2,700 Miles to Home?

Let me begin by saying I am a New Yorker by birth and by heart. But, I cannot (and will not) go on and on about how great New York City is. For one thing, I am not a big fan of cities. For another, I grew up far from NYC–where dairy cattle, cornfields, vineyards, and old small towns dominate the landscape.

Through the CLM Internship Program I have found myself ~2,700 miles from home at a little place (~50,000 acres) called the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) in Galt, California. Much like the town that I grew up in, the name probably means very little to outsiders. What I did know before coming out here was that it was somewhere in the Central Valley and somewhere about 30 minutes south of Sacramento (a name I was familiar with). However, having never been further west than the Detroit Airport, this still did not mean a whole lot to me. What I soon found out was that it isn’t too awfully different from home. I have found all the cattle, corn, vineyards, and small towns you could ask for, but also so much more.

Here at the CRP we fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office which is in Folsom, California. If that sounds familiar, it may just be because a pretty famous country artist once wrote a pretty famous song about a prison there, but I digress. While the Mother Lode Field Office is quite substantial in terms of the area managed and the staff based at that office, the CRP is fairly small in comparison. As a partnership, there are many people involved here. That means that on a daily basis I get to interact not only with people from the BLM (my mentor included) but also with people from The Nature Conservancy and other partners. Nevertheless, the office is fairly small and we keep ourselves fairly busy.

There is no shortage of stuff that needs to be done. Managing riparian and wetland habitat for waterfowl, while also working to maintain and conserve habitat that is rare and imperiled in the Central Valley Region of California, is no small chore. Having just started on June 5th, before attending the Chicago Botanic Garden CLM Training Workshop, I am still learning the ins and outs of day-to-day operation here. However, one thing that has become clear, as my mentor likes to say, there is always more work to do. Working with a Youth Conservation Corps crew, providing trail maintenance, and planning for future projects are just a few things that have kept me busy. With more training in my future, I have my eyes set on getting out in the field and helping to control our invasive aquatic species– primarily water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) and a handful of other terrestrial and aquatic plants that make managing for native and natural wetland/riparian habitat difficult.

After quite a trek by car and some settling in, I have had interesting run-ins with wildlife, dealt with heat I never dreamed of, and learned so much in the first 2 weeks here at my new “home” that I cannot wait to see what the next 5 months bring. While I have mostly been preoccupied with training, I hope to have plenty more to post about next time (especially more about the beautiful flora and fauna).


(BLM Mother Lode Field Office–Folsom, CA)

Cosumnes River Preserve–Galt, CA

Sunset on the hot California Delta

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