USGS Las Vegas Field Station

Hello CLM Blog. Last week I started my internship working with the USGS Desert Restoration team here in Henderson, NV. I have the pleasure of working alongside three other CLM interns–it is nice to start off this new adventure with some other folks. For the most of us this is our first time working in the desert. We’ve quickly realized the desert is quite an unforgiving place, yet so alive with flora and fauna.

One thing that drew me to this particular internship placement was the diversity of projects I’ll get to help out on during my 5 months in the Southwest. For the past week us interns have been working on a common garden experiment–outplanting native plant seedlings in sites spanning the temperature/precipitation extremes in the Mojave Desert. I’ve been here two weeks and I’ve already slept in three states–Utah, Nevada, and California–contributing to this project. In the next few months our focus will shift to another project, collecting seeds from two endemic plants from the Eureka Dunes in northern Death Valley National Park. Still to come is a trip to the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument to monitor restoration efforts after a severe burn. What ties these three projects together is a plan for long-term landscape restoration–something I’m very happy to be a part of.

So far, so good. There’s a great team of leaders at the USGS Las Vegas office that have been very helpful, kind, and eager to show us around. I’m looking forward to the next few months!



A Joshua Tree local gave this sunset a 2/10. A sign of good things to come.

A local in Joshua Tree, CA gave this sunset a 2/10. A sign of good things to come.


USGS Las Vegas Field Station, Henderson, NV


This past weekend, I attended the Arizona Native Plant Annual Meeting at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. At the meeting, I met up with other native plant enthusiasts, walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds that were bursting with colors, and listened to enthralling lectures that spanned the spectrum of the plant realm.

As I listened to lecturers talking about their projects, I keyed into the patterns that emerged. It started with the obvious – 30 minute lectures where the speaker touched upon, always curiously followed by applause.

As I walked the grounds outside, I found patters abound. From the uniform growth of  spines and the spiraling pattern in cacti:


to the 90-degree angles that ash trees branch at:



patterns surround us.

As fun and inspiring as it was to follow my nose to the patterns I found, this intense pattern-watch mindset that I found myself in made me delve more deeply into the pattern world. While our lives are so obviously influenced by daily routine – there seems to be so much chaos. So many random acts. I look forward to experiencing what patterns begin to emerge out of the noise.



IMG_3522IMG_3518 IMG_3513 IMG_3502 IMG_3496

Carson City – first impression…

My name is Andrii Zaiats and this is my first post on my CLM blog. I arrived in Carson City almost three weeks ago and since then I’ve tried different activities that I’ve never tried before. And so, my first post I’d like to devote to one of such experiences – identifying plants in February. First of all, I am really excited about identifying species, especially when it involves magnifying glasses, microscopes, keys, counting different small structures and identifying indumentum type, subjective and objective arguments etc. But I’ve found out that it’s much more challenging to identify herbaceous plant by leaf-shape, rosettes, possibly some stems when there is nothing else to base your judgment on. At first it was frustrating, but I guess that sharing experience, having some field excursion and practice, practice, practice are the best choices to get a grip on identifying “plants youth.” Another thing that is really helpful in the field is dry plants, and everything else that have remained from previous years (seeds, glumes, prickles, phyllaries etc.), and gives you an imagination of plant appearance.

So far, we’ve spent three days in the field and I find fascinating types of activities we are involved in and work organization here in Carson City BLM Field office, and on BLM lands as well. In addition I’m grateful to be a part of the team I currently work with and, of course, as a part of CLM program!

Until next time,
BLM District Office,
Carson City, NV

Poa secunda -Sandberg bluegrass' leaves

Poa secunda -Sandberg bluegrass’ leaves


Bromus tectorum - cheatgrass

Bromus tectorum – cheatgrass

Holodiscus dumosus - oceanspray bush

Holodiscus dumosus – oceanspray bush


It is incredibly rainy here today in Big Bear Lake, CA. Unfortunately it is not even close to being cold enough to snow. Temperatures are supposed to drop tonight and tomorrow so hopefully there will be some snow in time to go snowboarding on Sunday! It feels really good to be getting some precipitation in CA. It has been so dry, this rain is really needed. Not to mention I love being able to sit at home and listen to the storm.

Since my last entry most of my time has been spent working on the invasive plant species identification guide. Our goal is to have it essentially finished early next week. A lot of my time has been spent finding more photos to fill the blank spaces and better show the traits necessary for ID. I’m ready to be done resizing photos and text to make the best possible use of space! I am really excited about how the guide is looking and am proud of all the work I have put in because writing is definitely not my best skill.

Our next project after the guide is completed will be working on determining sensitive species legacy data to be entered into the Natural Resources Information System (NRIS). The legacy data is made up of sensitive plant element occurrence data that was recorded before the time of GPS and digitization. Our job will be to determine whether or not the legacy (historical) data should be entered into NRIS. Some occurrences shouldn’t be entered because of developments that have probably wiped out the occurrence, or they have not been found when someone went out to do the ground truthing. Most of this detective work will be done in ArcGIS, so I will utilizing all the skills I have learned in the ArcGIS webinars I have completed lately. I am optimistic I will learn a lot and improve my computer skills greatly. This was one of my original goals for this internship.

The next post I do will have pictures from the awesome soil crust workshop I am attending next weekend in Joshua Tree National Park! Also, we are planning on putting the invasive plant guide on the San Bernadino NF website so I will include a link to that when it happens.

