As I review my internship and the past five months here in northeastern California, I am extremely grateful for all of the wonderful experiences and memories. I am especially glad my work helped contribute, in a small way, to conserving the Great Basin ecosystem. My supervisor was always a pleasure to work with and I genuinely felt like a part of team at my BLM field office. However, I can definitely remember some highlights.
Every time the other intern and I found a special status plant population was exciting. One of the most memorable of these moments was when the other intern and I got to visit a population of Ponderosa pine trees. If the trees alone weren’t special, they were also growing in a unique habitat – sand dunes! Since the site has been fenced since the early 1990s, there were a lot of healthy and unique plant populations to explore and we even saw a bald eagle nesting in one of the pine trees.
Another highlight of my internship was the two nights I was able to volunteer and help trap sage grouse. The first night I went out, we didn’t catch a single bird; but on the second night, my partner and I alone caught nine! It was really cool to see and handle these birds up close since much we certainly dedicated to protecting this bird and its habitat.
Lastly, when the field season was slowing down, I am also really happy I decided to undertake digitalizing my field office’s herbarium. Yes, data entry can be tedious, but entering the last (of 2,958) herbarium specimens felt like a serious accomplishment. I know it will be useful for my supervisor, the field office, and maybe even future interns. It is nice to know I am leaving a little behind and giving a little back in exchange for all the great times I had these past five months.
To end, I would like to thank both the Chicago Botanical Gardens and the Eagle Lake Field Office for this great internship! I learned a lot, got to experience a great part of the country, and highly recommend to people who are considering applying for this internship in the future.
As August comes to a close, it feels a little strange continuing to work when I would normally be preparing for another semester at university. With this drought in California, it has been a warm, dry, and dusty summer of field work, but enjoyable nonetheless. As fall approaches, it looks like I will be doing some more office work.
This week, I mainly entered data on previous years’ range health assessments; however, one day this week I got to go out into the field and help evaluate sites for future bitterbrush planting. I went out with my supervisor and a member of the archaeology department. Together we surveyed three potential sites. It was interesting to consider the various uses of each of these sites. In this instance, areas were important ecologically, as well as historically. In an archaeologically important site, we don’t want to disturb the remaining artifacts; however, if all the shrubs are gone due to a wildfire, it is important we re-introduce native shrubs in order to prevent soil erosion and loss. From a conservation perspective, it is always important to consider an area or resource from multiple perspectives. This interdisciplinary aspect to conservation has always been something that has interested me. I would love to continue to collaborate with people in other disciplines in order to figure out the most appropriate plan for protecting and restoring our natural areas.
For my first post, I thought I would talk about my first week out in the field. I am working in Northeastern California.
One of our field sites with lots of Eriogonum spp.
My fellow intern and I have spent the week out and about, getting familiar with the lay of the land. We have monitored various special plant populations – some Ivesia spp.. and a lot of Astragalus pulsiferae – and despite the drought in our area, we did manage to find some healthy-looking populations.
This week was also exciting because we completed our first Seeds of Success collection. Our mentor showed us a large population of buckwheat. With a closer look, we discovered we had three different species present (Eriogonum umbellatum, E. caespitosum, and E. sphaerocephalum). There was a lot of interesting local variety in flower color – the majority were yellow, but some were orange and others had hints of red or pink. We returned to the site later in the week to collect seed from one of the species, and will come back next week to get some seed from the other species.
So far, it has been a really fun experience! I am slowly becoming familiar with the flora of the Great Basin area. By participating in Seeds of Success and monitoring special status plant populations, I feel like our work is important for current and future conservation efforts and helps us protect this interesting ecosystem. I look forward to getting to spend more time out in the field and encountering other populations of plants!