Hello From Shoshone

I have been in the Shoshone, Idaho BLM field office for the past three weeks. This summer we are going to be conducting vegetation surveys for greater sage-grouse habitat in the Bennett Hills.


View From the Bennett Hills

View from the Bennett Hills

We are using Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF) Protocol to conduct our monitoring this summer. Earlier this week a group came down from the state office in Boise, ID to help train our office and the Jarbidge office on this protocol. The protocol focuses on sagebrush and forbes. Sagebrush provides important cover for the sage-grouse. They use different species overwintering and for nesting, so knowing which species dominate the site is very important. Forbs are an important food source for sage-grouse. They prefer forbes with milky-sap, so being able to identify the forb species present is important to understanding the quality of the habitat.

Sage-brush steppe

Sage-brush steppe

These past several weeks have been about preparing for field work. The first two weeks mostly involved training, including first aid and CPR training. We’ve also been spending the week getting to know the roads and plants in the area. Learning to get around the country on the BLM roads in very important. Some of the roads go through really rocky areas, and clearance underneath the truck can become a problem. The other day one of the range specialist in the office went through maps of the area and highlighted which roads are in good condition and pointed out areas to avoid.

We have gone out to a few of our survey sites with range specialists. Sites are generated randomly so they have to be checked to make sure they will work. Several of the sites have been underwater or in the middle of roads. The sites are then monumented so they can be returned to. Next week more members of our crew are coming and we will start monitoring our HAF sites! Stay tuned!

Nicki Gustafson

BLM Shoshone Field Office

Cactus chasing in the Utah desert

The last month and a half of this internship has been filled with long drives through Utah’s extensive desert country.  Initial activities have mainly been surveying populations of listed cactus species to help see the population trends over time.  Traveling through Utah in search of cacti has allowed me to see the beautiful desert ecosystems of both the Colorado Plateau in the east and the Great Basin of the west.

As the weather warms, our internship activities are transitioning to seed collection preparation for the Seeds of Success program.  I am looking forward to continuing to learn the region’s native plants (such as Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia seen below) and viewing more of Utah’s vast landscape.


Globemallow filled valley of the Great Basin






Cassie Heredia

Richfield, Utah

AIMing for Sage Grouse Habitat Restoration

This last month has been chalked full of activity.  At the start of the month I participated in a week long AIM training.  AIM stands for Assessment, Inventory, Monitoring.  It is a protocol used to evaluate landscapes on their flora.  It measures plant cover, species richness, as well as information about soil type and stability.  The week long intensive training started with presentations in a classroom setting and then transitioned to learning techniques in the field.  It was certainly a challenge learning all the techniques and rules to the survey, but towards the end of the week everybody was feeling more confident and ready to practice it on their own in the field.  Two weeks later, the AIM team at the Prineville office met up on Friday and headed out into the field to calibrate.  The practice of calibration is meant to ensure that everybody on the team is getting similar results so that there is no bias depending on who is collecting the data.

After the training there was work to do around the office to prepare for the upcoming field season.  Much of this work was attending safety trainings so that I am prepared for all of the unexpected situations that I could encounter in the field.  Other than trainings, I prepared maps and routes to field sites that I would be traveling to in the future.  My first set of excursions into the field focused on Greater Sage Grouse again.  This time instead of monitoring active leks, I was monitoring unoccupied-pending leks.  These leks are essentially ones that have not been documented to contain Sage Grouse for a certain number of years.  My job was to drive out to these leks, then hike out to the lek center and check for signs that they have been utilized recently.  This mostly meant checking for clockers and cecal tar (two types of Sage Grouse excrement).  Most of the leks that I checked had old signs, but a couple had recent signs indicating that they should be examined more closely next year.


Greater Sage Grouse Cecal Tar


Greater Sage Grouse Clockers

After I surveyed the leks that I was assigned to, I was ready for the next adventure.  This turned out to be conducting wildlife clearance for Juniper thinning.  A little bit of background here about Junipers.  Junipers have been rapidly encroaching on the western landscape from their traditional distribution.  They are cleared by ranchers and farmers because of the water that they hold, but they are also a major threat to Greater Sage Grouse (GSG).  GSG lek and live in open habitats that are optimally free from tall structures.  Raptors and Ravens perch on these structures and use them as a vantage point from which to hunt.  Depredation from raptors and ravens has a highly deleterious effect of GSG populations, so we are trying to reducing perching locations for these predators.  It turns out that Junipers are perfect structures for raptors and thus need to go.  However, due to the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 that we cannot destroy nests of birds, so that is where I come in.  I go out to the areas that are prioritized for Juniper thinning and check for nests.  If I see a nest I take a GPS point and mark it with flagging tape.

