It’s not over yet!

Many things have happened since my last post in May, the highlight being that I have been extended for another two months! I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity. My supervisor has really gone out of his way to make this happen. I am being treated as if I were a full BLM employee, handed tasks that carry the responsibility and weight that comes with decision making. For example, due to an employee retirement, there was no one in the office who was familiar with writing a Rangeland Health Determination. I volunteered for the undertaking and finished the document almost single-handedly. I have also been assimilated into compiling three Environmental Assessments. I have never before worked somewhere where I felt so respected and appreciated for the quality of work that I produce. They are willing to invest in me and in return I am able to produce better quality work.

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The Deep Springs Resource Management Team meeting on site, where the cowboys tend the herd of cattle.

Aside from office work, I still manage to get a few field days in. The Ridgecrest Field Office is part of an interesting arrangement with a local farm/college, Deep Springs. Deep Springs’ ranching operations are supported by the Deep Springs Resource Management Team (DSRMT), which consists of representatives from the College and Trustees, BLM, Inyo National Forest, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The DSRMT meets bi-annually, collects and analyzes monitoring data on Deep Springs’ BLM and Forest Service grazing allotments, and participates in inter-agency coordination and planning to develop best management practices and to inform agency decision making processes. During the summer meeting in the beautiful White Mountains, Deep Springs was gracious enough to feed everyone great farm raised fresh food, we experienced a flash flood and also had amazing cooperation among the agencies. By hearing the concerns about an allotment from all agencies, I was able to experience the development of a very thorough land management plan. It almost made my head spin with how organized it was.  I really hope this inter-agency hands-on model spreads to more offices.


Some arrowheads found onsite while performing surveys of the pastures.

The farm fresh steaks, potatoes and corn provided by Deep Springs.

The farm fresh steaks, potatoes and corn provided by Deep Springs.

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The horses the cowboys use to manage the cattle. They forage in the same campsite with the cowboys after work is done. Cowboy life is a rare sight to see, and we were very lucky to be invited to be a part of it.

Cheers and happy botanizing.

Leah Madison

BLM, Ridgecrest CA

Transitioning from Seed Collecting to Other Projects

A rare find - Kelso Creek Monkeyflower.

A rare find – Kelso Creek Monkeyflower.

Another rare find - a flowering Cholla cactus.

Another rare find – a flowering Cholla cactus.

Hello again from Ridgecrest CA. As of this week I am entering the third month of my internship. It’s hard to believe. The last two months we have been rushing to gather as many collections as we could for the SOS program. The flowering season is very short in the Mojave, and there hasn’t been any more rain, so it looks as if we may be at the end of our seed collecting. Fortunately, we had more rain this season than any previous years for the SOS program in this area. To give an idea as to what that means in the desert, we have made 18 complete collections so far, whereas in the previous 5 years the average was 6 complete collections. None-the-less, we feel pretty good about being able to provide a good collecting season. We have 3 more months to collect – the hard part will be trying to find something that hasn’t dried up.

The DTRNA volunteers hard at work making a collection of California Poppy.

The DTRNA volunteers hard at work making a collection of California Poppy.

The collection site of California Poppy and Fremont's phacelia in full bloom.

The collection site of California Poppy and Fremont’s phacelia in full bloom.

The highlight this past month: I took it upon myself to work with the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area (DTRNA), an organization dedicated to protecting the Desert Tortoise, to organize future cooperation with the SOS program to provide seed for the DTRNA. I set up a training day in which the DTRNA joined us in the field collecting seeds. We taught them about the protocol, what we take into consideration, and how to identify the target collection. We made three complete collections in one day! It’s amazing how much can be done when you have a few extra hands. All of the details haven’t been worked out but I really hope that there will be a way to continue using volunteer help to collect seeds and use the extra for restoration purposes in this area. There has also been talk of another organization interested in doing the same thing. I am working with my mentor to figure out the best approach to accomplishing this. Jeff Gicklhorn has been a really supportive, patient, knowledgeable and (incredibly) nice mentor.

One of the great things about the position in Ridgecrest is that the office is very supportive of taking advantage of the learning opportunities through the BLM. This week I am participating in NISIMS (National Invasive Species Information Monitoring System) training, and next week we will be traveling to Las Vegas for a NEPA class. This month is basically already booked full!


Leah Madison

Ridgecrest California BLM Field Office