Thanks for the Memories Nevada

As my internship comes to close this month I can’t help but feel fortunate for all I have seen and learned throughout my five months in Nevada. When I made the decision to move across the country for this position, I had no idea that it would entirely shift where I intend to take my career and the direction I wish to move in professionally.

Not only did my internship allow me to hone in on my technical and communication skills, but it has also opened up my eyes to see the need for native plant materials development in the Great Basin and elsewhere. I had the unique opportunity to participate in a collaborative native plant materials development program between the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Great Basin Institute, and Chicago Botanic Gardens! At the very least, this partnership has shown me the strength in collaboration and how much can be learned + accomplished through widespread stakeholder participation. Our approaches to conservation and land management become all the more powerful with diverse entities working towards a common goal!

My responsibilities have largely involved monitoring native plant populations throughout Nevada and making seed collections from native target species using the BLM’s Seeds of Success protocol. The larger collections my field partner and I collected will be used for restoration purposes in the Great Basin while our smaller collections will be used for research purposes to establish empirical seed zones for native Great Basin forbs. Empirical seed zones are delineated based upon the genetic diversity of populations and the various environmental + climatic variables that influence them. Different regions contain populations with similar environmental influences (i.e. aridity, fire regimes) and therefore, genetic make-up. These correlations are then used to delineate zones to aid in the effort to provide regionally appropriate seed in areas for restoration. So when an area in the Great Basin burns we can provide seed that has the genetic makeup best suited and able to adapt to the local environmental conditions. Which saves government time and resources overall!

Participating in this program has been life-changing for me. I strongly believe in the mission of Seeds of Success, a national program spearheading the development of native plant materials to be used for restoration to enhance ecosystem resilience and conserve the genetic diversity of our native plants. I intend to take all I have learned here to help implement these ideas in other areas across the country in need of regionally-appropriate native plant materials. As climate change threatens the resilience of ecosystems across the globe, the need for improving native plant diversity and the genetic diversity of populations is crucial.

Overall, I am so fortunate to have received this opportunity to work with CBG and the USFS in Sparks, NV. This has been one of the greatest professional development opportunities I have received and has been monumental in helping me on my path as an early-career scientist. I would recommend all recent graduates considering a career in natural resources to look into the Conservation Land Management program with CBG. I will carry all I have learned in this internship with me forever and look forward to future opportunities to apply what I have learned!

Thank you CLM and thank you Nevada! That’s a wrap!

Setting the S(t)age

Smokey Bear is a timeless figure none of us dare challenge. If we’re being honest, there isn’t single bear we would challenge. Throughout the decades we’ve all have that furry, clawed finger sternly shook in our direction. “Only You”… A simple phrase consisting of only a few words forever ring unwavering in the ears of all enjoying a trip into the wilderness. At least it should.

The Deschutes National Forest suffered an, thankfully relatively minor, incident from a lingering campfire that decided to take an early morning stroll in the woods. The consequence – acres, and acres of land left flattened, barren, and blackened. That furry pointing finger would promptly turn into a forceful throttle if the culprits responsible were discovered. It’s understood that accidents do occur, but due to unpredictable environmental conditions we see out of our windows today, the stakes are too high for any fault.

However! A disturbance, depending on how you look at it, is an opportunity to set a new foundation.

The acres lost, enjoyed by a variety of wildlife, particularly Sage Grouse, displaced their habitat. The burn returned nutrients to the soil, yes, but when native species are faced with invasives that don’t play by the rules, open fertile soil is seized before they can wrap their roots around it. In a game of Risk, Sage would have no means of defense. No lucky roll of the dice would thwart the efforts of the lawless invasive shrubs, and grasses. In other words, no real hope.

…That was until we came along.

Although my time at the Bend Seed Extractory is satisfyingly spent testing the various lots of seeds coming in, a change of pace is refreshing for anyone. Planting sage plugs to restore Sage Grouse habitat was an effort that needed no convincing. We were absolutely up for it. We packed our shovels, our lunches, and headed out with the district botanist.

Below are a few photos of our time spent out in the fields. The dust was in no short supply, and the sun may have been persistent in a cloudless sky, but we couldn’t have asked for more ideal high-desert Fall days.

(Not pictured: The ~2,000 plugs planted!)

So although we may not be present to see the results of our efforts, we left confident that they would not go unrewarded. I guess I’m slightly expecting an ice cream or something from Smokey.

