My third month in Alturas, California is coming to a close and it seems like so long ago when the mornings were 19° and snow covered the roads. Rising at 3 in the morning, dressing in three to four layers, meeting my partner at the office and heading out to the field by 4 was a way of life. Early this month things changed pretty abruptly. The Sage Grouse season ended sooner than we expected, we had already planned out our survey schedule for the next week when we were told to wrap it up.
My partner for the first couple months is a botany tech funded through the Great Basin Institute, and has since been tasked with other projects while my work has become increasingly independent. I have begun learning about raptors in preparation to monitor nesting sites and search for new nests in and around both known Sage Grouse leks/brooding habitat and areas that will be experiencing disturbance. I have compiled a list of proposed and accept projects within our field office such as juniper removal and other construction related activities.
As far as botany, I have worked on an ID team for the Eagle Lake field office. The ID team is a small group that surveys large pasture areas to determine the overall health of the site in order to determine if it can handle more, less, or the same amount of cattle or sheep and what, if any, rehabilitation needs to be done. The group includes a wildlife biologist, a soil scientist, and a range con working together to complete transects and other monitoring practices.
I have also surveyed for rare and special interest plants. We have found Eriogonum prociduum, prostate buckwheat, several species of Penstemon, beardtongues, and some lupines. Recently, we found a new population of lupine within an area scheduled for juniper removal. We had to mark and flag this area to restrict the timber cutters from driving in and around the site.
I am having a great time here in Northern California. Alturas is a tiny town, not for people that like a city vibe or the night life, but it has a certain charm and I enjoy waving at other drivers as we pass one another. I feel comfortable with my work and the area and look forward to getting up in the morning (not that is something new, but we have all had a job or two where we did not want to get up).