After 2 weeks with the Bureau of Land Management, everything still feels new and exciting. I, alongside 3 other CLM interns, am surveying for Lepidium papilliferum, or LEPA in Southern Idaho. LEPA is a highly threatened species of the mustard family endemic to “slickspots,” smooth cryptobiotic crusts that exclude most other species. The work we do helps inform a management plan to preserve LEPA, which feels important and relevant given its scarcity.
Coming from California, the sheer scale of the seemingly endless sagebrush steppe ecosystem catches me off guard every day I’m out there. The other interns and I spend the day “walking lines” on the lookout for slickspots and LEPA under the big Idaho sky. When weather is poor and we would damage slickspots, we also assist with other projects, such as wetland delineation, sample preparation, and road surveying. Soon, however, Idaho summer will start in earnest, bringing only hot sun and hundred degree heat and a whole new set of challenges to our studies.
I have been lucky enough to get to work with an amazing crew. The office has a fantastic employee culture, interactions are relaxed and fun, and most importantly, everyone working there is an expert in their field. I have already learned volumes just by sharing space with such great minds. In my time here, I hope to pick up lots of botanical knowledge as well as a better understanding of public land management procedures from continued exposure. Our immediate team is also fantastic. Due to the size of the area we work in, we spend a great deal of time in the truck together, and thankfully we are all very compatible. I am already learning a great deal about birding, wildlife, and music just by spending so much time with an interesting group.
As it takes so long to get to our field site, we have been working 10 hour days starting at 6 am to maximize the time we can spend there. This has been a pretty hard adjustment for us all, but really maximizes the amount of work that we can get done in a day. Another upside is that we now have 3 day weekends, which we can use to explore the area in more depth.
Long story short: the area is great, the position is great, and the people are great! Check in again to keep up with my adventures!