My first few weeks with the Eagle Lake Field Office have been nothing short of an adventure! The first week was full of training and refreshers to get me back in the swing of things since my last internship with the CLM in the Buffalo Field Office.
Our advisor took us out a few times and showed us the ropes. She gave us a couple quick botany lessons about the local flora, went over major landmarks, familiarized us with the maps and sent us on our way.
It took us a while to get the hang of the field office, but with only a few minor missed turns and vehicle lock-outs, we have started to get the hang of the whole intern thing. It also only took a few days driving in our trusty Wrangler, Mango Jerry, to determine this field season would be one of productivity, laughter, and inside jokes about our most abundant collection of the Bottlebrush Squirreltail.
So far, we have made a whopping 14 collections, with many more to come. It is a lot of fun collecting in such a large group. With three other interns, the days pass by so quickly! My favorite collection so far has been this trefoil species (or sage grouse sundaes as we called them) we collected in the Nevada part of our field office. The location was absolutely gorgeous and the seed was so easy to collect.
In addition to the SOS collections we have done, we have also had a chance to learn a little bit about other projects throughout the field office. We have learned to monitor populations of special status plants within our field office. We were also given the opportunity to learn about the feral horses in the area and what the BLM has done to ensure the health of the field office!
When visiting the BLM corrals, we got up close and personal with this happy fella. He looks a little feisty, but was more than happy to get a pat on the nose.
In addition to all the working in the field office, we have had the chance to go on some amazing weekend adventures. From Napa, where we met Natalie Portman, to San Fran, where we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, to our own backyard in Susanville, where I rock climbed for the first time, I can honestly say I am having the best of times on this adventure!
And if all else fails, and the day in the sun is hot and rough, I always have a beautiful backyard view to come home to!
Until next time!
The plants in Escalante have finally started seeding! The spring showers brought a flood
of blooming flowers. Nelson’s Globemallow (Sphaeralcea parvifolia), is one of my favorite plants that my co-intern Elise and I are collecting. The Hopi Indians used this plant for multiple purposes, some of which include curing sores, cuts, and wounds (Colton 1974). I even found a rare white S. parvifolia! Another fun
plant that we have to collect is Indian Rice Grass (Achnatherum hymenoides). Apache Indians used this plant to make bread (Reagan 1929) and it is an important plant for cattle grazing (Ogle et al. 2013).
Besides seed collecting, I also joined the wildlife biologist for the Forest Service, Lisa Young, and the wildlife biologist for the BLM, Terry Tolbert, when they went bat trapping! We traveled to the Last Chance wash near Lake Powell and set up two, thirty foot
high nets above the creek. When the bats swooped down to drink water, they would get caught in the nets. Terry and Lisa would then go untangle the bats and then collect data on them. Data collection included identification, tarsus measurements, wingspan, and weight. After the data was collected on a bat, they were then released.
Terry has also been showing Elise and me how to rope lizards. We take simple fishing polls, string them with fly fishing string, make a loop at the end and then the hunt begins! After hunting in the hot desert sun, searching under sage brush and cliff rose, it is
most satisfying to catch a lizard. The lizards we catch are
measured from snout to anus and then from snout to the tip of their tail. After the lizards are weighed, they are released and a GPS coordinate is taken so we can estimate their range of habitat.
This internship has so far allowed me to expand my knowledge of plants and has given me the opportunity to work with wildlife. I cannot wait to see what else my time in Escalante will bring!
Since my last blog post, the weeks have become a whirlwind of work! I have really started focusing on SOS, and figuring out how to determine seed readiness and collection strategies. I think the biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to the level of variety in the work, as collections for virtually every plant species is performed differently. It has been helpful to have resources like the SOS flickr page that showcases past collections, as well as the office’s own data files from past SOS interns, but overall it appears that most of my job is learned in the field and as I go.
During the first part of this month, myself and the office’s two range interns, Jade and Sara, performed the first seed collections of the season! This first collection was Needle and Thread grass. It definitely was a learning experience, as on the day of the collection we found that much of the seed had actually dropped over the weekend. We collected what we could, but overall it was a lot less productive than what I was planning for. But like I said, I’m finding that a lot of my job is “learn-as-you-go”. Plants definitely work on their own schedule, which means that monitoring populations for readiness requires a lot of travel to-and-from the office and a healthy amount of estimation. That being said, the next week was a lot more productive as far as seed collecting! With the help of Jade and Sara, three more collections were performed all in ONE day (& all in the same allotment thankfully!) Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Lewis Flax, and a boatload of Miner’s Candle (~120,000 seed)…shout out to Sara for her enthusiasm for collecting Miner’s Candle! Just this week, I have sent out the shipment to Bend of these species and continue to monitor other populations I have found. Hopefully all goes well in processing the collected seed!
On a personal note, over the Fourth of July weekend, myself and some of the other interns made a road trip to Yellowstone, Jackson WY and the Tetons. This was my first trip out to this area, and I had a blast! We spent four nights camping in the area and sightseeing during the day. It was exhausting to say the least, but we saw so much wildlife during these four days including elk, pronghorn, bear (grizzly and black), mule and white-tail deer and even a moose! I’d say our time in the Tetons was definitely my favorite part of the trip, and I’m already dying to get back there to explore more trails and sites!!
Buffalo Field Office, WY