About Sara Burns

2nd year returning Intern. Originally from Hendersonville, TN. Enjoying all the adventures the West has to offer.

June 3rd…. The Day Everything Changed!

Still had an inch of standing water the next day after a night of flooding

Still had an inch of standing water the next day after a night of flooding

Remember the survival guide I provided in last year’s post? Remember the point I made about being flexible? June 3rd my flexibility was put to the test. The Buffalo BLM office experienced record rains that left 3/4 of the office flooded. The worst section to be flooded was Resources, which is where the CLM Interns have their cubes. Everyone in the office that was effected by the flood had to relocate to other parts of the office, sharing cubicles with others. For the remaining individuals, like Resources, a relocation to the “Annex” was required. The “Annex” is basically a working trailer down the street from the main BLM building.

Standing water in my cube.

Standing water in my cube.

Everything in the Resources area had to be removed. At this point the drywall had been replaced but that was about it.

Everything in the Resources area had to be removed. At this point the drywall had been replaced but that was about it.

Now here we are, over 4 months later. Resources is still trapped in the “Annex” building, but most of the other sections of the office have returned to their previous stations.

4 months of progress. Still not finished.

4 months of progress. Still not finished.

So what is a CLM Intern suppose to do with all this craziness? FIELD WORK!!!!!!!

Jade Metzler and I spent a lot of time out of the office. With the addition of grass clippings to this year’s normal responsibilities for Range Interns, Jade and I had our hands full (no pun intended). Field work was a blessing and a curse this year. After this massive flood, we found that many roads to access our range sites had been washed away. The only evidence left was the road right before a massive ravine and the preserved road on the other side. Many sites we were unable to get to, had to reroute, or move our monitoring point completely.  The good thing is that we were able to escape the “Annex,” where interns go to be forgotten. Although we were faced with many challenges this year, Jade and I were able to complete around 30 sites, which was the goal set for us by the Range specialists in the office.

Although the flood derailed our normal routine for the office and field work, it did not stop us from making great memories!

Jade and I met many members of the cast from "Longmire!"

Jade and I met many members of the cast from “Longmire!”

Longmire Days takes place every year in Buffalo, WY. Members from the cast come to town for the event. This event is easily one of the most exciting times for Buffalo. If you have not seen the show, all 4 seasons are on Netflix.

With the Range Monitoring field season over, Range Improvement Inspections/Projects (RIPS) are coming up soon. I have also been asked to help a few other departments of the office. CLM Intern to the rescue!!

