Hola from Utah!

Hey everyone,

This is Ellie, one of the new interns at the Richfield, Utah office working with Dustin Rooks. Sam and I have had an awesome and busy first month! For the first half of our season we will be monitoring (mainly) two T&E cacti species, Pediocactus winkleri and Sclerocactus wrightiae. They are two amazingly small cacti (some just 1cm in diameter) that blend in perfectly with the soil’s texture, making them difficult to find. They’re rather finicky, only emerging on years with good rain and barely breaking the surface. This year was a bit dry and we’ve had sites with hundreds and sites with less than ten. However, this week they’ve started to “pop” with delicate flowers, making them easier to spot.

Much of our work is near Capitol Reef National Park; the geology of the area is so interesting and unique. For example, many of our sampling plots are in the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation, which resembles a “moonscape” of hills of clay that are striped white, pink, red, and purple. There’s actually a “Mars station” nearby, where people go and experiment like they’re living on Mars. I’ve found Utah is full of cool and weird things like this, making this experience all the more exciting.

I’ve already learned an immense amount about the geology of Utah and plants of salt desert shrub, and am looking forward to continuing.

As for living in Richfield, it’s definitely different compared to Tucson (my hometown), but I like living in the country. The Sevier Valley is beautiful and green, surrounded by tall snow-capped mountains. A 20-minute drive outside of town takes you to a reservoir with wildlife and recreation opportunities, perfect for birding, boating, and fishing. Everyone is extremely nice and neighborly, making me feel right at home. I’m happy to be a part of the CLM program in Richfield and am excited for the rest of the summer!

A few memorable experiences so far:

  • Going to the Hanksville field office and working with Dave Cook, the wildlife biologist, who aids in the quest for cacti.
  • On the way to one of our sites, we stopped in a canyon and saw a still-standing petrified tree. The fossils here are awesome.
  • Our first day was checking a dinosaur dig site for cacti. An awesome start to the field season.

Ellie

 

Cactus Monitoring with the BLM

Hello fellow interns!

My first month in Richfield, UT has been great so far! As a Minnesota native living my whole life in the Midwest, the West has been more beautiful than I could imagine. And I have surprised myself with how fast I have been able to pick up a new flora. The desert is desolate but there is still so much beauty to be found!

Evening primrose

Evening primrose

 

Our average day so far has consisted of a drive over to Hanksville, UT through Capital Reef National Park and then going to different macroplots to monitor either Sclerocactus or Pediocactus. My mentor jokes with us about how sick we are going to get of these cacti, but they still have not bothered me yet. So for our first few months, most of the work is going to center around these two genuses, and then we will start working more with seed collecting for Seeds of Success, which will involve going to a lot more different areas and some overnight camping. Outside of work, Utah has been a great place for exploration. Just this past weekend, the other CLM intern and I drove down to Zion National Park. So much beautiful scenery and great hikes! We will definitely be going back again! I am also looking forward to improving my skills with fishing and hopefully catching some trout. That is all I have to say for now, until next time!

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Sclerocactus wrightiae

Sclerocactus wrightiae

Zion - Angel's Landing

Zion – Angel’s Landing

 

Sam

Richfield, UT

Road Less Traveled: Across The Dunes and Over the Mountains!

Hello! I am your guide, Justin Chappelle! I am a CLM intern with the Wenatchee Field Office in Washington. Today, we are going on a rugged journey through the western portion of the Saddle Mountains in search of rare plants, cool animals, and interesting rock formations!!

Welcome! I am glad you could make it on this awesome tour! We will start with the dune community of the Saddle Mountains. The western portion of the mountains along the Columbia River is known for its windy conditions. A lot of the eroded sediment from various scabland features in the valley collect in this region. The sediment is blown here and deposited along the talus slopes!! Some of these dune features host an assortment of rare plants and animals. Many scientists travel to the Saddle Mountains to study and monitor the various plants and animals of this region. Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nests are commonly monitored, various bioblitzs are performed to develop species lists, and lichens are studied to help understand the surrounding ecosystems in this region. Hopefully, we will get to see some interesting flora and fauna!! Oh…. I forgot to mention, we might encounter a few ATV people! So be on the lookout and wear bright colors!
Road Less Traveled

The sand here is very soft and weathered! Due to the amount of traveling each of the sediment particles undergo, they form into a smaller, spherical shape. Many wind patterns and tracks could be found within the sandy, open areas.

IMG_4476

As we travel up the dunes, we tend to see many native plants starting to colonize the dunes. Plants in the Polygonaceae family (Knotweed Family) could be found along the ephemeral stream areas. Other plants in the Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family), Asteraceae (Composite Family), Hydrophyallceae (Waterleaf Family), Brassicaceae (Mustard Family), and Rosaceae (Rose Family) family could be found along the talus slopes next to the dunes.

