Time’s wings

Time flies when you’re engaged! Flying is an understatement as to how fast it’s zooming past, I can’t believe I’m at the tail end of this internship. This season has been fun, scouting and collecting seeds has been a success thus far and we’ve checked off most of our priority species collections and are currently waiting for some late bloomers to produce seed. A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity of touring the Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center (UCEPC) in Meeker, CO. Their main goal is to develop and provide plants that will improve land conditions and enhance wildlife habitat. Being a part of the Seeds of Success (SOS) program, it was fun to see where our seeds could end up for cleaning and further processing. This facility was established in 1975 and is a whooping 269 acres! Upon arrival, it didn’t seem so big but it’s huge! We rushed through some portions in order to get to others during our short ~5 hour tour.

The oldest cleaning machine at UCEPC. Classic!

Did you know that old school machines are still used to tackle seed cleaning? The methods to clean seeds have been mostly the same since long before you and I were born! Good ol air is crucial for cleaning “fluff” off of seeds, add some mechanical vibrations a voila, clean seeds! OK, maybe not that simple. The seed size and weight need to be taken into consideration so that you don’t loose seeds in the cleaning process so it definitely requires some skill and experience, but that’s the gist of it. Once they clean the seeds they either ship them to various locations to be seeded in the field, or they plant them at that facility for further research and re-vegetation efforts. My favorite project is their effort to help out the endangered Penstemon harringtonii. They went to Battlement Mesa, Co where it is rather common and transported harringtonii, including soil, in efforts of making it more abundant by collecting its seeds and growing it in a controlled environment. I really enjoyed the tour of the facilities and feel as though my job is really making a positive environmental impact.

I also had the privilege of attending the 14th Biennial Conference of Science & Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. The major focus was on climate change and how it’s affecting land management. There were also various presentations on archaeological sites and genetic variation that were very interesting. Some of my favorite presentations included a common garden study where 4,000 Fremont cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) were planted at different elevations and they found that mid elevation cottonwood were the most resilient in comparison to low and high elevation cottonwood. Another study showed that temperature restricts high-elevation bee pollinator communities and assessed the bee to fly transition along an elevation gradient. Over 700 species were imaged to measure darkness and it turns out that there is stronger selective pressure for bees to be darker. Bee’s dominate as pollinators at lower elevations and flies dominate at higher elevations and they found that the darker bodied pollinators had a higher heat absorption and larger bodied pollinators had higher thermal regulation. At higher elevations you find an increased size in pollinators as well as a darker body and therefore bees are more sensitive to temperature changes than flies are. The long term effects of this predict that biodiversity of pollinators will decrease as species move in to higher elevations. Winona LaDuke was the keynote speaker on opening day and welcomed the week with a somber yet optimistic note on our current environmental crisis. She is a powerful presence and leading activist for tribal communities with wise words of wisdom. It’s tough to add humor to such a sensitive subject but public speaking comes naturally for her and she managed to combine the two in a robust presentation. She spoke about the injustice that our land has overcome and the priority of water over oil as well as details on her tribe and the importance of community engagement. It went longer than anticipated but time seemed to be on her side since I didn’t notice how much time had passed until I looked at my phone while I was walking out. Time grows wings and flies when you’re engaged!




This State is on Fire

(Note: please read the title like the Alicia Keys song, “This Girl is on Fire”)

The sky during fire season

I don’t know why it is, but for whatever reason during fire season in Oregon the whole world becomes a bit surreal. The sky goes dark with smoke, the sun stares down at you in the form of a hazy red eye, and the whole population of Oregon struggles to catch their breath. To someone who had never experienced a fire season before (let alone known that it even existed), it’s like living on an alien planet–one where you’ve got to remember to roll your windows up, or else deal with the thin layer of soot that will inevitably coat every surface in your car. Since my last blog post, fire season had become bad, to say the least. Half a million acres burned in Oregon, and tons of people were forced to evacuate their homes, or simply left in order to escape the smoke. Most of my office was up and ready to help the district in any way possible–some were out fighting the fires firsthand, others worked behind the scenes to coordinate teams and create rehabilitation plans. For a few weeks, the office felt a bit like a ghost town. Luckily, we’ve experienced rain in the past few days, and it seems like fire season may finally be coming to an end.