Before I embarked on this new field assignment I took advantage of a three day weekend and planned a birding itinerary.  Earlham College, my alma mater, has an annual bird count and I was eager to be a part of it this year.  I left Prineville and traveled to Smith Rock and the Sisters area, where I located many species of woodpecker, the highlights being Black-backed woodpecker and the White-headed woodpecker.

White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker

I then traveled to Corvallis before stopping by the coast.  I managed to find many of the shore birds thats I was searching for including the Black-bellied Plover, Western Sandpiper and Whimbrel as well as many other species including Common Murre, Black Oystercatcher, Harlequin Duck and Brown Pelicans.



Western Sandpiper and Black-bellied Plover.

Western Sandpiper and Black-bellied Plover.

Then I spent the morning in William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge and saw a wide range of species from the Black-throated Grey Warbler to the Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak.  Then I returned to Prineville and picked up a couple of species before heading home and calling it a weekend.  All in total I had seen 130 different species over the weekend, a fairly respectable showing.

Shortly after this, I headed out into the field and started to search for nests in Juniper trees.  This consisted of a heavy dose of hiking, but through a wonderful landscape. Not only was the scenery beautiful, but is provided me another opportunity to search for birds while looking for nests.  The highlights so far have been a long-eared owl, a variety of sparrows, as well as a very photogenic Wilson’s Snipe.

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Gray Flycatcher

Gray Flycatcher

Nest in a Juniper tree

Nest in a Juniper tree

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

I am loving working with the BLM in Prineville and cannot wait to report on my next adventures.

Things are heating up! Literally.

Hey fellow CLM interns.

We were warned over and over again, but we brushed it off as if it wouldn’t happen. Not until it was too late did we finally understand, summer is coming. Temperatures reached the mid-90s this past week here in the Columbia Valley. And while those that are positioned in more desert conditions have already embraced this reality, I was not expecting it so soon up here in Washington. When I think of Washington, snow capped mountains and cool weather come to mind, not 94°F in early May. It’s fixing to be a steamy sesh this summer season.

Besides dealing with the heat and trying to get some sun on these oh so white legs of mine, we finally got some valuable work done in the past 2 weeks. The first turf war broke out. On team Alliance we have yours truly, two other interns, and.. Oh! Right! The entire BLM district of Washington. Our opponent? The vigorous, unwelcome, overzealous, and just plain greedy Cardaria draba, or whitetop. Native to Asia and western Europe, this frustrating herb was introduced accidentally in the early 1900s, sneaky little buggers, and is pretty much all over the US except for a few southern states. I had never even heard of this plant before last week but now that I know what it is I see it everywhere! (interesting how that happens) 20160513_095805

The flowers are white, hence the name whitetop, and it’s an ugly weedy thing. (We’ll just ignore the irrelevant comment my coworkers and I made on liking ‘the unknown pretty white flowers’ next to the road while driving a few weeks earlier, we were young and foolish)

Anyways, going off topic. The whitetop popped up in an area that burned in a wildfire last year called Sleepy Hollow, right next to town. It was in bloom last week and easy to spot, so our supervisor decided it would be a good time to map it so that it could be provided to a contractor to be sprayed next year. So up to the foothills we went and using a combination of ArcPad and a topographic map, we recorded all the obvious spots.


What the whitetop patches look like when blooming up at Sleepy Hollow

After getting all those down, we spent this week going back and forth between working on putting the drawn out spots off the topo map into NISIMS, and going out do some mechanical treatment aka hand clipping seed heads. This perennial plant is rhizomerous, so just clipping the the flowering head off won’t stop it from spreading.  BUT the lack of spawn to disperse will slow it down. Unfortunately, there were only a few of us to work on it and even the small patches take a while to clip, so we didn’t get very far this week. And it seems they are quickly going to seed and will probably have them all dropped by the end of next week. So unless there is an industrial sized seed vacuum that someone forgot to tell us about, I’m afraid there’s only so much we can do for now. No matter, the point was to have the spots recorded into NISIMS and a map to provide for a spraying contract so mission accomplished! We will be going similar activities at other areas that were burned in the last few years. Most of them have already been seeded/treated and we are going to monitor how things are coming along, what invasives are present, and the most appropriate course of action to take.

