I have been doing a few more things since last month and mainly that has included getting out into the field more and working on a five year plan for the restoration department.
On most excursions into the SBNF, I work with a more experienced staff member on restoration monitoring. This means going out to sites where restoration occurred in the past to see what condition they are in. This gives me a chance to see a lot of different types of sites, conditions, and treatments. For example, last Thursday I saw a restoration site where extensive chunking had been done, a technique that rips up the ground creating swales that are not pleasant to ride an OHV on. I also saw a different type of fence, which is called pipe rail. It is good practice to diagnose additional treatments for monitoring sites when other staff can give you feedback. I am also getting much better at mapping features with the Trimble, which is a lot of fun.
On Thursday it was very interesting to monitor in a front country section of the forest. To drive to this area, you go down the mountain, cut through San Bernardino, zip along the highway which intersects the forest land, pull off abruptly onto a dirt road, and zig zag through private property to again reach the forest land. If I hadn’t known that the highway was on forest land, I never would have guessed it. I got to see one cool plant last Thursday, which is a rare cactus species. It does not occur in many areas, but it was very abundant in the particular area we worked in on Thursday. There was one area where it was growing on a slope that was partially eroded away, and you could see the root structure clearly where the dirt was gone. I have never thought about the root structure of a cactus much before.
I am also making some headway on the five year strategic plan for the restoration program, which outlines all of the goals the program wants to reach and how to reach them in the next five years. The most interesting part is reading all the policy related to the different areas the restoration program works in, such as native plant materials, OHV restoration, weeds management, and threatened and endangered species. Each of those areas has a little section about the federal policy that I wrote up; this section is kind of supposed to show the higher ups in the Forest Service why what we do is important, you know, this work is a federal government directive and such. I have been working on it a lot today, especially the threatened and endangered species policy section because on Thursday we will have a department-wide meeting to go over it. I am sure that will be very helpful in improving the document and the revisions I have made. I am looking forward to hearing what everyone says.
Additionally, I went downhill skiing this weekend which is just about the most fun I have ever had. It gives me a new perspective on Big Bear and why the tourists flock here. I had a lesson and actually went down a substantial hill and will definitely be back on the slopes as soon as I can to practice! I also went to Joshua Tree National Park a few weekends ago and have hiked around Big Bear a few times. Other updates, I have also joined a gym where I get beat up every Saturday doing yoga, and I am reading ALL the books in the library.
All the best,
San Bernardino National Forest