I almost cried when I saw the mountains again, I was so happy. Driving west from Chicago I wondered what my internship would be like at the BLM Colorado State Office in Denver, CO. Although I have spent a lot of time doing field work between undergrad and my graduate degrees, I had little experience with Rare Plant Monitoring, which is the focus of my internship.
Monday morning I met the team I will be working with and I remembered how amazing everyone is in this field. By Tuesday we were headed out to the four corners regions to monitor Oreocarya revealii, a fairly recently described species. It was exciting to read about all the research that informed our monitoring efforts, from genetic studies to research concerning edaphic habits. The methods used to understand this species were ones that I learned about in my graduate coursework, so I was quite pleased that the knowledge I gained in school was carrying over to work. While O. revealii is considered BLM Sensitive, it is still being determined whether it should be listed as threatened or perhaps even endangered. This is where our team’s efforts come in. By studying the demographics of the species over time, we can help inform the US Fish and Wildlife Service about how this plant is doing. Is the population increasing? Or decreasing? Or is it remaining stable? What threats might endanger the species and can these be abated?
After spending a couple days with my mentor Carol, and the rest of the team, Phil and Sam, I know this will be an awesome summer. I am so happy to be able to work with such amazing people doing amazing work!