I was hired as a Recreation Technician, to provide field and GIS support in the Needles, CA BLM field office. Here the recreation branch also manages 1.4 million acres of wilderness. For this past month a more accurate title for my job would be ‘Wilderness Monitor’. Long story short: I have been making sure the wilderness is still wild.
The Wilderness Act (1964) defines wilderness as “an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The wilderness areas in the Needles field office share histories of varied uses including mining, military training, Native American habitation, wood harvesting, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. For the most part these activities stopped after wilderness designation. Unfortunately some unauthorized use (mainly OHV intrusion) continues in the wilderness areas, which undermines the unique opportunities for unaltered ecosystem function and human solitude. So, I have been visiting areas that have high biological/historical interest, or have experienced the most frequent intrusions. At these sites I check if people are respecting the most recently erected.
My excursions into the wildernesses have aligned with the purposes of the other CLM interns here. I have been helping the Seeds of Success intern (Lara) with plant scouting and seed collecting. Even in this unusually dry year (in the words of a seasoned local, “drier than a skeleton fart”) there have been plenty of wildflowers to appease my eyes. Also, I have been accompanying our wildlife biology intern (Alicia) who has been assessing wildlife use and human safety of abandoned mine sites.
In the near future I will be investigating current non-wilderness sites to assess potentiality for either: a) energy development projects or b) designation as areas with wilderness characteristics. I like my job.