Last time I wrote, we were waiting for rain here at the BLM Farmington Field Office. Now the rains are finally here! Many of our target plants have really perked up and we’re looking forward to boosting our collection numbers over the next few weeks. For now, though, we’re spending quite a bit of time indoors because the increased rainfall means that the roads turn to mud. Therefore, this blog entry is more about the awesome things I’ve seen in my free time.
The San Juan National Forest is only a short jaunt north of Farmington, so we’ve been taking full advantage of the cool mountain air during the hot summer in the high desert. There are so many great hikes that it would take me years to fully explore the forest.
As a part of our work with Seeds of Success, we’ve partnered with the BLM and USFS in Dolores, CO to make some seed collections in Southwest Colorado. Last week we visited Disappointment and Big Gyp Valley, where we hoped to find a robust population of Plueraphis jamesii (Galleta grass). Disappointment Valley lived up to its name and was disappointing on that front, but we encountered some good populations of other native forbs and grasses and may return in a few weeks. Additionally, we learned all about one of the first settlers of Disappointment Valley, an English pioneer-woman named Lizzy Knight. After her husband left her, she became a blacksmith in the mid-1800’s to support herself and her daughter and later immigrated to Colorado with her second husband. As a homesteader she began cattle ranching and was the first female resident of Rico, CO. After divorcing, she wound up marrying her son-in-law and the couple lived in their cabin in Disappointment Valley until the 1930’s and the cabin is still standing to this day. Our all-female Seeds of Success team aspires to live up to a bit of Lizzy Knight’s spark.
My parents came out to visit and we took a long weekend exploring Southeast Utah, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. While there I finally got to meet my favorite buckwheat, Eriogonum inflatum.
This past weekend we had the privilege of going on an edible mushroom hike sponsored by the Four Corners Native Plant Society. We learned about a variety of both edible and non-edible mushrooms and took a beautiful hike in the Lizard Head Wilderness west of Telluride, CO. After the hike, we had a delicious potluck dinner hosted by our gracious trip leader where we sampled the mushrooms we collected. I definitely feel more confident about my mushroom field identification and the day inspired me to try my hand at foraging.
This blog post also marks the approximate halfway point of my CLM internship. It’s truly flying by and I feel extremely lucky to have this opportunity. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) making many more collections when the rains let up. With that, I leave you with an enchanting New Mexico sunset: