Cows, Lizards, and Mines…

It has been one month since I started my CLM internship with the BLM in the Mojave Desert.  The weather has been very nice since coming to the desert. It even rained here this past weekend! Unfortunately, it seems the heat has finally arrived.

I have spent my time working on a few projects. I helped build a fence to keep grazing cows from trampling a riparian area. I will actually begin monitoring some of these oases in the desert today. I will be checking for water, identifying native flora and fauna utilizing the site, and noting any flora invasives. The desert springs play a key role in the survival of some of the desert’s most beloved plants and animals.

I have also been helping a coworker conduct habitat suitability surveys for the Mojave fringe-toed lizard. This lizard loves loose sand dunes. We are trying to determine if OHV traffic may be affecting their populations. While out on survey, we were even lucky enough to have already spotted a few of these amazing lizards. We will be joining up with another biologist next week for informal training on proper identification, safe catching and handling techniques, etc.

Finally, I have been spending my time monitoring abandoned mine lands. The BLM has officially closed more than a dozen abandoned mines with bat-friendly gates. These gates allow the bats to freely come and go from the mine while keeping people safely out. I have been visiting these mines to check for any gate disturbances. I have fortunately not found any problems up to this point. Over the next few weeks, I will begin surveying some of these mines for bats and any owls that may also be utilizing the sites. I am looking forward to these night surveys!

On my travels, I have found one of everyone’s favorite desert plant: the Joshua tree.

We also ran into these guys as we were heading to a mine.

 Alicia Rodriguez


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