Home on the Range(land Monitoring)

I’m here in Lakeview, Oregon, interning with the BLM with a handful of other interns. We’re all working on different types of plant projects, and so the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of getting to know everything we’re seeing out here.  Being from Northeast Ohio, I’m used to identifying forest wildflowers and deciduous trees, but in Lakeview I’m becoming a pro at getting to know grasses,  shrubs, and little scrubland flowers.  As a rangeland monitoring intern, I help to check long-term plots within BLM lands that ranchers periodically use for grazing.  Some of the plots we check have been established in the 1970s, and so the photos and data we take are used to compare the health of the land to what it used to be.  We record what species are in certain areas and try to assess the health of the rangeland. We also have been measuring shrub cover, mainly of sagebrush, to help collect more information for the infamous sage-grouse.
The transects that we run to get all of our data can get a bit repetitive, but the BLM has a ton of land here and we drive out to lots of different sites and see a lot of landscape.  The driving itself has proved to be a bit of an adventure, with lots of old bumpy roads that take some practicing to get a handle on. We’re near an Air Force base and so we often see low flying jets and hear roaring sonic booms out in the middle of the scrub desert. A little eerie, but being out so far from big roads and any towns has also been really refreshing. It seems that every day I find a new plant that I haven’t learned yet to take back to the office and identify.  I’m excited for more flowers to start blooming and the grasses to get greener and fuller as the season continues.  We see lots of pronghorn out in the field, as well as hawks, eagles, rabbits, and lizards. No snakes or mountain lions so far, but we’ll see how the summer goes!


Typical views from work

Lots of cows everyday!

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