I <3 Buffalo...Wyoming

It’s been a busy summer and hard to believe it’s mid-August. Life in Buffalo has dramatically changed in my eyes since first moving here in June. Most of the snow melt from the mountains is gone and the rivers are lower. A town I didn’t think had much to offer is filled with outdoor recreation opportunities that makes me think that I could be here awhile.

Myself and the 3 other CLM interns just got offered an extension till end of December. Some of us may stay and some may go. It’s hard to choose but there is just so much to do at work! I’ve participated in seed collections, rangeland health assessments, habitat restoration, the cutting of Juniper trees, fish surveys, parks and recreation field work, weeding, mapping fence, and so much more to come! I particularly am working on the Powder River Basin Restorations program objective of visiting historic wildfire sites and visually estimating the ecosystem health. Thankfully this project is just kicking off so I will have plenty of field work till the beginning of October. Many CLM blogs written in the fall season mention having limited field work and some desk work. Less work=time slowing down and I am not a fan. I like to go, go, go and do, do, do. This project is just what I need. Buffalo is just what I need.

Other than work, our group of CLM interns went to Thermopolis mineral hot springs and white water rafted a section of the wind river canyon. Great experiences! I won a grill from our local grocery store and am looking forward to hooking that up this weekend, along with a color run, horseback riding, and possibly a 8-mile hike in the Big Horn mountains. Trying to be a busy bee in a small town of Wyoming is easily achievable! (***Get at me if you’re having difficulty in your respective small towns!)

Thank You

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
― John Muir

As my internship wraps up I want to give gratitude to Central Oregon in terms of its landscape and its people. Both personally and professionally I feel like I have taken as much advantage of Central Oregon as I possibly could. No evening was wasted and no time was spent wondering what was next on my plate. And what is next on my plate can only be described in one word: epic. I’ll be backpacking the 211 mile long John Muir Trail, which will give me some focus on what I should take on next in my life. I’m interested in the intersection of teaching and science, but there are so many places to wrestle with this nexus that the trail will hopefully give me some direction in which to go.

Focusing on the past, I’d like to highlight some parts of this internship that expanded who I am today. Though I’ve had previous botany jobs, there was always a mentor who knew all the species so my keying skills were not as sharp. My mentor Kristin is new to this area so I spent hours under a microscope looking at the fascinating features of taxonomy. Due to its minute flowers and complex Asteraceae terminology, my proudest moment was keying to species a Solidago canadensis. As part of keying to species, I learned how a herbarium is a valuable resource in verifying my ID skills and I feel much more confident in explaining the importance of them.

Enjoying and protecting nature’s beauty was a large part of this internship for me. From Forest Hills Natural Resource Area, to vast sagebrush ‘oceans’, to the paleontological wonders of the John Day region, there is a large amount of stunning landscape at the Prineville Field Office. I am blessed to have been part of the Seeds of Success program and the weeds infestation program in the Forest Hills NRA because this year a large portion of it was burned. Our data on both the biodiversity and the noxious weed populations allowed this fire to receive extra funding for restoration. The restoration of this gorgeous wilderness area would not have been possible without CLM interns on the ground.

Another project I worked on was organizing the monitoring of a rare plant in the mustard family called Thelypodium eucosmum. It lives on steep, rocky slopes and its monitoring program is governed by multiple agencies with different databases. These two challenges pushed me both physically and mentally which resulted in visiting species that had not been seen for decades. Hopefully the more organized paperwork will enable ranchers and land managers to have a better understanding of this species needs.

Overall I’d like to thank my mentor Kristin Williams, my co-worker Tiffany Druba, the CLM/CBG program manager Krissa Skogen, the staff and the guest speakers that put on the week-long conference in Chicago, and Megan Haidet who coordinates the Seeds of Success program in DC. It’s phenomenal how much coordination is put into this program and I am very proud to be part of it.

Best of success,
Debbie Pattison
Prineville, OR Field Office

Thelypodium eucosmum

Thelypodium eucosmum



Lichen it!

Lichen it!

"The Island"

“The Island”

Chicago Botanical Garden Bonsai exhibit

Chicago Botanic Garden Bonsai exhibit



Herbarium verification

Herbarium verification

ATV training

ATV training

Painted Hills

Forest Hills Natural Resource Area

Cool Columbine


A cool thing happened a few weeks ago.  A forester from our BLM office here in Dillon told us that a crazy bloom of Western Columbine – Aquilegia formosa was happening in a recent timber harvest area. Western Columbine happens to be on the sensitive species list, but the bloom was massive.  We got special permission from our Montana State BLM Botanist and the Seeds of Success Coordinators to collect the columbine.  The seed-pods were sticky as glue and the location was gorgeous- near the continental divide at the Montana / Idaho border.

I like these special moments of the Internship.  Today I will go on the last hurrah of seed collecting, and then I will start to help the Range Staff with Watershed Assessments. Riparian Systems are some of my favorite, from desert washes to montane streams I love the species of plants that grow near water.

For the Watershed Assessments we walk the streams and assess the health of them. We mostly do this to protect the riparian areas, as water is vital to the west.  Most of the stream reaches we walk are in sage brush areas and are stablized by willows and sedges.  Cattle and Occasional Wildlife have potential to destroy the streams by chomping on the willow (hedging) and stomping on the sedges (destabilizing).  Roads can also be a major factor in stream destabilization.  By closely monitoring these variables, we can help protect the vitality of these life-giving water sources.

Collection of Geum triflorum, Old Man's Beard - Photo By K. Savage

Collection of Geum triflorum, Old Man’s Beard Photo By K. Savage


Delphinium occidentale, Larkspur                             Photo By K. Savage


Aquilegia formosa, Western Columbine     Photo By K. Savage


Aquilegia formosa                                             Photo By K. Savage

Well, fall sure is a coming, the antelope are already starting to form their harems. The thimble-berries, however, are just starting to ripen and I couldn’t be happier about this.


Survival Guide To The Wild West

Welcome To Wyoming

1. Be ready to work hard.

An eight hour work day is a privilege. Be prepared for long, hot, rough terrain work days. Water in mass quantities is a must. Wear long sleeves, not because you think you will be cold, but for sun protection. Smell bacon?

We Move Rocks!Rock Hounding Anyone?


Pack Mules15


2. Danger is your new middle name.

You will be given 4X4 training. Pay attention, you will need it. Uneven, up a rocky cliff terrain is just the beginning of many unexpected things you will encounter in the field.

Trapped By CowsAnkle BitersHide and Seek


3. Be Social.

Don’t get along with others? Have a bad attitude? Take life for granted? Hermit Crab is your spirit animal? This internship may not be for you. Take the time to enjoy and learn from your fellow interns if you are lucky enough to have others with you. Talk with the people in your office. They can teach you lots, not only professionally but for things to do locally.

We listen as a soil scientist explains what the soil indicates for this particular section of land.

We listen as a soil scientist explains what the soil indicates for this particular section of land.

Buffalo, Wy is the inspiration for the book and TV series Longmire. Once a year they have "Longmire Days" when the stars of the show visit with the locals.
Buffalo, Wy is the inspiration for the book and TV series Longmire. Once a year they have “Longmire Days” when the stars of the show visit with the locals.