Seedlings, snow, and Santa Rita mountains! It’s been a busy month out here in the desert, planting thousands of delicate Joshua Tree seeds; I’ve been organizing, prepping petri plates, germinating, and finally gently nestling these fellas in the soil mixes I described last blog post. All in all, this process is fairly arduous and complex, but the seeds themselves make it a lot easier. As soon as they are set in a little pool of water, they suck it up rapidly and most start producing a root within 2-3 days! A couple weeks into this task, we already have many of our early planted trees starting to emerge with their bright green leaves above the surface. The goal of this planting is to have about 4 plants per genetic line in each of our 4 sites. Sadly, I will be wrapping up this internship before USGS plans to plant these seedings in the desert, but in the meantime I will continue to plant seeds, care for the seedings, and make sure everything stays organized!
Besides using my green thumb in the greenhouse and the usual Joshua Tree field work, I’ve also been asked to start helping with a couple projects. This week, I will be going into the field to help take cuttings of a desert shrub called Eriogonum fasciculatum. We will be taking branches and leaves from wild bushes in a bid to grow cuttings from them. Next post I will go into more depth with this project and the field work, along with whatever else interesting comes up!
Lastly, I took a trip down to the Santa Rita mountains in SE Arizona! These mountains are known as “sky islands” where interesting birds that wouldn’t be found elsewhere in the desert can be spotted. Below are some photos of things I saw in the area and on the way there and back! Until next time, thanks for reading!
There are two CLM interns here at the Safford, AZ BLM field office this Summer, myself and Rosalee. We will be working together on multiple projects for our two mentors, Heidi and Jeff. Between now and the July monsoon rains we will be working mostly with Heidi on native fish monitoring as well as some non-native fish removal in local stream, rivers, and pools. In the fall, we will switch gears and begin helping Jeff out and utilizing our Seeds of Success training as we aim to complete over 30 collections for the SOS program. In between these major projects, we will work on some restoration projects both here in the Safford area, and in the Patagonia, AZ area. Once construction is complete on the common greenhouse for the Safford BLM/Gila Watershed Partnership/Eastern Arizona College, we will also be helping out there with the propagation of native plants for various restoration projects. Additionally, when we are not in the field we will be completing data entry for both mentors and helping to create digital herbarium specimen for the BLM Office.
I can’t believe 3 weeks of the internship is already gone! It has been such a whirlwind! After arriving and moving into my housing on the 1st of May and settling in, work began on Monday May 6th. That first week was mostly paperwork, meetings and trainings, with a small amount of field work thrown in. For some reason I find it highly ironic that probably the only job for which I will ever have a cubicle, is for a field-work based internship! After our first Monday-Thursday, we then had Friday and Saturday off before we began our roadtrip up to Boise, ID for the Seeds of Success – Seed Collecting for Conservation and Restoration course. The training was very fun and informative and I had a great time. Idaho is a beautiful state with great people! Our third week was very fun. We caught up on reimbursement paperwork and surveys for our training courses as well as more data entry. Wednesday was extremely cool. We got to complete Utility Terrain Vehicle training and are now certified to drive UTVs!
I find that I am still just as excited about the vast number of learning opportunities this internship offers as when I signed on to come to Safford 3 months ago. I can’t wait to see how much more I can learn not only about the ecological communities in which I am working, but about the agency in which I work. I am definitely looking forward to the next 4 months! And now I am off to relax and explore the area during the long Memorial Day weekend!
What a wonderful time to be out in the Sonoran Desert. To have the opportunity to work for the Phoenix BLM is amazing. We currently are working with Sonoran Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassazii) within the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The field work is amazing and the desert is such a unique and diverse ecosystem. Our current monitoring techniques give us the opportunity to crawl into many unique rock formations with flashlights looking for these elusive desert creatures. It has been a great experience so far and I look forward to the opportunities that are ahead.