Rolling in Seeds

Hello there!

This past month has been a busy one for the New England Seeds of Success team, we have just reached 140 seed collections! These marks puts us at 70% of the way done to reaching our goal of 200 collections by the end of November. In order to reach this point we have been on the move traveling to collection sites up and down the coast from Maine to Rhode Island. We have been spending a lot of time in the salt marshes and are starting to smell like one too.


In the process of organizing and drying the large amount of seed collections


Monarch Caterpillar feeding on a Milkweed leaf


Monarch butterfly eggs on the underside of a Milkweed leaf

Last month we had the opportunity to be interviewed by Sam Evans-Brown with the New Hampshire Public Radio. We spent the morning with Sam at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge collecting the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and explaining the goals and collection procedure of the Seeds of Success Program. For more information about our interview check out the following link.

As you can imagine, we have collected seeds from a variety of plant species so far and each different plant requires a unique method of collection. For example, the spice bush (Lindera benzoin) requires the pluck method, salt marsh cordgrass (Spartian alterniflora) involves the use of a sickle, where as most sedges and grasses require a grab and pull method. My personal favorite seed to collect is from the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), due to the easiness and state of satisfaction you receive when pulling seed off of it’s panicle inflorescence. Before making a collection we first have to take a closer look at the seed to determine if it is ripe. In this process I enjoy observing the minute details of each seed and have realized there is amazing diversity of seed design among each species.


Windy day at Plum Island National WIldlife Refuge, Newburyport MA

It has been nice and warm in New England through out the month of September. As the month of October has come, the temperatures have become much colder with rainy conditions. This may be the point in time we trade in our t-shirts for hoodies and jackets.

Cheers to the Fall!


Chasing Wild Horses

As with many life experiences, I’m sure it will take some time to recognize all the learning that has taken place over the last few months, but there are a few things that I can point to now, knowing that they are significantly changed from when I arrived in Wyoming. For one thing, I have a much fuller understanding of what it means to manage land period, let alone manage it for multiple uses. Land management has always seemed an abstraction discussed in college courses or job descriptions, but now I have a close up picture and have hours spent fulfilling various duties required to manage land. First, it entails knowing what is present on the land – vegetation, soil, livestock, wildlife, abiotic and biotic processes. This, when you’re talking about a field office of 2.5 million acres, requires lots of driving and gathering of data – and still there are places that won’t see a soul for years. Then, after the data gathering, comes decision making and consequential implementation of those decisions. From my observations of this process, decision making has appeared formal at times and yet less formal than I imagined when working for the federal government. Meetings in the field for example are often relaxed without a huge sense of urgency or debate. Many times evaluations are subjective and the outcome rests on a casual conversation about the state of things and possibilities for the future. In our field office the decisions being made affect the content of permits given to ranchers for grazing cattle, the fate of wild horses from year to year, the prescribed treatment plan for dwindling stands of aspen.

Monitoring: Erin measuring stubble height in a riparian area.

Monitoring: Erin measuring stubble height in a riparian area.

Recently, Erin and I had the opportunity to observe a bit of interagency collaboration between Wyoming Game & Fish, the Forest Service, and the BLM. Decisions had already been made about how to manage the areas of land that included both national forest and BLM by the time Erin and I entered the picture, but it was still very interesting to finally see how collaboration between agencies works and who is involved. We had a team of four wildlife biologists (including one from each agency) as well as several ecologists on hand to look at old growth aspens stands that were being encroached upon by more competitive conifers. The Game and Fish department had mapped sections of the aspen stands for us to flag the perimeter of for easy visibility by contractors when they come in next year to cut the conifers.

Another land management issue that Erin and I have been working on is the hot topic of wild horse management. We’ve spent the majority of our time lately chasing down wild horses within the northern “horse management areas” (HMAs) in our field office. Despite many hours spent in the truck, this has been a rewarding endeavor. The horses are enchanting. Many times, when we get close enough and the horses have adjusted to our presence, Erin and I will spend our lunch break just sitting and watching them from a short distance. We’ve begun to pick up on key elements of their behavior and look for trends in when and where they are spending their time.

