I have just completed my first two weeks in the Missoula field office. Since moving here from Jackson, WY, I’ve found the vegetation, topography, and community comforting. Both areas are part of the Rocky Mountain West, a strikingly beautiful region I’ve called home for several years and plan to for many to come. Though cliched, “Big Sky Country” resonates with my first impressions of Missoula. The city sits at the convergence of five mountain ranges, all of which are visible from some part of town. This time of year, early wildflowers dot the vibrant green hillsides. It’s easy to see how many people fall in love with this place.
The Missoula field office is wonderful. All teams collaborate on projects throughout the summer. While I am focusing on natural resource management and sensitive plant species, I will also be helping the foresters monitor five-needle pines and working with range crews to establish a wild horse sanctuary. I am excited about the potential to gain a breadth of skills to help further my career, whatever path I choose.
While my first two weeks have been a mix of training and field work, I feel I have already begun to comprehend the diversity of Missoula’s BLM land. I spent my first day at close to 8,000 ft searching for white bark pines along a heavily forested hillside. On my second day we monitored a population of the sensitive plant species bladderpod located on a rocky exposed hillside in a drainage. This past week I’ve gone out into the field with the range crew to identify and weigh grasses at potential grazing sites to help determine the areas’ carrying capacity.
The weather is perfect and the season is off to a fantastic start. A few more weeks of plant ID memorization and maybe you’d think I was a real Missoulian.