About Darnisha Coverson

CLM Intern Colorado State Office, BLM

Uncharted Territory

I fondly remember how I packed my little blue car full of all of my belongs and traveled almost 2,000 miles from Georgia to Colorado. I finished my internship in late December. I am proud to say that I have been a Conservation and Land Management intern for 1 year and 7 months at the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office where I worked for Dr. Carol Dawson. I learned so much during my time here in Colorado. The CLM program is the best opportunity for recent college graduates interested in gaining experience in botany and wildlife conservation and land management.

My first field season in Colorado was a whirlwind of excitement. I enjoyed working with such an amazing team: Carol, Dr. Peter Gordon, and Sama Winder. With the help of Carol and Peter, we were able to expand our Colorado flora knowledge – and even fauna. During my second field season, I had the great opportunity to become lead intern of our team with Katherine Wenzell – who was always willing to be a team player. I was able to share my experiences and contribute my knowledge as a second year intern. I feel lucky to have had Carol as my mentor – she truly is the best. I am very thankful and grateful to have earned this opportunity. Overall, I have learned a lot about myself and who I am, I have become a stronger person and better botanist, and learned how to welcome the unknown and celebrate the feeling of leaving all things familiar to embark on a new journey.

There were many projects that I was involved in during my internship including outreach environment activities, seed collecting, vegetation surveys, rare and endangered plant monitoring and assessment projects, and plenty of retirement parties (it’s always fun to support those around the office…and eat cake!). I’m excited about all of the friends that I have made. I am sure I will continue to stay in contact with many of them. During my free time, I joined a Denver kickball team, learned how to ski, dined at Denver’s best restaurants, became a volunteer at the Denver Botanic Gardens, hiked part of Mt. Evans (literally), attended some pretty awesome concerts at Red Rocks, and visited the X-Games in Aspen.

To mention a few exciting events happening after my internship, I accepted a full-time, permanent position within the government working in a forensic laboratory in Denver. I’ve been happy to learn more about botany and wildlife biology; however, I am looking forward to getting back to working in a lab and becoming more directly involved in research. It’s been a fun and educational experience. Thank you to Chicago Botanic Garden and past employees – Krissa, Wes, and Marian. You are the best. Thank you again to everyone who supported me, the great friends that I have made, and I look forward to the new chapter of my life.

If you find yourself in Denver, I’m sure I’ll be see you around!

Happy Trails,

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office

Moving to Colorado inspired me to explore the west. I planned a trip and hiked my way into the Grand Canyon (seriously, this is the steep trail that I took).

Moving to Colorado inspired me to explore the west. I planned a trip and hiked my way into the Grand Canyon (seriously, this is the steep trail that I took).


Winter Project Part 2

Listening in on the SOS call and being updated about what’s happening at other offices was really exciting. Field season is wrapping up and everyone is preparing to collect the late season species to complete their 2013 field season, shipping the remainder of their seeds to Bend, and organizing herbarium vouchers to be sent to the Smithsonian.

In the meantime, I have picked up my Sclerocactus glaucus (Uinta Basin hookless cactus) winter project where I left off last year. The main purpose of my project is to determine the number of individuals by recording total population history and GIS mapping. Ken Holsinger and Brandee Wills at the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office with my mentor Carol Dawson and myself are working together to make this effort as smooth and as accurate as possible. This is just one of the many tasks to be completed for the listed species recovery plan. The overall goal is making the effort for the removal of Sclerocactus glaucus from the list of endangered and threatened species more likely to occur.

Sclerocactus glaucus Recruitment

Sclerocactus glaucus recruitment

Sclerocactus glaucus

Sclerocactus glaucus





Winter has come to Colorado and the cold weather is here to stay.

CLM in the snow

CLM in the snow



Until next time folks!

Darnisha Coverson

Bureau of Land Management – Colorado State Office




The Pinnacle

Field season is rapidly coming to a close especially in the mountains, which is where most of our collections were made.  We have definitely been opportunists throughout this entire field season – trying our best to make each trip a productive one.

The blooming season has rapidly changed in the subalpine from the July to October. However, being away from the field for two weeks did not necessarily “help” our seed collection schedule – but we made the best of it.

Here are a few pictures below for your enjoyment:

Late spring in Leadville, CO.

Late spring in Leadville, CO.

Winter in Leadville, CO

Winter in Leadville, CO.

Parry's Gentian (Gentiana parryi) capsules

Parry’s Gentian (Gentiana parryi) capsules

Gentiana parryi seeds

Gentiana parryi seeds

There is plenty for us to do. In the next few weeks I will be preparing our herbarium vouchers to be sent to the Smithsonian and to other herbarium museums around Colorado. It’s always exciting looking through the many herbarium specimens and seeing the vast diversity of plant species that we have collected this season – this will be fun.

