Sanford BLM Internship

2014 has been a busy year so far at the Safford BLM office. We have initiated several new projects as well as have continued to develop our existing work.

Non-native removal in Bonita Creek continues to be a regular task. Having four interns has greatly increased the number and frequency we can get out to set nets. And we have already had a contract crew out to conduct a week long intensive removal effort. With Andrew Johnson’s knowledge of Access, he has created a database to more effectively analyze our non-native removal data. This allows us to take a better look at which net types have the highest catch per unit effort, and which portions of Bonita Creek are still harboring the highest numbers of non-natives.

Several pollinator gardens have been planned and installation should begin this spring. Allegra Mount received a seed grant from Native Seed Search. These seeds have been germinated in the Discovery Park greenhouse, as well as at the Our Neighbor’s Farm greenhouse. Other seeds from our returned SOS collections will be germinated as well. A pollinator garden will be planted at the Discovery Park campus with educational signage about the importance of pollinators. We hope to have a high level of community involvement in the installation and up-keep of this garden. A pollinator hedgerow is planned for the Our Neighbor’s Farm garden. Our Neighbors Farm is an organization that grows produce to give to those in need in our community. We hope that raising awareness of the importance of pollinators can make a difference in this community.

Our work with Sky Island Alliance continues. They are such a wonderful partner organization. At the end of January, we had an amazing work weekend at Turkey Creek. SIA brought out a group of 30 volunteers and we planted around 250 Giant Sacaton in our restoration area. We camped at the TNC field house (which is a lovely spot) and enjoyed socializing with all of the interesting volunteers.  Van from Stream Dyanmics was out for the weekend with our group, and did some surveying of Turkey Creek to determine if building rock structures, such as gabbions, could be of benefit to the site.


I was able to participate in the Cumulative Effects NEPA training that was held at the Safford Field Office in February. Writing Environmental Assessments is a complicated process that I am learning, and I was glad to get some more exposure to the various elements of putting one together. We spent two days going over the Cumulative Effects of a particular EA that our field office is working on.

In early March our crew traveled to Ft. Huachucha in Sierra Vista to participate in a Springsnail identification and in a monitoring training put on by Arizona Game and Fish. While just a one day training, we were table to review a lot of relevant information about Springsnails in AZ and visit two nearby springs to practice our monitoring skills.

We have been doing some restoration work near the border in conjunction with a SCC crew. The SCC chainsaw crew came in and cleared a lowland area of mesquite. Then we came back through and seeded with native grass seed and covered the seeded areas with mesquite brush. The mesquite brush cover helps to keep the seeds from blowing away and provides some shade to help the grasses get established. This project will hopefully help to raise the water table in this area, and restore the native grassland that once thrived here.

Since my work began in the Safford field office, monitoring native fish has been a large component of my job. Throughout my time working in Bonita Creek, my boss Heidi had started to notice a high frequency of lumps on the native Gila Chub. As the frequency and severity of these lumps increased, Heidi decided that a proper evaluation of what was happening to these fish was needed. She got her permit revised to allow for capture of a small number of Gila Chub to then be transported to a laboratory in NM. We still have not heard from the lab what exactly is happening with the fish, but hope to know more soon.

During March I got my first hands-on experience building fences. Andrew Johnson and I headed north to lead two crews of ACE in a restoration and fencing project. A riparian area along Silver Creek, near Woodruff AZ, had been very degraded from cattle coming down to the water. The stream bank was experiencing a lot of erosion due to lack of vegetation.   Our crew’s goal was to cut willow poles from the adjacent banks that were not degraded, plant them on the degraded banks, and fence the whole area off from grazing. We started by having several people cut 6 feet long willow poles and piling them on the degraded banks. We used a boat to shuttle from one side of Silver creek to the other. We used hammer drills with 2 feet long drill bits to drill holes into the degraded bank. The willow poles could then be inserted in the holes into moist soil, and the hole packed in. We made groups of 16-20 willows in clusters along the bank, with 5-8 feet of space between them. Hopefully, with cows being kept out from this area, the willow poles can put out roots and begin to stabilize the degraded bank of Silver Creek. With such a large amount of workers, we were also able to clean the surrounding area of trash, and remove some small tamarisk. It was a wonderful learning experience for my restoration, leadership, and fencing skills.

I continue to be involved in diverse stimulating projects. Having a group of four interns allows us all to focus on different projects. We work great as a team; learning from each other’s various specialties. Come May, I will have been at this office for 1 year, which is quite hard to believe. The time has flown by. And in August I will be attending the University of New Mexico to study for my masters in Biology. I doubt I would have had such a competitive application for this position without the experience I have gained from the CLM program.


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