Season Finale! Thanks for the Memories, Wenatchee!! ^_^

Jenny and Reed!!

I had the great opportunity to work with two great interns this year, Jenny and Reed!!

I had the great opportunity to work with two great interns this year, Jenny and Reed!!

Jenny and I worked on various golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) surveys, data recording for NISIMS, and the Sulfur Creek Watershed Assessment. In the beginning, we would always drive into the field to golden eagle sites and try to find nests. At first, looking for golden eagle nests was difficult! We would have this massive wall of basalt that was many stories high and we would have to find a nest in all of that. Even with maps and GPS points the nests were hard to find. After talking to a person from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, we were getting a lot better at finding these nests! By the month of May we were finding nests within five minutes instead of thirty minutes! We found many golden eagle nests and we did see a few peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests. Jenny especially loved the peregrine falcons, because she monitored them in her previous job. Some of these nests were crazy to get to! Colockum Tarps and Upper Rocky Creek took us many hours just to get to the site! For the Upper Rocky Creek site we had to consult with a landowner and drive in the back country to the site. The directions we were given eventually led to a dead end, so we had to turn around. When we did get to the site, we had a beautiful view, but we did not see golden eagle activity. The overall golden eagle experience would’ve been difficult by myself, but with Jenny, we were able to tackle the project easily. We almost saw all of the nest sites!!

Jenny taming a photoshopped Peregrine falcon.

Jenny taming a photoshopped peregrine falcon.

Two of my favorite memories with Jenny involved sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) capturing. In the Spring, Jenny and I accompanied wildlife biologists in the field to capture sage grouse. It was dark and very chilly and we did have a very large aurora borealis to the north. Jenny and I had the bags and we had extra energy to help the biologists anyway possible. Jenny was especially energized when she got the first sage grouse in the bag. She had to transfer the sage grouse from the bag and into a box with kitty litter. When we returned to the truck, we saw some kitty litter and feathers scattered everywhere, but the sage grouse was appropriately packaged. Jenny got this down her first try!! Another one of my favorite memories with Jenny was capturing pygmy rabbits. These rabbits were all in this enclosure and we had to check different outlets for these rabbits. Sometimes these rabbits come running out of the hole into the bag which would greatly surprise us. We helped out with the blood and tissue sampling towards the end. The overall experience was very interesting and we learned a lot!

One of the most interesting experiences dealt with NISIMS. We had to travel all over the place to look for invasive plant populations! Sometimes we would go by ourselves or with Reed and try to estimate cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) densities or thistle populations. One of the biggest adventures was Watermelon Hill! There were invasive plants everywhere and we would have to walk at least ten miles a day under very hot Summer conditions. Sometimes one of us would be done before the other and we would sit by the fence line looking for the other before we started the next transect. We were able to efficiently continue monitoring the area! During the month of August, the fires were becoming more of a problem, especially with all of the smoke around. We would wear masks and continue doing our work with NISIMS monitoring. We were able to complete most of our sites except for two odd ball sites.

Jenny looking at a peregrine falcon nest.

Jenny looking at a peregrine falcon nest.

Overall, Jenny was amazing and contributed equally to our work! We had different philosophies and knowledge that made us critically think about all of our tasks! Listening to podcasts in the vehicle was another highlight, especially when it takes over two hours to get to a site. This American Life, Radio Lab, Mystery Show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Snap Judgement, The Moth, and Serial were our favorite podcasts to listen to! Whenever our bosses or someone from work came with us in the truck, we would make a big deal about the event and ask them many questions. Without Jenny, the internship would’ve been different! Both of us were able to complete every major task and produce some kick butt reports! Our attitudes were balanced and we were able to complete a successful internship without any problems!! She was very smart, capable, efficient, and loved to hike ^_^ Thanks Jenny for everything!!!

When Jenny and I needed some comp time or wanted to learn more about the plants in our district, we would accompany the mighty SOS intern, Reed!! Reed was an awesome botanist!! He was one of the best botanists I have ever seen. He even loved plants more than me!! Jenny or I would go with Reed to scout out plant populations or look for seeds of specific plant species. Reed would tell us the difference between Lomatium, Penstemon, or Astragalus species. He would always cover a lot of ground and find the most unique plants. He had the most interesting stories to tell Jenny and I. It was always a treat for us to take a break from NISIMS and work on some SOS missions with Reed. The Mt. Baker experience was amazing with everyone! Reed was especially excited to learn all about rare plants and ferns on serpentine soil. He would always tell Jenny and I about an interesting tidbit he learned and it would mostly likely incorporate Latin. Overall, a very cool dude. Thanks Reed!!!