Rumex crispus and Phlox speciosa

Rumex crispus and Phlox speciosa

((Wow!!! Good eye! I forgot to mention that there are many interesting and rare Lomatium species that could be found in the area. Many plants in the Apiaceae Family could be found growing in mid spring in this area!  This is Lomatium columbianum, also known as Columbia Desert Parsley. They grow in the Northern section of the mountains, this is a new sighting for this area!! Cool!! Let us take a GPS point and write some notes down before we move on.))

((Wow!!! Good eye! I forgot to mention that there are many interesting and rare Lomatium species that could be found in the area. Many plants in the Apiaceae Family could be found growing in mid spring! This is Lomatium columbianum, also known as Columbia Desert Parsley. They grow in the Northern section of the mountains, this is a new sighting for this area!! Cool!! Let us take a GPS point and write some notes down before we move on.))

During the afternoon, the dunes warm up and we get to see a lot of unusual wildlife. Insects in the Scarabaeidae family and various lizards bask in the sun. The insects love the flowering plants around here. Lupinus, Delphinium, Erysimum, Astragalus, Crepis, and Phlox species, along with Purshia tridentata (bitterbrush), seem to be a favorite for many beetle species right now!

 Wow!! This is amazing! I have no clue what this insect is, but it likes to roll up in a ball and roll down the dunes. Probably it does this to escape predators.

Wow!! This is amazing! I have no clue what this insect is, but it likes to roll like a ball  down the dunes. Probably it does this to escape predators.

This beetle is found all over the bitterbrush! Looks like a hairy Japanese beetle! Unfortunately, I am not an entomologist, but I think this is a hairy flower beetle of some kind.

This beetle is found all over the bitterbrush! Looks like a hairy Japanese beetle! Unfortunately, I am not an entomologist, but I think this is a hairy flower beetle of some kind.

As we move through the transition zone between the dunes and talus, we get to see a variety of bird species! It is common to see Rock wrens (Salpinctes obsoletus) and Canyon Wrens (Catherpes mexicanus) in this area. Golden Eagles love to make nests on the steep cliffs, above the talus slopes, along the Columbia River. They prefer an open area where they can easily access the nest. Right now, the Golden Eagles are preparing their nests. If a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) or Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) flies into the area, the Golden Eagles would actually attack those birds. Golden Eagles usually do not like to share their territory or possible nesting sites with other birds of prey. Even a red tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is looked down upon by the eagles. The American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) use this time to pester the eagles, because that is one of their favorite past times.

Different species of birds love to build nests in these basaltic outcrops!

Different species of birds love to build nests in these basaltic outcrops!

  Oh?? Oh hey! Good eye! You have found a White Throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis). These birds migrate over long distances and love to build nests in basalt cliffs. There are many nests that could be seen in the holes of the basalt. They are very vocal and don’t mind building nests near large birds of prey or Rock doves (Columba livia)…but they do dislike Merlin (Falco columbarius), which is a common bird of prey that loves to go after the swift species!

Oh?? Oh hey! Good eye! You have found  White Throated Swifts (Aeronautes saxatalis)! These birds migrate over long distances and love to build nests in basalt cliffs. There are many nests that could be seen in the holes of the basalt. They are very vocal and don’t mind building nests near large birds of prey or Rock doves (Columba livia)…but they do dislike Merlin (Falco columbarius), which is a common bird of prey that loves to go after the swift species!

As we climb up the side of the mountain, we get to see more beautiful flowers and grasses! Different sagebrush and rabbitbrush species. These brush along with many different bunch grasses are growing on talus slopes. Many wildflowers are growing right now thanks to the warm temperatures and rain we had recently in the area.

As we climb up the side of the mountain, we get to see more beautiful flowers, grasses and different sagebrush and rabbitbrush species. These plants are growing on old talus slopes! Many wildflowers are growing right now thanks to the warm temperatures and rain we had recently in the area.

On the top of the mountains, we could see much of the Columbia River, some newly planted orchards, and power lines that were built by the power company!

hey

Part of the Columbia River Basin.

VVVVVVVVVVAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM Yay!!! This is a cool opportunity!! The U.S. Airforce uses these mountains and coulees for their training. They like to fly around and adapt to different wind patterns. Almost every other day, we would see them training out in the surrounding area. I don’t know how the wildlife responds to these jets, but they still build their nests here….alright hopefully they leave. I don’t want to have tinnitus. >_>

VVVVVVVVVVAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM
Yay!!! This is a cool opportunity!! The U.S. Airforce uses these mountains and coulees for their training. They like to fly around and adapt to different wind patterns. Almost every other day, we would see them training out in the surrounding area. I don’t know how the wildlife responds to these jets, but they still build their nests here…alright hopefully the jets leave soon. I don’t want to get tinnitus. >_>

The top of the Saddle Mountains were carved by the massive Missoula floods that occurred in the area ~13,000-15,000 years ago. If you are lucky, you could find petrified wood from ginkgo trees deposited here! Various silica rock made from diatoms a long time ago could be found commonly between basaltic deposits.