The Horse Prairie Fire was one of the many fires blanketing Oregon in the past month that required the fire-expertise of the Roseburg BLM staff. Being among the few people in our office who didn’t yet have a “red card” (AKA the wildland firefighter certification), Mira and I weren’t able to be out near the actual fire; however, once the fire was contained and mop-up was well underway, we were granted the opportunity to shadow some of our coworkers as they drove across the charred landscape and worked together to create a rehabilitation plan. One thing that struck me about this experience was the intense amount of collaboration required for this project: botanists, geologists, hydrologists, and wildlife biologists alike united to plan the long process of restoring over 16,000 acres of land to its previous state. So many different views and things to consider! 

BLMers examining the landscape in the stylish uniform of wildland firefighters

An area that experienced more of the intense burning.

Somehow, the past month has felt like a rush to me. As the summer season has wound down, we’ve been working botany odd-jobs: flagging Kincaid’s lupine, mapping invasive species, and cleaning seeds. Intermixed with that, we’ve been shadowing a variety of different people in the office.

For instance, a couple weeks ago we helped the fish biologists with snorkel surveys. Our job was, essentially, to follow the biologists as we walked up stream and record data on the numbers of fish in each pool. As we worked our way upstream, we stopped at any pool that was greater than 0.4m in depth and longer than it was wide. The biologists then snorkeled the length of the pool (a truly impressive feat considering the depth and relatively high amount of things obstructing the stream), counting the numbers of coho and steelhead along the way. 

If you look closely, you can see a fish biologist

Why conduct these surveys, you may ask? Little Wolf Creek (where we had been recording data) was the recent site of a restoration project aimed at increasing spawning rates of steelhead and coho. Once upon a time, creeks like Little Wolf were completely dredged of obstructions (i.e., logs and boulders). The reason that this dramatic management practice was twofold: not only did this make it easier to float logs from timber harvest downstream, but it was also thought that anadromous fish species would prosper in “clean” streambeds, as it would allow them to migrate unimpeded. Years later, scientists discovered that this was, in fact, a horrible management practice for fish populations, which had been suffering over the past decades. It turned out that fish actually preferred more heavily obstructed streams, which provided more opportunity for the formation of pools with gravel streambeds necessary for spawning, more woody debris to feed the insects that fish preyed upon, and slowed the strong currents that would send young fish spiralling downstream. To make matters worse, without the trees and boulders that had once held them in place, streambanks were eroding and streambeds were washing away, exposing large swathes of bedrock that lay below. 

An example of unhealthy streambed–note how the bedrock is exposed

Now that overall knowledge of fish ecology has improved, biologists are taking steps to restore streams by “adding character” back into the streams. The process of restoring streams is long–though it’s relatively easy to add logs and boulders to a stream, it can take years for the streambed to build up–but progress is being made, step by step. It’s truly admirable.

I could talk at length about the variety of things I’ve learned from shadowing our awesome coworkers–but I’ll stop myself before this blog post starts to become too tedious. Instead, I’ll gift you guys with pictures of the cool fungus and lichen that I saw. 

Possibly Western Varnished Conk? I think it looks like bread.

Cute red lichen growing among moss


The ins and outs of BLM roads

Alright friends, here is where I am at.

Summer is officially over, and the blazing sun has now been traded with freezing rain. I’m an Arizona baby, so this new take on “cold” will definitely be interesting.

If you ever wondered what the government lets you do during your free time – well…it’s pretty much anything (that has to do with driving out to the middle of nowhere on BLM roads). Driving, driving, driving. All day everyday. To every far, reaching corner of the field office, and the Twin Falls District Field Office is enormous. Most days, I am driving out to scout and map out Wyoming Sagebrush sites for one last SOS harvest that’ll occur early November, and then on the other days, it is of course catching up in the office with all the data management and herbarium mounting that needs to occur.

