Spring in the San Bernardinos

Spring has finally arrived in the San Bernardino Mountains. It’s a drought year here in Southern California, but some plants are managing flowers. Many I’ve seen have crumpled in the heat and will not be producing a seed crop this year, but such is life in the mountains above the Mojave. I mentioned in my last entry that I was excited to see the spring-flowering plants that I missed due to my internship starting at the end of last May. I’ve seen all but two rare plants on my “to see” list while in Big Bear- so that’s pretty good!

Probably the most exciting news of this last month was a visit from my college advisor, Tass Kelso. She and her husband, George, had not yet seen the famous pebble plains of Big Bear and stopped by on a road trip to visit their family in Southern California. Tass is a Primulaceae expert and was interested in some pebble plain endemics that belong to that family; specifically a Dodecatheon and an Androsace species. We found both plants, the Dodecatheon was in flower and the Androsace was in fruit. As I understand it, neither of the species in question fully key into any of the currently acknowledged species of their respective genera. Botanists in the area have been referring to the Dodecatheon as D. hendersonii and the Androsace sp. as A. septentrionalis  but both have some key morphological differences that have made Tass curious. She was thrilled to get specimens of both of her research subjects and was astounded that we saw about three of the endangered plants and five of  the threatened/sensitive species found on the San Bernardino National Forest all in flower during the course of a four-hour tour! It was an absolute treat to be part of the conversations that afternoon between my CLM mentor and my advisor; both of whom I regard very highly.

The iddy biddy Dodecatheon Tass collected.

As for my normal duties, I finally finished all of my data entry from last season and got caught up on the backlog of element occurrence data that was floating around the office from the hands of one intern to another. Color coding what I have entered into our geo-database made me feel like my effort was not in vain, as the slog of repetitive data entry will often make one feel. I really have accomplished a lot over this last year.

Another exciting aspect of my job recently was that I got the chance to participate in grant writing. I have always been interested in grant writing and was thrilled to be charged with the task of helping the Restoration Program Manager with applying for an $800,000 state OHV grant. I helped construct and edit two Soil Conservation Plans and reported on last year’s restoration accomplishments. The latter was made infinitely easier than it has been in the last few years, thanks to our new geo-database that myself and a fellow field technician created for our restoration program.

May will be my last month of being a CLM intern; we’ll see what it brings!

Lizzy Eichorn, San Bernardino National Forest

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