Adjusting to the desert.

I’ve officially lived in Safford, AZ for 3 weeks now, and am adjusting a little more each day. Coming from the lush forested hills of Arkansas to the desert is a big transition, but I continue to appreciate the beauty of the desert more and more.

My first week was filled with trainings of every variety, but I also got out in the field by day 2. Heather Paddock, the other CLM intern at the BLM office in Safford, and I joined one of our mentors, Heidi Blasius, on Bonita Creek to work on non-native fish removal. We set 60 nets and returned the following morning to sort the captives. Green-sunfish and mosquito fish were removed from the stream, and all natives were measured and released. We caught several varities or native, endangered species, including the Gila Chub, the Sonoran sucker fish, the Gila Top Minnow, and the Sonoran mud turtle.

The following week Heather and I traveled to Boise, ID for the Seeds of Success training. We participated in a three day training course to get up to speed on the methodology required for successful seed collection. The training included an actual field collection of Sandberg bluegrass, as well as several interesting field trips. We toured the FireWise garden at the Boise, ID botanical gardens and learned about ways to plant a fire resistant garden. The Birds of Prey Conservation Area, Lucky Peak Nursery, and the Boise Regional Seed Warehouse were among our other outings. The training and trip, as a whole, was a great experience.
This week has been a mix of data entry, UTV training, and a day of fieldwork. The field day was especially enjoyable. We traveled to the Coldspring Seeps to work on monitoring Gila Top Minnow and Desert Pupfish. Populations of both native species were doing well, and several Sonoran mud turtles were recorded as well.

All and all, my time here has been interesting and varied. My fish identification and observation skills are developing quickly. Next week I will begin to scout for possible seed collection locations, and am hoping to put my plant taxonomy knowledge from the SOS training to good use.

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