As a tech/intern, it feels as though my job is to be the “eyes on the ground.” All of the monitoring and mapping has really shown to me that a large part of land management is simply keeping up with the land & making sure our data is up to date. Without a doubt, I can definitely see the importance of this, but not going to lie – some days – it is exhausting when the majority of your 10 hour days are spent driving in the car. So, with that said, I have come up with some handy dandy tips that I hope you find helpful.

The Ins and Outs of BLM Roads: A Survival Guide

  • Podcasts & Music: No brainer. I hope you/your coworkers enjoy the same taste and I am sincerely sorry if you don’t find any common ground. Honestly…sad violin playing for you.
  • Spark some interesting and deep conversations with your coworkers about life: YES. We are all thinking it. You worried about what you are doing with your life? Um. Who isn’t?  Plus, people in this field tend to be very very understanding, compassionate, and awesome people to talk to. This makes the time go by so fast, and always lifts some of that stress off of your chest. Do it. (*Side note: obviously use your best judgement when deciding if it would be appropriate to have this type of conversation with whomever is in the car).
  • Stop the car for anything. This is now a moving tour. There have been multiple occasions when I have been out in the field with my mentor or simply encouraged by her to check out something or a place in the field office simply because it was cool. Wildlife. Roadside botany. A strange looking thing that you thought was something else. You name it. The car can be stopped. You are in no hurry. Stretch out your legs and be curious. Or be like me – and just enjoy the view.
  • 4 WHEEL DRIVE ROADS CANNOT BE TRUSTED – Take at your own risk or better yet find the guru in the office that miraculously knows every dirt road like the back of their hand. And, if you’re already out there – make sure you still have plenty of time – just in case you have to turn around. But really, who wants to do that? So go forth only if you have 100% confidence!
  • Straddle the rut or divet in the road. Pro tip.
  • BLM roads are like a labyrinth & once you go deeper – prepare yourself -because it is an abyss!

Well, if you ever find yourself in this situation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy driving fellow CBGs 🙂

In mid-September, I was able to reunite with my partner in Telluride, CO to enjoy the Brews and Blues Festival 🙂 So grateful to have an internship opportunity that allows me to still have these experiences!

Eclipse backpacking trip to Hyndman’s Peak in Sun Valley, Idaho. Hiked to the 12k summit for the totality – one of my best experiences this summer!




“0 Hours Remaining”

It’s surreal to see “0 hours remaining” in my time sheet submission box.  I have been reading old blogs and reflecting on my experience, noting that the reader is a different person than the author was.  I scrutinize my writing as a better scientist now and ask questions that I didn’t know to ask before.  Granted I’m just now approaching the learning curve here in my final weeks as an intern, (I guess that’s normal for seasonal work).  So much to learn!

I started out so ambitious and motivated.  I was keying out a plant a day in my spare time, researching on my time off.  By the end of June, it dawned on my that most BLM offices are below 7500 ft. in the western deserts of the country, things I knew but didn’t really consider.  It’s hot out there!  I learned the importance of taking personal time seriously, cooling off, chilling out.  Four, ten-hour shifts are enough time spent practicing your trade.

I feel very lucky in the sense that my work here has been so varied.  I have touched every aspect of the scientific process including data collection, data entry, and data analysis.  I’ve accomplished this using various tools: maps, gps, ArcMap, excel, access, and Avenza, to name a few.  We have performed at least half a dozen different types of monitoring techniques on a regular basis. I’ve learned very applicable skills and also very practical things, like how to dress and prepare properly while working in the field, how much water to bring to work, and the beauty of large brimmed goofy hats.

My favorite part of this work is watching all the components come together.  Lately, we have been working on the big cactus project with Sclerocactus glaucus, the Colorado Hookless Cactus.  In short, there is hopes to de-list this species.  My job was to compile the geospatial data from 3 field offices and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in ArcMap.  The GIS specialist and I spent nearly a month fine tuning this data so we could get it down to one workable layer.  Through this experience, (by which an entire blog could be written) I went from having no knowledge base in ArcMap to being semi-competent with it.

