So long, and thanks for all the fish

I learned and did so many interesting things during my time in Klamath Falls. Some things I expected to learn, like new field techniques and endangered species protocols; others I did not, like how the public perceives government work.

We found this sucker spp. young of the year while conducting a stream survey for Bull Trout.

I’ve grown pretty attached to the less-loved fish (like suckers, see left, sucker spp. young of the year), even though in the end I think I spent more time working with trout. Still, there were so many species to study (and to stumble upon in passing). I’ve added quite a few to my life list, some that I never even knew existed.

This was a great first experience in long-term fieldwork. I can’t say I loved every second of it, because waking up at 2 am is hard, getting eaten alive by mosquitos, and lugging heavy equipment in the hot sun is hard, but it was great nonetheless. The work may have been hard, but it meant something, and work worth doing hardly feels like work at all. We participated in so many projects: bat surveys, vegetation surveys, electrofishing, snorkel surveys, larval collection and rearing, stream surveys, mussel salvages, fish geometric morphometric analysis, wolf management projects, wolf monitoring projects. I’m sure I’m forgetting some. They kept us busy.

The staff in Klamath Falls were the best. Everyone had something to teach us. Everyone had a different story about how they ended up in conservation and some wisdom to go with it. I’m glad that working with Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife could become part of my conservation story. In short, I’m so glad I decided to make the move to a small high desert town in south-central Oregon. I’m so thankful to everyone I met and worked with in Klamath Falls as well as the staff of the Chicago Botanic Garden. In the words of Douglas Adams, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” I fully expect to keep chasing animals (in a respectful way) on and off the job. Here’s some assorted pictures:

Trail camera. Lesson learned: aim low (with remote cameras at least). A family of elk spent some time at this crossroads.
Trail camera. Lesson learned: be curious. Deer definitely saw my camera and left some hilarious pictures as evidence.
I headed to Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge after work. Left me feeling a little patriotic.

Signing off,

Brianne Nguyen
Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office

the Klamath Falls crew decided we need a picture of us all together in the field. Photo taken by a Pelican case wedged in a bucket.

New Beginnings in BEND

At the beginning of this month I started my new job at the Bend Seed Extractory and casually moved across the country to Bend, Oregon.

I have never been to the west coast before and was finishing up another internship in Pennsylvania when I was offered the opportunity to move to Oregon and start working at the Seed Extractory starting early September. I immediately said, yes.

Originally, there were a lot of logistics that I didn’t think through before initially accepting this position (such as finding housing and having a car). However, as I began to plan everything started to fall into place- shipped my car (this is pricey, yes), and found a dope girl on Craigslist to live with (craigslist can be weird but once you weed through the weirdos its rather helpful).

Anyway, the west coast has exceeded my expectations. It is BEAUTIFUL. I am originally from Virginia and accustomed to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cascades are a entirely different breed of mountain. In addition, I am extremely grateful to have been placed in Bend. This town is amazing! It’s full of hikes, climbing, breweries, and farmers markets that are essentially festivals.

Here’s a pic of me enjoying Black Butte (one of the many hikes Bend has to offer).

Another thing that I wasn’t completely prepared for when I moved here is how intensely different the vegetation is! There are about negative deciduous trees here and everything is a shrub (still beautiful though and let’s remember Bend is essentially a desert). However, I am enjoying learning to identify all the new evergreens in the area, as in VA we have about three options to pick from when there’s a conifer around.

Here’s a picture of a Ponderosa Pine that I can’t figure out how to rotate! (these babies are everywhere and the bark is so cool!!- sorry Im kind of a tree geek)

Anyway, figure I should talk about my new job a bit too and the reason I actually moved to Bend, but instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of the first seed I processed at the extractory and leave you on the edge of your seat to hear all about it next month!


Crown of Thorns

Adventures in the Chihuahuan Desert have exposed me to some bizarre organisms… At least, they seem that way initially. The harsh conditions require remarkable adaptations that call to attention the tenacity of life.

Recent encounters with some perils of this ecosystem have bequeathed me with strength and a tenacity reminiscent of a truly spectacular angiosperm.

Koeberlinia spinosa, a native to harsh climates in the Southwestern US and Mexico with unrelenting spines but delicate flowers, permits pollinator passage. While the plant can bear leaves, photosynthesis is carried out in young stems and thorns most prominently. Some might consider this ~3m tall shrub unsightly and unwelcoming. I, however, have come to recognize it as the ingenuity and strength needed for survival in a challenging environment.

In the same way this plant has a strategy for not being eaten and avoiding desiccation, one must adapt in order to thrive in life’s many challenges. This internship has introduced me to many obstacles I had to overcome using creativity, bravery, and teamwork. While these solutions may not come naturally and can seem a little awkward, they each have a unique beauty far more impressive than anything armed with delicateness alone.

It is in such a way I hope to continue addressing obstacles as I navigate life. I owe a lot to this internship and this place for giving me this experience. And I am particularly indebted to the plants, animals, and landscapes that have served as a canvas on which I could learn these valuable lessons. Without them, this story would have no color.