Hi everyone! My name Liza Chang. Never having visited this part of the country, I am excited to be doing work for the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise. Although I’m based out of Boise, I will be doing a fair amount of traveling to places I never would have seen on my own. We have already visited some remote places in Idaho and Nevada, and have scheduled trips to Utah and Washington.
So far, work consists of orientation tasks, data collection from the common gardens, scouting new sites, and lots of camping. I work with another CLM intern named Katherine, under the mentorship of Jessica. For the first couple weeks, we worked in tandem with other biotechs that we will occasionally see throughout the season. Camping together, we very quickly developed a strong sense of community over the first couple weeks. I can only imagine what 4 more months of camping will bring.
We learned the ins and outs of collecting data on forb species in the common gardens. Not only did we learn about the different species, or how to use Survey 123, but we also learned that bur buttercup is painful to weed, and some good stretches to unkink your back!
On our first scouting trip in Nevada, we drove the trucks off the beaten path. It was a good thing they had four-wheel drive because we drove down steep mountain passes and rocky streams, alongside plenty of cattle. There was not a lot of vegetation in flower, but we recorded the first cactus in this specific mountain range!
I made the trek to Klamath Falls in two days, coming from Downers Grove, Illinois. The Saturday before leaving was spent celebrating my sister and her fiancé at their small backyard wedding. Sunday was full of ranging emotions, but I was ready to start my adventure. I hugged my mom, brother and dog goodbye and left at 5am Monday morning. The roughly 30 hour drive consisted of several podcasts, reading, and gazing out of the window admiring the views of states I was seeing for the first time.
I was traveling with my partner, Charlie, who I’m grateful for taking time off work to come with me. Having traveled to Colorado in the past, long car rides were something we were prepared for, but we were clearly poorly prepared for the change in climate when reaching Wyoming. We were wearing Teva sandals and shorts, when it was snowing and 30 degrees outside. But it was definitely beautiful to see the landscape and quick change of weather.
Utah was also a state we bookmarked to come back to, even though we just saw a small portion. Driving through the Great Salt Lake Desert was incredible, except for the fact we were cutting it close on gas. But we made it! Spent a whopping $4.60 per gallon.
Arriving in Klamath Falls and having the rest of the week and weekend to settle in was a treat. We used that time to get myself packed and organized, as well as check out some of the nearby hiking trails and restaurants. Come Sunday night, my nerves about the first day were building, but after meeting Nolan (mentor and FWS Fish Biologist) and Justus (co-intern) the nerves turned into excitement.
Arriving in Klamath Falls and having the rest of the week and weekend to settle in was a treat. We used that time to get myself packed and organized, as well as check out some of the nearby hiking trails and restaurants. Come Sunday night, my nerves about the first day were building, but after meeting Nolan and Justus, the nerves turned into excitement.
This first week has shown me a glimpse of working for a federal organization and the amazing conservation work being done by staff at KFFWO. I’m so looking forward to starting field work next week and gaining any and all knowledge and skills I can!