Back in the desert again

Hi, I’m Jonathon. I just began my internship at the Bureau of Land Management’s Ridgecrest field office a few weeks ago. The first few weeks have been a whirlwind of trainings, conference calls, and herbarium research, but also a fair amount of time spent out in the field, the Mojave Desert.

The first week at work, I was enlisted to help install a Common Garden research project that is being led by the US Geological Survey. The installation involved planting hundreds of labeled propagants of a perennial bunchgrass, Oryzopsis hymenoides, which is an important pioneer species in the Mojave. This project is intended to measure the relative suitability of several ecotypes of the species to different regions across the Mojave Desert. Hopefully, this research will help future restorations workers to identify the most appropriate population to take plant material from when planning an installation in a given area. This could improve the viability of the plants that are introduced for restoration, and reduce the losses that are often associated with using plant material in an area to which they are not as well-adapted. And, as the common gardens become established, similar work will be done with various other important plants for restoration projects. I really felt as though I got brought on board with the rest of the team responsible for the project, and I’m excited to have a part in doing this important work.
Not to mention I get to drive a really cool watering truck.

On top of that project, I’ve also been happy to get outside to survey riparian areas that may shelter populations of the federally listed Inyo Towhee, conduct grazing evaluation reports, scout for plants that we’ll be taking seed from for the SOS project in the coming weeks, and just to take in the beauty that the desert has to offer. I grew up near this area, but I’m still amazed with the stunning vistas that the Mojave has to offer every day I spend in the field.
Until next time,
-Jon

Ridgecrest Field Office, Bureau of Land Management

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