Big Bear Lake, CA Feb.-March


Astragalus albens in bloom on February 23, 2014

Astragalus albens in bloom on February 23, 2014

Lomatium mohavense in bloom on February 23, 2014

Lomatium mohavense in bloom on February 23, 2014

We’re moving into the field season, and will be doing monitoring and starting early-season project survey work over the next few weeks.  A storm last week brought some much-needed snow and rain to the mountains, but precipitation is still far below normal.  However, spring has arrived; down in the chaparral on the southern slopes, bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) and chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) are in bloom, as well as many other forbs.  Over on the desert side, a few Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) were beginning to bloom on Feb. 23, as well as other forbs, including Lomatium mohavense and the federally endangered Cushenbury milk vetch (Astragalus albens).  I’ve been doing some work in ArcGIS, in preparation for moving older sensitive species occurrences into the FS database.  We are also continuing work on the invasive plant guide, and are in the final stages of editing and formatting.

Mountaintop Ranger District

San Bernardino NF, USDA-FS

2700 Miles to California

I am here…in Alturas, California working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  I bought myself a much needed new vehicle (ha, new to me!), and road tripped across the country to Cali.  The last 90 miles from Reno, Nevada to Alturas is when it really set in…I am almost 3,000 miles from everything familiar and I am not coming back.  I am moving into the area at the end of the season, so this is my new home and I have to familiarize myself with everything from customs and local culture to all the plants and animals.

I will be monitoring the Greater Sage Grouse.  This is a habitat-specific bird living in the sage steppe habitat that stretches hundreds of thousands of acres across the West.  Their status is pending and due for listing in the Endangered Species Act in 2015.  Despite the 13 year drought here, it has rained almost everyday I have been here, and I have had only one opportunity to go out on a search for these guys.  In addition to the grouse, I will be doing as much work as I can with plants and the botanist here collecting seeds, samples, and surveying for rare plants.

I came into this job with many seasons of field work under my belt, so the work load and intensity is not a shock.  What gets me though…back home I knew many many things in terms of vegetation and wildlife.  I have studied the plants of the Michigan/Ohio region since I was in high school and could do much of it in botanical terms.  Here, I do not know some of the most common plants and animals around and I signed on declaring that I am really good at ID.  The sheer amount of new information to take in is a bit staggering, but I tend to stagnate without a good challenge.

Beyond anything else, I am invigorated.  My philosophy has long been to do things that make you uncomfortable so you become a stronger more diverse person.  Well, I was uncomfortable when I arrived.  My boss showed me my living quarters in a fire station 20 miles from town, told me what not to do while there, and left me for the weekend.  I had to make peace with the fact that I am now in uncharted territory and I have the knowledge that in a few months me and the boys will not be telling stories over a couple beers downtown; this is it.

I graduated kiddy school, and now I begin building my professional name.  No more tests and exams, the only thing that counts is my actions and my word, and that makes me more happy then getting straight As in classes.

Thank you CLM, thank you BLM, and thank you to the many good professors at Kent State.


Today is the first day I have had internet access!

I will upload my own photos in the future when I can go out and take some!

After the Storm

So, last time I posted here, snow was just hitting Eugene, and boy it did not stop for a while! By the next day, we had nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and then a couple inches of ice on top of that. All of the snow and ice added a lot of weight to the surrounding vegetation, and branches and trees came down all over the city.










Luckily, the snowy conditions only lasted a few days, and then my coworker and I were off checking various sites for damage. As you can see, some of our sites definitely suffered fallen trees. In fact, a beautiful silver maple in front of our field office split in half and toppled to the ground; unfortunately, it ultimately had to be completely removed.


Since the storm, most of the fallen tree limbs have been cleaned up, and we are beginning to gear up for field season. In the next couple of weeks, we will be planting Kincaid’s lupine and Willamette Daisy to augment existing populations. In the meantime, I am developing promotional documents for this year’s Walkin’ and Rollin’ Through the Wetlands event. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary since restoration work began in the West Eugene Wetlands, so it’s especially exciting!

Till Next Time!