Chasin’ Aliens


Hello from Roswell, NM! This is my first post to the blog, and I feel like I have a lot to cover!


This is now my 4th week on the job, and just about a month since I’ve been out here in New Mexico.  I am originally from the Pittsburgh area, so moving to the desert has been quite the adjustment.  Before I came here, I personally thought I had a pretty good understanding of botany.  As I was packing up my things for the move, I noticed all of my botany field guides didn’t apply for this area! And now I’m out here, I completely understand.  But nonetheless, I have been quickly learning all about plants that can survive (and thrive!) out here in this hot, dry place!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time out here working for the BLM – I feel like a real scientist! Some of the projects/methods I’ve been introduced to are:

-Mesquite monitoring.  We went out to a study site that has been previously sprayed to control mesquite, which is a native plant (with some nasty thorns) that has been out-competing other important plants.  At the study sites, we did a qualitative assessment of the growth by looking to see what stage of growth the mesquite was in.  As one of the range scientists put it, we don’t want the mesquite to be gone completely, but it would be great if 70% of it was gone.

-Rangeland Health Assessment. Or more commonly, RHA’s.  These are also qualitative and take some getting used to, mostly because you rate the land based on what it is supposed to look like, and I don’t have much to compare it to!

-Traditional monitoring. This includes some different things (that I’m still trying to wrap my head around) like a one-line and production.  These are both quantitative, and provide some real data that can be analyzed later.

-Compliance checks. Although these are a little tedious, they are equally important.  Occasionally we will drive around the rancher’s property to basically check and double check that everything is running smoothly.  This includes counting cows (sometimes the most exciting part) and generally having a look around the property.


As I said earlier, I am just starting out at the BLM, and still trying to wrap my head around everything.  My apologies to whoever reading this already knows all about the daily life of a range scientist, but it actually helps me to organize all of it like that.


Besides all this monitoring stuff, the Workshop a few weeks ago was an awesome time! Not only did I learn  A LOT about working for the federal government and field work in general, but I have a new sense of pride for my job.  Every piece of data counts and is extremely important to get the most accurate measurements.

To summarize things thus far: the BLM “speaks for the trees” and I  need to learn my grasses! But as any botanist knows… grasses are hard. I’ve included some pictures of pretty scenery, cows, and aliens. -Jaci

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