San Bernadino National Forest

I have been interning on the Mountain Top ranger district of the San Bernadino National Forest for three weeks now. The SBNF is located in the Transverse Ranges of Southern California, about two hours east of Los Angeles. I have been visiting the LA and Orange county area of Southern California my whole life because of family that lives there, but I had never been to these beautiful mountains before so I had no idea what to expect.

It is a world away up here. For one thing we are about 7,000 feet up and the air is clear and the water is delicious. Quite different from down in the city. There are large juniper and pine trees everywhere, and in different areas of the forest it is high desert. They receive enough snow in the winter to have three ski resorts, which I am very excited about. I am happy to say my view of Southern California being all city and no nature is completely wrong.

So far in my internship I have dealt with computer issues (getting my profile set up and whatnot), helped to close off and put up signs to discourage people from entering bald eagle habitat, marked brush piles not to burn that were potential wood rat and rubber boa habitat, and started writing an invasive plants species identification guide for the SBNF.

One of the coolest projects I am working on is a lichen flora of the SBNF. My other CLM intern colleague and I are working with a lichenologist, who works in the UC Riverside herbarium, to document the lichen flora of this amazing area. Lichens are my passion so this is very exciting for me. We have gone out collecting in the field twice and I went down to the university last week to learn about the database the herbarium there uses and enter some historical lichen collections from the late 1800’s. So cool! I am used to identifying macrolichens, the large lichens that are found in much wetter areas, so this is a completely new experience for me because it is so dry here. Most of the small microlichens we look at are growing as crusts on rocks, trees and on the ground in undisturbed habitat. I am learning to use a hammer and chisel to break chunks of the rock off the large granite boulders to take specimens back to the herbarium.

I am having a great time here so far because my coworkers and mentor are really helpful and welcoming. It is great that after three weeks I am already starting to feel like part of the family up here.

Next time I will post some photos!

Adrienne Simmons, Mountain Top Ranger District, San Bernadino National Forest

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