Reflection On The Great Basin

To be honest I have never been good at writing blogs, but over this internship I have expanded my use of social media, if barely. The first part of my internship was an excitement of racing across the desert trying to collect plants before the July heat roasted what forbs had sprouted in the lower elevations of the desert. Soon the volcanic rock had cooked everything in the lower elevations, so thus began the explorations of the mountains that separated these little linear valleys. As the July heat wave rolled over the top of the desert, we were spared of any major fires. Instead, dust storms plagued the valleys as alkali dust got picked up in the afternoon winds and antelope raced across the dry basins. We went out pika searching and began doing water quality surveys along the perennial streams in the area. Sage grouse and their young would wander across roads or around old watering holes in their attempt to find springs and horse trough tanks.

The first cool evenings announced that August had arrived. I spent my first week of August spending my evenings and nights capturing bats and doing bat surveys. We collected 15 different species of bats and captured several hundred individuals. I learned how to ID and handle bats, and enjoyed spending my evenings watching the sun change the colors of the desert around me. On the drives back from our capture sites we would see anywhere from 200-400 jack rabbits and cottontails along 30 miles of gravel roads. Many people with me could not believe that there were that many jack rabbits in one area. In August I began my Water Rights project by finding all of the locations for each right and creating a software program that would allow us to collect data in the field. Then began the map making and learning how to use the big plotter that sat within my office. The rest of August was spent collecting seeds and working with range projects.

September came and went extremely quickly. We had our first field test with the program, which worked, and I finished figuring out what all we needed to record to update our data bases. Then we began working in the field, first in the north and slowly spreading out from there. September was also the time where many of our seasonal technicians left for school and the office slowly became more quiet. There were only around 19 of us to begin with, and I worked in two states and 5 counties, my field station being in charge of 2 million acres. I spent the weekends of my summer fishing, hiking, re-walling a chicken house, dry walling a chicken house, cutting and splitting 7 cord of firewood, raising a garden, re-flooring the upstairs, and painting my grandmother’s 100 year old house.

And then it was October. Storms began coming in and the days were steadily getting shorter. Having been used to driving over very rough rock filled roads all summer, the rain was a welcome site in keeping the dust down. Hunters would visit with me when they came across me working on many of my projects, and I got to learn more about the area that I was working in. I finally decided to use up my comp time and went to Yellowstone National Park and Montana for a little over a week of hiking, exploring, museum visiting, picture taking, and helping my friend prepare for the hunting season. I got back last week, and prepared for the ending of my internship. I will be staying on with the field office that I am currently working in until the dead of winter hits and am hopefully coming back on as a technician next summer.

Now as November is here, I have two months left with my field station. November is also the start of the waterfowl and upland game hunting season, which will now fill my weekends, as my fixing-my-grandmothers-property projects have been completed. I wish the best of luck to all of my fellow interns and wish them happy holidays.

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