From the Bend Seed Extractory
Corey Skeens

Boise Adventures!

As you all probably know, CLM interns are funded to go to a conference at the Chicago Botanical Gardens for a week. However, if you are like me and start your internship late and not in the summer months and miss this conference, take heart, there is additional funding available to go to a conference of your choice as long as it relates to your internship (phew). Therefore, hence the title, I am using this blog post to inform you about the conference I recently attended in Boise, Idaho!

I attended the Intermountain Plant Summit conference held at Boise State University this November. This was a three day long conference filled with speakers, poster presentations, and ended with a happy hour at a brewery! There were numerous interesting talks; however, the one I found most interesting was about gum weed. A plant most think of as a weed (obviously) and undesirable. However, someone (I can’t remember his name, eek), suggested gum weed be used for roadside regeneration. This is because it is for more fire tolerant than species such as cheatgrass and can outcompete species such as this. It was very interesting to hear someone take on a whole new perspective on a plant that most people had accepted as being a nuisance.

In addition, my manager at the Seed Extractory gave me and my fellow CLM intern a poster to present at the poster session. We got to present a poster containing a summary of the work we do at the Bend Seed Extractory and the steps it takes to clean seed.

Also, (because we have the best manager ever), we got to visit Lucky Peak Nursery. It’s right outside of the city and in a beautiful location. We received a full tour from staff on site and even got to see their smaller scale extractory in the basement of the Nursery.

All and all, this conference was a great learning experience and a chance to explore more out west! So, if you miss the Chicago conference take advantage of this funding!!

Bye

I’ve had a wonderful experience as a CLM intern here in Rawlins, Wyoming. I would like to thanks my mentor Frank Blomquist, my Seeds of Success partner Sydney, all of my coworkers here in Rawlins, Chris and Krissa in Chicago, and Leah in D.C. My experience would not have been possible without them.

I would like to include some notes for next year’s Rawlins interns:

  • Join the softball team (Talk to J.W. Martin for details)
  • The Peppermill has the following deals:
    • 50 cent wing on Wednesday
    • 50 cent draft on Thursday

The following song quotes have been especially inspirational during my time as an intern:

  • “You only need one chain, unless you’re two chains, then you can have two chains; but not more than that” (Hannibal Buress “Hannibal Interlude” Lil Dicky Professional Rapper 2015).

The above lyric emphasizes the importance of being content with what you have. This message resonated with me while I was living in government housing in rural Wyoming. I spent some of the best months of my life living in a double wide trailer with as many as 9 roommates.

  • “Nothing like crying in a Subaru Crosstrek, life is an abyss half-filled with sadness” (Hobo Johnson “Subaru Crosstrek XV” The Fall of Hobo Johnson 2019).

This lyric relates more to the Buddhist tenant that, “Life is suffering.” One has to accept this as truth to move forward on the path to Nirvana. However, having a brand new Subaru Crosstrek XV makes life a lot more comfortable.

  • “Do you remember how when you were younger the summers all lasted forever?” (Chance the Rapper and Death Cab for Cutie, “Do You Remember” The Big Day 2019).

I recently read Ray Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine (Doubleday 1957). One chapter concludes with the point that the present is eternal, in other words the summer does last forever. I have always been 22 years old and I always will be. A different person, who may share my name and some things in common with me, will be (knock on wood) an old man one day. A different person altogether was once a cute little baby (with a neck as soft as the suspension on the all new Subaru Crosstrek XV).

            I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have had to work as CLM intern here in Rawlins, WY. I believe that my future self will be better for the experience.\

Cheers,

Zeke Zelman

Leaving Lander

Fall has arrived. The trees lose their leaves, outdoor activities die down, and the vitality of summer begins to fade. It seems like a fitting time for my internship to end. Like many endings, this one is bittersweet. In less than two weeks I’ll be leaving the charming town of Lander, Wyoming to make the long haul back to Cleveland, Ohio. I am excited to see family, and friends, and to move on to something new. Despite the stigma that has stuck with Cleveland since the Cuyahoga River caught fire…multiple times, it is a pretty great place (the watershed is much cleaner now). Anyway, I will certainly miss Lander. There are many places that I would feel some resistance to leaving after five months of creating memories, and building bonds, but Lander will always be special to me. As I first set eyes upon this storybook small town I felt a nostalgic, comforting warmth sprout inside of me. A handful of old buildings, historic landmarks, and a view of the Wind River Mountains provide the town with an unnecessary, yet welcomed boost in charisma. The weathered and wild appearance instill a sense of wonder about the events; proud and profoundly sad, that have shaped this place. Lander has just enough people to have a “Main Street”, a small strip of downtown. Most businesses, a few restaurants and bars, and a movie theater provide just enough excitement to pull people out of their cozy living rooms when the weather is not cooperating, or the vast swath of natural beauty that extends for miles beyond the town in all directions when sunshine is infinite.

