My First Two Weeks in Farmington, NM

I arrived at my internship with the BLM Farmington Field Office almost two weeks ago, which have been filled with a whirlwind of activity. Much of my time has been spent learning and studying the flora here, almost all of which are completely new for me. My mentor, Sheila Williams and fellow CLM intern, Hannah Goodmuth have been incredibly helpful and patient teachers and I feel like I’m finally starting to catch on.

Fellow CLM Intern Hannah Goodmuth (R) and I with a flowering Scabretha scabra (Badlands mule-ears).

Fellow CLM Intern Hannah Goodmuth (R) and I with a flowering Scabrethia scabra (Badlands mule-ears).

The landscape here is  completely distinct from what I’m used to back on the east coast. The area is dotted with numerous and diverse mesas dominated by Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands, which are adorably referred to as “pygmy forests”.

Despite the ongoing drought in the region, we made our first Seeds of Success collection for the 2014 season. We located a large population of woolly plantain (Plantago patagonica) that managed to flower and produce seed in incredibly dry conditions. I truly enjoyed making the collection; we headed out before 7am to avoid the heat of the day and spent a beautiful, cool morning gathering seeds.

The collection site for Platago patagonica this week. The plants are the small fluffy herbs in the foreground.

The collection site for Platago patagonica this week. The plants are the small fluffy herbs in the foreground.

With the collection season in full swing, I’m looking forward to getting down to work scouting more collection sites for our target species and continuing to learn more about the Colorado Plateau region.

Back to business

As most of you reading this will agree, the Chicago workshop was a blast and an excellent learning experience. It was revitalizing to be around other young people and the weather was a nice break from the desert heat. In the short amount of time I made a lot of friends and learned a great deal from the workshops which I am now applying in the field. I felt the Chicago experience really enforced a sense of pride in the collective efforts of all us interns and our commitment to being good stewards of the environment, especially to the plants.

The first day back to the Mohave we met up with some wildlife biologists doing bat research on the lower Colorado River with the Bureau of Reclamation. The location was a small re-forested cottonwood and mesquite forest on Native-American reservation land. This patch of forest was put in place in an attempt to imitate what the floodplain ecosystem may have looked like before damming up the Colorado and altering the periodic flooding which maintained these types of habitats. We set up a series of mist nets along corridors between the trees and spent the next 4 hours or so going from net to net, retrieving the captured bats out of the nets and recording the species, size, and sexual maturation. It was an extremely successful night with 44 bats being captured.

Pallid bat - They eat scorpions

Pallid bat – They eat scorpions

Over the weekend one of the ladies from our office took Steve and I out fishing on Lake Havasu, and although we only caught one fish the whole morning, we got to cruise through the cliffs of the Topock Gorge which was absolutely gorgeous (pun intended). In the Mohave language the word Havasu means blue water and it sure was.


Topock Gorge with a sand dune

Topock Gorge and the blue waters of Havasu

One day we got sent out to monitor a spring where there was an infestation of a non-native tamarisk down a steep-walled canyon. Along the upper portions of the flat rock there were numerous petroglyphs drawn onto the weathered stone. The enigmatic images were all different shapes but I noticed a recurring image of what looked like an incomplete figure 8, and an even-sided cross. One small drawing even resembled a dinosaur




As the mercury continues to rise each day, seed collecting becomes more and more difficult. The other day it reached 113 degrees farenheit during the day and only dropped down to 102 at night. It’s unreal how much water we drink each day. We have been seeing many wild burros and have even caught a few fleeting glimpses of desert mule deer. I can’t even fathom how those animals survive in that heat every day. Until the next hotter week.



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Whats the vine covering the Palo Verde (Parkinsonia floridum ssp. floridum)?

Its a milkweed! Funastrum cynanchoides

Its a milkweed! Funastrum cynanchoides