Monsoon season is nearing the end and it has left washed out BLM roads, massively eroded areas, torn up roads and sticky traps for our trucks, but most importantly desperately needed water! Although the torrential rains washed away some seeds it has brought new life to the wildflowers. We are keeping hope alive and patiently waiting for them to start seeding then we will be right there to catch them. With roughly 2 months left we have our work cut out for us but cooler temperatures will make collecting more pleasant.
We had a chance to explore the New Mexico badlands near Angel Peak this week. Standing and looking out towards the horizon, being able to see for hundreds of miles and blue skies, it was almost ethereal. I could have stayed out there for hours. I have learned the desert is not my favorite biome but what it lacks in lush vegetation and cool temperatures, it makes up for in expansive undeveloped territories, covert colorful wildflowers, and brilliant huge rainbows! I want to soak up as much of this area as I can while I still can.
The month of August has proven to be a slow one. With evasive monsoons, we haven’t had enough water to sustain life. But, we have done our best to chase down rain in search for signs of life and seeds! In the meantime, my partner and I have had the opportunity to assist on different projects: rangeland health assessments; help well-known botanist collect plant samples for his herbarium (and some for the BLM office of course); explore the wetlands and dry lands of the Carson National Forest with former Forest Service employees.
The sporadic rains of August were enough to aid in seed production and the end of August/beginning of September looked more promising in terms of collecting. We have made a couple of good collections with even more on the horizon. Of course the last few weeks weren’t all about work. We made time to play!
Last month I turned one year older and one year wiser. Even though my friends and family are on lands far away, the people here helped make the day very special. I gifted myself a road trip to Oregon to visit a group of friends. We spent Labor Day weekend in the Three Sisters Wilderness surrounded my wild blueberries and huckleberries and a panoramic view of the mountains and a serene Alpine lake. The hike in was tough (funniest and worse part was being ambushed by ground nesting bees because I accidentally stepped near their nest…whoops) but as usual the journey was worth the reward. Last Friday was United Way sponsored Day of Caring. A few of us from the office spent the morning painting the ceiling of a children’s learning center. It was such a wonderful day to service the community! Then again, what day isn’t? Last but not least I finally got to experience a real thunderstorm. It has been consistently raining for hours; it started yesterday afternoon and has continued through to this morning. Hopefully the water will bring new life and didn’t wash away the seeds!
We have changed gears and focused our efforts towards beautifying our office. The landscapers hired to plant flowers and grasses around the office didn’t exactly put their best foot forward, to put it nicely. As a result, most of the plants died leaving the office with barren, dry, dusty soil. So Sheila had the idea to create native flowers and pollinator garden beds. These last 2 weeks have been dedicated to building said beds. This project was a nice reprieve from collecting seeds. I got a chance to get back to the activity I love to do: garden. I had forgotten how much I loved it actually. Jacob, Sheila, and I didn’t do all of the work. We have to give many thanks to the Youth Conservation Corps guys for their tireless efforts in helping us lay rock around the beds and build trails around the office.
Putting the finishing touches:
Fourteen tons of rock from Arizona, 2.5 truck beds of mulch, and over 170 native plants later here is the finish product: