In the land of endless sagebrush..

Hello from the land of sunshine, south-central Oregon. I had never been anywhere west of Wisconsin before coming to work at the BLM in Lakeview, so this month has been quite an adjustment. For the first few weeks, my sense of place and knowledge of botany was pretty confused. The high desert of Oregon isn’t a place that people in New York hear a lot about. Pretty much everyone who I told about my plans to move to Oregon talked about how gross and wet and rainy and green and beautiful it would be. And although I assured them otherwise, I still didn’t know what kind of things to expect. Once I got here, I only knew one or two plants, and marveled at the lack of trees and at the amazing huge wide spaces you have to travel through at least an hour in your truck to get anywhere. I’ve never seen so many livestock in my life. Or so many eagles. Being from New York, I have a lot of wildlife bragging points out here whenever I call someone from home. I remember the first week I was here I made a list of the animals I had seen already and it made everyone jealous… bald eagles, golden eagles, marsh hawks, sandhill cranes, 10 different kinds of waterfowl, qails, more quails, antelope, bighorn sheep, mule deer, not to mention the dozens of less charismatic fauna like all of the burrowing rodents and a bull snake that got sassy with us one day. It’s sort of unbelievable, considering all my life seeing an eagle was something really rare.  Also I quickly realized that most of our field sites would have almost no shade, but first I got some nasty sunburn. Only 2 weeks earlier, on Memorial Day, It snowed about 5 inches, and when the other intern, Diane, and I went to go hiking at Crater Lake National Park one weekend, it was under 12 feet of snow. The high desert weather was one of the hardest things to get used to.


Crater Lake with 12 feet of snow! No Hiking for us...

Working here is pretty illuminating though and I’m really enjoying it. The concept of localized ecosystem management is something I had hoped to understand better here because I came directly from a very theoretical ecology academic program. Everyone here at the BLM office has plenty to say about it, so that part is working out just fine, and I’m learning a lot about what it’s like to be in the middle of the social/cultural/economic playing field when it comes to environmental issues on public land.

Things I have learned here that I never would’ve thought would be so important to the career of an ecologist: riding an ATV, driving a 4-wheel drive truck up a mountain, changing that truck’s tire, learning to navigate using incomplete maps with roads that don’t exist.


Lisa VanTieghem

Lakeview BLM

Hanging out at 6,000 feet - Black Cap Butte overlooking Lakeview


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