Powering the world over
Clockwork of nature
Ocean of Sagebrush
Long days spent searching for nests
Scour for ticks, sleep easy
Flying to Chitown
Humidity gone unmissed
New faces, fun times
Teaching youth science
Maps and orienteering
Sick a day later
One monitor, slow progress
Plenty of work left.
We have moved on from revisiting rare plant sites to check on rare plant populations to revisiting rare plant sites to collect data on woody tree and shrub cover! This is part of the project that will help me earn my M.S. from the internship-based Master’s program at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. My project is looking at the tree and shrub cover at Fritillaria gentneri (FRGE) sites and what plant associations make for the best FRGE habitats. It will also compare data collected in the field for tree and shrub cover to cover data collected using remote sensing.
This project also means that we are going back to many FRGE sites that we had previously visited during the internship. This seems like a silly concept at first, but it is definitely necessary. While we no longer can see the beautiful Gentner’s lillies, the trees and shrubs are still around to collect data on.
While working on this project, Lillie and I have enjoyed getting the chance to work a lot more with ArcGIS for gathering and analyzing data. We have also had to search through large cabinets filled with files for rare plant site forms with some of the necessary cover data, which we have enjoyed slightly less. The cover data is starting to come together from several sources, and it is exciting to see the progress that we have made.
In the field, the changes from the beginning of my internship to now are very noticeable. The air is hot and dry. Many plants have passed and the environment in many places appears a dead shade of brown. But there is still much beauty to be found.
Lillie and I have gone on more adventures on our time off, and most recently we hiked up to and camped at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Northern California. The hike was very challenging with our heavy packs, but the views at the Punchbowl and along the way made it more than worth it! Definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been able to swim at. And of course we played many games of Scrabble.
It’s a sad inevitability that this internship is coming to an end much sooner than I’d like it to. I’m happy that I still have a few more weeks to enjoy living in Oregon.
Kiki, Grants Pass Interagency Office
Elkhart Park Trailhead is easily accessed off the top of Skyline Drive, a completely paved road leading to a multitude of hikes into the Wind River Range.
This one is an out – and – back hike — about 10 miles roundtrip. On the way there is a steady yet relaxed incline, making the way back feel like a nice stroll through the woods.
If you’re in the mood for a good dose of wilderness and solitude that is more than doable in one day, with fantastic views and unique flora and fauna, then I would highly recommend this hike.
I came to the trailhead a bit later than usual, around 1 PM, with no expectations other than to find a nice place to camp out for the night. I was pleasantly surprised.
Park at the Elkhart Park Trailhead lot. There will be a sign directing you to the “Poles Creek Trail” — take that one.
The first few miles is heavily trafficked; be prepared to come across other humans, dogs and horses for the first 2-3 miles.
You will pass through a series of mature spruce-pine forests and open meadows, blanketed with lush green vegetation and beautiful wildflowers. Keep an ear out for American Three-toed Woodpeckers and warblers in the forests.
Follow signs for Pole’s Creek Lakes, Photographer’s Point and/or Eklund Lake.
4.5 miles in, you will reach what is called “Photographer’s Point” (for good reason). You can’t miss it — there will be a steeper incline up to the rock outcrops where you will approach expansive views of the Wind River Range. I recommend staying here for a while, a great place to enjoy that apple or granola bar you brought along for a snack.
From here, the trail will continue on down a bit through a mix of forested swampy areas. I think it is only fair to mention that the mosquitos could be bothersome depending on when you go — I recommend wearing long pants and a breathable long-sleeve shirt.
About a quarter of a mile past Photographer’s Point, you will come to a large open field with two small lakes on either side of the trail. Continue straight. (There is also another lake further to your right that you can overlook just a few hundred steps away).
Shortly after you head back into the woods, another sign will point you to Pole’s Creek Lakes and you will veer to the right toward the lake. I decided to stop at this point as it gave me plenty of time to set up camp, collect wood for the night, and explore the surrounding area. You could make this a turn-around point, or, if you wanted to continue on, this trail will lead you to the popular destination, Seneca Lake.
There are many small campsites off the trail (between 200-500 feet) that already have stone pits set up for a warming campfire.
