There has been a lot to absorb this past month and a half working at the BLM District in Eastern Oregon. The whole comprehensive view on what the BLM does and is trying to accomplish is extremely interesting to learn about. My mentor has given the other intern and me an opportunity to explore the different sectors of BLM. Going out into the field and talking with the other workers who comprise the Vale BLM district has given me a great perspective on government work and the ins and outs of what needs to be done to get projects accomplished. So far I have learned getting anything done is a big balancing act of budget, meeting environmental standards, and pleasing the public. So far, from my point of view (only just getting my foot in the door), it appears that the district is understaffed for the amount of land and work that needs to be managed…I just don’t know how anything will get done properly, thoroughly, or efficiently with the amount of money and employees present.
Aside from the overall view of what has been happening, I have been learning a lot here. My plant identification skills have improved drastically, I have been able to work with GIS and improve upon that, and finally hiking just about everywhere has been great. Most of the days are spent doing sensitive plant monitoring. The other intern and I have been on our own to navigate, identify species, assess the habitat, and learn how to monitor the different sites. Learning how to properly assess land and determine the quality of it has been the most interesting so far. What plants species need to be present? Are there many invasives? What about the state of erosion? … There are so many different variables involved and so much to learn. On other days, we are able to go out and search for possible collection sites for SOS. Also, we have been able to work with a private contractor and set up long term climate monitoring plots on a few of the Resource natural Areas here on BLM land. We just started with this and will be going out next week to learn how they monitor the sites.
Overall, this past month and a half has been a lot to take in, but I have enjoyed every minute of it learning.