Southern Transplant

It’s a long way from Starkville, Mississippi, but I feel confident when I say, I believe I’ve found my own little piece of home here in Burley and Twin Falls, Idaho. To say the BLM team in Burley are an accommodating and friendly folk would be an understatement. Not only have they made sure I get to expand my experience in certain fields I’m interested in, aside from the initial job I came here for, but they made a girl feel like she’s at home away from home on her birthday. Homemade cake and donuts while working out in the sagebrush steppe all day… now, how can you find anything wrong with that kind of birthday celebration? Celebrations aside, this field season has commenced with a great start.

Views of Sheep Mountain and Black Pine MT range during a plant workshop

To be honest, the highlight of my month has been two things. First and foremost, the opportunities to complete some raptor nest surveys for the BFO (Burley Field Office) biologist. Being able to jump back in the raptor survey and identification saddle was a nice change of pace from training and office work. Most importantly, at least three life birds were crossed off the list when golden eagles, ferruginous hawks and sage grouse decided to grace us with their presence! I wish I had pictures as proof, but unfortunately they weren’t up for a photo shoot. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Second place actually ties with two highlights from the past month. One would be my growing knowledge and library of plant identification for this ecosystem that is entirely new to me. I have had a blast collecting samples from the field and keeping them in a makeshift press in order to have real samples on deck just in case. The surprising amount of diversity here can be breathtaking, but who knew there were so many species of sagebrush? (Probably many people, but I certainly didn’t until a few weeks ago). Thanks to Roger and the rest of the crew at our initial plant workshop, I feel like I had a great start and great group of teachers to help me along the way.

Chocolate lily found in City of Rocks area.

It has been quite the adventure so far, roaming around the sagebrush steppe and marveling at each new jewel I discover when I look closer (or when a plant guru points them out to me, which happens to be the case the majority of the time).

Another beautiful discovery hidden away in a nook somewhere in City of Rocks reserve.

I suppose I should tell you the last experience that tied with second in most exciting things to come from my first month in Idaho. Now, this could have turned into a major inconvenience for our other team that was completing raptor nest surveys in the area, but thankfully with a little bit of brain power and a whole lot of horsepower, inconvenience was avoided. I realize there may be some folks here in CLM who don’t have experience with backcountry driving, which is why I’ll explain what happened in hopes that just maybe, this will help someone out in the future.  First off, take it from first hand experience, but don’t go driving off into two tracks that sort of appear like roads if you glance real hard. The risk and time it will take from you is just not worth it. Secondly, if you believe you’ve gotten yourself stuck in a field truck, give yourself a few minutes to calm down and think. Yes, I’m sure you can probably guess what happened by now. We might have run into a bit of trouble with a few, well hidden dips in the road, but rest assured, there’s a happy ending! After realizing what had happened, all it took was a few minutes of contemplation to realize 1) Hey dummy, you should have put the truck in 4 wheel drive ages ago, and 2) if you’re losing traction, look for a wooden plank. Why a wooden plank you ask? Well, I can’t necessarily explain all the logistics behind it, but if you feel as if your tires are losing traction in mud (bits of mud are flying everywhere when you hit the gas), it’s always good to have a wooden plank on hand to stick under the tires. This will allow more traction for your tires when you try to drive out of that mess and can hopefully save you from having to wait to be pulled out. The relief from realizing this worked was enough to make my entire weekend! This was also an important reminder that if you aren’t sure you can clear something with your truck, it’s better to get out and inspect the area yourself before driving through it. Now, if this little tangent didn’t teach you anything at all because you have more sense and/or experience than me, then I hope that at least you got a chuckle out of it. I’m a firm believer in not taking yourself too seriously and learning from past mistakes.

I’m sure I could fit more into this post if I rattled my brain hard enough, but I’ll keep my first post short and sweet. Until next time, stay safe and keep on, keepin’ on!

Best wishes,

Isabela V