If you are planning on camping/hiking out here often, make sure to have a sleeping bag rated at 20 degrees, or a sleeping system that will keep you warm and toasty when it often drops to freezing (or slightly above) at night. For this outing, I brought my 40-degree sleeping bag, a sleeping pad and one-person bivy, as well as warm base layers. Next to a fire, I was not shivering, and plenty warm to make it through the chill of the night. However, I was quite restless most of the night and wished I had a warmer sleeping bag or an extra liner.
This was my first time using this bivy, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. My favorite quality is the plastic window and screened ventilation. With just the screen over my head, I stayed up for hours watching the night sky — I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. Looking up, I forgot that I was cold at all (or paranoid of bears). It is a moment that empties you of any thoughts or worries and fills you with simple, beautiful awe.
I was fortunate to not encounter any rain or storms during my stay. Once the sun fell, I was a bit stunned by the near complete silence that surrounded me. You could hear a bundle of pine needles float to the forest floor. No chorus of insects or frogs, no wind — only the still of absence of sound.
Wake up with the birds, and head back over to Photographer’s Point for the sunrise. Enjoy the rest of your hike down in the tranquility of the morning.
I’m guessing since this internship is through the Chicago Botanical Gardens not many of you are avid OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting, Oregon’s NPR station) listeners. If I’m correct this is very unfortunate for you 1. because OPB is great and 2. because you missed the recent segment on planting wocus – a segment that not only included bright orange sunglasses but also the carefully prepared and executed wocus dance.
The wocus, otherwise known as the Rocky Mountain Pond Lily, is a water plant that was once extremely prevalent in the Klamath Basin but is now much less common. ‘Wocus’ as the Native Americans called the plant has been used by the tribes in the area for many generations. A group of employees from US Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and the Klamath Tribes have been working to re-introduce wocus to a property owned by the Nature Conservancy that has recently been returned to its historical state as a marsh (another cool story that involves lots of explosives).
I have to admit that I was not part of this re-introduction effort nor was able to wear orange sunglasses or do the wocus dance, so you may wonder why I just told you all of this. After the wocus re-introduction project was complete there were still 9 plants remaining, so the other intern in the office and I took the opportunity to commandeer the seedlings and use them in one of our fish rearing projects. We are raising suckers in two ponds that are essentially like giant bath tubs – relatively shallow and extremely exposed with no vegetation.
While we could have used the method of stapling the wocus to the bottom of the pond, we decided to instead experiment with growing wocus in water that is too deep to plant them. In order to provide cover for the juvenile fish to escape predation and also as an experiment in transplanting wocus, we designed a system to hang wocus from buoys anchored in the middle of the ponds. The idea of growing wocus in coconut fiber baskets came from work on wocus by Dr. Jherime Kellermann, a professor at Oregon Institute of Technology.
We moved the wocus seedlings from their pots to 10 inch coconut fiber baskets and used hemp twine to tie the bundles like small packages.
These wocus bundles were then suspended by hemp twine from the chain just below each buoy. Each plant hangs between 1 and 2 feet under water and there are three plants per buoy. Another intern in our office, Shilah, bravely donned a dry suit and entered the ponds teaming with algae and zoo plankton to place the anchored buoys and wocus.
In the coming weeks we hope to start seeing wocus leaves reaching the surface and growing larger.
A few side notes:
- If you’re disappointed about missing the OPB story on wocus (why wouldn’t you be?!), don’t fear! You can read about the wocus project and listen to the radio piece here: http://www.opb.org/news/article/bringing-back-klamath-wetlands-one-wocus-at-a-time/
- One day while on the way to the ponds on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge we were lucky enough to see an adult and juvenile borrowing owl. The juvenile retreated into its hole, but the adult allowed us to drive within about 10 feet of it and get some very close pictures.
I will skip the week of training due to the unspoken excitement that I felt when learning about government computer protocol, how to drive for a second time, and what to do around used needles and chemicals that are prohibited to consume. Nonetheless, it was great meeting my coworkers for the next 5 months in the Shoshone field office. So far everyone is friendly and gets along with everyone else.
I have not participated in field research before and it sure was a surprise upon first encounters. I am in the Seeds of Success program, however I was put into the vegetation monitoring unit so I could take a back seat and observe. I was not ready for the front lines of the battle field to be cannon fodder.
