It’s that time in the season where things are winding down and we are doing a bunch of different projects. It is raining a lot lately. Last night there was a massive storm that came through and dumped a lot of rain and hail. That means we can’t go out in the field as much. The roads are often not navigable when it has rained, last week we went out two days after the rain and we were mudding. So right after the rain means we are rolling the dice about getting stuck. Dealing with data and files can be frustrating, but data management can be weirdly rewarding. I like finishing the project all the way, not just stopping at the field work.
What I’ve been up to lately:
- RIPS- A lot of what we have been doing lately involves Range Improvement Projects. These are things like reservoirs, troughs, and pipelines. We are finding them and assessing them sometimes adding them to the GIS database. It’s a lot of driving and looking for things that haven’t been monitored in a long time. It’s been a lot of both field work and office work. In the office we are pulling files trying to figure out exactly what we are looking for. We are also looking at maps in the project book and on Google Earth to try and figure out where projects are. Often times the GPS point or map point is wrong and by cross referencing various sources it prevents us from just wandering around until we find something. We have found some interesting things out on the range. We found a desk chair that had been buried in the center of a reservoir and a bath tub that had been cemented into a rock formation.
- Sagebrush Monitoring- We have also spent a good amount of time looking at potential sites for Sagebrush monitoring. Some of the sites had to be adjusted because the species were mixed or because they were difficult to access. We have been checking these sites for a few weeks so we can collect sagebrush from them. There are a couple of sites that we won’t be able to collect from this year because the flowers were pretty eaten up by bugs. But we still have plenty of sagebrush to collect from.
- Willow Cuttings- Today we spent time cutting willows for a willow planting day with a a group of 7th and 8th graders. We cut willow branches to plant in a restoration area along a stream bed. This is an awesome yearly project that allows them to connect with the public lands, which is super important.
- Agriculture Resources Service Laboratory- We got the opportunity to visit the ARS laboratory in Logan, Utah. This was a really awesome experience. They gave us a tour of the whole compound and explained the process of developing plant materials. It was a great overview of how cultivars come about and how native plant and native plant seeds go into that process. We got to talk about careers and the backgrounds of people working for ARS. It was a great day. They gave us some papers and they are putting on a Native Plant Summit in Boise this year. We are going the first couple of days in November and are really excited about it!
- TREND Data- I have spent the last couple of weeks gathering the TREND data and putting it into a database. TREND data is collected about every 10 years, the data goes back to 1950s and there is an Access database that collects it all and runs the analysis. It was fun and a little frustrating to mess around with the database. It was satisfying to complete the project fully.