We drove to a few other sites on Thursday this week to see what was going on. Each site had been treated differently and it was neat to physically see the results. The first site was treated by using a hose off of a truck to spray Russian knapweed, the second was aerially sprayed to control the bulbous bluegrass, the third was aerially seeded, and the last was left alone. Invasives were present in the all the sites but the last one had the fewest, however, I think that may have been due more to the site location. Oh and I also found something cool at the last site. car

I don’t know cars very well but I think this one may be totaled.

Until next time!


The war on weeds begins!

Training is complete, and the Wenatchee CLM interns are (finally) getting down to business! The past two weeks have given me a much better idea of what kind of work we’ll be doing day-to-day in the field, as well as a better understanding of what ESR (post-fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation) actually entails. It turns out that weed monitoring and treatment are a huge part of ESR, since fire can create perfect conditions for invasive plants, such as cheatgrass, to completely take over an area. The large amounts of highly flammable litter that this annual grass creates raise the potential for future catastrophic wildfires, and a positive feedback loop is established. This makes it highly unlikely that a site will be able to recover.

The first site I've seen with a solid stand of cheatgrass. Yuck!

The first site I’ve seen with a solid stand of cheatgrass. Yuck!

A big part of my internship this summer will be mapping weed infestations in recently burned BLM lands. These maps will be given to our spraying contractors to help them create an attack plan, as well as to track the spread of infestations from year to year. For me, doing the mapping is a huge step up; I’m used to being the person who actually does the spraying and pulling! After many a summer doing weed work back in Wisconsin, it feels positively luxurious knowing that I’m not the one who will actually be doing these treatments. After all, the rule of invasive species control seems to be that there is ALWAYS more than you expect, and that has certainly held true in the sites we’ve visited so far. A BLM parcel in the Wenatchee foothills that burned in 2015 has proven particularly depressing. This area is infested with Whitetop (Cardaria draba), a perennial forb that is highly invasive. It grows in thick patches that look like a fungal infection on the landscape when seen from afar. We mapped these patches using a combination of methods: for the smaller, easily accessible patches, we used our Trimble unit, and for the larger patches further from the road, we drew them on a paper map and later digitized these polygons into ArcPad using the contour lines for guidance. It was a long process, but seeing the end product was so satisfying! Of course, I can never seem to escape a weed infestation without getting my hands dirty, so I wasn’t surprised when our supervisor told us to go out and treat some of the smaller roadside patches by clipping the flower heads before they go to seed. This won’t kill the plants, but now that we have the patches mapped, we can see if it at least stops them from spreading.

Cardaria draba infestation

Cardaria draba infestation

Fortunately, not all the sites we’ve visited have been so disheartening. We traveled to some areas that were sprayed for Russian Knapweed (Acroptilon repens) about a month ago, and were pleased to see that the weeds are indeed dying! We also did a little reconnaissance at some of last year’s burn sites to check for accessibility and soil compaction, since we are hoping to go in and do some planting. One site in particular up by Lake Chelan was doing very well–I identified 18 native forb species, and the two invasives I saw (cheatgrass and bulbous bluegrass) were only located right along the edge of the road. Seeing the diversity of this site reminded me why what we’re doing is so important!

Calochortus elegans (Elegant cat's ear)

Calochortus elegans (Elegant cat’s ear)

Castilleja elmeri (Wenatchee paintbrush)...possibly my new favorite plant!

Castilleja elmeri (Wenatchee paintbrush)…possibly my new favorite plant!

Katherine Schneider. BLM. Wenatchee WA Field Office.


Into the Desert


Hi, from Vernal, Utah atop the Colorado plateau! To my east coast eyes, this place looks like Mars. These first two weeks of my internship have have been a little rocky (pun intended). Bumping along unpaved roads over plateaus and down rocky washes towards our field sites has provided a good chunk of time to get to know the botanists at the Vernal BLM field office and familiarize myself with this majestic, foreign landscape.

Already, I’ve had the opportunity to see some new wildlife, prairie dogs, burrowing owls, pronghorn, osprey, and a golden eagle. Here the relationship between geology, soil, and plant species is very clear. Proof of this area’s history is all around, from formidable geological formations to dinosaur bones to petroglyphs, this landscape is the product of millions of years of gradual change punctuated by rapid development and harsh disturbance.


Chamaechaenactis scaposa

We’ve been fortunate to get quite a bit of rain this May, so the desert wild flowers are aplenty, flying their vivid colors. Some of my favorites so far are Sphaeralcea coccinea (scarlett globemallow), Lupinus pusillus (dwarf lupine), Chamaechaenactis scaposa, and Sophora stenophylla (silky sophora). I had not expected the desert to be so full of life, variation, and color.


