The seed collecting season has finally come to an end. Upon reflection, the last several months, working with the BLM in Medford, Oregon, has been an excellent opportunity to use my skills and knowledge, as well as gain a tremendous amount of valuable new experiences.
One major area of growth was my understanding of the geography of Southwest Oregon. Although I made good use of my previous knowledge of botanically interesting areas, I also had the experience of visiting and working in a great number of amazing new locations. As recently as six months ago, I had not even heard of King Mountain, Big Elk Meadow, Drew Lake, Walch Fen, and Josephine Creek. It is now difficult to imagine a world without such places.
Instrumental to the discovery of many of the new locations was GIS. I began the season with a good background in GIS, and was pleased to be encouraged to utilize and improve my skills in my new position. I was provided with ArcMap software, and used the technology to select promising new locations, track routes traveled and sites visited, and record locations of collected vouchers and seed. GIS also made easy work of obtaining and recording ecoregion and geology data for each seed collection. It was also fun to make use of the relatively new, data driven pages feature, to make a nice final set of maps, showing all of the season’s seed collection locations. I felt fortunate that, through my internship, I was given access to ESRI online tutorials, as well as USFS webcast classes.
Also, botanically, I had plenty of opportunities to build upon my prior knowledge. While for some time, I have been able to recognize plant families and most genera by sight, this past season afforded me plenty of opportunities to practice keying plants. The vast floral diversity of Southern Oregon continues to surprise me, and presented our team with many interesting challenges. Some of the most perplexing, were a couple members of the family Asteraceae, as well as the genus Perideridia. Other botanical highlights included encountering rare plants such as Calochortus howellii, Gentiana setigera, and Perideridia erythrorhiza. Working with the CLM program has also allowed me the honor of having many of this season’s botanical vouchers placed with the U.S. National Herbarium at the Smithsonian Institution.
This past season with the CLM program has given me many challenges and rewards that I will fondly remember for a long time to come.