Month 2 in Central Oregon

2 months have flown by in Prineville, Oregon. The last few weeks (besides the CLM Workshop) I have been working on many different projects including eagle monitoring, habitat assessment for sage grouse, GIS training webinars, and lifting wildlife closures on trails.

Every year the Prineville district hosts an environmental education day for Crook County 4th graders, located at a beautiful campground by the Crooked River. Luckily, I got to help run the wildlife station this year. We had pelts and/or skulls from cougar, porcupine, wood chuck, coyote, beaver, badger, and red fox. We taught the kids all about habitat, and what different animals need to survive. Some of the 4th graders were extremely knowledgeable.

Mountain Big Sagebrush glowing blue under blacklight

I’m living in Bend, OR, about 45 minutes away from Prineville. It’s a pretty big town with almost 90,000 people and I’ve been making awesome friends. Weekends have included hiking, birding, camping, boating on Lake Billy Chinook, exploring Bend, and of course watching the Women’s World Cup (GO USA!!)

Go USA soccer!!!

Coming up in July, I’ll be working exclusively on a Western Long Eared Bat telemetry project, but more on that next month.

Rattlesnake in our campsite

Weeds and Seeds in Central OR

Central Oregon has been a blast so far and I love it more here every day. If it’s outdoors, we’ve got it. There are endless places to explore; obsidian flows, ponderosa forests, scenic riverways, mountain biking hotspots, and the list goes on. The landscape is varied and with all this volcanic geology, never boring. On the cultural side, there is the happening city of Bend, real rodeos, breweries, great local food scene, good music and friendly people. There are these little espresso shacks all over the place, even in the tiniest towns. I’m told it’s a northwest thing. It’s kind of dangerous because I never had a coffee habit, but am steadily developing one here. Who could resist?

Work life in my second internship has been fulfilling and informative. I’m swamped with seed collections and spend 95% of my time in field, which is great! I am particularly excited about some surprise plant populations I found that will be collected for pollinator conservation. I’m also learning a lot about invasive plant species here and how to control them. One of particular interest is medusahead rye, Taeniatherum caput-medusae. It is a shrimpy little annual with crazy long awns and packs a wallop. When it dies off, the dead material creates a mat that does not break down quickly in this dry environment. The mat prevents other plants from competing and encourages a medusahead monoculture. It’s also a wildfire hazard.  Part of my time in the field is spent hiking remote areas that burned in last year’s wildfires and mapping the weed infestations that have moved into these areas. These are long, sometimes hard several mile days, but I am thrilled to be getting so much more familiar with how to use the GPS units, spend the day observing wildlife and flowers, and soaking up sun and cool breezes on desolate ridgetops (all while seeking out those nasty plant invaders). Plus it’s pretty good exercise! I have seen 3 rattlesnakes so far, after never meeting any my whole season last year. I reviewed first aid procedures for an encounter with these fellows, although so far they have been politely reserved. They are beautiful animals to see at a respectful distance, so I consider myself lucky. Anyway, it’s back to work for me! There are seeds that need a’collectin’, and I’m the gal for the job!

Lupinus in the rain

Lupinus in the rain

Salvia dorrii - an upcoming pollinator collection

Salvia dorrii – an upcoming pollinator collection

Minding my own

Minding my own



Rain rain go away, let the interns play or should that be learn maybe work?

As the title says we have had much rain here in the sleepy town of Buffalo, WY. The first two weeks here have been amazing and slightly overwhelming. Within the first week of working Katie and I met 80+ employees, were trained in CPR and First Aid, Defensive driving, ATV/UTV training, GPS/GIS, and began our crash course in the flora of the west and how it pertains to rangeland management.

Our second week we were unexpectantly trained in emergency flood response when our office flooded, leaving our part of the building with 0.5″ of standing water. Almost half of the building had to be packed up and moved out or thrown away. We are now located in the annex building just down the road from the main office. Us interns are set up in the cozy conference room now!

We received ~3" of rain in one night that overwhelmed our pump resulting in 0.5" of standing water in our cubicals after the water receded.

We received ~3″ of rain in one night that overwhelmed our pump resulting in 0.5″ of standing water in our cubicles after the water receded.

Removing all furnitureOffice repairs currently


UTVRange MonitoringRange health

Katie Pacholski and I performing a soil stability test as part of range health monitoring

Katie Pacholski and I performing a soil stability test as part of range health monitoring

Sara Burns, Katie Pacholski, and I were doing range monitoring when we looked up and this female pronghorn was stolling by. She gave us a little "bark" and went on her way!

