It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…

After spending six months in Susanville without any real rain event, the weather that November and December brought was startling.  It rained for multiple days in a row with few breaks in the clouds.  Although I was not too fond of the many wet and dreary days, I am relieved that the land is finally getting a bit of moisture.  The plants’ dismal seed production this year showed that they were more than a little parched.  All the precipitation has also created great conditions to apply stabilization and rehabilitation treatments to the 315,000 acre Rush wildfire that raged through the Eagle Lake BLM field office this past summer.

The process of drill seeding the severely burned areas has begun.  The rangeland drill seeder is a beast of a machine and I think everyone in our field office is pleasantly surprised by its capabilities.  Our land is unreasonably rocky, making any of the treatments we are trying to apply extremely difficult to achieve.  Luckily, the drill seeder can handle the rocks and great progress is being made on that front.

We have also started planting antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) in the burned area.  Bitterbrush is an important plant used for cover and forage by deer, antelope, and other wildlife species, and much of this habitat was burned in the Rush Fire.  Finding rock free sites with deep soils to plant bitterbrush seedlings is challenging, however.  Site conditions need to be just perfect for efficient and successful bitterbrush seedling planting, as the chainsaw auger used to drill deep holes for the seedlings does not agree with rocks and shallow soils.  With the help of volunteers, we have managed to plant about 2000 bitterbrush seedlings before the snow came and the ground froze.

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting back on my experiences throughout the past year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out.  My first trip out West has been thanks to the CLM internship, and I have seen and done so much because of the awesome opportunity.  I have explored an astonishing nine National Parks in the short time I have lived in California, as well as visited several amazing cities.  I wasn’t anticipating being in Susanville for more than five months, but here I am seven months later, and just starting my extension.  There is still so much to explore and I can’t wait to see what the year 2013 holds!

Farewell to Farmington, New Mexico

My main project, Seeds of Success, has finished for the season so I have been gaining many new experiences in the Farmington, NM field office during my last month here.


I have been able to sit in on several office meetings with resource specialists. The most fascinating was a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) discussion with representatives of BLM natural resources branches and the project manager and consultant from Williams Oil and Gas. The company has submitted a proposal for a liquid fuels pipeline spanning from Ignacio, CO, crossing New Mexico, and ending in El Paso, TX. They were doing research on possible roadblocks that could occur on BLM land with regard to protected plants, animals, riparian areas, and cultural sites. It was really cool to see an active presentation, discussion and debate on this plan.  I believe personal communication is so much more powerful than email and at times even more efficient.


A couple weeks ago I went out in the field with our tribal coordinator, Esther, to scout the proposed pipeline route and make a tally of Navajo homesteads near the path of the pipeline. Esther will be consulting them about the pipeline and present information about the installation process. It seems that they don’t have weighted input for the pipeline but Esther is doing her best to explain the project and answer any questions. I wonder how the oil company views these homesteads. 


This past week I filled in for the threatened and endangered species biologist. The purpose of my last field trip was to record any evidence of golden eagle nests or eagle presence in the Largo Canyon area. There is an oil well proposed to be constructed above the main canyon wall and one of the contractors thought she saw an eagle soaring off the edge of the cliff. The golden eagle is a Biodiversity Conservation Concern species in New Mexico. It is a fairly stable species throughout its range but its small population size make it vulnerable to habitat encroachment. A GIS specialist, Adam, was anxious to get out of the office and accompanied me. The road we were going to follow to the target site had been closed to conserve the wilderness area. We climbed a couple of hills to view the canyon wall and eventually decided to bring our adventure deeper into the canyon to check out some side tributaries. With binoculars swaying and tripods teetering we hiked through the thin layer of snow up canyon. Adam saw a large bird swoop down in a hunting motion, but just for a glimpse. We documented a few sites of whitewash (poo) on the walls, but there were no recent nests to be seen. It was still a lovely day to be outside as my last field day in New Mexico. We did see some fresh and cool tracks in the canyon wash- a large cat and a bear.