We went out onto the BLM land. No BLM land in PA, where I’m from (don’t quote me). Anyhow, BLM land is a real deal. But, BLM land is just there; it exists. There are no signs welcoming a visitor to a scenic overlook, no information centers, just signs of land marks in sparse locations to help with navigation. Luckily, BLM land is public land, which means free camping sites.
Idaho has much more than potatoes, but the potato farms are massive regardless. Instead of corn, there are green fields with little white flowers for each plant. Surrounding the plots is high dessert climate which is sage brush and tan grasses, especially invasive grasses that are all dried up due to the 90 plus weather every day. Southern Idaho is called the ‘Magic Valley’. Sadly there are few magicians or wizards roaming the streets or even children with lightning bolts on their head, but the magic is the irrigation from the snake river into the desert. What a let down.
We drove through some tiny towns in Idaho, probably around a 1000 each. Just a highway as the main road with a gas station and a small restaurant as the only buildings visible. On either side of the highway there are several interest signs sprawled: signs for state parks, caves, and fossil beds along the drive. I need to check those out.
Once we passed the towns we took a right onto a unassuming road. Just a paved country road. We soon left civilization! Houses were no longer in existence, sedans did not exist, and it was rare if we saw any other species in the genus Homo. The farms were the last to disappear and we headed into BLM territory. The road took a turn and the asphalt disappeared, transforming into dirt. We took a gradual incline up the road and soon a rim appeared as we reached the top of the plateau. This was a picture worthy formation as the black rock face jutted out from the tan grassy surface. The road continued forward into the now visible rolling hills. The dirt road became choppy and we trudged along at a slower pace, but our route soon led us to a road, but was it actually a road.
At the intersection, the driver, another CLM intern, held out his/her arm to locate our position with our yellow GPS. The devise is not too quick with its calculations, however we were in the correct position somehow. I felt unsure of where I was and I had no information of where I was supposed to be, luckily I was the only intern in the truck on day 1 out in the field. The truck shifted itself into 4 wheel drive and the blue vehicle grew another foot. The extension rose, the tires increased in size, the tread became more defined, and the truck purred as the driver stroked his/her fingers across the now velvet steering wheel. The truck let loose a somber meow as we turned onto a two track covered in cheat-grass and rocks. We drove at a whopping 5 mph with high caution. I rocked from side to side and back and forth, getting airborne and bumping into the sides. I was indeed wearing my seat belt, since I am a safe and reliable employee, nevertheless the ride was bumpy. I had trouble just keeping my head still and could not tell the direction of the path. Some rocks were covered in grass so I could not prepare for a large jolt of jump. I could hear some grinding as the truck’s cabins grazed over rocks and exclamations flew out of the drivers mouth. “Always hit rocks with the tires dead on.”
We finally reached our destination. The GPS was taken out of the car with the rest of the supplies. I had no idea what our goal intended. I put a few binders in my bag, massaged some sunscreen on my cheeks, secured my Phillies hat, and followed the leader. We walked across the assortment of grasses, sage brush, and flowers/forbs. The GPS did not have a constant directional path as we changed our alignment every couple minutes. Sadly, I had left my boots back at home and decided the best alternative was mesh running shoes. The seed heads from the cheat-grass jammed into the opening, stabbing my soft skin. It hurt. A mistake made only once. We continued walking across the terrain until a pink flag was visible fluttering in the stinky hot breeze. We pulled out the 50 meter measuring tape, found north, and I unrolled the tape. I was directed to go left because I kept on wondering to the right when unrolling the tape. I got to the end of the line and realized I forgot a stake, so I put a rock on top to secure the line.
I recorded the pin drop data for the first 15 meters, writing down codes for species I had not heard of, and measurements for the height, checking to make each column was accurate, but also precise. I started to pin drop every 0.5 meters (5 cm, 50 mm, 500000 um). We carried the meter pin in a protective PVC pipe. I dropped the pin vertically and watched what it hit. “This grass and dirt. What is this grass?” “15.5 meter. Rock.” “16 meters. A bush, a flower, and dirt with Herbaceous Litter.” I was soon told what plant I hit and the correct code to write down on the sheet. I also measured each plant’s drooping height. I got the hang of the shtick, but I was bending too much at the waist, instead of the knees. I got a little dizzy, and drank my warm refreshing tap water to recover my balance. Afterwards my partner for the drop took measurements for sage brush cover and the third member of our group finished up the forb diversity check.