Sophora stenophylla

But the botanic variation that so pleased and surprised me, is seriously threatened.  Because of human development, mostly due to the oil and gas industry and heavy grazing, introduced species have been proliferating. Cheat grass (Bromus tectorum) covers a great deal of the landscape, filling spaces that were once occupied by biological crust and outcompeting other grasses and forbs. Tamarisk and Russian Olive trees are taking over riparian zones stealing huge amounts of the precious groundwater from Cottonwoods and their herbaceous neighbors.


So, there is a lot of work to be done. Already I feel the rush of coming upon a promising population of one of our Seeds of Success priority species or one of our BLM sensitive plants like Sclerocactus wetlandicus. There is definitely a steep learning curve. It’s very satisfying to recognize common species that only a few weeks ago were completely unknown to me.  This is a landscape that should not be underestimated or looked over. These plants are champions of adaptation. They may be small, but they’re mighty and I look forward to getting to know them better.

Hannah Heyman

Vernal, UT BLM


Fear and Loathing…and Happiness!!

I’m coming into my second month as an intern in Grants Pass, OR and I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying! My experience here has been rich in adventure and enjoyment, and I’m sure that there is plenty more to come.

That being said, the search for the federally threatened plant Fritillaria gentneri (FRGE) has not been all rainbows and unicorns. Lillie and I have encountered several site access problems, pulled countless ticks off of our persons, bushwhacked through miles of poison oak, and come across a juvenile rattlesnake whose rattle wasn’t developed enough to warn us. And many of the sites we revisit don’t have any flowering FRGE. Some days are tough.

Rattlesnake #2 of the season. I saw this one and ran away quickly. Lillie kept her distance, but stayed long enough to snap this picture.

Rattlesnake #2 of the season. I saw this one and ran away quickly. Lillie kept her distance, but stayed long enough to snap this picture.

With all of the hazards and frustrating situations we encounter, one might be disheartened. However, Lillie and I are not easily deterred. We face each day with determination and positivity. When our path is fraught with Ceanothus cuneatus, we battle through it. When a private road that would lead to BLM land has a gate or “No Trespassing” sign on it, we go find a different access point. And when we do find FRGE or another cool discovery, the reward makes everything worth it!

Every day provides new opportunities to learn and work on our problem solving skills. Every day also provides us with chances to view some stunning landscapes, see and learn new plant species, encounter interesting critters, and just generally enjoy each other’s company! Lillie and I are thick as thieves, and I’m really happy to have the chance to intern with someone that I like to spend time with, even when I’m not getting paid to do so. We spend our weekends hiking and exploring in the area, trying out different local restaurants, and binge-playing Scrabble.

Lillie with the lily!

Lillie with the lily!

Calypso bulbosa

Calypso bulbosa

Sometimes we get to hike to high places

Sometimes we get to hike to high places

Some mid-April snow at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Some mid-April snow at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

The Fritillaria gentneri are going to fruit in most of the lower elevations sites, so once we revisit the higher elevation FRGE sites located in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, we will be finished working with this species. Though we did not find as many FRGE as we would have liked, it served to make each sighting all the more special and exciting. Our FRGE site revisits have provided valuable insight into which areas should be priority for visiting in the future and which areas may not be worth visiting again. That being said, I’m excited that soon we will be looking for a different rare plant.

It's hard to say goodbye to FRGE, but it's made easier because the fruits aren't nearly as pretty as the flowers

It’s hard to say goodbye to FRGE, but it’s made easier because the fruits aren’t nearly as pretty as the flowers


Grants Pass Interagency Office, BLM


Stewardship, Myth and Natural History from the Edge of Seasons

Rains are falling lighter and lighter with each passing week on the North Coast — a slow intangible division is creeping into our consciousness — spring is turning to summer. As we silently whirl — riding the rotation of our planet at ~1,040 miles per hour — we work, play, laugh, mourn, connect and carry on.



When I seek to delve deeper into a concept — I generally start with etymology. The vast pools of words connected beneath other words leads us deeply into the halls of what we hope to explore. Additionally, in a language and society of millions upon millions of words — we begin to create our own definitions and connotations for those words — it can be helpful to start again with the definition. Not to mention that in the act of defining something we usually realize how little we knew in the first place.

Let’s work with “stewardship.”

