Hard Work Meets Good Luck, Eerie Aspens, and the Alpaca that Stole my Heart

Hey everyone!

Things are looking up for us meeting our target number of collections. We’ve made 10 collections in the last three weeks, 8 of those in the month of September! These last several weeks have been our best yet as far as making collections and covering a lot of ground while scouting goes.

Our situation wasn’t looking too good a week ago with regards to meeting our target collection goal. We had only 16 of the 35 collections that we needed. Our saving grace came in the form of the 10 collections we were able to claim that the SOS crew made last October (technically in the current fiscal year) and the 6 that we were able to make this last week in the Carson National Forest northwest of San Antonio Mountain.

We made a collection of Heterotheca villosa on this hillside. The valley was so beautiful that it didn’t look real. This picture doesn’t do it the justice that it deserves.

We drove through a beautiful aspen forest in the Carson National Forest near San Antonio Mt. I didn’t realize that New Mexico had aspen forests, so I was very pleasantly surprised!

I thought the aspen forests were gorgeous, but I must admit that they gave me a bit of an eerie unsettled feeling with their silent uniformity.

Cryptic messages like this one didn’t do much to settle my uneasiness as we were scouting.

One of the big things that has helped us out is that some of the populations that we’ve been finding are finally mature and ready to collect. We’ve been having a bit of a problem with only being able to find populations that are either past seed or not yet mature. Luck was definitely on our side this last week. In addition, employing some of Ella’s techniques that we picked up on last month has helped us as well. We’ve been covering more ground with scouting, and have even done a couple of camping trips. Spending one day a week in the office has helped us keep up with data sheets and make organized weekly plans.

On the first night of our camping trip, we stayed by a small lake and were treated to this lovely view just after sunrise.

Our tent bathed in ascetically pleasing early morning light

In the last month, we’ve found some sizable populations of species on our target list that will make good collections when their seeds mature in October. Specifically, we have found tons of Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama), Krascheninnikovia (Winterfat), and some Atriplex canescens (Four-wing saltbush). I’m also excited that 4 of the 6 collections that we made last week were Heterotheca villosa, a priority species for the Southwestern Seed Partnership.

The lovely Heterotheca villosa with its puffballs of seeds that are so satisfying to pluck off the stem

Me collecting Heterotheca villosa

This weekend, I spent a couple of days at the New Mexico Native Plant Society conference. There were some interesting speakers, including Thor Hanson, the author of The Triumph of Seeds, who spoke passionately about the way that even though many people are more removed from nature than ever, seeds are still integrated into all parts of our lives if we only know where to look. It was also very interesting to see Lillis Urban, my supervisor, give a presentation on the Seeds of Success programs in Santa Fe and New Mexico. It was neat to hear about some of the programs that the seeds that we are collecting will go towards in the future. For example, there is a program just starting to try to get going in New Mexico where inmates in prisons will use our seeds to grow native plants in order to increase the amount of native seed available for use in restoration projects.

During one of the field trips for the conference, I fell in love with this alpaca. He was so fluffy and adorable!

As for the rest of the month, I’m looking forward to making the three collections needed to meet our target number, and hopefully many more! I really think we can finish out the collecting season strong!

Until next time,


Seeds of Success Intern

Taos, NM BLM Field Office

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