Work, Eat, Sleep, Travel… Repeat

Since arriving in Susanville, California at the end of May, my time here has been a whirlwind of excitement.  Our team’s work on the ground truthing of Special Status Plants (SSP) for the BLM has proved to be both exciting and rewarding.  Essentially, our job is to update the sometimes decades old data pertaining to SSP population size and location. In order to do this, our work requires a mix of GIS, plant identification and old fashion field skills, to locate the often extraordinarily remote SSP populations.

The most challenging aspect of the project however, has definitely been from the data management aspect.  We have risen up to the task of combining all of the previously scattered SSP datasets, some of which date back all the way to mylar overlays from the 60’s and 70’s. However, the majority is made up of hand drawn and digitized, points and polygons from topographic maps. While more recent, yet still quite outdated, shapefile data from Arc 5.0 constitutes a reasonable amount of the data as well. Although, the work of merging and documenting datasets has been tedious, I can happily say that the reward of completing a succinct and comprehensive dataset is outstanding.

Our office work has allowed us to confidently go into the field, knowing that we are not missing any potential SSP sites and that our final dataset will be complete.

Working in the hills and mountains of North Eastern California has opened my eyes to the beauty and serenity of the seemingly sparse scrub landscape.  At times, it has been necessary to camp in remote areas in order to better access SSP populations in a timely fashion. I must say this is a perk of the job. Not many people are able to roll out of their sleeping bags, jump in their car and drive past a herd of wild horses on their way to work, only to later fall asleep gazing at the galaxies.

Every day I feel lucky to have been provided this opportunity with the Chicago Botanic Garden.  However, it is when I am traveling on the weekends, taking advantage of Susanville’s prime location, that I know the opportunities provided by this internship far surpass workplace experience alone. Whether it is hiking and swimming near Lake Tahoe, scrambling up to alpine lakes of the Trinity Alps Wilderness or waking up on a beach overlooking the Pacific, the opportunity for new adventures appears never ending.

Enjoy this random assortment of sights from my time thus far.


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