Until next time!

Darnisha Coverson

BLM – Lakewood, CO




Georgia Peach at 14,000ft!

We have been extremely busy with monitoring trips from the alpine tundra (snow can still be seen in a few places) to the desert (by far we are the tallest living things around). Being from GA, there are not very many places you can hike above 14,000ft. Monitoring Eutrema penlandii in the alpine tundra and seeing the little pika was extremely exciting. They can be heard running around the rocky slopes gathering grass, making little haystacks, and tucking them away under large rocks preparing for the harsh winter. During our trip to Meeker, CO, we had the exciting opportunity to see the wild horses on BLM lands spending time in the much needed shade around the pinyon-juniper community.  We also met a few new and returning seasonal employees, research students, and people from many different organizations and agencies.

While the majority of spring has long gone in the foothills of Colorado we took a trip into the mountains above 11,000ft and to our surprise behold spring is still occurring in some parts of this amazing state – just a few hours away from the State Office. There were gentians and gentians galore…these are some of my favorite plants.

The BLM has some beautiful areas that I never knew existed and I feel quite fortunate to have seen so many places that I would have otherwise never known existed. Being a CLM intern is an amazing experience to have. Between collecting seed or recording plant herbivory, I am still amazed by how truly beautiful the West really is!

For your pleasure, here are a couple of photos from some of the places we have monitored or scouted for seed thus far this season. Enjoy!

The CO State Office SOS Team identifying plants near Mosquito Pass

The CO State Office SOS Team identifying plants near Mosquito Pass.

Along the river we found plenty of potential plant species to collect.

Along the river we found plenty of potential plant species to collect.

Our plan is to visit the site in a few weeks to see if the Pyrola rotundifolia population is ready for collection.

Our plan is to visit the site near Mosquito Pass in a few weeks to see if the Pyrola rotundifolia population is ready for collection.

Pedicularis groendlandica in flower

Pedicularis groendlandica in flower (near Mosquito Pass).

Our goal this field season has been to collect from BLM lands mostly and widen our range of plants specific to certain ecoregions/life zones. We have some amazing collections and the season isn’t even over yet! I’m looking forward to finding more plant species that I’ve always wanted to collect.

Chamerion angusitifolium

Chamerion angustifolium shown. The bees are too busy to notice me, so I take this opportunity to take a couple of photos.

Gentianodes (Gentiana) algida "Arctic Gentian"

Gentianodes (Gentiana) algida “Arctic Gentian”

Frasera speciosa was a really fun SOS collection.

Frasera speciosa was a really fun SOS collection.

(photo of myself) In Montrose, CO

(photo of myself) Hello my little Sclerocactus glaucus friend, I spent the past winter studying about you. This is the largest cactus that we found while monitoring around the Escalante-Dominguez Canyon area. S. glaucus was very close to being pineapple size. And of course, I decided the next step was to take a family photo (say “cheese…”).

Phacelia formosula (North Park phacelia) is an endangered, annual found in Jackson County. Its endemic to the state of Colorado.

Phacelia formosula (North Park phacelia) is an endangered, annual found in Jackson County. Its endemic to the state of Colorado. Rosette shown.

Happy Seed Collecting,

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office, Lakewood


Playing in the Dirt Again: Colorado

This is my second field season here working for the State Botanist at the Colorado State Office.  Having the opportunity to continue working for the BLM has been fantastic. I was able to behold the beauty of spring and truly appreciate this ephemeral month. It’s just the beginning of July and its starting to feel like summer is here to stay. The poppies (Argemone sp.), columbines (Aquilegia sp.), and cacti are flowering. The bees and butterflies have dutifully taken on the task of flying to as many faraway places that their little wings can take them to pollinate whatever is in sight.

The past couple of months have been quite busy with monitoring Astragalus debequaeus, scouting new public parks and BLM lands, making collections, and planning future trips to monitor other rare, threatened, endangered, sensitive, or species of concern flora populations.

Finally, the new CLM interns in our office have started, Nathan and Katherine, which is very exciting. We have the great opportunity to check out a few of the many beautiful BLM sites here in Colorado and capture some scenic views that are true to the state welcoming sign “Colorful Colorado.” We have already started making some great collections and there are many others to be found. In the upcoming weeks, we will begin helping with environmental education trips with the State Office’s Fisheries Biologist, Jay Thompson.

Like all great CLM interns would say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” (So, here are 6,000 words)

Our first monitoring trip this year in Silt, CO

Astragalus debequaeus monitoring trip in Silt, CO

Aquilegia coerulea

Aquilegia coerulea

Thalictrum fendleri

Thalictrum fendleri

Pediocactus simpsonii var. simpsonii

Pediocactus simpsonii var. simpsonii

Frasera speciosa

Frasera speciosa

North Sand Hills Dunes

North Sand Hills Dunes a few miles from the Colorado/ Wyoming boarder.

