I used to dream of California, but now I’m living the dream!

CLM Blog Entry #1

I have been a CLM intern with the Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office in the central coast of California since May of 2009, and I will be here until August 2010 or later, whether as an intern or because I’ve been hired… We’ll see!!! I have learned a great deal since moving to the west coast! I don’t even know where to start! I’ve been working with my mentor, Ryan O’Dell (the botanist in my field office), this entire internship period & I have learned a great deal about different plants in this region as well as key plant families, something I had little experience with before coming here. (Calflora is my best friend!) I have done a lot of T&E (Threatened & Endangered) species surveys, seed collection & processing for revegetation projects, dendrochronology research, worked closely with ArcMap on various projects, done archaeological & paleontological surveys & collections/digs, and recently received my Red Card which allows me to participate as a wildland firefighter on prescribed burns & wildfires.

Living in the central coast of California (“Cen Cal”, not “Nor Cal”) definitely has its benefits. From Hollister, I have a wide array of places I can visit when I get bored of my own small town: San Francisco, San Jose, and Gilroy to the north; Santa Cruz to the northwest; San Juan Bautista, Moss Landing to the west; Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Big Sur to the south/southwest; Tres Pinos, Paicines, Pinnacles National Monument, King City to the south… All places varying in size, culture, and location, relative to either the central coast or central valley. Hollister is definitely a great place to be “stuck” in California, especially with so many neat places I can visit all around me.

At the beginning of 2010, I spent a lot of time on a dune restoration project of the Monvero Dunes on Monocline Ridge in Fresno County, California. The dunes had a severe fire burn through in recent years, which severely degraded the vegetative cover & caused significant erosion of the dunes. The rare beetle species, Coelus gracilis (San Joaquin Dune Beetle) and Aegialia concinna (Ciervo Aegialian Scarab) were directly affected by this lack of vegetative cover & dune erosion. I assisted with planning the new dune locations, seed collection (Ephedra californica & Rumex hymenosepalus), installation of staff gauges to monitor sand erosion and/or deposition, and helped with the mechanical construction & revegetation of the dunes (with Ephedra californica & Rumex hymenosepalus). Although I will not see the significantly noticeable effects of my participation in this dune project for probably more than 10 years, it still was an amazing experience and really reinforced the importance of restorative changes needing to be done now, even if the results are for the seemingly long distant future. After the dune construction was complete, it was actually pretty amazing to return approximately 1-2 weeks later and notice very obviously the aeolian processes at work. How interesting it would be to watch a time lapsed video over the course of 10 years to watch the changes that will occur at this restoration site!
       

 

Along with the dune restoration project that occupied a good deal of my time this year, I have done a great deal of T&E species surveys. The main species I helped survey for were Caulanthus californicus (California jewelflower), Monolopia congdonii (San Joaquin woollythreads), Camissonia benitensis (San Benito evening primrose), and the rare (not T&E) Layia discoidea (Rayless layia). Most of these lie within the lands that the Hollister Field Office manages, Clear Creek Management Area and Panoche/Tumey/Griswold Hills. Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) has some of the largest serpentine barrens in the world, and some of the species listed above (as well as others) are endemic to the area and this soil type. Hiking at CCMA sometimes feels like I’m on the surface of the moon!

     

I am getting a very rewarding experience with the CLM Internship Program at the BLM Hollister Field Office, and I can only imagine what more I’ll be learning in my remaining months here! Thanks to Krissa and Marian for allowing me to experience such a great opportunity, to Ryan O’Dell for being a great mentor & for giving me endless experiences here, and to the BLM Hollister Field Office for allowing me to work with such a great group of people at an awesome location in California!

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post…

-Kelly M. Bougher
Bureau of Land Management
Hollister, California

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