Recently, I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of training sessions. The first was a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) training right here in the Prineville office. It was a 24 hour training spread out over three days. Since I had no real experience with NEPA I took some pre-requisite courses on DOI learn and familiarized myself with the process. After reading up on NEPA and taking some relatively hard learning assessments, the day of the course finally arrived. We entered the conference room and were greeted by donuts, a ploy to keep us coming back every day. The course was very informative and led by a wonderful instructor. We learned about the fundamentals of NEPA, as well as applying what we learned to existing EA’s (Environmental Assessments) in the office. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to put the training in practice by working on some easy NEPA stuff, to gain experience and simultaneously reduce the workload of my supervisors.
Between the two trainings, I did some more golden eagle monitoring and learned the true value of patience. To submit a negative observation of a nest (no eagle present on the nest), one must wait four hours to ensure that the nest is monitored for a sufficient period of time to avoid false negatives. So, I hunkered down by my scope in the cold with a good book on owls and waited, and waited, and waited, until finally the four hours elapsed and I escaped back to my car and to the office.
Then after some office work, I headed east to Vale with a co-worker to attend a GeoBOB (Geographic Biotic Observations Database) training. We took a mountainous route to get there, not my idea, and after about five hours we finally arrived in Ontario (Oregon, not Canada). We stayed in a nice hotel there and had to adjust to Mountain Time, instead of Pacific Time. We rested up and then left in the morning for the first day of the training. Vale is a really small town that smells like manure and onions, unsurprisingly because they grow onions with manure. They were especially hard hit by the winter, losing millions of dollars of onions due to snow collapsing many roofs. The training was informative in the sense that it taught me some of the basics of GeoBOB, but was plagued by technical mishaps and other problems. Both of the instructors (different people taught the class on the first and the second day) were teaching the class for the first time and therefore it did not go quite as smoothly as they intended. However, it was nice to learn a new program and get out to Eastern Oregon, an area where I had not spent any time other than briefly driving through.
Well lek season has started, but I don’t want to use up all of my material, so you will just have to wait until my next blog post to hear about the excitement of watching sage-grouse at leks.
Until next time.