Wrapping up in Buffalo

Hello all! My internship is nearly complete here in Wyoming, but we’re not done yet. Although field season for plants is long gone, there have been other opportunities to get outside to enjoy the brisk weather. Just last week, we were able to accompany a couple of archaeologists in inspecting a proposed waterline route. An oil company wanted to install an above-ground waterline to a well, and we were tasked with checking the surface on the proposed route for any artifacts that may require preservation. Finds would typically include Native American artifacts, such as tools and projectiles, as well as artifacts from the early 20th century. We didn’t find anything that the Smithsonian would be excited about, but we did find a rusty can holed with a knife, whose dimensions dated it approximately in the mid-20th century!

We have also been involved in tree thinning projects, which are parts of both fuels reduction and habitat restoration projects. Ponderosa pine thinning was part of a massive fuels reduction project in beautiful Mosier Gulch, which involvedĀ a lot of stick-stacking. We followed behind the saws, picking up the debris and making slash piles for burning. Making good piles for burning is a kind of art form, and we were experts by the time we were done! I was also briefly involved in a juniper thinning project, whose goal is to eliminate juniper encroachment on sage grouse habitat. The Montana Conservation Corps was called out to do the sawing and snipping, and we were tasked with documenting the project in terms of before and after photos, as well as using GPS to map the treated area. Alas, I didn’t get to do any of the actual work, but being involved in the logistics stage gave me an idea of what they were doing, and why they were doing it.

It would seem our trips into the Bighorn Mountains are done, as snow has made driving up there very dicey. None of us wants to be the one to call for help after we get stuck somewhere-we’ve had enough close calls this summer. I’ll be done next week, so my adventure time is limited-I hope to make the most of it! Until then.

Daniel Collis

BLM-Buffalo, WY

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