After a couple of weeks of cold weather (including snow!) up here in Lakeview, it is finally summer! Flowers are blooming, lizards are sunning, and interns are hunting for rare plants. Jessy, Liz and I have travelled all around the Lakeview district for the BLM, looking for populations of sensitive species, including Rorippa columbiae (Columbian yellowcress), Cymopterus nivalis (snowline spingparsley), and Pogogyne floribunda (profuseflower mesa mint).
Some of the populations were last surveyed in the early 1980s, so finding and mapping them can be both exciting and sometimes frustrating. We spent some time up at Table Rock, which was gorgeous and fun to hike, as well as the Black Hills and various rims and dry lakes.
In addition to the target species, we have had a chance to see some of the most beautiful flowers of the Pacific Northwest, including Paeonia brownii (Brown’s Peony), Sphaeralcea coccinea (scarlet globemallow), and many species of Castilleja (Indian Paintbrush). Looking forward to finding more interesting plants and exploring Southern Oregon!
At 4798 feet, Lakeview, OR, calls itself the “tallest town in Oregon”, a claim that may or may not be true. Either way, Lakeview is on the northern end of Goose Lake, in South Central Oregon, and is surrounded by plenty of high mountains and lots of sagebrush. Since arriving here three weeks ago, I have had a chance to meet some great people, and experience some of the beautiful outdoors working with the BLM.
Bald Eagle and its Nest
We are currently working on a project up near Silver Lake, doing botany clearances before a juniper cut and burn. We scour the ground for rare plants and invasive species, and make a list of all the plant species we see. On our first day, my fellow CLMer Liz Thorley and I found a bald eagle and its nest in a big Ponderosa Pine. We can’t see the chicks but we can hear them peeping!
We have seen some cool plants and gorgeous flowers, including sand lilies (Leucocrinum montanum), eyelash pappus (Blepharipappus scaber), cold desert phlox (Phlox stansburyi), golden currant (Ribes aureum) and death camas (Zigadenus venenosus). Many more are on the verge of flowering, so I think it will be a great spring!
The training in Chicago was a welcome change from the desert, and it was a lot of fun to meet the other CLM interns and hear about their experiences.
In addition to the important things we talked about, like working for federal agencies and more about the program, it was wonderful to spend some time in the Chicago Botanic Garden! Very different from the Mojave Desert, with gorgeous and unusual flowers, not to mention the abundance of water, but very enjoyable.
A tarantula hole
Since returning to Nevada, we have worked on perennial plots, mostly in Barstow, CA. The hiking can be intense in the heat, but we get some amazing views. Summer is definitely the time for animals to hide, but we still manage to find some lizards and insects.
An old miner's house, maybe?
We also come across interesting man-made objects, like old cars and abandoned buildings. In the coming weeks, we will be working on entering all our data from the season, which will be interesting. Hopefully we can get a little more time outside before we are done!
As a CLM intern at the USGS in Henderson, NV, I have had the opportunity to explore the unique desert habitat of Nevada and California. My three fellow CLM interns and I worked for several months on a project near Ft. Irwin in California, identifying the annual and perennial plants, taking biomass samples, and gathering general information about the plant community. We ran into all sorts of reptiles, like the desert tortoise and horned lizard, as well as bees and other insects.
We also saw a wide variety of flowering annuals and perennials, like the tiny, bright purple Nama demissum, the butter-yellow Malacothrix glabrata, the pink, spotted Eremalche rotundifolia, the speckled pods of Astragalus lentiginosis, and the orange Sphaeralcea ambigua.
In addition, we found interesting volcanic rocks and even fossils during our hikes around the area
Last month we worked on the Nevada National Security Site, formerly the Nevada Test Site, to continue monitoring the perennial plots set up in 1962 by Dr. Janice Beatley, of the University of California, Laboratory of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Biology. Dr. Beatley originally set up the plots to assess the effects of radiation on plant communities, and when the NTS stopped above ground testing, the plots continued to be monitored and now provide a look at the change in Mojave plant communities over many years. It was fascinating to work in a place very few people have ever seen, as well as to be a part of such a long-running project. I am looking forward to the rest of the summer!