Reed hard at work!

Reed hard at work!

Yay!!! Time for the Krissa and Rebecca Interview!!!

How you’ve grown personally and professionally?

I have grown a lot through my internships in Oregon and Wyoming. In Washington, I was able to learn more about report writing and digitalizing data. Writing reports for the BLM was not an easy task. You had to have specific formats and guidelines you had to follow for maps and reports. With data entry, everything was digitalized and entered in the ArcGIS. Learning about this new way of data entry gave me a better understanding on how to work with ArcGIS in different ways.

Driving was always an interesting experience, especially in back country roads. You had to navigate on non-existent roads through very steep topography. Traveling a few hours to a site was very common! Three years of navigating in these conditions helped me become an excellent driver!

Working in extreme conditions for this internship was awesome. Most of the days in the Summer were over 100°F! We had to avoid dry brush while driving on back country roads. We did not want the hot engine to start a fire! With the wildfires, we had to wear masks and deal with hot temperatures! This was probably the most intense internship, but I survived and stayed safe the whole time. Jenny and I were very careful not to go into an area that had an active fire present. There were some areas that had large wasps (Order: Hymenoptera) and rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis), but you just had to be observant and learn how to avoid these animals in the field.

Jenny and I were prepared for any extreme field conditions, especially areas that had thick smoke.

Jenny and I were prepared for any extreme field conditions, especially areas that had thick smoke.

There were some times I had to work by myself in the field. Planning a few weeks ahead of time had always helped me prepare for these solo missions. I was able to break through my previous limitations and grow stronger in order to accomplish all of my field work for that day! This internship really tested me both personally and professionally and I was able to surpass my limitations to become a stronger and experienced person. In the future, I will be prepared for anything, thanks to these internship!

What are some new skills that you have gained on your internship?

I considered this internship more of a wildlife biology-centric job with a side helping of botany! I learned a lot about golden eagle and wildlife biology surveying. We used software called GeoBOB and a GPS device to fill in information about every individual golden eagle nesting site. I learned the important factors to look for and to take note on. Seriously, the movies that have golden eagles in them do not portray their nesting behavior correctly! You might assume they live in caves on the side of canyon walls? They really build nests on ledges and can build multiple nests at a time. At first it was hard to find the eagles, but with some friendly advice from Jon, an employee from the Washington Department of Fish and Game, we were able to easily spot the nests! Along with data entry, we had the opportunity to capture and tag greater sage grouse. One day we helped out with the capturing and tagging of pygmy rabbits. These two capturing and tagging events gave Jenny and I a lot of insight on how wildlife biologists perform monitoring measures in the field. Surveying the Washington ground squirrels (Spermophilus washingtoni) was a little tougher, because they were not active when we were monitoring them. We did record possible colony locations using a GPS device and GeoBOB, but a future intern would have to investigate these sites to confirm if they are indeed active colonies.

Golden eagle at its nest!

Golden eagle at its nest!

Jenny getting ready to capture a pygmy rabbit.

Jenny getting ready to capture a pygmy rabbit.

A captured pygmy rabbit eating and relaxing.

A captured pygmy rabbit eating and relaxing.

Plant identification was a very important job when looking for invasive plants out in the field! I learned a variety of new species of forbs, grasses, sedges, trees, shrubs, and lichens! I learned a huge number of grass species due to the grass workshop I attended during the Summer. I learned more about what SOS interns do! Reed taught me a variety of techniques on how to identify plants and how to collect seeds. Searching for plant populations was always tricky, but Reed knew what to look for! Seed collection was crazy at times, especially with Lomatiums! Once you know how to collect seed from each plant, you could go on auto mode and collect the appropriate number of seeds in a given population. Rare plant monitoring in Watermelon Hill was very interesting, especially with Silene spaldingii. Surveying Silene populations with the SOS interns really gave Jenny and I a new perspective on plant monitoring that incorporated photography, plant phenology, and plant measurements! During the Mt. Baker trip, learning about plant identification and plant photography were really important skills I picked up that would definitely help me in the future!