Wild Horse Monitoring

Some herds are less concerned with human presence than others.

A lone paint stud - one of my favorites

A lone paint stud, healthy and strong

There are close to 50,000 horses currently on BLM land in the western US and a comparable number in holding. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) as stated by the BLM is ~26,000. Controversy on the topic lies in management of public land for multiple uses. While environmentalists advocate for the horses’ rights to life, health and freedom, the ranching community would like their numbers to be kept much lower for preservation of rangeland health for their cattle. Erin and I monitor the horses by visual counts, recording location, behavior, and health and taking photographs. Monitoring should allow BLM staff to make more accurate estimates of horse numbers and track their behavior in certain areas to make decisions about when to round up horses and remove them from the HMAs.

We've learned how to earn the horses trust and what will make them run.

We’ve learned how to earn the horses’ trust and what will make them run.

Our SOS season is winding down quickly. There are still a few collections left to be made, but it is no longer taking the majority of our time. We are waiting for four species of sagebrush seed to be ready to collect, as well as a population of winterfat. All of this, including the processing of all of our SOS data, should take us right up until the end of our season in two months!

Farewell, summer.

Summer has come and gone, and what do we have to show for it? Well, the SOS team at the NC Botanical Garden has over 100 collections of native seed!

In anticipation of the Emerald Ash Borer, we helped collect pumpkin ash, Fraxinus profunda, at Dyke Marsh in Alexandria, VA. Little did we know that Pope-a-polooza was upon us! Wading through the traffic, we made it to our field site and finally got to collect on a boat!

Collecting Fraxinus profunda.

Collecting Fraxinus profunda.


The most recent update for the east coast is Hurricane Joaquin. While it looks like he’ll be avoiding landfall with the U.S., we are getting a lot of rain and wind. We moved off of the NC Outer Banks and onto the mainland in Virginia to wait out some of the weather before resuming our seed collection.

I’ll leave you with some photos of our beautiful collection sites.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC

Blue mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum, at Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge, NC

Blue mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum, at Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge, NC

Jockeys Ridge State Park, NC

Jockeys Ridge State Park, NC




It’s almost over!

Hi all,

Things have been busy, busy, busy here at the Lockeford PMC so this, regrettably, will be a shorter post (but I will come back to edit and add pictures when I get the time)! This week was very cool for many reasons. First, Jeff and I started herbiciding the invasive blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) in our restoration area. On Tuesday we spot sprayed in the more woody areas with backpacks, while today (Thursday), we used a large Case tractor with a tank to get the large areas. I genuinely dislike herbicides, but they are useful for managing invasives during the site-prep stage of a restoration project. I personally believe they should be phased out during maintenance if a restoration is performed correctly.

Another thing I have been working on is preparing for our cover crop adaptation trial. Jeff and I figured out seeding rates for different cover crops, weighed out the seed, created a randomized design and organized our seed packets so everything will go very smoothly when we start planting, which should be very soon.

This Tuesday, Dr. David Morell from the Sonoma Ecology Center came to the PMC to discuss with Margaret the possibility of holding biochar trials at the PMC. I was fortunate enough to be invited to that meeting, which was a great learning experience in seeing the thought process that goes into making management decisions, and also learning more about biochar, which is very interesting thing.

Again, I hope to post pictures soon. I have two weeks left with the NRCS and I expect them to be very hectic. Cheers!



USDA-NRCS, California

The amazing Big Horns


The fall is firmly here, leaves are changing and the workload is tapering down.  I got to spend a week in the Big Horns working on a timber sale.  It was a great experience, as we got to see some of the issues facing forests elsewhere.  The Big Horns have a lot of diversity when it comes to their tree species.  Trees like douglas-fir, limber pine, ponderosa pine, subalpine fir, and lodgepole pine and exists in very close proximity, all with different needs and issues.  While in the Black Hills the predominate tree species, by far, is ponderosa pine.  Ponderosas in the Black Hills have been hit hard by mountain pine beetle while the Big Horns has been largely spared this fate.

