A New Spring

Many things have changed since my last blog post about a month ago. Our group of four interns turned into five when we welcomed our newest member to the team a few weeks ago. I am now a certified pesticide applicator, I learned how to key out the tricky Poaceae family and I finally got my first night of field experience in the Great Basin.

The introductory phase of this internship is coming to a close and the field season is about to begin. I had more trainings this March than I have over the last couple of years. Now, I get to take what I’ve learned and put it to use.

We have been in the office more than I would have liked to be, but with the Sierra snow pack melting and the ground still being saturated with moisture, it has been difficult to get out into the field. That is rapidly changing, however, as it warms up and dries out. Just two days ago, we participated in a Short-eared Owl survey in Dixie Valley, which is part of the 5,000,000 acres that the Carson City BLM oversees. Unfortunately, we did not spot any owls, but we saw several birds of prey including Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and potentially Golden Eagles (unconfirmed). After the survey, we had the opportunity to camp beneath the crystal clear, star soaked sky.

The following morning, we were introduced to the flora that we will be working with for a majority of the internship. The Great Basin ecosystem is surprisingly diverse. Superficially, Artemesia, Atriplex and a few other genera dominate the landscape, but upon closer inspection it is evident that hundreds of species contribute to a complex network that make up the desert community.

Sphaeralcia spp. in Dixie Valley

Astragalus spp. in Dixie Valley

On a side note, much of our free time is spent in Ash Canyon or the Sierra Nevada/Lake Tahoe area. Already, we have hiked to incredible viewpoints, skied across state parks and birded for countless hours in beautiful valleys.

Lake Tahoe Sunset

Ash Canyon Valley

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Carson City and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Jason Fibel

Carson City District Office-BLM

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