Summer of Love…and plants

Field work is really hard! Especially in the desert!

Sometimes it feels like the desert is playing tricks on me, warping my perception. It has been a struggle finding viable seed to collect for our seed banking efforts. Many of the plants that are most important for post-wildfire restoration have produced little to no seed this year.

About a month or so ago, Mike and I took a walk through the site of the recent Long Valley fire. It was pretty spooky. There was no sign of any herbaceous plants and all that remained of the shrubs were blackened twigs. At first glance, the area looked like a desolate wasteland. Then I looked closer. Ants scrambled around the charred gravel. A lone mushroom stood, flushed by all the water from the firefighting effort. Desert peach sprouted from the bases of charred bushes.

What had appeared to me as a lifeless landscape was actually full of vitality and regeneration. It reminded me that the apocalyptic rhetoric that we conservationists often use to galvanize support for our cause can overlook the innate regenerative potential of threatened ecosystems. How often have seed banks been billed as “doomsday vaults”? I think that this sort of apocalyptic thinking is not only destructively pessimistic, but also endows us conservationists with a false sense of self-importance. As soon as we start believing that the earth is dying because of us, we start believing that we alone can save it. Not to say that we haven’t caused irreparable damage to this planet. But I think it is important to acknowledge that ecosystems are incredibly resilient and that they will recover from our impact regardless of whether we welcome a few sacred species onto our ark. Granted, this recovery might not take place on a timescale that is acceptable to us as users of the land. It will probably be millennia before natural antagonists evolve to put a check on invasive organisms.

On a lighter note, I went to Lake Tahoe this past weekend. Such beautiful, such wow, such boats. We went on a gorgeous hike to the top of Twin Peaks, visited an “authentic Scandinavian castle” and swam to a small island in the middle of the lake.

Why Mast Rd. is a must-walk

As we are more than halfway through our seed collecting internship, I have once again revised my list of favorites among the sites in which we collect, and Mast Rd Natural Area in Epping, NH has consistently been near the top.

Mast Rd Natural Area is turning into quite a friendly space for the weekend hiker. It is a forested site containing a few wetland areas and a meadow and is currently undergoing restoration to make it more accessible to pedestrians. When we first visited the site, the felled trunks and the tire marks revealed that Mast Rd Natural Area used to be an ATV trail system. The construction has been apparent with each visit and the trails are starting to take shape; gravel has been lain and bridges have been constructed over less than solid land.

Both the weekend hiker and the seasoned field worker will find plenty of fascinating sights here. That is part of the beauty of Mast Rd Natural Area. Though New Hampshire rises to mountain elevations further inland, this natural area is rather flat, providing for an easy walk that will allow hikers to focus on what they see along the trail instead of whether they will reach the end.

As seed collectors, we love this site. We have made thirteen collections here to date, which speaks to the range of diversity among the habitats that support a variety of native plant populations. The Carex species are well represented, with different ones growing in different areas, depending on soil wetness. We have collected Sparganium americanum and Eleocharis obtusa, which generally grow in standing water. We have also collected species that are typically found in bogs with acidic and moist, spongy soil, like Rhynchospora capitellata and Triadenum virginicum. We will probably collect a grass growing in a drier part of Mast Rd Natural Area next month, Schizachyrium scoparium. Also, we never made an official collection of Vaccinium angustifolium or Vaccinium corymbosum, but we taste-tested these highbush and lowbush blueberries to our heart’s content and mostly agreed that the highbush is more delicious. You too can pick wild blueberries at Mast Rd Natural Area in the summer months.

Bog habitat at Mast Rd. PC: E. Tokarz

Every time we have been to Mast Rd Natural Area, we have also noted a spectacular nature sighting. Once we saw a grasshopper molt its exoskeleton. It unfurled a large abdomen as it waddled away from its skin, its back legs still glued together. We gaped in wonder at the shell it left behind, which looked to be less than half its new size. Another time, we nearly stepped on a quail. It sat unfazed by our near step as we reached for some Scirpus, seeming to be more curious than concerned. We all agree there is always more to explore and to notice than we have time for, and that we can best appreciate this natural area on foot.

The exoskeleton of the grasshopper at Mast Rd. Natural Area, NH. PC: E. Tokarz

P.S. This site has a bonus. It is only ten minutes away from the Lindt chocolate factory outlet store. You’ve never seen so many truffles in your life!

Aspen, aspen, and more aspen!


A room with a view. The red tundra in the Denali National Park backcountry.


September has been a month of change. In the span of a short couple of weeks, the landscape has completely changed color. Snow has beginning to creep down the mountain slopes. The tundra has transformed red from the dwarf birch and the boreal forest has become spotted with brilliant yellow from the aspen. Having gone to school in Vermont (aka where leaf peeping is a sport), fall foliage is a pretty big deal to me and I must say Alaska did not disappoint.

Besides helping out the recreation crew, working on my plant collection, and continuing to inventory forest resources out at Tanacross, I also had the opportunity of attending the Cook Inlet Chapter of the Society of American Forester’s Aspen Workshop. It was three-days jam-packed with learning all about the spectacular species that I have worked with so much in the past three months here. Though I pass by these trees on a daily basis, I honestly hadn’t scratched the surface of how important this species is ecologically.