Seeing how a mixed conifer forest is managed, balancing different light tolerances and regeneration levels reminds me of the issues facing Eastern forests.  One thing that I had not anticipated is the destruction being caused by white pine blister rust.  Limber pine is a white pine, generally having five needled, and there was not one stand that we saw which was not infected.  As such, there have been a lot of sanitation harvests to stimulate regeneration and reduce fuel loads.  This is one of the main purposes behind the timber sale we worked on, improving the health of the forest.  The douglas-fir are showing their age as well as some massive lodge pole pine; these trees are reaching the end of their natural life and instead of creating excessive down woody debris a useful product can be created.

Besides the fun new trees to look at there was so much wildlife.  Just driving to our work site we saw a huge bull moose eating some willow.  It’s amazing just how big they are.  There was also amazing raptors present; we saw countless hawks as well as a bald, golden eagle and a northern harrier.


A great place to spend the week in the Big Horns

A great place to spend the week in the Big Horns

Our final day in the big horns.  Checking out a burn site and firewood sale.  Such a great ending to a great week

Our final day in the Big Horns, a great view of Cloud Peak. Checking out a burn site and firewood sale. Such a great ending to a great week.

While in the Big Horns we were able to go to a Society of American Foresters meeting.  This is a great organization that provides a lot of information on what is happening within the forestry arena.  We met at and got a tour of the Tensleep Nature Conservancy Preserve.  This is a great place to visit, amazing views and an abundance of petroglyphs. If you are in the area it is worth a stop.

Back in the Black Hills the end of the tourist season finally came and with it the last hurrahs of many of the places that have been so much fun over the summer.  Custer State Park, home of one of the largest bison herds, has an annual roundup where they collect the bison and preform health checkups and have an auction.  It was amazing seeing 25 people on horseback trying to corral wild animals, at times the bison were very uncooperative. I just can’t believe that the summer is almost over and I have to go back to real life.

Bull Moose eating willow

Bull Moose eating willow


Hazelton Peaks, this is just some of the great views and settings that I get to experience.

Hello Fall.


Alia and I at the ponds in Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

Efforts at the Fish Evaluation Station (FES) came to an end early September. There was a large decline in the amount of suckers observed in week 4. This is due to a peak in entrainment that may have occurred earlier than expected based on historical data. I spent the next two weeks monitoring fish ponds at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and setting trap nets in Tule Lake. At the ponds we were measuring water quality, conducting predator surveys, and setting minnow and crab traps out in the channel. It was fun to take the jon boat out on the big pond, but we did not catch much. We caught a few Sacramento Perch (Archoplites interruptus) and Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas). These fish were measured, weighed, and visual implant elastomer (VIE) tagged. There were a lot of signs (scat and tracks) that coyotes occupy the area surrounding the ponds. We also saw Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis)! They are such beautiful birds.

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Adult Sucker Caught at Tule Lake!

WE CAUGHT A SUCKER IN TULE LAKE! This is the first adult sucker I have seen here so far. It is also the first sucker we caught in the trap nets at Tule Lake. Josh believes it could be a Klamath largescale sucker (Catostomus snyderi), but it is hard to know for sure. The Klamath largescale sucker is closely related to two other species of suckers, especially the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris). Hybridization can occur, so it is possible that the sucker we caught could be a hybrid. We took measurements and checked it for a PIT tag. No tag was found, but sometimes PIT tags that were not inserted correctly can fall out over time, usually resulting in a scar. No scar was found on this sucker. Next week, we set more traps. We did not have any luck catching other suckers. The mud boat was acting up again, so Josh decided to stop efforts of trapping on Tule Lake.


