feel my leadership skills and professional ability is now stronger because of the internship. It has prepared me well for a career in this field, I will miss working here!

Myself (left) and CLM intern Danica (right) in brush-cutting PPE.

Bureau of Land Management, West Eugene Wetlands Field Office,

Northwest District

Welcome to Carlsbad, NM

My introduction to local conservation policies and practices began where the Black River first surfaces—at Rattlesnake Spings. Here, the texture of my new landscape expressed itself as a collaborative group of dignitaries with interest in the thrival of Popenaias popeii, or the Texas hornshell mussel—the last remaining native mussel in New Mexico and an ESA Candidate species.

Popenaias popeii, or Texas hornshell mussel.

I field-tripped with this lively group of dignitaries to critical anthropogenic influence loci along the Black River. As they discussed the technicalities of flow targets, stream gauge locations and dispersal barriers, they also expressed core values and beliefs about their relationship to this land. Prided on personal liberty and averse to government intervention, these folks articulated a legacy and ethic of individual agency in private stewardship. “They’re a hardy species, and they’ll come back if they have what they need. … [Providing what they need] is up to us. … It won’t be easy, but worthwhile undertakings rarely are,” said private landowner Jim Davis.

This legacy is eligible for institutional legitimacy and merit in the form of Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs), Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) and conservation/mitigation credits. The policy concerning this program has recently (this January 18th!) been refined in USFWS’s Director’s Order No 218, which can be found at’sOrder_with_Voluntary_Prelisting_conservation_policy_Directors_Order_Attachment-Final.pdf.

Later in the week, I was privileged to also attend the New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council’s (NMRPTC) annual meeting in Albuquerque, NM. Here, statewide rare plant advocates met to update New Mexico’s rare plant list as well as to share updates on conservation actions and receive briefings on their new Draft Rare Plant Conservation Strategy and the Strategy’s Rare Plant Scorecard tool (both adapted from Colorado’s models). An Important Plant Areas map is also being developed with these latter tools under an ESA Section 6 grant, all with the purpose to provide proactive measures and guidelines in support of consistent and coordinated rare plant management throughout New Mexico.

Eriogonum gypsophilum, a USFWS Threatened and NM state Endangered species that grows alongside oil and gas development in Southeast New Mexico. Photograph by Ben R. Grady.

During the Scorecard presentation’s section on measuring/representing threats, the speaker displayed a map of potential oil and gas extraction threats to rare plants. It portrayed a giant blob of yellow, black and blue risks in the Southeast corner of New Mexico, encompassing the majority of the lands that my BLM office stewards.

The Permian Basin shown here corresponds with the map of of oil and gas extraction threats that was presented in the NMRPTC meeting.

Working to safeguard native plants and habitats against the threats this blob poses will be a major focus of my work here.

Slice of Life in Prineville, Oregon

I thought that after living in Prineville OR for over a year, the same town my BLM office is in, that it might help future CLM interns here know what to expect from this town. Prineville Oregon is east of the Cascade mountain range, in the rainshadow of the state. It is an arid climate with sunshine nearly every day. Winters are cold, summers are hot, and spring is notoriously unpredictable. Coming in at the beginning of a field season, expect the possibility of snow on the same day you may find yourself enjoying sunny weather in the 70’s. Prineville lies at a somewhat lower elevation than nearby Redmond and Bend, in a basaltic caldera formation. Prineville definitely has a stuck in time small town feel, although it’s not so tiny that everyone knows everyone. It is home to just under 10,000 people. Don’t expect much of a dating scene if that interests you (I hear Tinder is nearly nonexistent), also don’t expect a ton of people your age. Prineville is very family and senior oriented, and sort of leaves out the 20 somethings who probably move to Bend or elsewhere. I find people in Central Oregon to be extremely friendly, but Prinevillians also have a clannish side, and you may find some folks a bit closeminded depending on where you are coming from. On the other hand, you may appreciate their value of tradition and down to earth demeanor.

During the recent recession Prineville suffered considerably combined with a waning timber industry. The old mills on the industrial side of town are interesting to drive by. It seems that Prineville, once the largest city east of the Oregon Cascades, is making a comeback but there is still significant economic struggle for many living here. Facebook and Apple set up big data centers in Prineville, and it is the home of the NW Les Schwab Tires. Whether you live or work in Prineville, I highly recommend a visit to the Bowman Museum to learn about the history of the area.  It is fascinating. You can’t talk about Prineville without mentioning the ranching community. This is a cowpoke town, no doubt about it. The wealthy ranching families here go back many generations and they are proud. Treat yourself to the Crooked River Roundup, nearly a week of rodeo related events occurring each summer and a very big deal in Prineville. You don’t want to miss the cattle drive through town or my favorite, the barrel racing! It is not unusual to see a kid riding a horse through one of the city parks here or scrappy ranch dogs riding loose on the back of flatbed pickups, to contrast the kombucha-drinking Patagonia-wearing Subaru drivers of nearby Bend, where a cowboy hat is significantly harder to find. Prineville’s beloved nickname is Prinetucky (enough a point of pride that the local brewery named their house beer the Prinetucky Pale Ale) probably stemming from the small town country music vibe here.

