Greetings from Nevada! One of the most surprising aspects of the landscape in Nevada is the diversity of ecosystem types and topography one finds here. While driving to our field sites, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the diversity of vegetation one finds within short distances. With only slight changes of elevation, one can move from fields of sagebrush to pinyon-juniper woodlands or from salt deserts and playas to montane coniferous forests. Within only a short drive from Carson City, one can be in the Sierra forests of Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, complete with rushing mountain streams, manzanita, and incredible views. With so many ecosystem types and such a diverse topography in Nevada, I don’t think I’ll soon tire of the landscape in my seed collection activities.
Learning the plant species of Nevada for our seed collection has come surprisingly easy. Being from the eastern states, I had little knowledge of the native vegetation of Nevada. Arriving here in the spring has allowed me the opportunity to observe many of the plants in flower. The hillsides are currently covered with the brilliant purples and pinks of the Gilias and Phacelias and the large yellow flowers of balsam root. The desert peach, covered in bright pink flowers, really stands out as one looks across the land. I remain very excited that this show of wildflowers will soon evolve into an abundance of seeds for team to collect.
Overall, the work I have done so far for the Seeds of Success program has been rewarding and often very enjoyable. Having an interest in botany and ecology, this internship has been a great opportunity to learn a tremendous amount of new useful knowledge. I’m sure that a large percentage of what I’m learning will help me in future in my future career and graduate studies. There’s a lot more in the desert than most outsiders would guess. There’s truly an amazing ecosystem in the Great Basin and I feel very fortunate to assist in preserving the genetic diversity of its plant life.
Working for the BLM has been a very interesting experience and a great introduction to the welcomed challenges of trying to conserve native plant communities in an agency whose mission statement is focused on the multiple use of our country’s vast wealth of public lands. The Carson City district office manages 5.5 million acres of land for multiple-use purposes, and trying to conserve all of the native plant communities and species on such a huge, discontinuous swath of land publically-used land seems to be an overwhelming challenge at times. But because it is such a monumental and important task, I think it drives myself, my fellow interns, and certainly my mentor to work even harder at the imperative job. If you care about native plant conservation and are looking for a challenge, the Carson City office of the BLM is definitely a great place to work.
Aside from work, the recreational opportunities in Carson City are fabulous. The Sierra Nevada is directly to our West, and there are dozens of hiking and biking trails within an hour’s drive or less of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is also about a 30-minute drive from Carson City and is truly an awe-inspiring place for nature-lovers. I have spent many of my weekends hiking in the Sierra or visiting Lake Tahoe, and that is just something that you can’t get back East or in many other parts of the country. So far, Carson City has been a great place to live and work, and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface in my work with the BLM or my life outside of work. I am really looking forward to what the coming months will bring.
– Brian Josey and John Krapek, Seeds of Success Interns