Shortnose Sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) from net pens. PIT tagged and released.

On September 14th, we went to our net pens in Pelican Bay to check on the suckers from the FES. Unfortunately, none of the suckers in the floating cages survived. On October 2nd, the floating cage located in the Link Dam Canal was removed. 1 out of the 3 stocked fish was alive. This sucker was released. This past Thursday we went to release the suckers we caught as larvae from the net pens. It was exciting! We removed 21 suckers. They all looked healthy. We PIT tagged them and released them in nearby vegetation. It was rewarding to see them school together and swim away.

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Nolan and Alia electrofishing at Threemile Creek.

Nolan, a fish biologist here at the Klamath Falls USFWS, had us help survey Threemile Creek for fish. This area is known to have endangered Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust is planning to restore the stream this week. Wood will be added into the stream to level it out and create better fish habitat. We set up block nets so no fish can enter the area they plan to add the wood into. We walked downstream electrofishing areas that looked habitable. We did not turn over any fish.

Alia and I are finishing up labeling and entering data for the old specimens of suckers. They will be X-rayed to determine vertebral counts for each species. These suckers are various sizes and have been sampled from numerous habitats. We are also finishing up our final projects. Mine focuses on the pilot sucker rearing project we established at the FES. I recently wrote a USFWS Field Note about the pilot project.

I can’t believe I only have a month left!

Till next time,


Wildlife Monitoring: bats, pygmy rabbits, raptors, swans, and a beetle

Now that the long-term trend and Habitat Assessment Framework monitoring has been completed, we’ve been doing grazing reintroduction surveys (monitoring grasses at previously burned sites to determine when grazing can be reintroduced), scanning allotment study files (done!), GIS projects (also done!), and some highly anticipated wildlife monitoring.

I have been looking forward to getting wildlife experience pretty much ever since I interviewed for the job. We were getting experience indirectly by gathering data on habitat and learning about the forbs that are palatable for sage grouse. And, similarly, we have become extremely familiar with the diets of cattle. But what I was really looking forward to was bat and raptor monitoring, which due to unforseen factors was not as heavily emphasized as anticipated. Luckily, the wildlife biologists at our office were in close communication with one at Fish and Game and our mentor Joanna has been really flexible and supportive of us getting involved in any and all projects we could get our hands on.


Another hidden Idaho gem unearthed by our wildlife outings… Sand dunes!

Our first bout of wildlife monitoring involved two days of bat surveys. It was the first time any bat population monitoring had been done in over a decade. I’m sure most of you have heard of the white-nose syndrome (WNS), but for those who haven’t, it’s a rapidly spreading disease among bats that causes a prominent white fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) to grow around their faces. And it’s just terrible. Some colonies and even entire species have been nearly decimated, populations dropping 90%. It has mostly been documented in the east, the first sighting hailing from New York in 2006, but is anticipated to spread westward any day.

So, to establish a baseline population of the bats in preparation for its imminent arrival, we used acoustic monitoring technology specifically designed to pick up the distinct frequencies of bats. The device is called AnaBat, and it’s pretty amazing. Before we set up the devices, the wildlife biologist established a grid with 4 quadrants in the study area, which encompassed sections of the Snake River as well as some residential and agricultural areas. In each quadrant, a portable AnaBat device was strapped to a post (either pre-existing, like a fence post, or a stake that we hammered) that is strategically facing an area with known bat activity. We also have to try to limit unnecessary ambient noises, like making sure the strap of the device is tucked in to make listening to the recordings less painful if it’s windy.

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AnaBat doin’ its thing

Next, we programmed the device to start recording data at sunset. While we drove between quadrants to prepare the devices and waited for the sun to set before the next step, we were able to watch an incredible amount of birds, mostly raptors, in and around the Snake River Canyon, such as burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks, ferruginous hawks, eagles, prairie falcons, barn owls, great horned owls, magpies… It was great, and with the extra help of a high-powered Fish & Game spotting scope, the wildlife biologist, and a teenage birding prodigy intern, there was never a dull moment (or an unidentifiable bird).