Happy Scouting!

Darnisha Coverson

Colorado State Office-BLM

Lakewood, CO

Snowpack in Colorado

Lately, here in Colorado, we have been experiencing snow at least once a week during this winter season, which is great because we need all the moisture that we can get for the coming field season. Here is an overall update on what has happened so far since January and February.

I have successfully packed and shipped all duplicate herbarium voucher specimens from our SOS collections to local Colorado herbaria and on a continuing project have been entering rare plant monitoring data from this summer.

In an effort to maintain a working record of the number of SOS herbarium specimens collected each year and how many donations have been made to local Colorado herbaria, the BLM Colorado State Office is helping to increase the number of specimens that can be used for future research, teaching, and education.  In a final update, I have helped donate over 200 excellent Colorado native plant specimens from our SOS collections to local herbaria and museums needing good plant materials for student research as well as increasing their working collection. These specimens have been sent to the University of Colorado at Boulder Museum of Natural History Herbarium and the Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc. Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium Database.

Delphinium geyeri

Delphinium geyeri (one of the many voucher specimens donated to local herbaria)

I am beginning a new project working on Sclerocactus glaucus (Uinta Basin hookless cactus) element occurrences reports dating back to 1983 up to 2012. S. glaucus was listed as a threatened species in 1979 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For 34 years, the Unita Basin hookless cactus has been listed as threatened because of many factors, such as oil drilling, mining, and over collecting. I will be compiling all survey and observation dates as well as the latitude and longitude coordinates to better determine S. glaucus sightings and the approximate numbers of individuals in each population. I am starting one of the many steps required to moving forward with the Sclerocactus glaucus Recovery Plan. I am beginning to read a few scholarly and highly-notable papers from authors such as Deborah Rabinowitz and Peggy L. Fiedler, which I am finding to be quite interesting. This amazing experience is broadening my understanding of how plants are classified as sensitive, endangered, or rare, and furthermore how plant rarity plays a role in practical conservation philosophies. I will keep you posted on what I am learning and discovering as the months pass.

Sclerocactus glaucus

Sclerocactus glaucus, endemic species of western Colorado, in bloom (Photo Credit: Peter Gordon)

I feel very lucky and fortunate to be extended and working here at the Colorado State Office through the winter. Its a wonderful opportunity to be able to assist with field work during the summer and then during the winter being directly involved in forming graphs and charts describing trends for the rare plant monitoring plots from this summer. I am able to be an active part in every phase of vegetative monitoring from learning how to set up a plot to count the number of reproductive individuals to entering data coordinates for plots that have been monitored since 2005/2006. Knowing the vegetative conditions and the statistical analysis of these plots are important. It can further tell us whether the BLM is achieving its goal of protecting wildlife; as well as, maintaining a balance with keeping recreational areas open for the enjoyment of the present and future generations. As the winter slowly wanes away and the temperature begins to rise again, it will be exciting to work with the new interns coming here this summer.

Stay Warm Out There!

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office – Lakewood



Winter Project

The month of December was full of preparation with completing the Seeds of Success Annual Report for 2012 and organizing herbarium voucher specimens from the years 2008 to 2012. After having sent the herbarium specimens to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, I have processed and prepared more than 100 duplicate herbarium vouchers to be sent to other Colorado herbaria. This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Herbarium where Tim Hogan and Dina Clark are the Botany Collection Managers. I was excited to have the chance to see such an extensive collection of fine and extraordinary plant specimens. Next week, I will be preparing the next collection of specimens to be sent to the Denver Botanic Gardens Herbarium Database.

Over 60 hebarium vouchers (from 2010) to process and send to the University of Colorado at Boulder


Completed folders containing years 2008 to 2012 duplicate herbarium vouchers.

Completed folders containing years 2008 to 2012 duplicate herbarium vouchers.

Darnisha Coverson

BLM (Colorado State Office)


My CLM internship and summer season projects of seed collecting and plant monitoring have come to a close. We have completed a total of 25 seed collections, which is an amazing accomplishment considering how awfully dry the summer was this year. Overall, I am so very happy that we reached our year 2012 goal for the S.O.S Program. Its amazing that I have been working at the Colorado State Office for almost 7 months and I have honestly been enjoying every minute of this wonderful experience.

Lately things in some areas of the office have slowed down since its getting closer to the end of year, but being a CLM intern means there are still many projects planned for me to tackle :). I have had the wonderful opportunity of being offered an extension. I am so grateful and excited about my winter project, which involves processing and submitting the herbarium specimens from the years 2009 – 2012 to the Smithsonian Institution to be entered into their Herbarium Database! I will keep you guys updated on my next adventures. Stay tuned…

Here are a few pictures of the sights I have seen thus far since being in Colorado!

