I have spent the last 4.5 months working as the botanical intern with the National Park Service at two parks within Western Maryland, Catoctin Mountain Park and the C & O Canal. My main objective at both parks has been to monitor the RTE’s (fed speak for rare, threatened, and endangered species) and collect data that could contribute to the plants conservation, and in some instances reintroduction. My plant identification skills have been greatly challenged and subsequently expanded. I have had alot of training and experience with GPS (both Trimble and Garmin) and am currently taking advantage of the online GIS course Dean spoke of at our CBG orientation.
Some of the endangered plant species I have monitored are;
In addition to RTE monitoring, I have been collecting data which is being used to monitor forest regeneration. Deer overpopulation in the Catoctin Mountain Park has decimated the understory layer of the forest. Not only has this resulted in lack of plant diversity, but also contributed to the spread of exotic invasive in the park. The deer will not eat the Berberis thunbergii and Microstegium vemineum that have quickly spread to take up the niches that the lack of herbaceous plants and shrubs has provided.
Japanese barberry Japanese stilt grass
Veg Plot data collection
I am quite grateful for the learning opportunity that the CLM internship had afforded me. My favorite part has been when random park employees walk up to me with their top snatch, picture, or description and say “you’re the park botanist, what is this plant?” This happens a lot and I have usually been able to give them a correct identification. This test of my knowledge lets me notice how greatly my plant identification knowledge has grown in the short time that I have been here.
I hope you all are having similar successes!
Jena Race, NPS, Western Maryland