Adam using the spotting scope to scan the distant canyon wall. The crisp magnification on that instrument is absolutely remarkable


This is my last week in Farmington and I am devoted to trying to finish up my last project. I am working on a plant identification field guide that will accompany the new reclamation seed mix requirements our office is administering in January. My mentor, Sheila, has removed most of the introduced species off the seed mix choices and developed mixes specific to 8 native community types in northwest New Mexico. It is a very rewarding project with which to complete my CLM term. I feel very proud and privileged to be working on this field guide. I see it as a form of environmental education that I only recently obtained the education and experience on myself. When I first came to New Mexico, I would have needed that field guide to look at the flora here. Now I have acquired the skills to create it with a familiarity of the plants. The guide will be used by our office staff who survey oil and gas well pads and also by operators, contractors and consultants who are responsible for reclaiming vegetated areas that have been disturbed by their energy projects.

I will treasure the experience and exposure I had with many different resource types in the four corners area: plants, wildlife, canyons, rivers, rangeland. I will especially remember the friendships I have made here in the 7 months. When field work wound down I was able to get to know many fine people in our office and what their work entails. I wish the next interns good luck in their quest for seeds in this unique part of the country. Even though Farmington isn’t my dream town, I know I was meant to spend some time here. To learn and to love and now, to leave. 

Deidre Conocchioli

Farmington, NM BLM


View from the Farmington BLM office. It’s our first snow that has stuck around for a couple days




Farewell from the Land of Enchantment

A little more than eight months ago now, I packed up all my things in the back of my Ford pick-up truck and headed cross country from Maine to New Mexico. I had no idea what would be in store for me there or any idea of what New Mexico was like… all I knew was that I was traveling West for a position within the Bureau of Land Management as a CLM intern! Fast forward those eight months and I am so glad that I was willing to take that leap into the unknown, especially as a recent marine science graduate taking a position in the desert. Now looking back after completing my eight month internship, I can now see all of the benefits of this experience.

One major benefit of being a CLM intern is the opportunity to challenge yourself in more ways than one. I was able to challenge myself personally and professionally. Personally, moving cross country and establishing yourself in an area where everything is new to you and you know no one was a challenge, however, I was able to meet that challenge head on and I know that I have grown as a person from that experience. Professionally, this was my first opportunity to work within a federal agency yet with any position there is the challenge to do the best that you can do. Over my internship I did just that and worked very hard and challenged myself to do the best job that I could do, and as a result not only did I gain more experience, but I also made great connections with my co-workers and supervisors.

Another major benefit of being a CLM intern is the experiences and new skills that you gain.  As I mentioned previously, I graduated with a degree in marine science so as you can image when I received an internship position working as a range technician, I learned and gained a whole new set of skills. Although it may seem odd, the skills that I gained through this experience will help me in the future whether my path be in marine science or rangeland science because the skills that I gained can be applied in many different biological fields. I gained skills and experience in: a variety of monitoring methods, GIS, NEPA documents, data entry, and many more! These new skills and experiences will help me achieve my career goals.

One last benefit that I will mention, granted there are many more, is the ability to make connections with people in your field office both professionally and personally. After eight months of working with numerous people in the office, I entered as an unknown intern from Maine and leave as a co-worker and friend! My relationships with the people in the office made this experience even better. I want a chance to thank everyone at the Roswell Field Office for making me feel as part of the team! Honestly, everyone at the field office went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and a part of the group. I learned something from everyone there. Thank you again!

One last thing before I wrap this last blog entry up is a little advice for any person who is contemplating to apply for the CLM program… my advice is DO IT! You will honestly not regret in joining this program. This program is amazing! In this program you will gain experience, skills, and connections!

And last but definitely not least, I want to thank all of the people who make the CLM program possible! From the application process to completing the internship, this program has made the journey easy! The steps to apply and the steps to take during the internship have been laid out for you and are very easy to follow and for that alone I thank you! On top of that, everyone in the staff who I have had the opportunity to meet or speak with has been knowledgeable, helpful, and extremely nice! Thank you very much for this opportunity to be a part of the CLM internship program!

This was an experience that I will never forget… Thank you!

Stephanie Burkhardt

Roswell Field Office