The view of the canyon as the sun sets before we drove our transect

Next we mounted another AnaBat acoustic monitoring device onto the top of our truck. This time, the device is facing the top of the truck. The flatness and smoothness actually helps the acoustics bounce back at a good angle that makes the recording clearer. This sensor is connected to a handy palm pilot from the 80s that has an application installed that visualizes the frequencies of the different sounds that are picked up. Before we started driving along the transect, we recorded the temperature, time of sunset, lunar phase, temperature, wind speed, cloud coverage, humidity, etc. Bats tend to be more active the fuller the moon due to increased insect activity (attraction to light).


AnaBat sensor mounted on the top of the truck

Next, we drove and watched and listened for bat noises on the palm pilot. The sounds that the palm pilot picks up are echo location and hunting calls. Different species of bats have specific associated frequencies and ranges. Although some visualizations are pretty definitive, all recordings must be listened to in elongated 15 second sections by a biologist who has been trained in using the device (which involves a lot of sound physics).  We were able to identify large and small brown bats, long-eared, Townsend’s big-eared, and a few other species. 

Jesse, one of the wildlife biologists at our office, trained us to do pygmy rabbit surveys, which are usually done in the winter when there’s plenty of snow and easy to identify active burrows and fresh scat. The process is pretty straightforward. We monitored previously inhabited areas and a couple where they were suspected to be present based on the habitat. In general, they like loamy, soft, deep soils that are easy for burrowing (they are the only rabbit species that dig their own burrow) and tall sagebrush with at least 30% cover.

Their burrows are pretty distinct due to their size (about the size of a softball) and sightings of their scat nearby, which are incredibly small pellets the size of tic tacs or smaller. Trying to find them reminded me of looking for sheds with my co-workers while we were driving through pastures for use supervision. There are so many things that look like what you’re looking for (i.e. a dead sagebrush branch can look a lot like a mule deer antler when you’re in a moving car) and it almost always isn’t. Similarly, when you approach a mound of tall sagebrush with the right soil, good cover, not too rocky, and actually find a burrow. A lot of the times I’ll find a promising burrow and it’s slightly too big or too small or somewhere in between but no scat to confirm.


Most recently, we went out with Ross from Fish & Game again to do swan surveys. Tundra and Trumpet swans are known to migrate here during the winter, but unfortunately we weren’t able to spot any. This could be a result of the recent cold snap scaring them off to warmer areas. Nevertheless, I got a lot of practice identifying waterfowl and saw some familiar species I saw a lot in Florida like pelicans, gulls, cormorants, snowy egrets, blue herons, and sandhill cranes.


On our way between swan monitoring sites, we were able to stop at the Bruneau Dunes to look for the very rare Bruneau Dune Tiger Beetle, which we were not able to find but we did learn quite a bit about what to look for when trying to spot beetle burrows and how to lure them out (with a blade of grass!). And of course, the views were pretty breathtaking.

Lastly, we spent a couple hours getting trained in radio telemetry. Ross hid 6 sage grouse collars outside the Fish & Game office (in trees, bushes, etc.) and taught us how to use the radios and antennas while adjusting the dials (volume, gain, etc.) to key in on a frequency and locate a collar.



We learned about the different types of collars (radio vs. satellite), different sizes for different age classes and species, how to deactivate a transmitter using a magnet, ones that are solar-powered, and pre-programmed duty cycles (i.e. when an animal dies or goes into hibernation, the transmitter can either turn off completely or reactivate when they are awoken, or to turn on and off depending on the time of day to save battery).