Silica deposits that contain silica minerals and petrified wood!

Silica deposits that contain silica minerals and petrified wood!

There are various trails on the tops of these mountains for rock hounders and people who ride ATVs in the area. Despite the road traffic, the flowers are thriving! There are so many phlox and balsamroot (Balsamorhiza species), you could actually smell them!!

ATV trails weaving up the side of the mountain.

ATV trails weaving up the side of the mountain.

I want to thank you again for your participation in the Saddle Mountains Tours. I hope you learned a little about the area. See you on our next travel adventure!

Justin Chappelle

And now….Your Moment of Zen

Cool looking Diptera on a Balsamorhiza sagittata.

A cool looking Diptera on a Balsamorhiza sagittata.

Oooooh SUNSHINE!

Well, I’ve been unchained from my desk on trial basis, and was able to get outside and play this week. There was a cadre of congressional staffers touring the Monument this week, and I was ask to speak on the Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) Program and how we are using it to characterize the landscape within the Monument. I got my 10 minutes of fame (as I was the only speaker between them and cold beer), then got to do a seed tour in southern Colorado. Good day. VERY windy. But it was good to enjoy the sunshine.

The Hidden Wonders of the Mojave!

The Mojave Desert continues to surprise me every day! Around every creosote shrub or Ambrosia dumosa bush there is a new wonder to behold: a wild desert tortoise slowly reaching for a bite of bright orange Spheralcea ambigua flower with its beak, a graceful Calochortus flexuosus mariposa lily purple-hued and magnificent waving in the wind, the desert pavement varnished dark rusty black crackling underfoot. A cobble lined wash no longer full of flowing winter rain but a symphony of perennial golden asters, blossoming buckwheat, and fragrant Phacelia.

Blooming Yucca!

Blooming Yucca

For the last few weeks, I have been working with USGS in Henderson, NV collecting data on annual plant species in juvenile desert tortoise habitat. What do the juveniles eat, where, and when? Based on forage availability, where are suitable locations for desert tortoise to be translocated? Translocation often occurs when someone constructs a building or otherwise disturbs an area where the endangered desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, lives. This project represents a component of the ongoing research of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center related to the desert tortoise (See http://www.werc.usgs.gov/Project.aspx?ProjectID=110).

Desert Tortoise!

Desert Tortoise!

I have been enjoying getting to know my new business partners: the cryptic Cryptanthas, the peculiar Pectocaryas, and the always exciting Eriogonum. The plants here truly amaze me with their abilities to survive in this extreme environment. For example, the retractable Pediocactus bradyi, a small cactus which retracts into the earth when stressed by dry and cold conditions! 

My new winged neighbors: Say’s Pheobe, Costa’s Hummingbird, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Rock Wren, and yes, The Greater Roadrunner. Nothing is as thrilling as hearing a female roadrunner’s coo-cooing bark ringing out through a Joshua Tree and Yucca woodland and reverberate against fossil-laden cliffs. Though the area is pretty parched now, about 660 million years ago a sea existed here leaving behind layers of shells and other remnants of marine life!

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

That’s all for now – we are about to help another team studying Joshua Tree pollination!

-Amanda

 

First Impressions

Hello All!

It’s been almost a month since I started my first CLM internship here in Wenatchee, Wa which seems strange – the time has just flown by. I’ve spent the past few weeks becoming acquainted with the structure and politics of the OR/WA BLM, getting my feet wet (so to speak) in the field, and learning ArcMap and its related programs.

The BLM is now the second federal agency I’ve worked for. The first being the National Park Service as a SCA intern at Devils Tower National Monument. Immediately I noticed some differences in how the two agencies operate. As a steward of multi-use land, BLM employees often have to work in the murky gray area where development and conservation meet – something the NPS doesn’t have to deal with. This constant compromise is something I’ve always found really interesting and I’m excited to be able to talk with people who deal with this everyday.

Already I’ve had the opportunity to go out in the field with my mentors and check out a piece of BLM land that a gravel company wants to mine.  I learned about prioritizing efforts when it comes to development projects – with multi-use land you can’t give a flat out “no” to all development. It turned out with this particular piece of land, the biggest concern seemed to be the potential for the spread of noxious weeds to other areas via the gravel the company mined and shipped out. We began talking about mitigations for this, mostly options for controlling the weeds before mining began.
Potential site of new gravel mine.

Potential site of new gravel mine.