Stewardship comes from steward which is composed of stig meaning house or hall and weard, now ward, meaning guardian or keeper. The reference to house leads my mind to a deep connection with the word ecology, which of course contains the root eco- coming from the Greek work oikos, meaning house or home (and –ology, the study of).

Is this connection mere coincidence? Not in the lacy world of an inspired spring-nourished naturalist hemming the bounds and connecting the fragments of stewardship, ecology, natural history and mythology.

Stewardship is, simply, the obligations of a steward (obligation coming from obligare (latin) and oblige (english/middle english) — a formal promise). Stewarding also is an act of care, of responsible planning, of management, protection, responsibility.

I have had an abundance of time during my CLM intern adventures of the past month to consider — and more importantly, carry out stewardship. In essence, my entire CLM internship is based in my work as a steward to the land. In my case, I am afforded the great gift of specifically working as a steward to those wise and verdant botanical aspects of the land.


Calochortus tolmiei; Lacks Creek. If you saw my last photo of this flower (from Lost Coast Headlands) — you may be thinking — how can this be the same species!!??

A great variety of stewardship is going on here at the Arcata BLM, and I am but one small and grateful facet of it. I have had the opportunity to pull, and will tirelessly continue to pull, the multitude of broom species (french and spanish, mostly) from high up on the prairies of Lacks Creek to the shore of the sea at Lost Coast Headlands. We have also been pulling non-native pines from coastal prairies at Lost Coast Headlands (near Ferndale, CA) to protect those open grasslands from being consumed by weedy pines. I have had the pleasure of advising the California Conservation Corps — they are the stewardship superheroes!! I also collected, nursed and delivered 22 bearberry plants (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) to Mattole Restoration Council (Petrolia, CA) to be used in restoration gardens. I am collecting wild germplasm (seeds) to be added to the Seeds of Success program (which will have a full post unto itself), attending meetings for the Humboldt Weed Management Area and Humboldt Bay Dunes Cooperative. Coming up — Ocean Day, where nearly 1,000 local school children help us remove European beach grass (Ammophila arenaria)!

All of this said, we also contribute to stewardship through inspiration and through coming to know aspects of the Earth we did not previously know. This is the practice of natural history.

Another significant aspect of my work as a CLM intern here in the Arcata BLM Field Office is creating a species list for a not-very-well-botanized BLM property — Butte Creek. Butte Creek is part of the Larabee Valley, about 35 miles east from HWY 101. It is part of the foothills of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the site ranges from about 3000-4500 ft. elevation. Containing the full spectrum of habitats — from pastures and rocky scrub slopes to riparian corridors and douglas fir forest — it is quite a wonderful place — take a trip there, you have access to it as much as any other person. The pure sweet joy of botanical exploration is one that relates not only to the past but to important work to be done in the future. More on this project, and how it connects to my other substantial project (seeds of success) in later posts!

Butte Creek, Humboldt County, CA

Upper Butte Creek, Humboldt County, CA



Lower pastures, Butte Creek — showing a profuse bloom of Ranunculus and Cerastium.


Leptosiphon androsaceus, Butte Creek


A very new flower for me! Hemizonella minima! Yes it is only a centimeter tall!


Lupinus albifrons var. collinus, a Seeds of Success 2016 target. Blooming brilliantly on exposed rocky ridges.


Mimulus kellogii, another surprisingly vibrant resident of the steep, rocky and dry.


When we carry out stewardship, we connect to matters that cascade much deeper. We connect to our ancestral memories. Memories that ignite a deep and intuitive remembrance, a feeling in ones own body of the gracious tending of wild landscapes that people have been performing all over the earth for tens of thousands of years, in order to provide themselves and their families with plentiful food, forage, utility. Stewardship has sustained us, and will continue to sustain us — if we engage it.

In engaging in stewardship we create a connection to one vein of mythology. Mythology is a composition of stories (myths), and one application of these stories is to our understanding of nature, culture and the nature/culture confluence. I will leave this here, for now, and extol you for pondering this link. The photo below (in conjunction with the book, The Klamath Knot by David Rains Wallace) has turned my interest in this direction quite strongly. What can we weave with a name, with what we notice, which what notices us? For your consideration:


Ithuriel’s Spear (Tritelia laxa — blue, foreground) and Diogene’s Lantern (Calochortus amabilis — gold, middle-ground). I took this picture in Colusa County, CA (outside of my BLM FO’s lands) — but it is striking to find these species growing together. Also — one of the advantageous wonders of is how tightly bound lessons from miles away come back to my work as a CLM intern in my field office.

