Just visited Vermont last weekend for a wedding during its foliar peak. I had left in May for my CLM internship after living there for 9 years! Beautiful colors, well-used hiking trails, and familiarity are all reasons I love Vermont. Comparatively, Vermont never offered me the wildness that Wyoming does! Even after hiking a section of the Long Trail (VT) for 10 days in October of last year, never once did I come across moose, deer, black bear, or other ungulates (only startled 2 grouse). What a disapointment! Now, being in Wyoming, I can’t take a jog without coming across pronghorn, mule or white-tailed deer. Lovely bird songs seem to constantly be in choir when I’m outdoors. A hike in the Cloud Peak wilderness and I’m bound to run into more wildlife. I very much enjoy this part of the country.
Jumping back into working for the BLM, after taking a extended break (10 days) from it, and the office is barren. Most people are out in the wilderness…hunting. The season just opened this past weekend. Mud cakes the Squeaky Kleen car wash from all the vehicles coming in after hunting. I know this specifically because I was there washing a vehicle today and the owner was complaining to me mid-wash. I assured him that the field vehicle was not a contributor.
Back in the office, I am catching up on emails and communicating with co-workers on projects for the coming weeks. Currently working on a habitat restoration project for the Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocerus urophasianus) by conducting field work. The field work includes; mapping Big Wyoming Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), cheat grass (Bromus tectorum), Japanese Brome (Bromus japonicus) and Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) within historic wildfire perimeters. The historic wildfires are found on GIS through an exisiting (out dated) layer. Ground truthing is the focus right now, until end of October. Out in the field, mapping vegetation within the fire perimeters will be used to establish a vegetation layer in GIS. A layer that will be available to the Buffalo Field office (BFO) and any other agency that may be interested. The funding for this work came from the Powder River Basin Restoration initiative through the BLM, and pays for my internship with CBG.
The project began when my mentor, a former rangeland specialist, took on a new position at the BFO to restore the Powder River Basin. After spit balling ideas with like professionals she crafted the project you read above. With the help of the vegetation layer, which will cover BLM, state and private lands (within the BFO), we will be able to spray for annuals (targeting invasive) possibly 10+ years down the road. The hope is that post spray the encroaching Bromus spp. will die off, which will give way to accessible bareground for native bunchgrasses to grow and out compete invasives. With native bunchgrasses back this provides desirable land for sage grouse habitat. Another implementation plan is to raise Big Wyoming Sage Brush and manually plant them in these historic wildfires to bring back habitat (post spray). This has been very rewarding work, I am still in the preliminary stages. Please let me know if you have experience with this and what that experience was like in the comments section (thank you).
Originally, I thought there wouldn’t be work at BLM BFO this winter, but I was wrong. There is plenty of field work and plenty of office work too! I look forward to a Wyoming winter because it’s different from my native northeast and New England home base, and there is work to be done!