It was surprising to me how outdoorsy a community of people can be. In the months when there’s not too much snow to leave your house, most people use their free time for camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, biking, and in the fall, hunting season begins. I consider myself a somewhat adventurous, nature-loving person, but the people in Lander are on a different level. If the weather is nice, it can be assumed that everyone is outside. Some indoor activities cease to exist in the summer. Businesses even shorten their hours to accommodate for the lack of…business. Bar trivia no longer exists, an evening yoga class is nowhere in sight, and one gym that I looked into joining closed at 7pm on weekdays and was closed for the weekends – summer hours. It seems like even after a long day of work, people just want to ride their bikes or hangout up in the mountains.

While I feel like a sloth compared to the people here, I am definitely going to miss all of the opportunities that the landscape has to offer. Granted, the winters are long and cold in Wyoming (maybe that’s why people are so active when they can be), the majesty of nature has no rival anywhere near Cleveland. Sinks Canyon State Park, only a 10 minute drive away, would be a gem in Cleveland. In Wyoming it’s just a drop in the bucket of magnificent landscapes. I will long for this wild land, and the sense of freedom it provides. If I want to get away from people, all I need to do is drive out of town. In 5 minutes I’ll see sagebrush, open land, blue skies and maybe some pronghorn; a landscape that immediately puts me at ease. Once I leave here, I won’t be able to wake up, and on a whim, drive to see the vivid colors of fall beneath the awe-inspiring snow caps of the Tetons. Even if a hike here fails to provide a moose, or bear sighting, the chance to walk amid these beautiful mountains makes the day an unfaltering success. The wonders are not limited to Wyoming. A long weekend makes a good time to trek to the bordering states of Utah, Colorado, Montana and Idaho (There’s a lot more to Idaho than just potatoes). Even before I came to Wyoming, the forested parks in Cleveland occasionally provided a peaceful retreat from the stresses of life, but I was never really drawn to them. I fear that living surrounded by the picturesque lands of Wyoming has created something in me that will leave a void once I depart.

All in all, I had a great experience in Lander. I learned a great deal about range land management, the ecology of South-Central Wyoming, and Wyoming in general. My position as Range Monitoring Intern pushed me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to a new realm of natural wonders, people, and experiences. I would recommend this experience to most people, regardless of their background. I’ve gotten to know myself better, and feel as though I have lived life right for the past 5 months.

helloooo utah!!

We finally made it to Utah! Flaming Gorge Reservoir had been on my bucket list since I moved out here, so Johnny and I drove the 3 hours to visit a few weekends ago. By the time we got to the reservoir, it was getting dark so we only got to stop at one overlook at first. After watching an incredible sunset, we made our way down the East side looking for a campsite. But, like we kept finding in the Grand Tetons, most of the campgrounds were closed. We drove to a few before finding Dripping Springs Campground. It had just gotten completely dark by the time we arrived — we were so thankful that we found this place! We had no idea what the landscape really looked like until we woke up. Quiet, cold, but beautiful scenery surrounded us, and only got better as we made our way out of the campground that morning. We were ready to explore.

The beautiful sunset we watched at Little Firehole Overlook, just inside Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The landscape we woke up to Sunday morning at Dripping Springs Campground.

We drove down to see the Flaming Gorge Dam next, and were super impressed by its size. It stands 502 feet high and is a major source of water and hydroelectricity — water flows out of it at speeds up to 28,800 cubic feet per second. Thats over 215,400 gallons…

A view from the top of the dam. I loved how the bright yellow rabbitbrush contrasted with the dark colors behind it.
502 feet up, the gorge looked massive.
A view of the entire wall of Flaming Gorge Reservoir’s dam. Look at all those fall colors on the mountain!

