Peace in the desert

One of the most remote areas we work in, called Beatty’s Butte, is about 100 miles Northeast of our office, and almost completely outside of our county. Next to this 6800 ft. peak lie a few surrounding buttes and hills, calmly rolling and looking like green-grey velvet in the dry sun. One of these, aptly named Mahogany Butte, is just like the others except for certain things that live on the very top. As we climbed the steep slope, we entered an old-growth Mountain Mahogany forest. There we found a rare combination of shade and abundant seeds for collection. The seeds were itchy and beautiful. The tiny hairs on the long, wind-adapted spirals irritated our wimpy human skin. The view was 360 degrees of amazing. The ecology of Mountain Mahogany is mysterious, and why it colonizes certain tiny sections of the landscape is debated. As a general rule, they grow in the few high-ish elevation spots where moisture is found, but on the very top of this steep butte it seemed unlikely that this was the characteristic defining their recruitment. Just one of many undefined desert mysteries, but maybe my favorite.

Lisa, Lakeview District BLM

Itchy, beautiful, and amazingly engineered

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