The Beginning of Summer on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Lemhi range in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

After a long winter, I was feeling very ready to get back out into the field and eager to start my new position, Conservation and Land Management Intern. I enjoy telling people my temporary new title; it has a ring to it and it leaves a lot up to interpretation. 

My expectations for what this position would entail were the duties involved in native seed collection of which I am fairly familiar having been a Seeds of Success field technician the previous summer. I also had a vague understanding that I would have opportunities to work on other projects as need arose and time allowed. This balance of continuing to put to use skills I’ve previously learned while  at the same time continuing to learn and grow my botany and ecology skills is exactly what I was most looking forward to about this job.

In early June, as I drove north on my move from Utah to Idaho I was struck by how green everything was. It was an unusually long winter with a lot of snow and an unusually rainy spring. This seemed to be a good sign for our future seed collections.

My first day in the new office, I walked around with my new supervisor Rose, the only botanist on the Caribou-Targhee, as she introduced me to a lot of people in our interagency office whose names I’m still trying to learn. Our last stop was to meet my beaming and genial co-intern Alyssa. Alyssa then continued to introduce me to more people around the office but this time I was meeting people as friends rather than just as coworkers. 

With this, the tone for my time in Idaho Falls was set. I’ve made lovely friends who I get to explore my new home with both inside and outside of work. I’ve been learning so many things that I had expected to learn like the plants of the Caribou-Targhee, botany field skills, and most notably, about how the forest service operates and what it is like to be a forest service employee. It has made federal employment seem like less of an enigma and feel more attainable. I’ve also gotten to go out on various projects that I hadn’t expected and have come as a pleasant surprise including Goshawk surveying, soil pit surveying, doing burn pile rehab, and participating in horsemanship training. 

We learned to get a horse ready to ride and how to pack a mule during horsemanship training.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the field season. I’m looking forward to watching the season progress throughout the forest, to seeing the native plants go through their phenological phases, to tracking our target species until their seeds are ready for collection, to making collections, and to working on various other projects to help the forest and to continue to gain exposure to how different resources on the forest are managed. 

Burn pile rehab involved planting native plants from the surrounding areas in the burned area and introducing nearby organic matter back into the area.