I am on the last month of my internship and cannot believe how fast it has gone by! The past month I have learned some basic GIS skills, such as drawing polygons. We have also conducted some monitoring of our pupfish ponds to check populations as well as remove the plethora of invasive that find their way into these ponds.

Pesky crawfish in pupfish habitat.

I am also working on the finishing touches for SOS collections; picture uploads, herbarium labels and shipping vouchers. In addition, I have begun the process of uploading herbarium specimen pictures from the plants we have collected and identified this season.

Eschscholzia parishii herbarium voucher

We also went to check out the aftermath of a fire that went through part of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. It had gone right through a riparian area that is home to two birds of concern so plans for restoring the area are now under way.

Aftermath of a small fire in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve


Palm Springs, CA

Updates and Thoughts

Summer is officially here at the Palm Springs, CA field office and most days have been 100+F. We are now practicing waking up early to begin our days out around 5/6am to beat the heat! I have also really learned the importance of staying hydrating and have finally figured out how much water I should be bringing with me into the field–very good things to know when working in the desert.

Collecting for SOS has begun to slow down as well since many of our target species are past their reproducing season or will not have seed ready until later in the summer/fall. There is still much to do and learn though and I am feeling the time crunch with the nearing of mid-June and the approach of the end of my internship.

Looking forward to what the next month and a half holds for me in the desert.


Elysa DuCharme

Palm Springs, CA BLM field office


A Bloomin’ Good Time

The desert is starting to feel like home; it is very beautiful and I am fortunate to have landed the position in Palm Springs, CA. The past two months have been eventful and there has been much to to see, much to do and much to collect. We have already made seven full collections and hopefully there will be more to come.
Furthermore, we have just begun vegetation monitoring season and conducted our first survey today.


Fouquieria splendens bark

In addition to work experiences, I have been able to do some sight seeing. I have now been to Joshua Tree, somewhere I have wanted to go to for quite some time, and I have hiked the Cactus to Clouds trail that takes you 12 miles from sea level to 8000 feet up San Jacinto mountain!

Can’t beat that view

Feeling wiser, confident and accomplished. Cannot wait to see what the next three months have in store for me.

From the desert with love,

Lysa DuCharme
BLM Palm Springs, CA

Spring in the desert

The past month has been been filled many new experiences and opportunities. I have had the opportunity to survey for potential SOS vouchers in places like Desert Lily Preserve that had an abundance of  Hesperocallis undulata (desert lily), Abronia villosa (sand verbena), Oenothera (evening primrose) and Plantago ovata (woolly plantain).

Insane blooms at Desert Lily Preserve

Evening primrose

I have also had the opportunity to learn tissue and seed collection protocol from the SOS team at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA. We collected Chylisma sp. for tissue collection for DNA analysis and collected seed from Chylisma claviformis (Brown-eyed primrose) and Chaenactis fremontii (desert pincushion) for SOS in the Mojave.

I helped with environmental education with high school students at San Jacinto Mountain. The mountain is about 8000ft in elevation and actually still had snow! Did not think I would be seeing snow so far south and in the desert.

San Jacinto

This week we also began seed collecting. Many of the blooms that we had even a week ago have now turned brown and produced their fruit. The challenge will be to get the right sites at the right time to make sure we do not miss any collections. We have started collections for Eremalche rotundifolia (desert five spot), a pretty little mallow with pink petals that each have a red spot on them, Geraea canescens (desert sunflower), Malacothrix glabrata (desert dandelion), a yellow aster that sometimes has a purple dot in the center and Salvia columbarie (chia), a mint with small purple flowers in spiny clusters.

Desert five-spot

First week in the desert

Quite a bit of change has happened this past week. I resigned from my previous position the last day of February, fixed my car, packed it up and headed to Palm Springs, CA from Colorado.

The first day at work we went out to Desert Lily Preserve to scout for blooms of the desert lily and whatever else may be in flower. Although a few had bloomed the majority of the lilies were not quite ready so we will be visiting again in the next couple of weeks to collect a voucher specimen.

I am fortunate to be here this year because they have gotten a good amount of rain so there will plenty to see and smell! I have also already started to learn the differences between the Colorado and Mojave deserts.

Until next time…

Palm Springs, CA