My main “Take Aways” from the workshop:

  1. Alaska is still truly the last frontier when it comes to studying plant diseases! There is still so much to learn!  

The USFS Plant Pathologist Lori Winton led us in a field exploration of the aspen running canker, a fungus which has infected 70% of aspen in sampled stands and is basically a death sentence for the tree. Even experts are baffled by this fungus because no reliable fruiting bodies could be found to make a positive identification. The spread of this fungus is advancing quite quickly across the interior. On one of our many field trips, we got to observe the canker in action. After scraping back the thin bark of some of the young trees, you can actually see the line between dead and live tissue where the canker has infected.

The running canker itself! Note the cut in the distinct line between the dead cambium (tissue) where the canker has infected versus the yellowish green living tissue.

Lucky 13. My fellow CLM intern Rob Tepperburg discovered the sunken in sign of the canker on this young aspen!

USFS Plant Pathologist Lori Winton and CLM Intern Jacob DeKraai examine an inoculated aspen for signs of the mysterious running canker!

2. Just because there is no large scale timber industry does not mean that forestry is a thing of the past.

Yes, most of the mills are inactive and one of the most profitable wood products is firewood. However, after learning from state foresters, researchers, and silviculturalists, forestry projects are alive and well here! Some areas of state land are currently being managed to increase aspen response which can promote wildlife species that depend on early successional growth like ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse. We got to visit some treatment sites where crazy equipment like roller-choppers were used to increase aspen regeneration and promote grouse and moose habitat. Another vastly undervalued use for aspen is its potential for biomass energy. The local Tok School has a wood boiler that they use as both a heat and power source. Though currently only spruce is generally used, there is a potential that aspen could also be used in the right mixture to help heat the school.

A massive roller-chopper! This piece of machinery is pulled behind a dozer and often filled with antifreeze to increase weight. The blades chop and break apart larger stems and can cut into the ground to help scarify the soil and roots.Long story short: Since aspen is a clonal species, if you cut the mature trees in a stand and cut into their vast root network, younger stems will sprout from the response in the growth hormone auxin.

A disc-trencher- another site preparation tool to help scarify and break up the soil and roots to increase the response of aspen regeneration.


Bear markings on an aspen. Bears are said to mark their territory by cutting into trees. Aspen’s thin bark makes them an especially good choice for showing other bears who’s part of the woods they’ve just entered.

3. Cooperation Counts! Land managers and scientists are a huge asset to one another.

One final take-away message I learned from the workshop was just how incredibly valuable interdisciplinary communication can be. From the get-go, Dr. Paul C. Rogers, an aspen connoisseur and creator of the Western Aspen Alliance (WAA) stressed the importance of managers and scientists working together in a close relationship. The purpose of the WAA is to produce sound scientific publications that can keep land managers up to date so they can transfer this knowledge to action in the field. The compartmentalization of disciplines from forestry, wildlife, ecology, entomology, pathology, etc. is in the past! I believe the most valuable science is applied and the most valuable land management is guided by science! It’s a win-win! It was amazing to see the discourse out in the field among the group of professionals from a whole suite of different disciplines. You can really tell that workshops like this one really help get their gears turning and allow for future partnerships down the road.


A sea of yellow! A successful influx of young aspen coming in after last year’s roller-chopping treatment, part of the state’s grouse project.


After the workshop, it was great to go back to work and actually take what we were learning and apply it to our inventory project. We started noticing canker right off the bat in the aspen we were coring and also saw a bunch of grouse busy at work in the aspen stands we are working in. What a month September has been in the 49th state!

Running canker in a core of an aspen?

Until next time,

Katlyn Williard

CLM Intern, Glennallen, AK Field Office


The aurora borealis!!! Spotted in Tok, AK


It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Fall. It is truly the most wonderful time of year. Not because of the pumpkin-spiced everything (which I believe to be an overrated economical addition to the season, not to mention I am allergic to cinnamon). Rather, it is because of the warm autumn yellows, reds, and oranges, the cool, crisp air and frost on the tips of the mountains, and the feeling of accomplishment after a busy field season.

Fall colors presenting themselves and tips of mountain tops white with new snow in the distance, near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. Photo: B. Palmer.

Speaking of which, it has been one whirlwind of a season! I have seen so many fantastic places, and have been able to get some marvelous work experience. I am honored to have been a part of the T&E monitoring projects of the Colorado BLM as well as a small part in Seeds of Success.

Just weeks ago we finished up our last full (not to mention hot) week of field work from Montrose, Colorado. Our crew went to check out the rare deserty-endemic, Eriogonum peniliophylum. Its demography is very restricted to Mancos Shale scrubland, only found in this little area on the western slope of Colorado. We could easily see the landscape was parched, as we drove to monitoring sites that looked like they haven’t gotten any rain in months! The little buckwheat plants were holding on though; despite their ramshackle appearances and low reproductive numbers, they seemed to be doing all right, at least from second glance.