Until my next post, keep it easy CBGers!

~~~Sara Burns- Buffalo, WY Range Intern


You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!

Round Two at the Buffalo Field Office! One month in so far and my time has been spent a few different ways. Our office has had a shortage of front desk help so I was offered the opportunity to help out for the month of March before my internship started in April. More qualifications have now been added to my resume due to this great opportunity and I am much more familiar with the staff. The majority of my time has been spent working a lot with GIS to plan and prepare the sites we will visit this year for Range Health. There are a few perks of staying in the same office for a second year. 1: I already know everyone. 2: my desk was already set up from before. 3: I am already familiar with the organization and location of many files that are required to finish my Range Allotment Packets that I have created for ease of use during the field season. 4. I did not have to pack and unpack my possessions. Having a two month break between internships was a little tough financially, but had its own benefits for outdoor activities.

My first time shooting a bow and arrow. Lucked out with these shots!

My first time shooting a bow and arrow. Lucked out with these shots!

Visited the Hot Springs at Thermopolis!

Visited the Hot Springs at Thermopolis!

Who can resist those snow capped beauties!?

Who can resist those snow capped beauties!?

Museum Sign, no photos allowed in the building.

Museum Sign, no photos allowed in the building.

Buffalo had a free admission day to the museum. I was happy to be able to be able to go! Visiting was on my “To Do” list from last season but I was not able to go until recently. Great museum!

Back to Work

Back to Work

On the Range again!

Heather and I were able to go into the field to map some fence, tanks, and reservoirs last week. We had a good time exploring what Wyoming’s ranges had to offer. This day was a nice change of pace from my usual computer and GIS work. And yes, we did get dirty. A nice fine layer of orange dust clung to our clothes and faces to prove a good day of work was done. 😉

Mounted sheds on the left, world record harvest on right.

Mounted sheds on the left, world record harvest on right.

While in the office earlier this week, one of our wildlife biologists received this in an e-mail. These sold for half a million dollars. The sheds were found in the 50’s. Talk about some good habitat! All the more reason why conservation jobs are important!

Now for a song tidbit that reminds me of my time in Buffalo, Wyoming. I made a few edits to apply more to Buffalo. 😉

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of cactus, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There my mentor stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
“This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”
Then she lit up a range truck and she showed me the way
There were voices down the main street,
I thought I heard them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Occidental
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely pace
Plenty of room at the Hotel Occidental
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find Buffalo here

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the range files
To the place I was working before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! ”

*Add nifty guitar solo for the next 2 minutes*



Final Post for 2014 Internship

Man, did this internship fly by. Even though I was extended twice, I still cannot believe that that in 3 months I would have been living and working in Buffalo, Wyoming for a year. I have grown so much and become so independent. No longer do 4, 5, 6 hours driving trips seem long. I have many new skills to add to my resume. GIS, 4X4, GPS, NRS, are just a few subjects that I have gained invaluable experience in. I will never forget when Justin Chappelle and I’s 4X4 training would be put to the ultimate test. Going beyond the limit and soaring past with flying colors. Some of my favorite memories are with my fellow interns. There is no bigger relief than when you meet your new roommates for the first time, and realize they are AWESOME!!! There are so many rewarding experiences that I have had during this internship. I do not believe that I could fit them all on a blog post. A compact list will just have to do for now. 🙂

Favorite Memories!!!!

1. First night at the Occidental Hotel Saloon on a Thursday night with Heather Bromberg, Sean Casler, and Jill Pastick.

2. First trip to Yellowstone seeing Old Faithful and being trapped in a heard of Bison with Sean Casler and his friend Jeff.

3. First day out in the field when Jill was almost struck by lightning.

4. The day Justin and I saved a baby elk from a barb-wire fence. (Note to new interns: ALWAYS bring a multi-tool with you)

5. UTV training day!!! So fun to drive those things around.

6. Girl’s Grilling Night with the Hot Tub!

7. The ghost in the house opening the basement door (we figured out is wasn’t a ghost, just the house was so old the latch did not always close completely, or was it a ghost….OOOoooooOOoooo!)

8. First camping night for work, when all 4 of us interns slack-lined with Dusty Kavitz, Charlotte Darling, and Don Brewer.

9. Longmire Days street party! (Who knew a small town like Buffalo would have a street party inspired by the books and TV show that in turn was inspired by Buffalo, WY!!! Mind Blown!!!)

10. First trip to the Grand Tetons Park!!

11. Road trips to Casper, Ft. Collins, and Thermopolis.