Sara Burns, Katie Pacholski, and I were doing range monitoring when we looked up and this female pronghorn was stolling by. She gave us a little “bark” and went on her way!


Collecting and Hiking My Life Away

The first week back from Chicago has been jam packed. We’ve completed 3 collections this week, which have given us the opportunity to surpass the recommended 10,000 steps per day. The first collection left our hands sweet smelling after the once vibrant purple flowers had dried into a light pink. Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii) scent now fills the office shelves while the seeds dry, as we continued to fill the shelves with Thurber’s Needle Grass and another seed, so white and fluffy, Taper’s Hawksbeard (Crepis acuminata).






After hiking and collecting all week, we decided to head out to hike some more at Lassen Volcanic National Park. We set up camp and went out to Bumpass’ Hell, and checked out the sulfur filled streams and watched the vapors pour out of the rock. We made s’mores, hobo dinners, and waited for the stars to come out before heading to bed, setting our sites on hiking Mt. Lassen in the morning.

Much needed selfie










At the summit, 10,000 something feet, with freezing hands, we had to enjoy the perfect moment for yet again using the selfie stick. I feel like these two pictures easily encompass the honest joy and comfort that we all find in nature, and that I find when finally having that feeling of accomplishment when you complete what you have set out to do.

The views were astounding, and there was even the little educational signs along the way, letting us know about the volcanic history of the mountain, 100 years after the last eruption. The signs also let us know how much longer we had to the summit, I don’t know which part was better. DSC_0581Until next time.

Andrea Stuemky, Eagle Lake Field Office, BLM

Susanville, CA

And the real work begins

Got started surveying the local airport for an endangered flower called Applegate’s Milk-vetch. The airport has the largest population of the flower so its vital to gather data on the population. The airport is proposing an expansion of their taxi way and to do so they must conduct a biological assessment. We worked together with private contractors hired on by the airport to conduct the survey. Surveys were done doing random transects in each area of the airport. With one person walking a transect with a 3 m pole while another walked behind to search and count plants.


Applegate’s Mik-vetch (Astragalus applegatei)

To add to the excitement of surveying, we got to experience F-15 jets take-off, train and land right next to us. The airport is the last base in the U.S. to train F-15 pilots.



There’s plenty of wildlife on the airport as well. Even found a horned larks nest that had survived the mowers.


Baby horned larks

At the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in California, ponds were made to raise sucker fish for 2 years in another strategy to save the species. Before placing young fish into the ponds, traps have been placed to see if any other fish have made it into the ponds, which may be possible from the ponds’ water source. Predator surveys of mammals and piscivorous birds were conducted as well.


Nicki and Erica collecting traps at one of the ponds.

We began building our net pens to raise young sucker fish in for the summer. Construction of the dock took all day, but finally git it pieced together. The dock was then towed out into the bay.


Dock being towed

Then two nets were placed into the dock to hold the fish.


The fish will be raised till about September, then released back into the lake with the hopes of increasing recruitment into the adult population.


View from the dock


Badger Creek Restoration Update: No Snakes!

Hello everyone,

Another week is nearly over at the Cosumnes River Preserve and I am happy to say that things are progressing quite well on the Badger Creek Restoration Project. Though, everything is moving forward at a rate which still fits our timeline, I often have the feeling that I am sliding down the blade of an ever-sharpening knife. So far, I have managed to avoid any metaphorical life-threatening wounds.

Our team of biologists finished up their thirty days of trapping, and while they produced some interesting data, as expected, no giant garter snakes were trapped during this cycle. The yellow water primrose in Horseshoe Lake has continued to progress at an astonishing rate. As of my last visit on Tuesday, there were no areas of open water left within the lake. It is rather impressive, yet ultimately quite upsetting, that this lone weed has managed to consume nearly all available water in a 155 acre lake. The photo below was taken just a few weeks ago and in that time the primrose, has now covered the last visible areas of water on the surface.

I am currently working on the numbers to see if it is more advantageous/cost effective to have a helicopter spray the site instead of the highboy or tow behind tractor rig as originally planned. I have contacted local contractors and am waiting for the estimates to come in so we can reach a final decision.

