I can’t even begin to describe all the things I’ve learned from my experience in Susanville. But I can tell you that I’m a different person than the one who arrived in June. I had no idea what to expect when I was told I would be working in Northern California. I had little knowledge of western plants. I knew very little about BLM and public lands. And I knew no one in northern California. All of that changed when I arrived at the ELFO and met some wonderful friends who taught me many things.
Now that my time has ended, I reflect on my experience and can’t help but smile remembering all the memories I made. Here are just a few: long bouncy rides in the jeep around the field office, collecting seed on top of mountains, searching for rare plants in Sierra Valley, meeting and working with great people, and having lunch in some of the best spaces. All of the once unknown “fears” have formed into one of the greatest experiences in my life. There were so many times over the last six months I couldn’t believe what I was doing was part of my job. Getting to adventure in all of these beautiful places was a major highlight. Fieldwork has been a great experience and I hope to keep doing it as my career advances. One of the many things I’ll take away from this experience is to do the work you love and keep searching and adventuring until you find it. We all have different skills to contribute in order to get the job done. I will always remember my time spent at the ELFO in Susanville, California. Thanks to Deb (my partner in crime), my wonderful mentor, and all my friends at the ELFO. It’s been so awesome! I can’t wait for my next chapter and the adventures ahead!
All the best.
Carrie, Eagle Lake Field Office
Only a few more weeks left at the Eagle Lake Field Office and many things have started to change. Many of the trees have dropped their leaves and the weather has started to get colder. Most recently the mountains have been coated with a white sheet of snow. What a beautiful sight to see. I don’t get to see that in Indiana. The fieldwork has started to slow down. We sent off our last bags of seed to Bend Seed Extractory this week. As we reviewed all our seed collection data from the last five months I couldn’t help but feel accomplished. We collected lots of seed which will go to seed the Rush Fire. That’s pretty awesome!
Since seed collecting is over Landon, the Hydrologist in our office, asked if we could help him with one of his projects. So we’ve been going out looking for potential springs in the northern section of our field office. He had looked at aerial photos for evidence of green vegetation and produced a map of dots to be surveyed. All these points and potential springs will be surveyed so they can be entered into the National Hydrography Dataset. Since springs in the desert at this time of year are mostly dry we haven’t had much to report back. But we have seen some beautiful places and when we do find water it’s an exciting event. While we drive around we’ve seen lots of wildlife; mule deer, deer, pronghorn, badger, jackrabbits, burros, and many types of birds. It’s always so awesome to see them in the wide open spaces.
As this internship comes to an end new experiences and projects are still to be had. We’ll see what the next few weeks will bring.
Until next time.
Wow, I can’t believe it’s the end of September. Time flies out here. It seems like I just started this internship. But what a wonderful experience I’ve been having. I’ve learned so much in the months since I’ve been here. Seed collecting, monitoring Special Status Plants, BLM’s AIM protocol for monitoring, map making using GIS, and countless others along with meeting really great people. The weather in the Eagle Lake Field Office is starting to get colder and the field work is starting to slow down. Now, begins the finishing of office projects which we (Deb and I) want to get done before this internship ends.
In the past few months we have been doing a lot of monitoring of Special Status Plant populations and collecting seed as part of the Seeds of Success program. We’ve spent a lot of time recently in the Sierra Valley which is the southern part of the field office. It’s such a beautiful valley we didn’t have a problem spending several days monitoring there. The plant populations we were looking for were Ivesia aperta var. aperta (Sierra Valley Ivesia), Astragalus pulsiferae var. pulsiferae (Ames’ Milkvetch), and also found Penstemon sudans (Susanville Penstemon).
Most recently we’ve been collecting a lot of native seed which will be used for helping the part of the field office which was affected by the Rush Fire last year. Valda, our supervisor and the ecologist, has sent us to find and collect Great Basin Wildrye and Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany. There is a great Mt. Mahogany stand on the top of Fredonyer Mountain (7789 ft.). We spent a few days collecting the irritating seed while wearing gloves resulting in several giant seed bags full of seed. She was very happy to see so much seed to say the least. And when we went back up the mountain the next day we found snow. It was everywhere in small piles and flurried the whole time we were up there. It was so pretty sticking to the fir and pine trees and the sun shining off it. We may have played in it a bit and took many pictures.
Snow on Fredonyer Mountain
Collecting Mt. Mahogany
I’ll miss the beauty of this place when my time here comes to an end.
