Today is the last day of my internship at the Lander Field Office. The last 7 months have gone by way too fast. I will definitely miss Wyoming and the LFO, but I am also excited to be home with my family for thanksgiving. This last month has gone by in a blur, but we have accomplished quite a bit.
Early this month we finished up our last seed collection. We collected winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) and finally got enough seed to become a collection. The winterfat seed took a very long time to ripen, so we had to go and collect on three separate occasions.
This month we worked on editing our Seeds of Success data in ArcMap. I took a class on ArcGIS in college, so this was a good refresher for me. The data editing took a lot longer than we anticipated, but it was very satisfying when we were done. We packaged up all of our seed and sent it off to the Bend, Oregon seed cleaning facility. In total we had 14 collections, which was over our target goal of 10 collections for this season. 10,000 seeds from each collection will stay in a seed holding facility until it is requested for reclamation efforts. Any extra seed will be sent to the Meeker facility in Colorado for evaluation trials. We also created herbarium vouchers for many of the plants we found this season. Herbarium vouchers for our SOS collections were sent to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC to be part of their permanent collection, and were also sent to the Rocky Mountain Herbarium in Laramie. Other plants we vouchered ended up in the LFO’s personal herbarium.
This month we also did more horse monitoring in the Green Mountain HMA. There are a huge number of horse in this HMA, and it is easy to find them. I think horse monitoring has definitely been my favorite project this season. Wild horses are incredibly beautiful to observe in their natural habitat. I really enjoyed watching their behavior and how they interacted with one another. The last couple weeks of horse monitoring there was snow, which made everything seem more beautiful.
This month we also did one last round of riparian area monitoring. The cows are all out of the pastures we monitor, but riparian area monitoring still needs to be done to see how the horses and antelope affect the riparian areas. Most of the areas we monitored were very short, which may mean the cows will get a limited grazing season next year.
Overall, this internship with the BLM and Chicago Botanic Garden has been wonderful. Many of the employees here went out of their way to make sure we got to work on a variety of projects. I really enjoyed being able to work on so many different things. Over the season we worked on seed collecting, vouchering plants, horse monitoring, plant monitoring, riparian area monitoring, sage grouse collaring, aspen stand delineation, compliance monitoring, fence projects, reclamation projects, and creating literature for the public. I learned many new skills that I believe will be helpful to me in the future. This internship was an experience that I will never forget and that I am so thankful for. I feel very lucky to have been able to work and live in such a beautiful place. Until next time, Wyoming. I will definitely come back and visit.
Erin, Lander Field Office, BLM- Wyoming