12. White Water Rafting! (My younger brother was visiting and was able to enjoy this experience with us)

13. My first plot where it was mostly bare ground. (That went by so fast and helped us finish our work day earlier than expected!! I know, that is selfish, and bare ground is actually bad for an allotment, but when you have 65 to do in a few months, you are willing to sacrifice one.)

14. Coffee stops at the Mavericks Gas station before heading out to the field.

15. Putting water in a gas generator. (First of all, this was an accident. Second, the water container was beside a gas container and the water smelled like fuel. It was my fault, but not completely, even the others thought it was fuel as well. Long story short, things were fine, Dusty Kavitz fixed it.)

16. 4th of July in Teton Villiage, where I had Thai food for the first time at the Teton Thai Tent. Yummmm!!!

17. The first day that I slept on a real mattress I had ordered off of Amazon. I spent the first few weeks sleeping on the floor on a thin sleeping mat. Best $100 I ever spent.

18. Intern Dinner night. All 4 of us interns, plus 1 seasonal had dinner together.

19. The First time I identified an unknown plant. I had seen this plant at almost every site, no one knew what it was, no one in the office knew what it was. After 2 weeks of searching the databases, books, dichotomous keys, I discovered what plant. Rough False Penneyroyal!! Hedeoma hispida! This certain plant was challenging. When I began trying to identify, the flowering time had already passed, most specimens were not complete, and were brown. This moment is for sure one of my top “Ah-Ha” moments.

20. Many more of our trips. Visiting Devil’s Tower (SO COOL!), going to Sturgis (Really wanted a vest there, but it was $120!!! Too rich for this intern’s blood.), and hiking at Circle Park.

21. First time skiing with Heather Bromberg. 🙂

There are so many great memories that I will have forever from my time in Wyoming. The people were so nice, the office so welcoming, and outdoor activities only limited by our own minds and imaginations. There is a certain energy in the hundreds of miles of open air in Wyoming. The Wild West surely earns its name. Was my time perfect here? No, but close. 100 degree work days, 3 girls sharing 1 bathroom, missing my family and dogs back home, no house with AC in the summer, tensions between interns, the 2 months before we were actually able to hang out with coworkers around our own age, and the long road trips taking a brutal toll on my 15 year old Honda ( I spent at least $2,000 on repairs, and two major oil leaks later, finally traded the poor thing in). I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences, well, maybe the car one. RIP Honda!

This life, this experience out here, has challenged me, molded me, carved me from the stubborn stone of my old life and transformed me into a stronger, more confident, and more understanding person. There is no monetary value to be had for such a gift. This internship, above the work experience, above the new lands to be charted, above everything, it is utmost, a gift. One to be cherished, savored, and appreciated.

I had no expectations going into this internship. I knew nothing of what I should expect from the people or places I would go. But somehow, this small, old, dusty town of 4,500 people has left a forever stamp on my heart. I am forever indebted to the CBG and CLM program and the staff of the Buffalo Field Office. I am so appreciative for the transformations this opportunity has made to my resume, and the transformations to my character. Thank you.

Happy Holidays and New Year!!

Hello Everyone!

December and January in Buffalo, WY is very different than the warmer months. The fast paced and long hour work days have almost disappeared. The new project administered to the last two remaining interns (Heather Bromberg and myself) is RIPS! RIPS is an abbreviation for Range Improvements. The basic overall concept is that we go out into the field (weather permitting) and “ground truth” the structures we find on the allotments. We “ground truth” with our GPS Trembles fence lines, stock tanks, reservoirs, pipelines, and  any necessary improvements, animal fatalities, or repairs needed. The point of all of this is not only to make sure structures are in good repair, but also to make sure what we find on satellite imagery matches up correctly with what is actually out there in the great unknown of the wild west’s ranges.


Picture of a fence line that was mapped and inspected.

Picture of a fence line that was mapped and inspected.

Now you may be thinking, “Sara! There is snow on the ground! Is that safe to be out in?” Well, yes and no. Many factors go into if we decide to enter into the wilderness. 1: What is the temperature? If the temperature is well below freezing then the vehicles will be able to have enough traction and the ground will be frozen and hard enough to drive on. 2: How much snow is on the ground? If there is a little bit of snow, 2″ or less, and the first question is answered in favor, then yes we go out. 3: What does the field look like once we are on site? Push comes to shove and some days you just will never really know what the conditions are until you see them for yourself. If we reach a site, that both questions 1 and 2 were favorable for, but we see conditions are a little risky, we will not proceed. We will return to the office where plenty of data uploading and GIS research is always waiting.