Silene spaldingii flower!

I was able to improve on my understanding of range land health assessments and ESR! I would go into the field with some of my bosses to learn about range land health assessments. We would discuss the indicators of range health, perform soil testing, measure canopy gap of plants, measure plant densities, and do line-point intercept! I have done this in my two previous internships, but it was interesting how each region slightly varies on how they evaluate range land health! Doing ESR evaluations in Washington were slightly different from Oregon’s procedures! I learned new ways to evaluate burn severity and intensity. Reading the landscape for signs of recovery was very fun! ^_^

I learned a lot about rangeland assessment protocols with the Wenatchee BLM staff in Sulfur Canyon.

I learned a lot about range land assessment protocols with the Wenatchee BLM staff in Sulfur Canyon.

There were many software skills that I picked up. I learned more about many software applications in ArcGIS! Incorporating NISIMS and GeoBOB with GIS was a very interesting and pain in the butt experience! I learned how to do check in and check out of data sets, how to continue with data collection and updating of geodatabases, how to use remote sensing to determine where fence lines and plant populations could be, and how to transfer large amounts of data layers over the Internet! These skills would definitely help me find a future job in the biogeography field! I learned more about Microsoft Access and DIMA data entry. GeoBOB mobile was a pain at first to learn but it really helped me understand GIS software programs. NISIMS was very similar to GeoBOB, but a tad easier to understand!

Jenny and the Vale, OR interns working on GeoBOB. At first the experience was a tad confusing, but we all eventually learned all about GeoBOB! ^_^

Jenny and the Vale, Oregon CBG interns working on GeoBOB. At first the experience was a tad confusing, but we all eventually learned all about GeoBOB! ^_^

What are some learning experiences that stand out to you?

There were a few learning experiences that really stand out to me! Golden eagle surveying was a very interesting learning experience! In the past, it was easy to identify these birds in the air or when they were protecting their territory. Finding their nest was a completely different story! Jenny and I had to have a lot of patience and perseverance when monitoring these eagles. After a month of experience underneath our belts, finding golden eagles and their nests was easy to accomplish. We learned about the phenology and age of the eagles we were looking at based on their morphology and coloring. I always worked with song birds before when doing various surveys, but golden eagles surveying was a different experience all together!

When working out in the field, navigating each land with a map, GPS unit, and a compass has always been a learning experience. Each day I learned something new about the topography of a region. Eventually, I knew Sulfur Canyon so well I was able to look at a picture of a Sulfur Canyon landscape and know exactly where that piece of land was. Talking with people out in the field or in the office was another interesting experience that I usually encounter with each internship. Talking with land owners or with people who work on the land was always interesting! The majority of the people we did encounter in Washington were very friendly and loved to learn about what we were doing!

I would travel on this abandoned road to enter many of the Sulfur Canyon Allotments.

I would travel on this abandoned road to enter many of the Sulfur Canyon’s parcels.

Finally, the last major learning experience that stood out to me was working with the GeoBOB and NISIMS software. This software system was a tad advanced and there were many steps you had to make in order to correctly load and submit the information. If you did something slightly wrong, you would hear about it through the computer, phone, and email at least a few times each. >_> Ugh. Eventually, I learned how to work with the system and it became very easy to complete the tasks. NISIMS had a similar format and all of the data collection was easy to accomplish. Unfortunately, we had to be very careful when performing check ins into the computer, because there was this geoprocessing glitch which would freeze your computer and delete all of your GPS points. Luckily, I only encountered this glitch once.

What were some rewarding experiences/memories of your internship?

I have talked about many of my experiences and memories already! ^_^; I would like to mention a few rewarding experiences! One of the best memories was towards the end of our internship when we entered all of our data, wrote all of our reports, and accomplished all of our goals! That feeling was amazing! We made a great impact on the workload for the golden eagle surveys and ESR reports. Anything our bosses asked us to do, we did with flying colors. Unfortunately, we could not do Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) surveys due to the wildfires. Along with accomplishing our reports, figuring out how to work with GeoBOB and submitting our data successfully was a relieving experience. After that point, we rarely had to worry about GeoBOB, because we were so good at entering and submitting data.

