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 https://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/pdf/Director’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!

The Wonders of Teleworking

Over the holidays I was able to go back home and spend 3 wonderful weeks with my parents.  Before that, I worked with my supervisor so that I could telework at home.  The process was very simple and I am extremely grateful to my supervisors for taking the time to work through the process with me.

I left Oregon the day before a huge snowstorm and managed to make it back to Ohio and back home.  Everyday, I would work from 7am to 11am so that I could spend the rest of my time with my wonderful parents and my cute puppy, Jasmine.  Jasmine just turned one and is still a ball of energy.  I got to play with her in the yard, and attempt to snuggle her.  I played board games and watched movies with my parents, and all in all had a great time. We headed over to my mothers side of the family for a pre-Christmas celebration.  The kids spent most of the time downstairs, which left us adults to have a peaceful time.

Back home we prepared for our own Christmas celebration.  We decorated the tree while listening to Christmas music.  It really brought back memories from childhood and it felt great to be spending time with family.  As for Christmas day, it was a quite peaceful event which went off splendidly.  Shortly after Christmas, my brother came to visit, so we had the whole family back together.  We played even more board games and got outside and visited some parks while walking Jasmine.  Eventually, he left and I got to spend the final days with just my parents and dog.  Towards the end, some part of me just wanted to stay home and forget about work, but I boarded my plane and headed back to work anyways.

I originally planned on working on the plane ride home, but I saw that they had free movies through their wifi service, and couldn’t pass that up.  I watched some decent movies, but heck they were free.  Towards the end of the flight I was pretty stressed out as we left late and arrived even later due to a mix up with the flight controller.  Eventually, I got off the plane and I ran towards my next flight.  I made it just in time before they left, my heart pumping.  Then I proceeded to wait on the flight for another 20 minutes, while we were apparently waiting for another passenger.  I didn’t mind since I could have almost been that passenger.  Eventually, I arrived in Redmond and my roommate picked me up at the airport.

Shortly after, I arrived at the house and I went to sleep immediately (time zones are a real pain).  The next morning I woke up to snow falling, and it just continued to snow and snow.  The snow really piled up over the weekend, but I braved the elements and made my way to the grocery to pick up much needed supplies.  As the weekend faded into the week, my telework-athon faded back into office work.  It was actually nice to be back in the office and be around a bunch of my colleagues.  As the winter weather continues, the office actually closed a couple hours early on Tuesday.  It was almost like a snow day, except it was only a couple of hours.  Well that about sums it up, I look forward to being back in Oregon and continuing to work over the winter.

Teleworking is awesome!

This month I got the opportunity to work remotely while visiting family in London, England. This gave me the chance to check out some amazing botanical gardens including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley. Below are a few highlights: A Heliconia and passion flower.

A wet winter in CA

To my surprise rain has finally returned to the Sacramento area, though we are still technically in a drought. This year it has been raining since October and hasn’t shown signs of letting up yet. Today we had to rush out to one of our BLM campgrounds just down river from the Yosemite Valley to move equipment to higher ground because this weekend heavy rains are predicted to wash our campgrounds clean. In a past flood, our picnic tables washed away, and finally retrieved them from where they were floating in the middle of the lake. I also got to learn a lot of neat history about the railroad that went through the campground when the area was being harvested for timber. This soon ceased because constant maintenance of the railroad from rockslides, floods, and washouts outweighed the financial gains from harvesting the timber.

Another project I am helping out with is looking at the pollinators of the native plants in our area. I went out to UC Davis to use their reference collection to identify some of our specimens. I also picked up some of our past specimens that we had identified by a specialist at the campus.

Other than this I have been scouting for native seeds to collect but things have been at a standstill it seems since it started raining.

A lot of other things have been going on but aren’t particularly noteworthy so I will end here.