It was lunch time. I reached into my bag, but no lunch bag was present. I had to run back to the truck. I ran, then walked. I still was not use to the dry heat nor the elevation. I grabbed my lunch and an extra water bottle and rolled back down to where I came. I actually forgot what the true direction I came from since there are not too many outstanding landmarks. I walked in a direction, looking at a tall sage brush for guidance. I was wrong. I walked over some rocks I had not seen before and knew I had misinterpreted my surroundings. I did a 360 spin and a backflip and noticed my coworkers waving their hands and lunch boxes at me from about 2 football fields away. I hustled on over and enjoyed my delicious gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich on multi-grain bread. What a day.
Don’t worry. I made it back to the field office. We hiked a mile and a quarter to another pin drop site. Saw some yellow bellied marmots. Traversed some small gorges with small streams. I had no expectation of seeing water in the high desert. We got lost on the way back. We should have marked the truck with a GPS dot but found the truck after wandering. We drove back and called it an 11 hour day. Enough was enough for one day. Slept like a babe that night. A fun day, and a day that I had not imagined.
Author: Ogilvie, Brian W., author.
Call Number: Q127.E8O35 2008
Author: Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927- author.
Call Number: PS3563.E75A6 2016
Agaves, yuccas, and their kin : seven genera of the Southwest, including the genera : Agave, Dasylirion, Hechtia, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca, Nolina, and Yucca, century plants, sotols, false agaves, false yuccas, chaparral yuccas, beargrasses, and true...
Author: Hawker, Jon L., author.
Call Number: QK495.A83H39 2016
Author: Ackerman, Jennifer, 1959- author.
Call Number: QL698.3.A25 2016
Beaks, bones, and bird songs : how the struggle for survival has shaped birds and their behavior / Roger J. Lederer.
Author: Lederer, Roger J., author.
Call Number: QL677.3.L43 2016
The 101 coolest simple science experiments / Rachel Miller, Holly Homer & Jamie Harrington, the team behind Kids activities blog and the Quirky Momma Facebook page ; photography by Rachel Miller, Holly Homer and Jamie Harrington.
Author: Miller, Rachel (Blogger), author, photographer.
Call Number: Q164.M55 2016
Mountain states foraging : 115 wild and flavorful edibles from alpine sorrel to wild hops / Briana Wiles.
Author: Wiles, Briana, author.
Call Number: QK98.5.A1W55 2016
Author: Kennett, Tom, author.
Call Number: QK31.S58K46 2016
Plant variation and evolution / David Briggs, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, and S. Max Walters, formerly of Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
Author: Briggs, D. (David), 1936- author.
Call Number: QK983.B75 2016
The Florilegium : the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney celebrating 200 years : plants of the three gardens of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust / Colleen Morris, Louisa Murray.
Author: Morris, Colleen, author.
Call Number: QK98.3.M67 2016
Commercial gardening, a practical & scientific treatise for market gardeners, market growers, fruit, flower & vegetable growers, nurserymen, etc. / By many practical specialists under the editorship of John Weathers ; in four volumes : fully illustrated.
Author: Weathers, John, 1867-1928. editor.
Call Number: SB98.W43 1913
Histoire des plantes / par Louis Figuier. Ouvrage illustré de 416 figures dessinées d'après nature par Faguet.
Author: Figuier, Louis, 1819-1894.
Call Number: QK45.F54 1874
Praktischer leitfaden für die anzucht und pflege der kakteen, mit besonderer berücksichtigung der phyllokakteen / von W.O. Rother. Mit 45 abbildungen.
Author: Rother, Wilhelm Otto.
Call Number: SB438.R68 1902
Author: Bertherand, E.-L.
Call Number: QK100.A1B478 1877
British poisonous plants / By Charles Johnson ... Illustrated with twenty-eight coloured plates transferred from "English botany."
Author: Johnson, Charles, 1791-1880.
Call Number: QK99.J64 1856