Prepare yourself when you move to Central Oregon, it is DIFFICULT to find a place to live. If you are freaking out (as I was) and still haven’t secured something by the time you arrive, fear not. Camp for cheap your first few days at the Ochoco Reservoir or RV park across from it, both complete with hot showers and only about 10 minutes outside of town. Pros of living here in Prineville include a much shorter commute to the BLM office and somewhat cheaper housing when you do find it, compared to nearby Bend and Redmond.

Prineville has little to offer in night life, but makes up for it with outdoor recreation in heaps. I’m a lover of the Ochoco Mountains to the north and east of town where you rarely have to share trails with anyone else, there are gorgeous wildflowers and creeks and places to hunt for morel mushrooms. The tamarack trees turn gold in the fall before dropping their needles and are a lovely spectacle. You can camp and fish in the impressive Crooked River Canyon or take a hike to Chimney Rock, and there is a disc golf course and mountain bike trails in town. Don’t miss the Barnes Butte trails for a hiking getaway right within town limits.

I can’t not talk about food, as this is a very important aspect of life for me.

Prineville has a few grocery stores. I never could go to just one as I’m a deal hunter, so here’s the lowdown: Rays is expensive but has more health food items and fresh produce, Wagner’s IGA has bulk herbs and spices. Thriftway is a good bet for general goods, but always hit up Grocery Outlet first because when and if they do have what you’re looking for, you are going to save big time. This is also the best place to stock up on goodies for backpacking or fieldwork lunches. If you are a bit more adventuresome like me, check out Grocery Bandit on the Madras Highway leaving town. You’ll feel like a bandit with the steals of deals here, but it’s pretty hit or miss. There’s local grassfed beef in the freezer case. Be warned: the granola bars can be quite stale.

There are many bars and restaurants in Prineville, but few of them noteworthy. When I lived here, going out to eat in Bend or Redmond was a big treat. There are several average Mexican eats, none of which I can recommend over any others, except Tacos De La Providencia, which is a little food truck with kickbutt homemade salsas and delicious carnitas. This is a favorite lunch of many BLMers. Ochoco Brewing is a good place for standard pub food, local beer, and a pleasant atmosphere, their breakfast menu is very good. Sons of Beer has a lot of local drinks (cider, beer, and kombucha) on tap and good appetizers. I hear good things about Dillon’s Grill, but haven’t personally understood the hype. If you want a solid fast food style burger and fries but refuse to support the usual mega chains (there is a McDonalds and Dairy Queen in town), try locally owned The Dawg House. Tastee Treat is a greasy spoon with really yummy milkshakes. For local coffee I recommend supporting Friends instead of Starbucks. Friends is a little drive through coffee hut, like those so iconic to the northwest. I wish we had those on the east coast where I’m from. The Sandwich factory is superior to the Subway in town and also local. I’m not a huge fan of subs but I am fond of their build-your-own breakfast bagel sandwiches. I add sprouts and roasted green chili. Oh, and I must mentions Gee’s. Gee’s looks so sketchy from the outside, yet there is pretty decent Chinese-American food here and free pool on Thursday nights. For a wilder time, you could check out the Horseshoe and probably meet some rough around the edges cowboys and grab a drink, but I hear this place is not for the faint of heart.

There is a yoga studio in town called Om on the Range, but when I lived here the hours never worked well with my fieldwork hours. There are also at least 2 gyms, but no swimming pool. Swim at the Prineville Reservoir after a long day collecting seeds or on an AIM plot. There is a library that I would definitely take advantage of while you’re here. Don’t miss the Pine Theater, this place is great! It’s a very cute, locally owned historic movie house. The movies are affordable at $8 maximum and the setting is welcoming. There are many opportunities for biking and a nice bike shop in town. You can even rent a Stand Up Paddleboard here and take it for a spin on either nearby reservoir. For music other than open mic, you’ll want to check out venues in Bend. Some pretty big acts come through. Bend has it all, and should definitely be experienced, yet I like to take it in small doses for the sake of my wallet! Bend is an outdoor loving open minded town with great vibes, but it is also hustle bustle, is becoming overly ritzy, and feeling the strain of the influx of people moving into the area without the housing and city infrastructure to support them.

I hope I have painted a good picture of what to expect from life in Prineville. It certainly was an experience living here, but I’m happy to now be in Redmond where I can easily get to Bend or Prineville. It is what I see as the best of both worlds and a happy medium. If you enjoy quiet small town life, solitude in hiking, and simplicity, Prineville might be a good fit for you. If you like nightlife, exotic restaurants and want to make lots of friends your age during the internship, you’ll be happier in Bend, although you will spend much more time commuting and money going to events and on housing. If you want a little bit of both, check out Redmond. Wherever you end up, enjoy central Oregon, it’s a really great place to live!