Caves for Days

The past month has been wild with adventures and new experiences! We’ve learned some new protocols to include: Fire Re-entry, Utilization, Range Improvement, and even some spelunking!


With fire re-entry we use a pin-drop sampling method and determine the stability, species, and if seed heads are present in grasses present in pastures after fires and seedings. If the grasses prove stable and abundant, it is annotated and grazers will be released on the pasture in the next season.

With utilization, you walk a straight line and every five steps you annotate the key grass species of that pasture that has been grazed and ungrazed closest to your right big toe. This determines how much grazing is or is not taking place in the pasture. A bit of statistics is involved at the end, which is one of my favorite parts!

With the range improvement protocol (RIP), you go to structures on the range and determine if they are still structurally sound or need improving. So far, my group and I have only observed reservoirs but exclosures, troughs, etc. are all included in this protocol.

My favorite days of the past month have included spelunking, though! We are lucky enough to have some GeoCorps interns here at the field office who are thrilled to take us out to see a few of the many caves around Shoshone, Idaho. We have placed radon detectors in some of the caves, searched for bats, and received interesting information on the formation of these caves and geological features inside. They are very strict about wearing coveralls and sanitizing everything after it has come out of the cave in order to prevent the contamination of white nose fungus to other caves and potential bat populations.


From crawling through small tunnels to standing in chambers big enough to house entire towns, caving is absolutely spectacular! It has opened a door to my heart that has led me to want to pursue a future in studying bat populations. I would love to assist geological teams in caves! We will see what the future holds.

Tea Kettle cave has a huge skylight that shines rays of sunlight down onto a beautiful population of ferns.

Tea Kettle cave has a huge skylight that shines rays of sunlight down onto a beautiful population of ferns.

Today we join up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get training on how to tag Monarch butterflies. I am beyond ecstatic! I am so thankful for this internship and the opportunities it has afforded me. I am also thankful for having such wonderful supervisors in my field office that allow us to learn as much as we can and have such wonderful experiences!

Marissa Jager – Shoshone Field Office – Shoshone, Idaho

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