Day 3: Morale is high! It is still raining.
After driving 2,400 miles last week from North Carolina to Idaho Falls, Idaho… we have finally started the field season here in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest! I began my position as Botany/Seeds of Success Intern only three days ago with another CLM Intern, Olivia Turner. The first few days have been filled with orientation, bear safety training, indicator species, gypsy moth trap placement, and briefing about our work with the Seeds of Success (SOS) and Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS). Even though there are only 30 hours under my belt, I could not be more excited to see what unfolds next. Eastern Idaho could not be anymore beautiful. It is filled with colorful rolling mountains and is surrounded completely by the large snowy peaks of both the Lemhi and Teton range.
Left: Mahonia repens (Oregon grape); right: Lithospermum ruderale (Stoneseed).
Yesterday, we were able to explore just the outskirts of this massive 3+ million acre forest and began learning more about our specific SOS species which are: Balsamorhiza sagittata, Erigeron pumilis, Phacelia hastata, and Sphaeralcea spp. These are considered to be target native species. To better understand species density throughout the forest, we will be responsible for population mapping, seed collecting, herbarium vouchers, and phenology monitoring.
After an incredibly beautiful hike outside of Pocatello, we were able to meet with a pest survey coordinator from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to be trained on the mapping and placement of gypsy moth traps. The state is looking for both European and Asian gypsy moths due to their ability to severely defoliate a given tree or shrub species to the extent that the species can die. Below, is an example of the specific traps used in this research. Olivia and I are now responsible to place over 200 traps in hopes to capture some of these gnarly invasive insects and contribute to the ongoing population mapping of the species. To learn more about this research, visit https://www.idl.idaho.gov/forestry/forest-health/gypsy-moth-faq.pdf.
Additionally, with an indicator species training in the future, we were able to spend time shifting through the herbarium at the Caribou-Targhee National Forest office (see images below). We organized 45 different native shrubs, forbs, and graminoids. This was such an incredible opportunity to further understand the botanical diversity here in the Intermountain Region. Not to mention, the herbarium here at the supervisors office is something to be amazed by. The oldest specimen we have found so far dated back to 1912!
This week has given wonderful insight of what this internships has to offer. I look forward to learning more everyday while I am out here!
SOS Intern, Caribou-Targhee National Forest