P.S. Winter is here in Colorado…happy skiing 🙂

Monitoring Trip in Walden, CO

Phacelia formosula plant population in Walden, CO


Ericameria nauseosa was by far the most anticipated collections of the season (the seeds didn’t set until late October!).


Colorado Blue Bird

Colorado Blue Bird. I followed this bird in hopes to get a good photo (the last one I took was of him giving me a “go away” stare…so I did).



Aly and I collecting seeds at Pine Valley Ranch

Aly and I collecting seeds together at Pine Valley Ranch!


One of our last collections, you can see why. Snow on the ground can been seen looking through the aspen trees.

One of our last collections, you can see why. Snow on the ground can been seen just through the aspen trees.

Thanks again for the incredible experience,


Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office

The Latest and Greatest Collections

The season is beginning to come to a close. Looking around the different field sites and local parks, I noticed that the aspen leaves are beginning to desiccate and produce the most brilliant, golden yellow and amazingly, beautiful orange hues.  Even though the season is almost over, we are still very busy with collecting seeds, such as Chrysothamnus sp. populations, Mentzelia nuda (bractless blazingstar), and many other plant species that we have been scouting and monitoring all season long.

This has been an absolutely amazing opportunity. There are some very beautiful things happening in Colorado this time of year, and I am very excited and looking forward to experiencing winter sports and fall festival events in downtown Denver. Here are a few  photos to show some of the events that have happened thus far.

One of our collections for the S.O.S. Program

During one of my favorite collections, Humulus lupulus. While out in the field collecting, we saw a garter snake  (quite harmless).

Snake in the grass

Can you find the snake hidden in the grass?

Last week Sama (another CLM intern at the BLM Colorado State Office) finished her CLM internship. It was very sad to see her leave and its very different to see people move on to their new adventures. Truly, I think that I have made some great friendships through the CLM program and I know that I will stay in contact and remain friends with them even after the CLM Internship Program.

Last day of internship for Sama

At Pine Valley Ranch Open Space Park, Sama and I together on her last day of the CLM internship.

I was able to spend time with other interns from different field offices in Colorado. At Anvil Points, we monitored the Penstemon debilis rare plant population, which lives in areas high in shale deposits on about a 5 degree slope that suddenly drops down into a valley. Its great being able to see Alison Gabrenya (Ali) again, we met at the CLM Workshop in Chicago and we have been great friends ever since then. For the day, I was able to show her exactly what we do at the Colorado State Office to study, monitor, and assess rare plant populations. 

Spending Time with Friends

Spending the day with Ali Gabrenya and Christine Chung on a rare plant monitoring trip for Penstemon debilis at Anvil Points.

I’m looking forward to staying until the very end of this seed collection season and continuing to increase our numbers of plant species for the S.O.S. Program. I have learned so much from this wonderful opportunity and gained a large amount of confidence in identifying Colorado native plant species. Being a girl from Georgia, the flora and even fauna are vastly different in the south in comparison to the west. I’m excited to see what the month of November holds and the spectacular events happening throughout this beautiful state. I have fallen in love with Colorado and all of the friendly people here!

Happy Seed Collecting (because there are still thousands of seeds to continue to collect before the season is officially over).

Darnisha Coverson

BLM Colorado State Office




All Over Colorado

It’s great to be able to measure and monitor a plant population that has been studied for many years and see whether the population is improving or declining. Working at the Colorado state office, we have the amazing opportunity to visit various sites, meet new people from all over Colorado, and work with other field offices. These are some of the places that we have visited this summer. On each of our trips I learn something new about the state of Colorado and my amazement by the beauty of the colors of the soil of the mountains never ceases to amaze me. I’ve finally come to the realization that I am actually not in a dream working as a CLM Intern for the BLM Colorado State Office, but that  THIS IS reality and truthfully it feels awesome!


Monitoring rare Penstemon species only found on the tops of precarious sand dunes that seem to almost melt away when too much weight has been pressed upon it.  And the list of locations goes on and on….


monitoring and assessing one of our plots in Kremmling

monitoring and assessing one of our plots in Kremmling


Picture of myself in Fairplay, Colorado while monitoring Eutrema penlandii

Picture of myself in Fairplay, Colorado while monitoring Eutrema penlandii


At Mosquitoes Gulch, we saw plenty of Pika gathering grass and hay.

At Mosquitoes Gulch, we saw plenty of pika gathering grass and hay.


Meeker, Colorado trip monitoring plot for the Physaria congesta

Meeker, Colorado trip monitoring plot for the Physaria congesta (scientific name has probably changed based on the USDA PLANTS website)


Pine Valley Ranch Conifer, Colorado

Pine Valley Ranch Conifer, Colorado…which is a little closer to the State Office.

Happy Travels!

Darnisha Coverson

BLM State Office Colorado