Searching the High Desert for Sage-grouse

My first week in Nevada has been full of excitement and challenges. Working with two other C.L.M. interns, we have driven rocky roads, hiked drainages, and camped in tents every night. We did all of this for the GREAT Greater-sage grouse! The sage-grouse has been in decline in Nevada, and may be listed as threatened or endangered soon. We’ve been working with U.S. Geological Survey and the Great Basin Bird Observatory, who have been tracking these birds for the past few months. The crew members have been living in trailers in the middle of nowhere for months! And I thought I was tough. They’ve been using telemetry to locate eleven collared birds, night and day. Our three WOMAN crew came to help them survey the vegetation at each location in which grouse were found.
At each Sage grouse location, we surveyed the vegetation to quantify habitat suitability. I had never seen such rough terrain or performed this type of vegetation survey before. We laid tape for transects, estimating cover with a Daubenmire frame and cover board. I am excited to learn new scientific methods and grow into a better botanist. Our crew leader is also great at pointing out new species so that I can learn the plants of Nevada. After learning so much in one week, I can’t wait to see what else I can discover over the next months.
The past few days were full of intense and exciting work, so the three of us were very happy to relax around the campfire in the evenings. After a long day of hiking several kilometers, we talked about some of the beautiful things we saw – a new plant species, a wild horse, an antelope. We also learned more about one another, and I think we’ll have a great time working together. I have seen a lot in my first week, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this amazing landscape.

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