When we were finally able to pull a random sample, we got to actually go out in the field and put it to work.  Last week we went out to do point-in-time monitoring with Carol Dawson and her crew from the state office, and the ladies from the Grand Junction Field Office.  I spend my time in the office looking at the old data, finding the best numbers and dates to determine which point we will visit next.  It is incredible.  I am being challenged and having so much fun.

One recommendation that I will abide by next season is to JOURNAL EVERY DAY!!! I have done so many  things this season that I have forgotten.  Especially these big projects need to be documented on a daily basis.  I will be religious about this in the future.

I already can’t wait for next season.  I have so much to build on the knowledge base I’ve acquired here at the Uncompahgre Field Office.  I’m leaving with a fresh feeling of just getting started, which is more than I could’ve asked for.  My experience with CLM has been PRICELESS.  THANK YOU!


Sclerocactus glaucus, “the most expensive easter egg hunt in the world”

Sunset over Crawford, Gunnison Sage Grouse habitat

Carol Dawson, Phil Krenning, Robyn Oster, and My Finger, easter-egg (cactus) hunting in a rocky patch of opuntia


Misty Sanone

Uncompahgre Field Office

Montrose, CO





Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation of the Heart


The last month or so has consisted of me and two other fuels botany techs working on three five year emergency stabilization and rehabilitation (ESR) qualitative monitoring reports. Over this period of time we have traveled to some far reaching parts of the Jarbidge and Shoshone Field Offices to perform qualitative monitoring of fuels treatments. Qualitative monitoring looks more or less like what the fuels monitoring protocols are but sped up and straight to business. What does this area look like? How has the vegetation treatment established? What are the top forbs, grasses and shrubs? What is the effect of disturbance on the treatments? Rapid fire qualitative data scribbles in 90 degree heat, then driving for hours, mix and repeat.

We have been having many partial office days compiling the data, creating GIS maps of fire perimeters and seeding treatments, delineating if a site has ‘good’ or ‘moderate’ success, captioning photos, looking up precipitation data for the last five years and attempting to use the proper and unbiased wording to describe cheat grass cover. It has been interesting to use my degree and analyze data as opposed to being the fuels monitoring robot. It feels comprehensive to see where the data we collect goes, how its packaged and how it impacts management plans moving forward. It has made me look at the post fire landscape a lot differently and peaked my interest in fire ecology and post fire rehabilitation. It has forced me to reflect on the entirety of my experience in Idaho, specifically working in the Twin Falls District.

A herd of antelope looking confused in a burned area of the district like a CBG trying to figure out what to do next…..

Work truck aesthetic….

I would be lying if I didn’t say it was extremely difficult to be here, socially, emotionally, and even physically my skin has dried up and my hair falls flat and my office place fashion is often uninspired. Southern Idaho is ripe with conservative principles and some uncomfortable social norms and this culture unfortunately persists into the work place. It has been difficult coming from the west coast and trying to be a fly on the wall here, and at times it has been distracting to the work and learning I came here for. However, I have gained a lot of vital professional skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, seriously though, Krissa told me once, “you will have workplace disasters for the rest of your life, get used to it” and this has been the single most important piece of advice while being a seasonal transplant, get used to being uncomfortable. I have all of Idaho to thank me for these invaluable lessons really, lessons I am thankful to have learned early on in my botanical career.

It goes without fail to mention that there have been many rewarding experiences. The learning I have done here is insurmountable. I have gained an incredible amount of technical skills in both the field and the office, increased my botanical prowess, taken the botany intensive of my dreams and driven four wheel drive trucks more than I ever imagined. It has also been nice to have been so encouraged to take advantage of the immense wilderness out here. I have been fortunate enough to have a crew of west coast botany tech friends to meet up with and regularly camp and backpack around the inter-mountain west, we have had some really breath-taking adventures in the Sawtooths, Salmon, Western Montana, Yellowstone, Northern Nevada, around Salt Lake and more. These weekend experiences made living and working in such a foreign place all the more managable.