On the positive side of the equation, the joint NEPA/CEQA document I wrote for the project is entering the last days of the public review period, and to this point we have received little to no resistance regarding the proposed restoration. However, I have been warned that comments often come towards the end of the review period, typically on the last day, so the minor celebration for reaching another completed stage will have to wait until next week. If anyone has interest in reading the document (and I say this with a certain level of sarcasm given your busy schedules/lack of desire to read a 70 page environmental document) it can be found using the link below. While much of the content (air quality, water quality, cultural resources, etc.) may seem dull/long-winded/unnecessary, it may be of benefit to those who will have to write documents like this in the future.

Next week I will be meeting with potential contractors who will be bidding on the earthmoving/excavation work which will start (if all goes well) in early September. I hope everyone is having a great time out there in the field (wherever you may be). Since my photos of the project have been admittedly lackluster in this and previous posts, I thought I would leave you with a couple of photos of some of the splendid daily interactions/observations we have here at the Preserve.

Crayfish ready to throw down

Crayfish ready to throw down

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

Monitoring at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

This week I had the pleasure of traveling up and down the coast of Virginia and Maryland with the rest of the North Carolina Botanical Garden SOS East interns and our “fearless leader” Amanda. One spot in particular that caught my attention was Back Bay National Wildlife Reserve on the coast of Virginia just south of Virginia Beach. The land is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and encompasses 4,589 acres of protected area. Although birds are the main target as far as protection is concerned, there is a vast array of plant species, as well as some interesting animals. One such creature we encountered was this little guy:

Cool spider at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Back Bay offers stunning views along the marsh lands as well as great spots for fishing along the Atlantic side.

Sound side at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Sound side

We picked an incredible day to visit Back Bay. We started out around 8 AM and got to feel the cool breeze coming off the Atlantic before the heat of the day took over.

Sand dune communities at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Sand dune communities

We saw many species of plants that are on our list for seed collection, including, but certainly not limited to: Juncus effusus, Cakile edentula, Smilax rotundifolia, Typha angustifolia and Typha latifolia. Each of those listed will provide plenty of seed for us to collect in the coming months when they mature, especially the two Typha’s!

Sound at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge


I cannot blame the many families we saw out there for visiting the site. It is a gorgeous place for biking, hiking, picnicking, birding, you name it! I can’t wait to visit time and time again for both seed collection and leisure!


Well, it’s been awhile since my last post. But indeed our schedules are pretty tight, almost without office work – all in the field. Based on what I hear around, it’s been a very long and cool spring for the Mojave, which of course favored us in a couple ways – nice and pleasant field work, and more time to get some of our projects done before the coming high temperatures. As a matter of fact we have had a few weeks already which were above a hundred degrees. I must say that without an acclimation time, it is pretty hard to stay active as usual, especially in town where all the concrete and roads contribute to a temperature rise. With that said, last week I was lucky to attend my training up north and reveal for myself at least a tiny bit of Bryophytes’ diversity. The workshop focused on identification of different non-vascular plants – Liverworts, Hornworts, and Mosses, which was very exciting for me. It was very new to me, because even having a general idea about mosses and its main taxonomical groups I never had a chance to get deeper into the subject. Discovering characteristic features of different groups of mosses and liverworts, seeing them under the microscope was very interesting, exciting, and certainly rewarding. I would highly recommend to all botanists who are not particularly familiar with non-vascular plants, of course given some extra time and a good opportunity, to pay a little more attention to this subject. In the meantime I will definitely keep exploring them myself wherever I am. Until next time,


WERC, Henderson, NV


The Adventure Begins!

My internship at the BLM Buffalo Field Office certainly started off in a rush, as I arrived in Buffalo, Wyoming the day before my first day of work. It was quite the whirlwind to get my apartment settled and myself prepared for work the next day, but Tuesday came and I hit the ground running! The first two weeks of my internship were quite the blur to be honest- on the first day alone, myself and the other new intern Jade, met 80+ employees at the Buffalo Field Office- I wish I could remember everyone’s name! The rest of that week was then spent getting trained in First Aid, Defensive Driving, GPS and GIS. My favorite day was the First Aid training because I had never been CPR certified before and now I can safely say that I am! woo 😀

The next week involved more fun training in activities like driving ATVs and UTVs. I personally loved the ATV training; I have never driven these vehicles before and it was a blast learning how to maneuver these guys over hills and different obstacles. At the end of that week, we were supposed to finally get out into the field and start learning how to monitor range land and identify the many plant species found within the BFO’s territory. Unfortunately however, on Wednesday night a huge storm came through town from the Bighorn Mountains, and the office was completely flooded. So, obviously that put a bit of a damper in our original plans…Instead, Thursday and Friday were spent helping the office to get sorted and moved as certain areas require new carpet and even drywall in result of the water damage!! Honestly though, it ended up being kind of fun! I got in a good workout lugging all those heavy desks out (lol) and good bonding time with the other interns and the BFO employees 🙂