Our next stop was at the Red Canyon Visitor Center. I had looked up this beautiful overlook online, and thought that Johnny and I were going to have to hike over 9 miles to get to it. Turned out, there was a huge parking lot and a short paved path that went directly to it. 🙂

The view I had been waiting for, Red Canyon! This was definitely my favorite spot we stopped at that weekend.
On the other side of the canyon, a cloud of smoke hung over the trees all day. It was all from fire crews that were doing prescribed burns around the South side of the gorge that day.

Once we got our photos of Red Canyon, we made our way to Ute Mountain Fire Lookout Tower on a whim. After what seemed like forever, we made it to the top of Ute Mountain only to find a closed lookout tower. (: We still don’t know why it was locked up, and were a bit disappointed. Apparently at the top of the tower, you get a 360 view of Ashley National Forest. Maybe next time.

On our way up to Ute Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, I looked out into the aspen trees, only to find that they were looking back. 😉
Ute Mountain Fire Lookout Tower — “Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937, this historic tower remains in use as a fire lookout interpretive site. Elevation 8,834 ft. Ashley National Forest”

We then drove towards Sheep Creek Geological Loop in the Southwest corner of Flaming Gorge. This small loop travels through the Uinta Mountains, and was our last adventure in Utah. On the route, you can see the Uinta Fault and some really impressive rock structures that have resulted from the split.

A very interesting mountain we saw on our way to the Sheep Creek Geological Loop.
Tower Rock. This was my favorite rock structure we saw through the loop. I loved how the aspens were still in full fall color just beneath it!
The unexpected musk ox? we saw on our way out of the Sheep Creek loop. I think this was my first time ever seeing this animal. This large, shaggy, mammal can be a used as a type of livestock for some families; it produces wool, meat, horns, and pelts.
Another incredible view we saw of Eastern Utah, just before leaving the state.

On our way back North to Wyoming, I still had a few stops in mind that I hadn’t made it to yet. Between Rock Springs and Lander, we took some sketchy dirt roads and two tracks to find the Killpecker Sand Dunes, and Boar’s Tusk.

The giant sand dunes in Sweetwater County, WY. Nearby, there was a huge spot designated for overnight camping and parking. The dunes are a popular spot for ATVs and dirt bikes to traverse through, it sounded like so much fun!
Boar’s Tusk. This is the 400 foot core of a dormant volcano. It is made of an uncommon volcanic rock called lamproite, and dates back 2.5 million years ago.

I loved Utah, and luckily, this was just the start of our adventures in the state. A couple of weeks later, we went back to see the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats. That will be in an upcoming blog post. 🙂 I have about three weeks left here, and am feeling the time crunch more and more. There are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my list, and picking and choosing between sites is the hardest thing! I have become so thankful that Lander is so central though. It has really been a great, convenient location for all of our weekend adventures. Until next time. 🙂

November (The end)

The last two weeks of my internship out in Wyoming began with a road trip to Kansas. Me, my mentor, and a co-worker were headed to the Kansas Herpetological Societies annual meeting where I would be giving a presentation on the herpetofauna research I have been assisting with this field season (read my previous blog posts if you’d like to know more on the project). My presentation went well and the other presentations were informative and interesting. Getting to meet Herpetologists from around the states was a great and interesting opportunity and I am thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to attend the meeting.

Big horn Sheep near Seminoe Reservoir

The last couple days of my internship were spent mostly tying up lose ends and finishing data entry. I’ve come to love the topography and openness of the Wyoming landscape. I’ve also made some unforgettable friends over the past seven months. Rawlins is a small vagrant town and the social opportunities are minimal but the friends and connections that I made in the town make living here more than bearable. I gained many experiences this summer that will assist me in furthering my career in wildlife conservation and I will always be grateful for my time spent out in Rawlins and the opportunities that I have had. However it seems my time here in Rawlins hasn’t yet met its end. I will be staying at the field office to help our weeds specialist over the winter and I am very excited for this new experience. I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for the Conservation and Land Management Program and I appreciate them for assisting me in furthering my career.

Dome Rock

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun” – Into the Wild

Keri-BLM-RFO

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)

Until next time West Virginia

Reflecting on the past six months is something that has been on my mind a lot as my internship comes to an end.  In June I moved to West Virginia, a state I had only previously driven through, full of excitement to be living in the mountains but reservations as to what it would be like living and working in a new place with people I had never met.

