The Enchanting Rogue Valley

It has been an exciting time for wildflower surveying in and around the Rogue Valley. My partner and I are reaching a lull period where we wait for the plants in the locations we have scouted to go to seed. Through scouting locations and surveying for botanicals we have discovered a number of incredibly scenic hikes, of which one of our favorites is the Enchanted Forest Trail in the Applegate Valley. If you happen to visit or live in the area and have not been on this trail, check it out!

This week we have had the fantastic opportunity to help a crew of professional and amateur botanists survey French Flat in Cave Junction, OR for the rare and endangered plant Lomatium cookii. This has proven to be a very rewarding experience. We have had the opportunity to work with this rare plant while also scouting the surrounding area for suitable populations for voucher pressings and seed collection. Very knowledgeable researchers for the project took us on naturalist hikes to become even better acquainted with the flora of the region.

Also while waiting for our populations to seed, next week we will be photographing plant vouchers here at the Medford BLM office to help digitize their herbarium and link all of the images to their plant database!

All in all we have been learning TONS of previously unfamiliar flora while enjoying the last bit of Spring here in southern Oregon. If you haven’t been out here in the spring time, I highly recommend it. There is always more to see!

Take it easy,

– Jason Wilson

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Over the hills and far away

Well, one drastic change that I have noticed is that I can no longer sleep past 5am.  I get up for Sage Grouse monitoring at 3am all week, and now even on weekends I am up before the sun making breakfast.  It is very quiet in the early morning, while drinking my tea I often watch the sun creep over the hills and sagebrush, across West Valley, and up and over Likely Mountain.  Although the early morning sunrises are pretty wonderful, my favorite time of everyday is the early evening.  As the sun retreats, the sky becomes ablaze with oranges, yellows, and pinks.  The Warner Mountain range to the east catches the last rays and turns pink and blue, the snowy tops shining against the deep blue of night’s approach.

I have seen many grouse at different distances.  Sometimes I use a spotting scope to look across a dry lake bed, other times I use binoculars and look out the truck windows, and every now and again, I have to hike right up to the proximity limit and count them without any visual aid.  One important lesson has been to trust my instincts.  Often the GPS points are off or the lek has shifted and/or the map is wrong.  Looking through a scope or binoculars, it is easy to misread the terrain as well.  It seems very flat and the map does not indicate much topography, the birds are supposed to be right there, but where are they?  I hike over and begin to hear them.  I keep going and as it turns out, there is a depression that you can only see up close and they are all within.

Many plants are finally beginning to come up and bloom.  Many more, however, have yet to show themselves.  The drought is taking its toll on many plants.  Even some of our invasive grasses like cheatgrass and  medusa head have not come up in some locations.  The flowers that have come up I have very much enjoyed, they have transformed some pretty bland areas by bringing color into a green and drown landscape.  I often wonder how I am going to be able to remember all the plants from Ohio after this, so much Latin so little time.

Pictures from top to bottom

Greater Sage Grouse captured for banding and measurement as Massacre Bench, NV

Sunrise from Cinder Pit, CA at about 5:30am

View from the Top of Tuledad Canyon, CA

Abandoned homestead found in Surprise Valley, NV

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Spring Time Update

Hello again! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time being a CLM intern and enjoying the chance to expand our knowledge in the field that we are interested in.  I sure am enjoying my internship with the BLM, in Kemmerer, WY. 

It’s now the end of April and field season has started for most everyone. Last week I was able to drive a UTV up into a cattle allotment I managed last summer. The weather was gorgeous, highs in the mid 60’s and just a small breeze, in my opinion the mid 60’s is the perfect temperature.  Although lots of snow still exists, it was a real treat to see what the area looks like in early spring.  After enjoying the beautiful spring like weather for a week it’s back to snow and cold this week. Being from Wyoming myself, I should be used to getting teased with spring, then going back to winter; but I am not and I don’t think I will ever be used to it.

I also found out we will be having another CLM intern (Cody) joining us at the office starting next Monday. He will be assisting in grazing permit renewals, monitoring efforts, and helping me with unauthorized cattle use and many other associated tasks. I think Cody will benefit in so many ways joining the CLM team.  I hope everyone enjoys their spring, and until next time, try to have fun!

Jeremy Sykes

Bureau of Land Management

Kemmerer, WY