Let’s Get Down to Business

Cooler weather has finally arrived in Lander, WY. Many of our coworkers have been commenting on how unusual this fall weather has been. Apparently, by this time of the year there usually is 2-4 feet of snow! However, I am glad the snow has held off. This means we have the opportunity to do more field work and less office work. I enjoy field work very much, but with all of the field projects we are working on, our Seeds of Success data processing is getting put on the back burner. Emma and I have been antsy all of October to start getting SOS data processed and seeds sent out to the seed cleaning facility. Our Seeds of Success program has been a little hectic because our mentor took a job in Cheyenne earlier this month. She was promoted to the position of Wyoming state botanist, and we are very happy for her! So Emma and I are figuring things out on our own, with the help of our mentor’s very detailed instructions. We just started data processing this week, and we are realizing that it will be much more time consuming than we originally thought. Nevertheless, we are up for the challenge and enjoy being busy.

This month we completed three SOS collections. Fringed sage (Artemisia frigida), Wyoming Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp.wyomingensis), and Mountain Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp.vaseyana). The seeds from each of these three species were tiny, which made our seed counts a little time consuming. We were excited to find that we collected about 400,000 seeds from Wyoming Big Sagebrush, which far exceeds our minimum goal of 20,000.


Enjoying the view on the way out to collect Mountain Big Sagebrush. It’s amazing to see how fast the landscape changes

We are still working on wild horse monitoring in the field office. This month we finished the entire north complex, which consists of four HMAs (horse monitoring areas). In November we will start on the south complex and monitor there until we get snowed out. Horse monitoring has been one of my favorite activities. This month we stumbled upon a herd of more than 100 wild horses while monitoring, it was incredibly cool to see. We also got snowed on for the first time while we were horse monitoring at some higher elevations. The snow covered horses were really beautiful.


Scanning for horses with my binoculars


Horses in the snow in the Crooks Mountain HMA


We always make sure to wear our orange for safety during hunting season!

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GPS mapping the aspen stands.

Another project we are still working on is aspen stand delineation near South Pass. This is another project that needs to be finished before the snow flies, especially because this project area is at a higher elevation. So Emma and I continue to flag aspen stands and record the area and locations with our GPS. The work up here is pretty cold, but there are amazing views.

We are also working a little bit with the archeologists at Castle Gardens petroglyph site. Castle Gardens is an area in our field office where ancient native people etched petroglyph drawings into the soft rock. The BLM wants people to respect and understand this ancient site. To help with this, the BLM is installing gravel walking paths and interpretive signs. The hope is that once people can see and understand the importance and history of sites like these, there will not be as much vandalism. The Castle Gardens site previously had been vandalized in many places, but the BLM hired a rock art expert to fix much of the vandalism.  Emma and I are helping write some of the interpretive signs dealing with botany. We will have a sign identifying common plants in the area depending on season, and a sign explaining how native people used the plants in the past.


Castle Gardens Site


Petroglyph at Castle Gardens. This one is called “The Lightning Man”.

Only one more month to go in the Lander Field Office! We still have 2 seed collections left to make, and many other projects to finish up. November is going to be a busy month, but I’m excited. We’ll see how much we can get done before the snow.

Until next time,

Erin, Lander Field Office, BLM- Wyoming

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About Eskelly25

My name is Erin, I am currently a CLM intern with the Bureau of Land Management at the Lander, Wyoming field office. I have a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Winona State University in Southern Minnesota. The focus of my internship this season will be on rangeland management/ botany. I know I will learn many things this season and I am excited for the experience!

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