And now at the end of the position I feel a hint of somberness for leaving. Despite the genuine roughness of place in Southern Idaho, I have had really positive mentorship from my mentor Danelle and many other strong inspiring women in the fire offices within the district. Bearing witness to the female strength that carries this district in both the natural resources and fire side of land management has been inspiring. I find myself letting go of the idea that I will get the job of my dreams and leaning into the idea that I want to prioritize learning more, to get red-carded, work with prescribed burns, apply to grad school, read systematics articles, write out angiosperm phylogeny, study on my own more, and key key key.  This feeling is often overshadowed by the bleakness that is moving and transitioning away from the security that a home and a job provides, but get used to being uncomfortable right?

So long and farewell Twin Falls…

Winding Down in the Snake River Valley

The summer has gone by in a blur here in Twin Falls, ID. I’ve spent the last 4 months learning the flora of the Great Basin, collecting data on areas that have burned, kayaking in the Snake River Canyon, backpacking in the Sawtooths and Yellowstone, and looking at a whole lot of cheat grass.

I’m currently working on a project with the two other CBG interns on the fuels program on 5-year burns. Generally, we collect quantitative data on areas that have burned between 1-3 years ago. After three years funding is often lost, so getting to go out to spots that haven’t been studied for a few years has been interesting. We’ve also gotten to read reports on the history of the fires, the resources that went into them, and the importance of the areas burned, giving us a more rounded understanding of them. We’re compiling reports on our 5-year finding along with management recommendations, which will be sent to the state office, which is exciting.

Other fun things I’ve done recently:
Caving- I went out with the GeoCorp interns to one of the longest lava tubes in the US! It is accessible only with a permit to preserve the fragile environment.
Rare Plant Monitoring- I have gone out with both the rare plant botanist of Idaho to monitor Castelleja christii, a rare Painbrush, as well as the LEPA crew that works out of our office to find stands of Lepidium papilliferum. 
Carex Workshop- myself and one other CBG intern were sent to a 3 days long Carex identification workshop. Carex are incredibly hard to identify or key out, so getting structures guidance was incredibly helpful
I’ve also been trying to spend as much time as possible in the Sawtooth Mountains. I grew up in Alaska and have spent the last 8 years in the Pacific Northwest. I’m a mountain baby. This high sagebrush steppe desert isn’t quite my cup of tea (though it does have a beauty of its own), so escaping to the mountains has been a comfort.To be totally honest there’s not a lot that would bring me back to this area of Idaho, but I would come back for the Sawtooths.

Ranger Things

After working a full field season in Dillon, I can safely say I am no longer a fairweather botanist. Something I’ve had to work at is identifying plants by vegetative characteristics alone in the early season and in their senesced, dried out, most crispy state later in the season — important skills for rangeland work.

Although not much is still blooming out in the open montane sagebrush steppe, I’ve been finding refuge from the smoke and heat in riparian vegetation assessments. Under the shade and thickets of cottonwood, quaking aspen and sometimes-encroaching conifers, I have been delighting in the relative abundance of non-vascular plants, fungi and lichen.

A small piece of a large mat of Peltigera venosa

Marchantia polymorpha, a complex thalloid liverwort. Check out the gemmae cups on this cutie!

Stropharia aeruginosa or Russula parvovirescens? Who can really say. I did not get a look under the cap, unfortunately.

Some robust eyelash cup fungi, named so for the remarkable eyelash-like hairs around the rim of the cup. Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s Scutellinia scutellata!

While I don’t have any new flower pictures to share, I finally made it over to the Bannock ghost town this weekend where I was thrilled to behold some botanically accurate-ish wallpaper from long ago.

Much of July, August and September has been very hot and smokey in Montana. All that changed quite suddenly last week: on Wednesday it was 95 degrees, on Thursday it was 55 degrees and slightly breezy, and on Friday it snowed in Dillon for nearly 24 hours straight.

This was fun to wake up to the morning of September 16th

At last! Gone is the eery red sun and thick smoke in the air. The fresh air and breathtaking snow-capped mountain views that typically surround Dillon are back.

This shift in the seasons could not be better timed. AIM monitoring is done, as is most of the outside work with rangeland techs. Now all that is left to do is mounting herbarium specimens for Seeds of Success and, of course, data entry.