Any worries I had soon disappeared as I was lucky enough to be based out of the Marlinton Ranger Station, the best office on the MON.  My mentor worked to get my co-intern and I to experience many different types of work that occurs on the forest. I got to assist with rare plant monitoring, botany and Non-native Invasive Species (NNIS) surveys, stream surveys, and seed collection to name a few of the opportunities!  These experiences took me to every corner of the forest and allowed me to work with individuals from other organizations and from other parts of the Forest Service.

My time outside of the office was filled with adventures around the forest with my coworkers and good friends. From floating the river to blueberry picking to caving to sitting around a fire and stargazing, there was never a dull moment!

As I prepare to move on to my next adventure I will treasure the experiences I have had, knowledge I have gained and the friends I have made down on the Monongahela National Forest where the country roads are my home.

Abbie Zastawny

USFS-Marlinton Ranger Station

October

Searching for rattlesnake den sites across from Whiskey Gap

October started off with our last round of herptile trapping for the season. Normally we wouldn’t have trapped in October as conditions are usually unfavorable however, as we did not have the opportunity to trap in June due to a delay in funding we decided to take our chances. We only trapped for eight days instead of the usually ten due to poor forecasts in the weather and definitely saw a decrease in captures with the cold change in temperatures. We caught a handful of mammals but only two young garter snakes for herptiles. Two bullsnakes were caught basking on the roads but, as they were not near our trap sites, they did not count in our data.

Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

The rest of the month was spent mainly on analyzing the data that was collected over the past three field seasons, starting when the project began. The main goal of the project was to determine species presence for the region with the secondary goal being to compare abundance and diversity between our grazed and ungrazed sites.

badger spotted near one of our trapping locations

During the 2019 field season we had 4,255 traps nights capturing 51 individuals with a total of 6 recaptures. As for the overall study there were 13,982 traps nights with 169 herptile individuals captured and 20 total recaptures. The vast majority of the captures were wandering garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) with 31% of the garter snakes being young of the year. Herptile species detected included wandering garter snakes, bullsnakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi), prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis), yellow-bellied racers (Coluber constrictor), greater short-horned lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi), northern sagebrush lizards (Sceloporus graciosus), northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipens), and the western tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium).

Crew that went spelunking in cave creek cave to make sure it was empty before locking the gate for the season

As for comparing our grazed and ungrazed sites, we saw a slightly higher diversity in our ungrazed sites than within the grazed sites. This is likely due to the higher quality of riparian health within the exclosures then within the grazed sites, where the riparian areas are usually degraded by the cattle use. We also saw a higher abundance of northern leopard frogs and prairie rattlesnakes within the exclosures. Interestingly we saw a higher abundance of bullsnakes in our grazed sites. It is unclear as to why bullsnake abundance is higher in grazed sites but it is possible the difference is due to the small sample size and does not show any significant trends.

When the cows discover your trap sites. Luckily the traps were fixable!

Something interesting that we noticed while analyzing the data was that we had significantly less captures per trap night in 2018 than we did in 2017 or 2019. One factor we believe may have influenced this was precipitation. The winter of 2018, before they trapped that year, had approximately 50% below average precipitation for the season. This likely resulted in an increase is desiccation during hibernation for herptiles which in turn caused a spike in winter mortality rates that was then reflected in the decrease in captures for the 2018 field season. With only three years of data however it is important to note that this is mostly just speculation, we would need to continue trapping in the Ferris Mountain region to gather long term data that we could then use to determine significant trends.

Another Bullsnake 😛

The plan for this project in the following years is to leave the Ferris Mountain area and begin trapping in new locations. The Rawlins field office encompass over 3.5 million acres of public land and little herpetofauna work has been done within this area. Moving the trap sites to a new area will allow for the opportunity to learn more about Wyoming’s herpetofauna which in turn can help inform better management decisions within our field office. However if funding and resources are available, hopefully trapping can continue in the Ferris Mountain region so long term data can be collected. Additionally, it is suspected that if we create new trap sites at higher elevations on the Ferris Mountain range we may find new or different compositions of species. Hopefully the BLM will continue to get funding to develop projects that improve imperative wildlife management decisions across public lands.

On top of old Ferris, all covered in snow

Keri – BLM – RFO

There and back again, an intern’s tale

Far over the Bighorn Mountains cold,
To canyons deep and forests old
We must away ere break of day
To find our long forgotten goals.