BLM Mother Lode Field Office

Trading Mountains and Sage for Iron Hills and Deciduous Trees

It’s Christmas Eve and I am back in Jersey after the four-day trek from Buffalo, Wyoming. As I left Buffalo and the Bighorns got ever more distant in the rearview, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental (ok, and a little choked up, I admit) about my time spent at the Buffalo Field Office and exploring Wyoming. The past 8 months have been nothing short of amazing!


The last month of my internship consisted of updating and hunting down correct information for the RIPS database (range improvements), observing a pile burn with the remaining fire crew (super cool!), and scanning photos that were as old as I was into the computer. I also had the opportunity to attend the Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s Reclamation Conference in Casper to hear about how different monitoring technologies, treatments, and other reclamation efforts are effecting pesky species such as cheatgrass and medusa head. One of our own, Dusty, also gave a speech on how AIM was a useful tool in monitoring efforts, so that was pretty neat.



I knew coming out West would be a very different experience. As an East Coast person, the pace of life, lesser volumes of people, and wide open lands were something I had to adjust to. It was nice to live in a traffic-free and more friendly environment for the majority of the year! I also knew I would learn a lot and hopefully further narrow down what I want to do with my career. Between all the trainings and then being able to get a whopping 30+ AIM sites accomplished with Nick, the summer 2016 field season was a success (despite the wind and the extreme dryness).

Over the course of this internship, my botany skills have improved greatly. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert (yet!), it’s definitely become more interesting to me and I look forward to further improving upon those skills at whatever job or internship comes my way next. I’m also proud to say I never once accidentally sat on a cactus while working on our AIM sites, which may seem silly, but was a small personal victory.

I definitely will miss being able to escape into the mountains and working in such a great field office. When I think of Wyoming, I’ll be able to smell the sage and remember the mountains, badlands, and high plains. Nick and I had the good fortune of working in some cool country, seeing public lands that are difficult to access. The places we saw are rarely seen by others, and I’ll always be grateful of the opportunity to have spent time in those places. So, with that being said, it’s been a wonderful time and I can’t thank the CLM program enough for giving me this incredible chance!

Photo courtesy of Justin, legendary BLM intern

-Corinne Schroeder, Buffalo Field Office

Endings are Hard

Over the years, I’ve come to dread this time of year as it means the ending of another great field season.  I absolutely love my job and the plethora of environments I get to work in, but it’s still hard to say goodbye to a wonderful project and equally wonderful people. At the start of each field season, I always wonder if this will be the year where I won’t get along with my coworkers or that they won’t share the same passion for plants or conservation I do, but every year the love of science prevails and I somehow find myself surrounded by equally passionate people. Each year, not only do I get to work with plants while trudging through the mud, I get to work with people who bring a unique piece to our team and form an efficient cohesive whole. Each year I learn more and more about plants, ecology, and various research techniques and each year I am subjected to many different perspectives.


S.O.S for salt marshes!


Eriophorum virginicum from Ponkapoag Bog

Working with the same group of people in often challenging and uncomfortable environments brings about a certain closeness that other perhaps less intense working environments would. People bond while doing difficult things, like standing on a beach in howling wind while collecting Distichlis spicata, or getting lost in a dense sea of Phragmites, or even sitting through hours of endless traffic. These challenges and the connections I make with my coworkers are part of the reason I love my job so much. Outside of learning about the environment and plants, this practice of endurance also teaches humility, patience, and most importantly effective communication.


The Distichlis spicata collection

The CLM experience, both this year and last, has made me a better person and inspired me to never stop fighting for the planet and the wild places I love so much. I will never forget the skills I have learned or the people I have met. So for all of my crew members, Cassy, Krista, Julia, Matt, Kyla, Kent, and so many others, thank you for your passion, dedication, and drive. For all my supervisors, Michael, Patty, Don, and Glen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a difference and to learn. There are so many moments and skills that I will remember.


Cassy, Krista, Julia, and Me (Abbe)

I am so proud to have been a part of the CLM Internship Program and so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many people and work on conservation projects.

Thank you,

Abbe, Intern with the New England Wildflower Society