I arrived in Carson City, NV about three weeks ago via the California Zephyr Amtrak Route from Chicago. Leaving behind the flat-lands of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, climbing the Rockies of Colorado and Utah, and waking up in the sparse sagebrush landscape of Nevada, made for a whirlwind journey through some remarkably diverse landscapes. I am thrilled by this opportunity to explore a new part of the country.
Through getting out in the field with my stellar team of fellow botany interns, I am starting to familiarize myself with the Great Basin landscape. This past week, we went out to the American Flat Mill, which is the site of a former gold and silver processing plant. The abandoned structure was recently demolished, and the site is in critical need of ecological rehabilitation.
This past Wednesday we spread a variety of native seed throughout the site including Basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus) and Antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata).
The following day we returned to the American Flat Mill to collect willow trimmings from various aggressive willow species, so that they might be propagated in May. We dug the trimmings a trench home for their dormant season.
The various debris and structures left behind from the processing plant give this site a curiously eerie aura. Learning about the rise and fall of the silver and gold mining era provides important insight into how this site has evolved, and how it has had to adapt over the last century. Our hope is that the seeding and planting efforts here will culminate into a place that has not forgotten its history, but has developed the strength necessary to thrive in the future.
Although still very foreign to my Midwestern home, I look forward to getting to know the landscape of the Great Basin–its stark geological features, xeric vegetation, and intense sun–and serving as a steward of its health.
BLM, Carson City, NV