We’ve also begun doing Golden Eagle surveys. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far from this project has been the importance of keeping organized and detailed records. Another intern began this project in 2012 and finding her data and notes, as well as those from the Washington DFW, has been very difficult and slowed down our new data collection. I’ve decided to make leaving an obvious and understandable “bread crumb trail” one of my main goals for this internship.
Surveyin' for Golden Eagles

Surveyin’ for Golden Eagles

 I spent this past week down in Vale, OR at the district office doing an ArcPad and GeoBob Mobile training. I’ve had very little exposure to ArcMap and ArcPad before so it’s been a total crash course. I feel like my basic familiarity with the program, combined with these trainings, has me feeling more comfortable and proficient. In this arena, Justin – my fellow Wenatchee intern – has been very helpful in giving me quick tutorials. I’m looking forward to putting in a lot of hours with GIS and becoming an expert myself.
Getting all trained up.

Getting all trained up.

Oh, and I’ve spent my weekends/afternoons climbing in the Cascades outside the faux Bavarian town of Leavenworth just 30 min away.

Getting ready for an afternoon of bouldering.

Ready for an afternoon of bouldering.

Till next time!

Spring in the Mojave

Hello!

It is spring in the Mojave Desert, and we have begun our field season in full force! As interns with USGS Henderson, NV, it’s our job to characterize the annual (and, to some extent, perennial) vegetation available to juvenile Desert Tortoises. We’re talking quite small tortoises – imagine a four-inch long tortoise!
IMG_1062
IMG_1281
Despite the widespread drought in the west, the Mojave actually received above-average winter precipitation this water year, and, as a result, we are seeing incredible annual growth! Many of the spring wildflowers are in full bloom, and we’ve been learning loads of new species each day. It seems as though there are another five species flowering each time we visit our field sites! We’ve been kept busy keying out new species, especially Cyrptantha sp. (the CLM guide to Cryptanthas has been a fantastic resource).
IMG_1167
Besides amazing new plants, we’ve also seen a number of resident and translocated Desert Tortoises, snakes, and birds!
I am looking forward to adding more species to the list, and learning more about the Mojave as the season goes on! What an amazing opportunity to learn about plant and wildlife ecology!!
IMG_1126
IMG_1406

‘Til next time,
Daniel Boyes

Buffalo

The past month here in Buffalo has been sunny and warm. Pasque Flower and Shooting Stars are coming up but we need more rain and snow. I have been out doing a little bit of archaeological survey work on the nice days. I have not recorded any sites yet this year, but not finding archaeological sites is also valuable scientific information. One of the places I got to do some fieldwork is in the pine breaks in the northeast portion of our field office. From the ridges there you can see the peaks of the Bighorn Mountains, the Pumpkin Buttes and the Devils Tower/ Missouri Buttes. I happen to think its pretty neat to take in all these culturally significant landforms from one viewing location. My work camera is a pitiful piece of technology thus I have no pretty pictures to post. However I will provide a picture of some cows and a frac pad for good measure.

P1010001

 

Have a good one.

 

Nathan

From Sea to shining Sea…

Hello Fellow Interns,

This is my first CLM internship and boy what an adventure it has been thus far. My internship with the Arcata, CA BLM started this past Monday. In order to get here though, I moved from Washington, DC! To say that there has been a change of scenery would probably be an understatement. Yet I find myself constantly in awe of the locations and amazing sights I have seen thus far! Going to school in Lynchburg, VA I was surrounded by the comfortable Appalachian mountains and leafy deciduous forests. Here in Arcata, the redwoods, Douglas firs, and other conifers encase me with spiny needles and the mountains surprise me with their sheer faces.

My forestry internship with the BLM will have me working on a variety of projects. From monitoring SOD (sudden oak death) to helping write a EA (Environmental Action) plan for encouraging old growth redwood restoration. But honestly so long as I am able to be outside seeing the amazing things I have seen thus far, I know I will be happy!

Till next time, stay safe and keep learning fellow CLM’ers!

-Steph

11031130_10206385875430475_6187110030248354556_n 11150190_10206385873430425_950084099919012850_n 11138498_10206359161922654_6097306846835943875_n 11096443_10206385868670306_6622416778917686424_n 11088335_10206385873830435_5482368724933504575_n 11138581_10206359169682848_2646967939956466817_n 21226_10206385869510327_7047573867456294373_n

Final Post

Image

Well my year long internship has finally come to a close. Over the last year, I’ve learned plenty more about the BLM than I did the first time I worked for them. I can tell you I know a lot about filing cabinets and what my cubicle looks like, that’s for sure. The best part of the internship was probably the occasional very long hike with the Abandoned Mine Lands program searching for adits and shafts showing in lidar data. That part was great field experience and I was able to further my mapping knowledge that way.  I have mixed feelings about the end of the internship, and may or may not be returning to actually work for them. We’ll see how things play out. Until then, I’ll leave one of my favorite pictures from this area, Hobart Bluff in the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument.

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Signing out,

Morgan – Medford BLM