The winds are coming back to Casper. The gusts rush through the cracks of my ranch house in the early hours of the morning. The temperature is falling steadily: biking to work is ever more harrowing. There can be no denial: Winter is coming; seasonal work is petering out, and my time at the BLM is no more.
My last weeks at the BLM office were consumed by the less glamorous, but still important task of organizing and entering data. All of the 80 springs my co-intern and I documented needed to have folders made with maps, photographs, and water quality data. We also uploaded the spring data into a GIS database, which Shane and the range team will use to decide which springs need attention first. Of the 80 springs we visited, only three were non-functioning. To fix the riparian systems, the range team will coordinate restoration work with the lessee. Most often this will mean altering the time at which the rancher has cows on the pasture, and possibly building an exclosure fence to allow the spring time to heal.
The BLM processes a lot of paperwork. A LOT. So much so that after contributing our fair share of new files, we got to box and store thousands of old files and recycle garbage bags full of unnecessary copies.
After completing our last task at the BLM it’s time to say goodbye to Casper. I leave the CLM program with a profound appreciation for 4 wheel drive vehicles, and for all of the men and women in the resource department of the Casper Field Office. Thanks to them, and especially to my mentor Shane, I now have a much better grasp of what it means to “manage land.” And as the winds pick up in Casper, I travel eastward, to my home land.