On the wildlife biology front, capturing pygmy rabbits for tag and release was very fun! Those rabbits were hopping around even when we were walking right by them. When I did capture my first rabbit with a tennis ball and a pillow case, I was shocked, because I did not expect the rabbit to fly right out of its hole like that! Jenny and I had a lot of fun with helping field biologist capturing these cute little balls of fur. Finding our first golden eagle nest at the Ice Cave site was great! The first few sites we visited, we did not find a nest and we thought this was going to be our whole Summer. When Jenny and I did see our first eagle pair, we were ecstatic!!! The female was sitting on the nest, while the male was protecting the territory! Capturing and tagging sage grouse during the night was another rewarding experience, especially when there were Northern lights in the sky to the north! We walked all around this field finding sage grouse. Trying to sneak up on them was a challenge, but we were able to capture two sage grouse!! These field experiences were very memorable and I will never forget these experiences!

I am holding a pygmy rabbit!!

I am holding a pygmy rabbit!!

What were some expectations that were or were not met?

I had high expectations for this internship. I wanted to get experience in wildlife biology, monitoring, and GIS. This internship did not disappoint me! I got fantastic experience with working with mammals and birds! I really wanted to have raptor surveying experience on my resume. Jenny and I were fortunate to watch and record data on golden eagle, peregrine falcon, and bald eagles! I wished I had some experience with mist netting or tagging of song birds, but I could learn about that in a future job.

Time for Some Flower Pictures


Lewisia rediviva: Bitteroot!!

Mariposa lily

Calochortus spp.: Mariposa lily


Helianthus annuus: Annual Sunflower

Thanks for the Memories!!!!
I want to thank my mentors and bosses J and Erik for the great opportunities! Working with golden eagles and NISIMS was exactly the experience I wanted for my resume! I got to work a lot with GIS software and hardware that both of you provided. Thanks for encouraging us to pursue different lectures and workshops around and beyond our district. Erik and J gave us enough freedom to do all of our field work. They connected us with people in other governmental agencies, which proved to be very important. Thanks J for teaching us the importance of Governmental bureaucracy and how to professionally write reports for the Public. Thanks for the check-ins as well during the Fire Season! Both mentors were really great and gave us plenty of assistance.

Jenny and I with our bosses J and Erik!

Jenny and I with our bosses J and Erik!

Thank you to the staff at the Wentachee BLM Field Office. All of you have been extremely helpful and welcoming to the CBG interns! Thank you Molly, Rusty, Chris, Pete, Kat, Linda, Jeff, Randall, and Angela for all of the information discussions, side trip adventures and opportunities! I learned a lot from all of you and I was very fortunate to have you as additional bosses and mentors!

I want to also thank a few more people!! A huge thank you to Reed and Jenny! Both of you contributed a lot and were very passionate about your internship! I learned a lot from both of you!! Thank you so much Krissa and Rebecca for answering all of our questions and for all of your support especially during the fire season! Both of you were extremely professional and supportive!!

I want to thank my Mom, Dad, and the rest of my family for their support! Thank you for all of the cards and packages! They were very much appreciated! Thank you for all of the side adventures and phone calls! You’re all the best in the biz! 😀

Moment of Zen

Geum triflorum OOO

Geum triflorum: Prairie smoke

A-Ha Moment!!

Every year this happens to me! I always forget to do an A-Ha Moment in my blog!!! Let me see…. What should be the A-Ha moment for this year…. OH!!!

A close up of the fungus, Pyrenophora semeniperda.              Source:

Cheatgrass does have a weakness! Jenny and I encountered a disease that inflicts damage on non-native brome species. The disease known as “Five Fingers of Death” was a fungus that grew on the seeds. This black smut grows and disfigures the grasses, lowering the production rate of the cheatgrass. Where this disease was present, brome productivity significantly decreased allowing forbs and other native grasses to recover and grow in place! Range land managers were a little hesitant about releasing this disease on cheatgrass and non-native brome populations. This disease is still being researched. Hopefully in the future, this disease would significantly impact the non-native brome species.

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About Justin

Hello! My name is Justin! I am an intern working for the BLM in Buffalo, Wyoming! I will be working on remote sensing and GIS projects. My favorite outdoor hobbies include bird watching, plant identification, rock hounding, exploring, and fishing.

1 thought on “Season Finale! Thanks for the Memories, Wenatchee!! ^_^

  1. Loved this Justin! You were part of a special crew there in Wenatchee! Hope your travels treat you well!

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