The final part of all of this is the essential unity of engaging in stewardship. Unity that at this point in the trajectory of our species we deeply need. In undertaking stewardship — from Arcata BLM to BLM as a whole and on up to national and international, public and private institutions across the globe — we connect to the shared sustaining ground we all walk upon.

Until next time!

Kaleb A. Goff

Arcata BLM Field Office, California, United States, Earth.

Field Season is Upon Us!

The month of May has truly begun to feel like field season. Last month seemed to be dominated by outreach events: Reno Earth Day (the topic of my previous post), the Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful Clean-Up Day, in which our team helped direct volunteers in the “sprucing” (litter collecting and thistle digging) of Swan Lake Recreation Area north of Reno, and the TREE event just last week: a collaborative event with the Nature Conservancy and Forest Service to provide local fourth graders the opportunity to explore McCarran Ranch Preserve and learn about its ecology; our team was tasked with leading the invasive species and plant diversity activities. The preparation and execution of these events was enjoyable and rewarding; however I am excited to get out in the field on a more regular basis.

Looking ahead, we have a range of tasks to accomplish including weed mapping, rare plant surveying, and seed collecting. In preparation for summer field work, over the last couple of weeks our team has been organizing field equipment, analyzing plant location data, and putting together a seed collection calendar.

Thinking about longer term preparation and streamlining of weed and rare plant field work, we have been compiling weed infestation and treatment data from past years (the past 12 years to be exact…), as well as rare plant survey data; our end goal is to compile these historical vegetation data into one GIS (.mxd) file. It is not what one would call a light undertaking; however I think that it will prove extremely useful for us and future botany teams.

Although I am looking forward to field season, I would like to emphasize that over the past nearly four months, one aspect of this internship that I have truly valued, and will continue to enjoy, is the variety of tasks assigned to the botany team. With every project, I learn something new, whether it’s a local plant species, a tool in GIS, or how to effectively keep a fourth grader’s attention while discussing riparian vegetation.  “Routine” is not a part of this experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Margaret Lindman, BLM, Carson City

Tough day at the office...

Tough day at the office…


New Growth – For the Plants and Myself

I’ve lived in New Mexico my whole life.  Minus a short field season in Illinois a couple summers ago, but I’m not sure two months really counts!  So I viewed this move to Oregon as kind of a big deal.  I wanted to make sure I took the time to do it right and get the most out of it.  The logical solution, of course, was to take two weeks to travel from Carlsbad, New Mexico to Lakeview, Oregon.

I planned my trip in a way that I could spend a lot of time alone, but break that up with visits to important people in my life.  My route took me to as many state/national parks and monuments as possible, all of which I had never visited before.  Thus, when I wasn’t stopped over in a town with old friends and family, every experience was new and most importantly, unfiltered by the presence of another.  It was just me, with myself for company.

I departed Carlsbad on April 18th, excited by the unknown in front of me.  My vision quest, as my mother liked to call it, had begun.  My experiences alone afforded me opportunities for intense solitude, self reflection, and immersion in nature.  I was reminded of the beauty of my autonomy, and my relationship with nature was strengthened more than I could have anticipated.  My experiences with others, be they old friends, new friends, family, or strangers, reminded me of the beauty of closeness with other humans.  So much growth had been packed into those two weeks and I felt a renewed sense of being and belonging in the world.  When I arrived in Lakeview, over 2400 miles later, I felt anything but sad that my experience was over.  I was renewed, refreshed, and excited about the experience that lay ahead.

My first week on the job was intense and wonderful.  Off the top of my head, only a couple species (Juniperus sp. and Castelleja sp.) were familiar to me from my home in southern New Mexico.  My plant ID skills were, and continue to be, tested to the max but I am already learning the vegetation here at a shocking rate.  I spent my first week learning about AIM by spending time with those field crews, as well as scouting potential populations to identify and collect from for Seeds of Success.  I also spent a fair bit of time in the herbarium at the office learning about the native vegetation.  I had fun identifying some of the tricky forbs that are popping up in the desert here thanks to spring rains.  Some of these forbs even threw some of the experienced range staff for a loop!  Identifying them has been a rewarding challenge.

Overall, these past few weeks have been incredible and very formative.  I’m incredibly excited to see what challenges the future has in store!  Learning new plants, seed collection, pollinator habitat projects – there’s a lot to be stoked about!  I think my time with the BLM in Lakeview is going to allow me the chance for an incredible amount of growth and for that, I’m grateful.

  • Brennan Davis, BLM – Lakeview, OR