On a different subject, thank you to CBG/CLM for providing us with paid holidays. Because of this, Heather has been able to see her family for the holidays, and I have been able to catch up on much needed sleep and my favorite past time of visiting the Grand Teton Mountains. Buffalo is a 6 hour drive from the Tetons. Some of you may think, “That is a long drive,” but once you live in Wyoming, “long drives” get the new term of “down the road.” Basically, you get used to driving for a long time, everyday or so, just for work. So 6 hours of driving on holidays is just another day of driving you would do for the office. My mind and perspective has been greatly expanded since living in Wyoming. In Tennessee, a 20 minute drive would take you past 3 Walmart shopping centers, here, the closest Walmart is 40 minutes away.

I hope everyone had a happy new year! I have big plans for 2015 and hope I reach my goals before this time next year.

Busy Bee in the Big Horns

Just an update to let you know I am still alive!

The season for most is winding down. Many interns are packing their bags and heading home as their internships come to a close. The Buffalo interns, however, have been offered extensions. One of our close knit group has left us already. Apparently the call of quality family time and the minor detail of bird watching in the Amazon was too loud to ignore. I mean, who would choose the boring Amazon Rain Forest over our exciting town of 4,500 people?? Not me, well, OK, that is a lie. On a more serious note, we have already felt the empty void left by our favorite, newly appointed BLM Legend, Justin Chappelle. WE MISS YOU, JUSTIN!!!

Our wonderful Jill Pastick has accepted a partial extension, but will only be in our company for less than one more month. Heather Bromberg and I are the last of the original four, and have plans to experience what Buffalo, Wyoming looks like in January. Kind of starts to feel like that book, And Then There Were None.

Many new opportunities have come our way since the Rangeland Health season has drawn to a close. Bird watching for population status, inspecting failed Sage grouse sites, providing local environmental and wildlife education to home and public schooled children, and inspecting retired gas wells are just a few of the various activities we have been provided to make our standard resumes transform into something spectacular.

Each week that passes our experience grows and so does our homesickness. The realization of being away from family and old friends starts to sink in when we realize we have been away for five months. Luckily, being busy has the perk of distracting us from this somber thought. Former intern from last year, Sean Casler, was able to get his hands on a vintage VHS documentary about the Big Horn Mountains. The remaining three of us have now made it our mission to locate some sort of device to be able to view this ancient time capsule of footage. Who knows what amazing secrets could be discovered in the twenty-three minutes of video dedicated to our own back yard.

Survival Guide To The Wild West

Welcome To Wyoming

1. Be ready to work hard.

An eight hour work day is a privilege. Be prepared for long, hot, rough terrain work days. Water in mass quantities is a must. Wear long sleeves, not because you think you will be cold, but for sun protection. Smell bacon?

We Move Rocks!Rock Hounding Anyone?


Pack Mules15


2. Danger is your new middle name.

You will be given 4X4 training. Pay attention, you will need it. Uneven, up a rocky cliff terrain is just the beginning of many unexpected things you will encounter in the field.

Trapped By CowsAnkle BitersHide and Seek


3. Be Social.

Don’t get along with others? Have a bad attitude? Take life for granted? Hermit Crab is your spirit animal? This internship may not be for you. Take the time to enjoy and learn from your fellow interns if you are lucky enough to have others with you. Talk with the people in your office. They can teach you lots, not only professionally but for things to do locally.

We listen as a soil scientist explains what the soil indicates for this particular section of land.

We listen as a soil scientist explains what the soil indicates for this particular section of land.

Buffalo, Wy is the inspiration for the book and TV series Longmire. Once a year they have "Longmire Days" when the stars of the show visit with the locals.
Buffalo, Wy is the inspiration for the book and TV series Longmire. Once a year they have “Longmire Days” when the stars of the show visit with the locals.


Buffalo, Wyoming

Bison in Yellowstone.

Bison in Yellowstone.

My journey began in Hendersonville, TN. As soon as I had word, I packed my bags and left for the twenty-two hour drive to Buffalo, Wyoming. Driving took two days, and I arrived in Buffalo in the afternoon on June 3, 2014. I was fortunate enough to secure a room to rent with two other interns from the program.

CBG interns at the Buffalo Field Office.

CBG interns at the Buffalo Field Office.

I reported for my first day of work at the Buffalo Field Office at 8:00 AM the next morning. Work began right away. I dived in head first to my first day in the field monitoring grazing allotments.
alone in sage

Line transect
My next few days of work would be spent on various training agendas. Thursday was GIS training, which I had no previous experience so I was thrilled and overwhelmed at the same time. Friday was UTV training, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
UTV Gear


Long hours in the field were soon to follow for the next two weeks, but the experience and landscape views made my work feel more like fun. It is hard to remember you are working when the views take your breath away.
Cow Range

Red Wall

alone in field

Sara Burns

BLM Buffalo Field Office

Buffalo, Wyoming