Late Summer in Missoula

Summer is winding down here in the Rocky Mountain West. This past month was full of forest inventory, monitoring fuels treatments, collecting camas seeds, and continuing to search for the rare botrychium paradoxum (to no avail). The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler, but we are still holding on to that last bit of summer. Today, we floated on the BLM raft down the Clark Fork in order to access forest stands to inventory. We had awesome weather and gorgeous mountain views. While I am going to miss the summers here, I am very much looking forward to seeing the aspens, cottonwoods, and larch trees turn this fall!
Here are some photos from the past month:

Elephant head, pedicularis groenlandica

 

Cool mystery caterpillar!

Rafting the Clark Fork

Rafting the Clark Fork

A visit to Garnet Ghost Town

Beautiful forest inventory

 

Huckleberry Season in Montana!

Thanks to a snowy winter and relatively wet June, the huckleberries are out in full force around Missoula. While I’m partial to the wild Maine blueberries (being a New Englander at heart), I’m certainly loving the added lunch snack.

Huckleberries

The summer is flying by, as it always does. I’ve continued to work on a wide array of projects at Missoula’s BLM office. This past month I’ve conducted forest inventory, helped cage whitebark pine cones, and monitored for the sensitive plant botrychium paradoxum. A camping trip and more forest monitoring is planned for August.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the past month:

Caging whitebark pine cones

Caging whitebark pine cones

Elk harem

Elk harem

Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata

Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata

Paintbrush!

 

Enjoying soaking up new skills and spending my days in fields of indian paintbrush!

June in Missoula

I’ve just completed my first month at the Missoula field office! Spring here is INCREDIBLY gorgeous and I feel so fortunate to spend every day outside exploring northwestern Montana’s diverse flora. From habitat typing with the BLM’s forestry team to searching for rare plant species on our properties, I’ve continued to broaden my experiences and learn and variety of new skills, methods, plants species. Here are a few of my favorite photos from my last month in the field.

Snow in June!

Snow in June!

BLM habitat typing training.

BLM habitat typing training.

View from Marcum.

View from Marcum.

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Giving some love to the old growth ponderosa forest.

Giving some love to the old growth ponderosa forest.

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Happy start to summer!

Welcome to Missoula

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I have just completed my first two weeks in the Missoula field office. Since moving here from Jackson, WY, I’ve found the vegetation, topography, and community comforting. Both areas are part of the Rocky Mountain West, a strikingly beautiful region I’ve called home for several years and plan to for many to come. Though cliched, “Big Sky Country” resonates with my first impressions of Missoula. The city sits at the convergence of five mountain ranges, all of which are visible from some part of town. This time of year, early wildflowers dot the vibrant green hillsides. It’s easy to see how many people fall in love with this place.

The Missoula field office is wonderful. All teams collaborate on projects throughout the summer. While I am focusing on natural resource management and sensitive plant species, I will also be helping the foresters monitor five-needle pines and working with range crews to establish a wild horse sanctuary. I am excited about the potential to gain a breadth of skills to help further my career, whatever path I choose.

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While my first two weeks have been a mix of training and field work, I feel I have already begun to comprehend the diversity of Missoula’s BLM land. I spent my first day at close to 8,000 ft searching for white bark pines along a heavily forested hillside. On my second day we monitored a population of the sensitive plant species bladderpod located on a rocky exposed hillside in a drainage. This past week I’ve gone out into the field with the range crew to identify and weigh grasses at potential grazing sites to help determine the areas’ carrying capacity.

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The weather is perfect and the season is off to a fantastic start. A few more weeks of plant ID memorization and maybe you’d think I was a real Missoulian.