It gets a bit hot during the summer in the eastern Utah desert. I am lucky to be able to somewhat escape every once in a while by heading to BLM land further north on the Green River. The riparian environment of the Green River is just that – green. And lush, at least for a few meters on either side of the bank.
Every once in a while, when I am caught up with other SOS and monitoring projects, I have the oppertunity to head up to John Jarvie Ranch/Historic Site, to deal with invasive riparian species. Along the way I get to meet and hang out with other seasonals and folks from my department that I would otherwise not get the chance to work with.
Circling osprey are everywhere. Great blue herons give us dirty looks as we creep up on them during their fishing expeditions. Numerous merganser duck families drift past. My all-time favorite though, are the occasional river otter family sightings as I paddle my way to work.
A spiny invasive known as teasel (introduced to make crafts, the dried heads look like little mice if you use your imagination and squint a bit) is what the crews have been after. 8-foot tall willow and saltcedar thickets must be combed through and the teasel cut down with the seedheads pulled off.
Did I mention that there is a Class III whitewater rapid on one of the river stretches that we are working on? I also keep an eye out for new populations of the water-loving, threatened Ute Lady Tress orchid.
This is oddly satisfying work. If the job keeps going, this invasive can potentially be banished from the Upper Green. Seeing proper land management in action, achieving results, is amazing, and I am stoked to be a part of the process, even if just for a few days.
Katie Frey, Vernal, Utah
My CLM internship experience so far has been very rewarding. I am working on a challenging project focused on non-conifer vegetation communities in the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument of southern Oregon. My co-worker Jason Pennell and I have surveyed over 150 polygons ranging from oak woodlands to meadows. Learning to accurately identify everything (grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees) was tough at first but now I feel like I have really got to know the local vegetation. We also gathered structural data for the oak stands and the percent cover for each plant species. We are now working on analyzing the huge amount of data we have collected. We want to understand the environmental variables which drive these communities, so we are using GIS to gather data on variables such as slope, aspect, and soil type for our surveyed polygons. We then will use statistical programs (PC ordination and Hyper Niche) to analyze landscape level vegetation patterns and try to better understand which environmental variables drive these communities. Needless to say it’s a big project and I am learning a ton.
Also I would like to say that I am very grateful for intern programs such as this, which bring together students and land managers. I feel like land management agencies really need innovative thinking and fresh ideas. Students on the other hand can learn a lot about the complexities of real world conservation issues when exposed to the inner workings of government agencies. I know I have!
The last thing I would like to mention is how many helpful people I have met during this internship. I unfortunately did not make it to the CLM gathering in Grand Canyon (which I later really regretted), but I have met many wonderful people along the way and that’s what life is all about!
Thank you CBG, for giving us all this awesome opportunity.
From: Kelly McD, BLM Medford, Oregon