Signing out for now,


Dillon, Montana

Critters of Idaho

Our little office crew of CLM interns have been busy working on completing a GIS map of fences along 2 allotments in our field office. Many days this means driving for up to an hour and a half to the site that needs “ground truthing” for certain features and confirmation of fences. We’ve gotten proficient at using Avenza on our mobile devices and converting the data to allow compatibility for ArcMap. We’ve also gotten pretty good at figuring out if a figure in the distance is actually a cow or a rock. Inexperienced range techs may see the rock moving, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cow, the heat can fool you!

Coworker searching for fences, cows, and canyons

Every so often we get the chance to follow along and perform a riparian area management protocol called Proper Functioning Condition Assessment. Our mentors then take us through the questionnaire at the end of the transect, to determine if the riparian area and stream are properly functioning or not

On one of the many eventful days out in the field, I found some bear scat. The following week, a coworker found one of these little horny toads. They are pretty much my favorite wildlife we’ve found out in these deserts. As cute as they are, apparently some species of this genus squirt blood from the corners of their eyes (Ocular autohemorrhaging) as a predatory defense mechanism. Thankfully, these little guys haven’t perceived us as threats (or just aren’t the spp that has this capability), so none of us have been squirted with lizard blood, yet.

horny toad (horned lizard)

One hectic week we got the chance to check out a Bat BioBlitz organized by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We arrived just in time to set up our tents on site, have a meeting about the nights’ event and help set up mist nets.

Momma bat, master of the night

The following morning we drove back for an opportunity to go caving in the second largest lava tube cave, Gypsum Cave

me, smiling for the camera in the cave

CBG interns, GeoCorps and BLM crew all out exploring lava tubes in our PPE

More recently we’ve gotten the chance to tag monarch butterflies, but with little to no success. Unfortunately, “Monarch butterflies living west of the Rocky Mountains are on the brink of extinction, according to a new study”


Juicy monarch caterpillar munching on milkweed, you go dude!

1/3 tagged butterflies 13 Sept 2017, Tag number: B4701 Female

Enjoy the last few weeks of your internship fellow CBG interns!



Continued from page 3:

After the Eutrema penlandii monitoring effort we headed out to a short trip near Walden, CO to look for Phacelia formosula. This plant is our first biennial and, therefore, species that we surveyed for frequencies rather than density. Basically, this means that instead of a permanent plot with a permanent set of transects we have a permanent plot with transects that move each year. This way we can follow the trends of the plant population and their movement in an area. Unfortunately, this species saw a rather large decline in 2016 and we were hoping for some recovery this year. Although the species did not have a boom this year, we did see some promising trends that the plant will come back, but only time, more data collection and some more data collection will tell.

The interesting part of this story is that a Pandora’s box of complications is opened when you start to ask questions about why this plant is in decline, because so little is known about it. Are the flowering plants creating adequate amount of seed? Is that seed germinating? What are the conditions needed for germination? Have those conditions been met in the last few years? What additional information do we need to know about the plant in order to answer these questions?

A former intern here at BLM Colorado attempted to answer a few of these questions. Going so far as collecting soil samples, looking for seed in them and trying to grow those samples out. Continued investigation in this area is still needed.

In the intervening time between my rare and threatened plants data collection I have started to help my fellow intern with seed collection. I was excited to take part in this process, having learned about it at the CLM training. It is a pretty straight forward process, but we learned first hand that illegal seed collection on BLM land is somewhat of a problem when  we had a BLM ranger come visit us on site. Apparently some concerned observers in the area had witnessed illegal sagebrush seed collection in that area in the past. I did not know that was a problem and that the BLM would respond to such a call.

I also found while attempting to look at some demography data that we collected on Astragalus osterhoutii, that someone had sorted the data so that the tag numbers of a couple hundred plants and the information about those plants was jumbled into an incoherent mass of numbers and letters. After spending a week sorting this data out, the demographic data was a lot more coherent and insightful. I am hoping to continue looking into some of the demography data we have collected, sometimes for more than 10 years, in order to answer some of the questions that are still looming, such as the ones mentioned for P. formosula.