Wow! A lot has happened in the last few weeks since I wrote last. I’ve gotten to see so many different places around the Eagle Lake Field Office. It’s been awesome! Last week, I went with my mentor Valda to the desert to check out some sites she’s thinking of seeding winterfat (Ceratoides lanata) later on. The desert is such a breathtaking experience which many people don’t take the time to appreciate. The amount of nothingness out there just takes your breath away. Then, this week I spent my workday on the other side of the field office on top of a mountain. My fellow intern and I went up Fredonyer Mountain to scout out potential Mountain Mahogany seed collection spots. Wow! The view from there was awesome. We stopped to have lunch overlooking Eagle Lake and seeing Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen in the background. We went up to the peak and met the couple who live in the lookout. The view from the lookout was even better. They pointed out all the major landforms to us and said even people who have lived in the area for a long time get turned around up there. They have been up there for 31 years. We couldn’t believe it.
This is our lunchtime view from Fredonyer Mt.
Yesterday we spent the day in the Skedaddle Mountains. They’re such beautiful mountains. We took the UTV and drove to look at the recovering aspen stands which got burnt in the 2012 Rush Fire. It was interesting to see the regrowth in the reseeded areas. Some things have come back and others are yet to be seen. We hiked up on of the peaks to see the great view down below.
Experiences and places like these make the long and sometime early workdays worth every moment. I can’t believe it’s my job to check these places out. I’ve only been here for a little over two months and I’ve learned and seen so much. It’s all great!
The last few weeks have been busy. We (Deb, my fellow CLM intern and myself) have been getting ourselves familiar and ready for work in the field on our own. Recently we monitored a Special Status Plant population near Observation Peak off of Horn Road. The plant we were monitoring was Erigeron elegantulus, a small purple daisy-like flower. We went there knowing there was at least one individual which was spotted at a training day a few weeks earlier. We didn’t know how many, if any, we would find that day. The group decided on a plot size and started to survey the area. It didn’t take long before we found another population. And another. They were everywhere in small populations to some larger populations. We took GPS points at the locations of the populations for later mapping opportunities. After lunch we surveyed another plot across the road which had no sign of populations. So all in all, it was pretty successful day in finding Erigeron elegantulus.
Three days this week we tagged along on a project survey for a timber thinning project in the northern part of our field office around Eagle Lake. We were surveying for any evidence of archeology, wildlife, plant vegetation, and Special Status Plants. There were eight of us from the field office surveying which allowed us cover a wide area within eight different plot areas. Several of the plots had large areas of brush which we had to stomp through and large boulders we had to climb over. And other plots were in coniferous forest areas with thick layers of duff (needles, cones, and the like) making it easier to survey and hike around. We didn’t really find too much of high importance but it allowed me time to review/learn the plants and birds in the area. We did find a plant my mentor didn’t really know or hadn’t seen too much of. It was an interesting plant with pumpkin shaped seed pods. When we got back to the office we identified it as Pterospora andromeda, woodland pinedrops.
Woodland pinedrops (Pterospora andromeda)
Here’s the group on the lookout tower at the end of a hard day.
Until next time.These days were long and tiring but it was a wonderful and beautiful place to be and hear the wind blow in the tall trees. After our day was done we got to go to an old fire lookout overlooking Eagle Lake. That was a perfect end to a long day. And to top that off it rained when we got back to the office to give the dry desert some water. Oh the smell of rain…mmm.
My CLM internship experience began with a nice long drive from northern Indiana to northern California traveling through the many different ecosystems of the Midwest and West. I have been in Susanville, CA at the Eagle Lake BLM Field Office for a week now. I’m slowly adjusting to the mountains, sagebrush, and the dry conditions which inhabit the northern California landscape. Coming from flat Midwestern farm fields, being able to see mountains everywhere I go has been a nice change.
So far this week, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the field office and the people in the different parts of the office. I’ve also been getting familiar with the western plants which I will be seeing out in the field. I’m starting to learn some of the names of the grasses, forbs, and sagebrush species as we come across them in the field. I’ve had several opportunities this week to go out in the field with others in the field office. Earlier this week I was able go along to see a riparian proper functioning condition assessment which included individuals from range, hydrology, archaeology, wildlife, and ecology. I learned a lot about the riparian vegetation at the field sites we looked at. Some parts of the area were dry desert stream areas. My first week at the Eagle Lake BLM Field Office has been a learning experience, with many more to follow I’m sure.