Summer Madness

Our office and our community undergo an astonishing change between winter and summer months.  In winter, the community of Lopez Island consists of only 2,000 people.  It’s rainy and quiet and a lot of time is spent at the library, in the kitchen, or by the fireplace.  Similarly, the office of the San Juan Islands National Monument slows down, with only two employees (who none the less work tirelessly). As spring and summer roll on, the island swells with tourists and part time residents.  What was a sleepy village becomes a hive of activity as people enjoy the bakeries, biking, and public lands of Lopez Island.  During this time, the Monument also ramps up activity with a rush of seasonal employees (of which I am one) and events with the community as well as with the BLM.

The public lands on Lopez see huge increase in traffic during summer months.  Where maybe 10 people will visit a site each day in the  winter, it’s not uncommon to see 50 visitors in a span of a few hours on a sunny July day.


The change in the office is no less dramatic. At the moment (mid-July) we have two full time employees, three interns, and a youth work corp leader working out of our little 1000 square foot office.  Next week we expand further for two other seasonals.  Each of these people have an important function here at the monument: working with plants and seed, mapping and assisting with recreation management, engaging the youth, and helping to create interpretive plans for the monuments most beloved locations. That’s not to mention all the work our manager and recreation planner do.

This is my second year working here.  Last year, I collected baseline biological data for upcoming planning efforts.  This year, I am working with the Seeds of Success program.  My job is just one of many functions of the San Juan Islands National Monument, and its one that’s a little removed from the rest of the operation.  Still I get to meet different scientists and research specialists working on the islands as well as getting a look at the work of different BLM employees.  This past week I got to help out a team surveying wetlands in the area.  In previous months, I have worked with folks in forestry, wildlife biology, botany, bat biology, as well as interpretive specialists.

I frequently do work to assist and learn about other goings on in the monument.  I sometimes help at educational booths or farmers markets and I attend meetings that go way over my head.  Our Monument, which was designated in 2013, is going through an extensive planning process for its Resource Management Plan.  I’ve enjoyed learning about that process, attending lively Monument Advisory Committee meetings with members of the public, and sending my personal comments on the landscape.

Anyway, I guess I’m trying to say our summer is full of people and new learning opportunities (cheesy, I know).  Though at times I can’t wait for the quiet of winter, I’m pretty grateful for the chance to work with people in and outside of my field, as well as to learn more about the workings of a government office.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.