This last week we headed over to Fairplay, near Mt. Sherman, to set up and read a Modified Whittaker plot near our E. penlandii monitoring plot. Conducting the plot in this way allows us to look at the overall trends of plant populations in the area to understand what might be affecting E. penlandii. For this plot we were blessed with the presence of a handful of botanists from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Although I have seen it time and time again, I am always happily surprised by the fact that there are so many women in botany. One of the reasons I was so excited by the idea of Carol as a mentor, besides the fact that she is extremely fun to be around, is the fact that she is a woman with a PhD in botany, getting stuff done.

The four other women amazing women from CNHP that we met up with have all been working in Colorado for many years and all of them were very well versed in alpine and riparian plants. Having them as a resource was a huge help when it came to the 50+ plants that we needed to identify – not a simple task when this includes a variety of Carex, Juncus and Potentilla with few distinguishing features. I love when my dreams of working in this field are justified by meeting amazing people. Let’s all take a moment to raise our glasses to the dedicated plant people of the world.

After finishing the plot, I made my way up a scree field to the top of Mt. Sherman-14,036 ft above sea level. Mt. Sherman is not the highest peak in Colorado, nor is it the most impressive peak that I have summited  (that distinction goes to Mt Whitney, which I bagged at sunrise while collecting Forest Health data for the Forest Service in the Sierra Nevada). BUT the gratification felt similar. Let me wax poetic a second to be grateful for legs and lungs that can carry me, eyes that can take in the experience, and knees that only slightly complain when I run down the trail to catch up with my fellow crew mates.

Salida was our most recent stop and one of the most amazing small towns that I have seen in Colorado. During this visit we all wanted to partake in the local scene and so after work we stopped at a local bar where we walked in on a circle of 12 people playing harmonic folk music. Each person had a different folk instrument, and they must have communicated through the language of music because I never saw them speak to each other. Not a bad place to call home or pass through in the quest for more plant knowledge.

One would think we would slow down in September as the summer winds down but we still have a few more trips, a few more hikes and a lot more data to collect this season. As Jack Torrance demonstrated, though, work must be balanced with play and this summer’s intensive fieldwork was broken up by many new experiences. The most memorable had to be the solar eclipse viewing trip that we took a few weeks back. And it turned out that the 2 minutes of darkness, stars coming out and a lot of end of the world talk was well worth the trek up to Nebraska and back.

Never thought I would make it to Nebraska but #eclipse


Till next time,


Colorado State Office

I’m Going On An Adventure!

Not much has changed here at the Klamath Falls Field Office, so I thought I would include a million photos of some of my favorite things I have seen and done in Oregon over the last several months!

Umpqua National Forest is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life! Filled with waterfalls, rushing rivers, deserted campgrounds, and crystalline lakes, it is a dream.

The North Umpqua trail!

Umpqua hot springs has the best views

Toketee Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in Oregon!

Lemolo Lake at sunset was an absolute dream.

If anyone is passing through Oregon and hasn’t experienced Umpqua National Forest, you absolutely must!

Off of the McKenzie Highway, east of Eugene, you will find enough waterfalls to last you a very, very long time! There are more popular falls right off of the road and there are more discreet falls you can spend several days backpacking to. I haven’t been able to spend near as much time there as I would like, but I’ve included a couple of pictures of some of my favorite sights.

Proxy falls is my favorite waterfall I’ve ever had the joy of hiking to!

The Tamolitch Blue Pool is a very cold 37 degrees! I did swim in it for about…. 5 seconds 😀

The last adventure that has really stuck in my mind from this summer is the first time I went rock climbing OUTSIDE on REAL ROCKS! Oh boy! The other intern I am working with, Jeff, purchased a butt load of climbing gear and we went out and had a grand adventure!

Climbing rocks and stuff

A beautiful view of Northern California after climbing to the top of a spire at Castle Crags!

I am looking forward to more adventures and fun times in Oregon!

Marissa – Klamath Falls Field Office – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service