Returning from the workshop back home in Chicago this past week, we have been very busy getting started on monitoring range sites for this season, as well as determining good populations for plants to collect on the SOS list (that’s my job). Almost every day has been 10 or 11 hour days, and I’ve been coming home completely exhausted!! I’m definitely looking forward to resting up this weekend, but it also feels great to be getting out in the field every day. All in all, I’m loving my time here in Buffalo, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store!


Testing soil stability at one of our sites- talk about an office with a view!


Views of the Bighorn Mountains while getting trained to drive ATVs (plus a very observant cow watching our training from a safe distance! :P)


Buffalo’s Clear Creek flowing mightily after all the rain we’ve been getting!



Plant City

My internship situation is quite different than many in the CLM program.  Having been born and raised in the country about 10 miles outside of the ‘city’ of Grants Pass, Oregon and then going to school at Oregon Tech (about 4000 students) in the ‘city’ of Klamath Falls, Oregon (twenty-something thousand people), I have little-to-no big city experience. Getting stationed in Boise, Idaho meant that for my internship I was going to be living in a city far more populated than anywhere I had lived before.  Boise has a population of more than 200,000 with a metropolitan area population of close to 700,000.  I feel lucky to have found a relatively inexpensive apartment ideally located between, and easily within biking distance of the BLM office and downtown.  I moved in about a week before my start date of May 18.

As expected, the first week was largely spent on training, introductory information/preparation, and getting acquainted with BLM processes and locations.  After the first 3 weeks, we had already collected vouchers for Eriogonum heracleoides (wyeth buckwheat), Eriogonum sphaerocephalum (rock buckwheat), Pseudoroegneria spicata (bluebunch wheatgrass), Elymus elymoides (squirreltail), Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue), and likely a few others whose names escape me at the present moment.  We have also made 3 seed collections: Balsamorhiza sagittata (arrowleaf balsamroot), Crepis occidentalis (western hawksbeard), and Lomatium triternatum (nineleaf biscuitroot). Enough plant names already!

Here's me assessing the buggy-ness of some seeds

Here’s me assessing the buggy-ness of some seeds

In addition to feeling lucky about my housing situation and location, I am also very thankful for the great people that I get to work with.  The three of us get along very well, and I think there is a pretty great group dynamic between all of us.

Emile (my internship partner) and Joe ( our mentor)

Emile (my internship partner) and Joe (our mentor)

Our mentor Joe is actually a wildlife biologist, so we aren’t solely focusing on plants and/or seeds.  We have also been doing some habitat assessments, some of which have been in extremely beautiful and remote areas a few hours outside Boise.

Approaching the top of the first ridge on one of our beautiful and steep hikes

Approaching the top of the first ridge on one of our beautiful and steep hikes

Because many of our drives are 2 hours or more from the office, camping near sampling sites is a good way to maximize work hours spent on collecting data and minimize those spent in the truck.  We spent 2 nights and three days based at this inviting spot, central to a few habitat assessment sites.

My hammock tent in an Aspen grove on near a creek

My hammock tent in an Aspen grove  near a creek

After three weeks in the field, we headed off to Chicago for a week of training with about 62 other interns.  There was some great information at the workshop, and Chicago has many fun and interesting things to offer.  In an effort to keep this post concise and interesting, I will finish it off with a few of my favorite photos.

Picturesque Lewisia

Picturesque Lewisia

Pollinators rock!

Pollinators rock!

A species of Blues enjoy some Eriogonum umbellatum

A species of Blues enjoying some Eriogonum umbellatum

Some fritillaries enjoying more sulphur buckwheat

Some fritillaries enjoying more sulphur buckwheat

Lark sparrow nest hidden under an Eriogonum elatum plant

Lark sparrow nest hidden under an Eriogonum elatum plant

A super-sweet caterpillar

A super-sweet caterpillar

Nature's neat!

Nature’s neat!

Thanks for reading/looking!  To all of you who I met, I say hello again, and I look forward to reading your posts.  To anyone stationed near Boise or planning a trip near here in the next 5 months, don’t hesitate to look me up if you want to do something or need a place to stay for a few nights.


Dan King

CLM Intern – BLM Boise, ID