Finally Field Work!

Hello again from wonderful Kemmerer, Wyoming. Winter still has its grasp on this high desert town. Even with winter’s grip still holding strong, we were finally able to make two field visits in preparation for Sage Grouse Lek season that will be starting soon. I was able to get a quick tour of some grazing allotments that I didn’t get to visit while working with the BLM last summer. Getting out was sure a nice change of pace. We did some hiking to look for some geophagy locations; these locations are where grouse gather during the winter, to basically eat dirt. The BLM is not entirely sure why this occurs, hypotheses include eating for mineral supplements, or to help buffer the tannins in the sage brush that is consumed. This practice could also occur during the summer months, but with the lack of data on the particular phenomenon it is unknown if geophagy occurs in the summer months or why Sage Grouse even eat the soil.  We were unable to identify any of these locations on our first trip to actually look for them.

Our second trip to the field was to Pinedale, Wyoming on February 24th . This little town is about two hours north of Kemmerer situated along the Wind River Range. It is a beautiful town where I was able to spend much of my childhood.  We met up with wildlife staff from the Pinedale field office.  The plan was to go look at some of these geophagy sites to help our field office in the identification of these sites. We were able to visit 7 of these locations. We looked at soil type, vegetation type, and amount of bare ground visible. I have to say I should have remembered my camera because the ride into those locations was epic. We didn’t get stuck, but the amount of snow we had to drive through was amazing. After this second trip, the wildlife biologists at the KFO are certain geophagy sites do exist in our field office; it will just be a daunting process of finding them.

All the hiking that has occurred in the past two weeks makes a person start to think about how out of shape they are.  With that realization of being horribly out of shape I decided to start exercising. I am hoping to be in decent shape in time for the full onset of field season. I will hopefully be posting pictures next month of Sage Grouse strutting on their lek locations. I am very excited to see this phenomenon. Till next time, I hope everyone has fun.

Kind Regards,

Jeremy Sykes

Kemmerer Feild office, Wy

Bureau of Land Management

First Month in Carson City, NV

I have only been in Carson City for a few weeks and I have already begun to learn about the land and plants that are found within this beautiful area. The main focus these first few weeks of our internship has been invasive noxious weeds, as well as graze land utilization allotments. Since the Carson City area has been in a drought for many years the amount of land utilization by grazers (cattle, deer, ect..) has become increasingly important. If a grazing allotment becomes over grazed and the plants are not able to re-establish or recover, then the land has an increased chance of being invaded by invasive plants and noxious weeds. An example of a current invasive plant that has a drastic effect on grazing allotments would be Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae).

Medusahead (Image obtained from google images)

Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) is an invasive and aggressive species within Nevada as well as other surrounding states. This grass will infiltrate an area where the native plant life has been eradicated or reduced from overgrazing, fires or cultivation. The presence of medusahead can reduce the carrying capacity of a lands livestock by 75%. The grazers within an allotment find medusahead to lack palatability. The lack of palatability is a result of the grasses’ rich silica content, as well as having a seed head with long awns that are stiff and slightly barbed, which cuts the mouths of any grazer attempting to eat it. Ouch, I am sure that if I were a grazing animal I would find this grass unpalatable as well.

With this invasive grass in mind it is then apparent how important it is that we as individuals become more aware of the cause and effect of land utilization within the whole country. It is also important for some individuals to realize that the BLM is not evil and does not reduce land utilization because it feels like it, there is a valid reason. All decisions are carefully discussed before any action takes place.

Provo UT, big sagebrush research

Hello from Provo, Utah.  Since my last post, my research has progressed with some promising results. I am preparing these preliminary results for a presentation at the Great Basin Native Plant Program (GBNPP) next month. That makes me excited, but anxious. The snow is finally gone, and I feel like we are close to starting our visits to the mountains again. We are still processing the bunch of samples that we collected during fall 2013 and this winter. One thing that I want to share is that I  appreciate that my mentor encourages me to think of new research questions to complement our experiments. I look forward to sharing this information with the research community and managers. Hopefully, my research will be a useful application for the restoration big sagebrush ecosystems.

I want to remark that I feel very thankful for all the support of my mentor and companions at the lab.  It is nice to work in a place like the Forest Service, Provo Shrub Science Lab. I am learning many things from my mentor, but the most important is how to improve every day in the things that we are doing.

Thank you CLM for this opportunity


Provo, UT

Forest Service, Provo Shrub Science Lab

Sample gardenProcessing leaves Electronic nose


This Job is Just Right!


This is my third CLM internship. Third time’s the charm- this is the most feel good job I have ever had. I am doing native plant propagation at the Redding BLM office. After two wonderful years in Oregon, I am enjoying the sunshine in Northern California.

Instead of cattle or timber, the focus of the office is recreation. I have been working alot in the greenhouse- planting native seeds, weeding, watering and transplanting. The nursery contains anything native- trees, shrubs, sedges, rushes, grasses, and forbs. I also have been processing some skunk bush seeds as homework. Tomorrow, we will be planting some blue oaks at a restoration site.

This is my third week on the job and I am learning so much as I go. I am excited to learn about every aspect of growing plants for restoration projects- from seed collection to propagating to planting. I’m interested in learning the native plants through this process.

Until next time,


This is the greenhouse we share with Happy Valley Elementary School

This is the greenhouse we share with Happy Valley Elementary School