Friday marked the completion of my first full week as an intern with the BLM in Twin Falls, Idaho. Although the city of Twin Falls only has a population of roughly 46,000 it is bustling with activity and, in my opinion, has the atmosphere of a larger city. As soon as you get a mile or two out of the city limits the landscape is mainly made up of farm fields, cattle, and horses. The BLM’s Jarbidge Field Office, which includes the expanse of land that we will be conducting our field work on over the course of the internship, is desert dominated by Artemisia tridentata (Basin Big Sagebrush) with an under story of mixed grasses and forbs.
My view of the Jarbidge Mountains in Nevada while working out in the field.
The very first day on the job, my fellow interns and I were shown how to use the handheld GPS systems and spent time outside getting familiar with the types of plants that we will be working with. The next few days involved learning how to set up transects for the upland trend sites and how to calculate nested frequency.
The other main project that we will be working on will be monitoring Lepidium papilliferum (Slickspot Peppergrass), which is a rare forb that only occurs in a type of microhabitat called a slickspot. A slickspot is a small area containing silty clay soil that is flat, dry and cracked. On Thursday, we went to a spot that contains Lepidium papilliferum and were able to take pictures.
Mature Lepidium papilliferum
Lepidium papilliferum florets
Overall, I am amazed with how much I have learned already in the first week of my internship with the BLM and I am extremely excited to see what the next five months have in store for me here in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Hello from Rawlins, WY! I’m just finishing up my second week working at the BLM under the Seeds of Success Program. The main goal of our particular project is to gather seeds from species that will benefit the Greater Sage Grouse and pollinators. For the most part, it’s still a little too early for things to be blooming, but we’ve managed to collect voucher specimens for Lomatium foeniculaceum (desert biscuitroot), Phlox hoodii (spiny phlox), and Erysimum capitatum (wallflower). I’m sure a few of you guys are familiar with these plants.
I’ve only made it out into the field a couple times, but I absolutely can’t wait to head out again. The Rawlins Field Office is extremely vast, and covers a wide range of landscapes and environments. My favorite place I’ve been so far is the Ferris Mountains. I wish I had pictures so I could show everyone how spectacular this little mountain range is, but I have a feeling those hypothetical photos still wouldn’t do the place justice. Plus, it’s where I saw my first rattlesnake!
Speaking of rattlesnakes, the wildlife here is as astounding as it is prevalent. I can’t go five minutes without spotting mule deer or pronghorn, and I honestly can’t see myself getting sick of seeing these cool animals any time soon. Some other exciting critters I’ve seen include burrowing owls, a mountain plover, a badger, a moose, and a horned lizard, just to name a few.
While the animals are pretty awesome, I have to admit that the plants have me even more excited. I’m a total plant geek, and having been dropped into an entirely new ecoregion with which I’m completely unfamiliar is absolutely thrilling. I’ve learned a solid 20-30 plants so far, and I look forward to learning as many as I possibly can in the months ahead!
This is Tobin working with the Groveland Forest Service Office in the Stanislaus National Forest. My first two weeks with the Forest Service have included scouting rare and sensitive native plants and removing invasive species. Rare plants scouted for have included upland meadow dwellers Mimulus pulchellus, Mimulus filicaulis, Clarkia australis, and Clarkia biloba ssp. australis, woodland species Cyperpidium montanum and the aquatic lichen Peltigera gowardii. Invasive species removed included yellow starthistle, tocalote, diffuse knapweed, spotted knapweed, mullein and French broom.
With continued severe drought in California, many sites that are typically inundated with water and habitat for wetland species of interest have been very dry, hosting only the senescent remains of last years bloom. Much of the work of the Groveland Ranger District’s botany crew will be on the site of the 2013 Yosemite Rim Fire. The effects of the fire are dramatic and immediately visible across the landscape, with many areas being standing dead charred trees and salvage logging operations.
It will be interesting to see the combined effects of drought and fire in the Sierra Nevada this spring and summer. I’m also looking forward to exploring the abundant rock climbing on the granite of nearby Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows, Sonora Pass and throughout the Sierra on the weekends!
Looking towards the Rim Fire
Bouldering near the town of Columbia