In addition, we were able to practice using two different types of antennas (Yagi vs. “H”). The H antenna was a lot smaller and lighter and easier to use, in my opinion, but Yagi tended to be more accurate when trying to determine where a collar was once you get pretty close to its location. We also learned how to navigate when there are tall, dense, or metallic/electrical, structures that may be interfering with our signal and how to triangulate to find a location.

Anyway, that about sums up our wildlife training for the season!

Until next time,


BLM Shoshone, ID

Seeds Rule Everything Around Me: Hitting Seed Collection Goals and Learning from Mistakes


It’s been a little while since I’ve posted – this is actually the first time I’ve opened up my computer in over 2 weeks. The NEWFS team has been out and about making collections as summer comes to a close. With fall moving in, we are getting closer to our goal of 200+ collections for the 2015 season. As of today we are at ~130 collections. I think today was the slimiest collection yet: Peltandra virginica (Arrow Arum). Check out the image below to see where it grows and what it looks like.

Peltandra virginica. Image from Wikicommons.

Peltandra virginica. Image from Wikicommons.


Recently we’ve been focusing on salt marsh species such as Spartina alterniflora, Distichlis spicata, Limonium carolinianum, and Iva frutescens. So far, my favorite is Iva frutescens. My fellow interns call me the “Iva Queen” because I try to collect as much as possible since it grows in robust populations along the edge of salt marshes. It’s quite satisfying to haul in 5 or so bags full of Iva fruit compared to some of the other species we collect. One mistake we made recently was not checking the tides before venturing out to the salt marshes in CT and RI earlier this week. With the recent Blood Moon, the tides were especially high and prevented us from being able to collect Spartina alterniflora and other salt marsh species.

One thing I have been appreciating lately is the cooling of temperatures. Although we still had some higher temperatures earlier this week, I think we are finally settling into some fall weather, which is my favorite. Wearing rain boots in 80+ degree weather was starting to get old (and smelly!).

Yesterday we took advantage of torrential rains in New England to finally do some office work. We organized and re-labelled the majority of our collections to make sure everything was in order. We went over how to package our seed before shipping and discussed what has and hasn’t been successful in our seed collections. It was great to realize that there were only a few mistakes out of the hundreds of seed collections we had between all of us. We have made so many collections just in the past month that I really wasn’t sure how everything kept organized! Garden at the Woods doesn’t have that much room for us, so the seed collections have been divided up between the interns for safe keeping until shipping.

Yet again I must comment on how quickly this internship is flying by! With so much travel and keeping so busy on the weekends, it seems nearly impossible that we are getting so close to our season end goals. I am so appreciative of all the knowledge I’ve gained and the relationships I have developed between the other interns and our supervisor. We have made plenty of mistakes (forgetting pens or newspaper or data sheets or rulers or you name it!), but from these mistakes we’ve become a closer and more efficient team. We can move quickly between landscapes and scout for seed and make decisions as a team, which takes a while to feel comfortable with!

I’ll be back with more comments about Seeds of Success very soon, with the weather cooling down I become more reflective and take more time to consider all of the events of the past summer and all of the collections we’ve made and why these seeds are so important. Hopefully this most recent Hurricane Joaquin will not be so destructive to the east coast as Superstorm Sandy was!


Best wishes!


Parting is such sweet sorrow…

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Prettiest. View. Ever.

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Forestry shenanigans

Everyone needs a little Shakespeare at the end of their internship. I hope you all feel the way I do in that I am so sad to leave my friends, colleagues, and this position in general. But at the same time, so excited for the next chapter in my life.  At this moment, as of Wednesday, I have been hired on as a Soil Conservationist in Ohio starting in mid October!

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One of the Grand Prismatic springs at Yellowstone!

It’s times like these, as I am tying up loose ends around the office and wondering how I can possibly have so much stuff in my possession, that I reflect on all the amazing times I’ve had during this internship. Travelling to Yellowstone, the Bighorns, TWO Oktoberfests, and a surprise trip back to Ohio for an interview.

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Being a tourist in the Bighorns.

I can honestly say that this internship has changed me.  It forced me to get out of my comfort zone. (Hello…never really did forestry before.)  Combine that with being my own advocate and asking for training and advice.  My co-intern and I kicked butt collecting data in the field and making a lot of really great contacts all around the state of Wyoming.

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Getting artsy during lunch in the field.

All in all, I feel that I have lived an exciting life here in Wyoming.  I explored the Black Hills in South Dakota and pretty much the entire state of Wyoming.  There are some fantastic federal lands here that I will miss as I move back East.  I have a whole new appreciation for those who care-take our federal lands.  Often operating severely understaffed and with limited budgets, but making important decisions and positive change all the same.  It is with a content heart and eyes wide open that I am entering the federal workforce.  I hope more than anything I can maintain my optimism and remember the diligence and logic of some of my favorite mentors here in Wyoming.  I hope they know that all of us 20-somethings just entering the workforce are looking to them and forming our professional selves in their image.

Look out world… here we come!

Go forth and make this a world you want to live in,


Wild horses and Changing Leaves

September has gone by quickly in the Lander Field Office! Today is officially the first day of fall, but it does not feel like it. The entire month of September has been in the 75-85 degree range. I am ready for a cool down. Despite the warm weather, the aspen leaves have started to change color in the mountains. They are a fiery mix of oranges and golds that stand out impressively among the conifer stands.


A golden sea of aspen


An aspen leaf

Fall also means that hunting season has started on antelope, grouse, and deer. Seasons on elk and moose start in early October. This means that Emma and I have to take extra precautions while out in the field, since we are often far away from our vehicle in remote areas. We have bright orange hunting vests that we wear into the field to keep us safe.

This month, Emma and I took over the responsibility of wild horse monitoring. We were given maps and assigned Horse Monitoring Areas, or HMAs, to look for horses in.  We started out with two HMAs to explore. While monitoring we try to cover as much ground as we can inside the HMA to find as many horses as possible. Some days we only find a few, which can be frustrating. However, on a few occasions we have encountered more than 100 wild horses in a day. One of the wild horse specialists taught us about wild horse behavior and how we could use our body language to get closer to the horses. One of the most important things we learned is to never face a wild horse head on, either with a car, or with your person. It is seen as a threatening and aggressive behavior. Instead we were told to always face sideways, or show the horse the back of your shoulder. This movement shows trust and helps the horse understand that you are not a threat. I was very impressed by how knowledgeable our horse specialist was and how he could very accurately predict and understand the horse’s behavior.


A wild horse we found while monitoring.


A group of wild horses. These ones were curious about us.

Although we currently work on horse monitoring most days, we still manage to slip in a few other projects. We have done our last round of riparian area monitoring for the rangeland staff. We also have been vouchering a few sagebrush species that we will use as Seeds of Success collections. We have four sagebrush species that we are waiting to collect, as well as a shrub called Winterfat. All of these species need cold weather for the seeds to ripen, so we are waiting for a cold front.


A flowering Wyoming Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis).


Winterfat is one of my favorite shurbs, it’s fluffy!

This month we also got to work on a multi-agency project between the BLM, the Forest Service, and Wyoming Game and Fish. The project was to delineate aspen stands containing conifers. The goal is to mark the stands that contain conifers, and then have a crew come in to remove the conifers. It is important for the conifers to be removed because they will out-compete the aspen, and aspen are a better species for wildlife. Aspen also do not burn as easily as conifers, which helps with fire suppression. They also are very quick to regrow after a fire, if a fire does occur.


During my free time I hiked up to Louise Lake with some friends, got my first peek at snow this season!


Visited the Tetons for my birthday

Overall the month of September has been busy and exciting. I am grateful that this internship allows us to work on such a wide variety of projects. We are never bored and we are learning so many new skills. I can’t wait to see what other projects are in store for us. Two more months to go!

Until next time,

Erin, BLM- Wyoming, Lander Field Office