The pines were roaring on the heights
The winds were moaning in the night
The snow was wet, its flurry spread
The trees like beacons shone with light
(-The Hobbit, sort of)

Bighorn Mountains

Winter in Wyoming started October 1st with the first of many snowfalls. The trees experienced one blast of the icy cold and decided immediate leaf abscission was their only path forward. On multiple occasions I have been foiled going to work by ice on the hilly roads between my apartment and the office, and “oh look, the high is 5 degrees” has been a sad and somewhat frequent lamentation by my coworkers. But for all this, I will always remember my time in Wyoming for its beauty, absurdity, and the wonderful opportunities I had while working at the Buffalo BLM.

Snow on October 1st

I was able to take plenty of trainings and develop many professional skills while in Wyoming. In my very first week, I learned “Defensive Driving” (and consequently how to drive a pickup truck) and was able to take an awesome NOLS wilderness medicine course through the BLM. A very long day was devoted to driving a UTV and countless online courses gave me proficiency in writing government documents such as NEPA, Visual Resource Management, and Statements of Work. I was also extremely fortunate to work with Buffalo’s hydrologist on the early stages of a river restoration project. This opened up an entire new knowledge set for me regarding fluid dynamics, elevation measurements via laser, river terms, and just being able to slog through the river in waders to collect various kinds of data. That in particular was an awesome project that I am proud to have been a part of.

There were always little moments of delight at work. Sometimes, especially in the colder months, someone would put out a jigsaw puzzle in the break room. As puzzle enthusiast, I would always take my lunches (when I was not in the field) to work on these. There were a few of us for whom this pastime was perfect, and so a little community of puzzlers formed, people with whom you would chat and eat while plopping pieces into place. Or when it got closer to Halloween, being able to take a break after finishing an office task by cutting out a construction paper bat or meandering through the halls to see the decorations in all of the different departments. This particular joy culminated in a morning of preschooler trick or treaters in the office, whom I was lucky enough to lead through the various rooms on their hunt for candy and stickers.

Our office, decorated for Halloween and kiddo trick or treaters

Professionally, my most rewarding moments were working with kids. Every time I was able to work with kids as the rec intern (which was actually fairly often) I was ecstatic. We did camps and lessons for kids ranging 6 through 16 over the course of the internship. Flower dissections with elementary and middle school students resulted in ripped up pieces of flowers everywhere while students systematically went through and described what they were seeing to me and to each other. A pollination game with first graders lead to conversations about how there are so many things that make it difficult for trees to successfully reproduce, from pollinators to weather conditions. A game focused on public lands use saw beads all over the floor and 4th grade students super excited to use their public lands passes to explore. Each of these experiences once again showed me that the work we were doing, educating the public from a young age about nature and keeping our lands safe, could really make a difference for the next generation of nature lovers and users. It also showed me that you are what you teach. Once, a few weeks after a day of educating 8th grade students about plants at a nearby campsite, I was walking through town and a few students stopped me by saying “hey, I know you! You’re the plant lady!” I think I can safely say being the one and only “plant lady” may be the highlight of my career thus far.

One thing that I did find lacking in this internship was the chances for scientific data collection and engagement. As the rec intern, there was not much need for me to collect data, beyond shuttling the traffic counters with a special tool to amass data on rec site use. I began to keenly feel this lack of science a few months into the internship, and think future interns should be aware that this job is much more focused on the physical aspects of land management (fixing fences, putting up signs, interacting with land owners) than the science that informs these management decisions. Thankfully I joined the hydrology project and spent several weeks back in my element of data collection and analysis. But without this project, this internship would have felt somewhat incomplete. In the end, perhaps this was all a good thing – I now know for certain that I do want to return to the world of academic science, at least for a time, to focus on the science helping to inform land management for the next generation of BLM policies.  

One of the many cool sunrises seen from the BLM parking lot

 During my second week, I was sent out to the Outlaw Cave campground at Middle Fork to pick up trash and do general site maintenance. The campground is located on the edge of a breathtaking canyon. As soon as I got out of the truck, I knew that if trash cleanup on this job meant visiting one of the most beautiful places in Wyoming, then I was set for this internship. During my last week, I revisited the canyon as part of a sagebrush planting crew. This time, covered with snow, the trees standing out starkly against the white of the canyon slopes, I was able to look across this view and say goodbye to this beautiful scene, this wide open place, and all of the people who helped fill my time in Wyoming with stories.

Rec Intern, Buffalo BLM