The drab colors of drought – grays and browns oh my. I don’t think I saw a single green color those few days we were out there! Photo: B. Palmer

A very dried out – but still living – Eriogonum penilophyllum. This was a normal sight those few days we monitored this plant.

On this same trip I also took part in some point-in-time counts for Sclerocactus glaucus. This was one of the first things we monitored in the season, so it was neat to go back in the end of the season to see these little cacti again – feels like I have just about come full circle. My mentor wanted to include landscape aspects of this species in the yearly review of the cactus, and this meant including as many point-in-time counts as possible. To jog your memory, the point-in-time helps calculate the density of the populations with a high confidence interval, and compare populations to each other to understand what is going on with those populations at a landscape level. The multiple point-in-time plots we calculated varied greatly, but now we are a step closer at understanding landscape population levels, and hopefully can use these data to understand how it may change in future years.

Although we saw Sclerocactus glaucus in the spring with cute little flowers, with some difficulty we were able to find these in the wrong time of the season for the point-in-time counts…little cacti pups and seedlings included! . Photo: B. Palmer

The crews setting up a point-in-time for Sclerocactus glaucus. We met up with seasonal workers from the Uncompahgre (Montrose) Field Office and Grand Junction field office, all of which have been helping out with finding Sclerocactus glaucus populations. Photo by: B. Palmer

Of course, I have been able to make a few more SOS collections in between helping with the Threatened and Endangered (T&E) plant monitoring. Between T&E and SOS, it has been a very busy season and difficult to get a lot of collections, but I am glad I have been able to contribute even at least a little. It has been very rewarding to go out in the field and see the plethora of seeds that have so much potential, yet at the same time, I am a little disappointed that I couldn’t get to them all on my own. Of course, I hope to have a few more collections made in the coming weeks, before the first freeze on the Front Range.

A dried-out and ready -to-collect population of Orthocarpus luteus, Yellow owl-clover. One of many SOS collections I was fortunate enough in getting.  Photo: B. Palmer

With the exception of a few cool season grass collections (and hopefully a sagebrush or two), as the days shorten, the colors change, and the morning air becomes brisk, the field season comes to a close. One of our last days out, the Colorado State Office Crew drove up to Rifle, Colorado. We were welcomed with changing colors of the Aspens on our way there, and yet again, I noticed the field season coming around full-circle. The first trip we took was to monitor a milkvetch (Astragalus debequaeus) in the same area of Rifle, Colorado, Anvil Points. And yet here we were just a few days ago, on one of the last trips of the season to monitor Penstemon debilis. On our way to the site I was pleasantly surprised with one more SOS collection, a native thistle only found in two counties of Colorado.

Anvil Points, a location of an old, abandoned oil shale mine, and also home to many Colorado native and endemic plants. Photo: B. Palmer

Instead of helping out with the Penstemon debilis monitoring plot (thankfully there was lots of help), I decided to take advantage of the hundreds of fruiting Cirsium barnebyi that lined the road and slopes on the way up the side of the shale mountain. Even though I prickled and poked my hands continuously while grabbing the heads, I am happy to make SOS collections when and where I can! Photo: B. Palmer

I believe I took a picture of a similar sight months ago back in May, marking my first day of field season, and this as one of my last of 2017. Photo: B. Palmer

As I said before, it is the most wonderful time of year. I love autumn, and everything that goes with it – the soft, warm colors, the crisp morning air, the season of hot cocoa (and yes, pumpkin-spiced lattes). But this year, it includes the feeling of a successful, accomplished season – like I have been able to contribute, even at least a little, to the world. Before I wanted into botany, I previously worked as a line cook, with the goal of becoming a chef. I can honestly say I never felt the way about that job as I currently do now. I love this line of work, and hope I can continue down this path in the future. What does the future hold? Who knows – I will be taking the GRE in the coming months, and applying to graduate school for either plant conservation of plant phylogenetics, so I imagine going back to school may be near. What I do know now is that the CLM has been a wonderful program to be involved in, and I couldn’t have asked for a better crew to work with this last summer.

These guys are intelligent, hard working, and good sports! I have learned to much from all of them, and I am happy to have been able to work with them for the 2017 field season! From left: BLM State Botanist Carol Dawson, former CLM intern and BLM contractor Phil Krening, CLM intern Taryn Contento, and of course, myself.

Thanks for an incredible journey CLM!

-Brooke Palmer, Colorado State Office BLM

Goodbye to the Center of the World

When I first came to Frazier Park, I was scared. It was two days after graduation, my first summer away from home, and my first time moving to a new place with no one that I knew. However, when I first stepped out of the car, smelt the Jeffery Pines ad fresh air, I knew it would be an amazing summer. I was right. This summer has been one of the best. I have made new friends, had amazing experiences, and made steps to conquering some personal fears.

Through this internship, I have realized that field work is amazing. Before, I knew I enjoyed being outside, but this summer allowed me to work outside for extended periods of time. Certain days, I was not sure if I could continue on. I was tired, sore, and hungry. But then just over the next ridge we would make an amazing discovery, and my energy would be restored. I have learned how to use a radio, which is much different than a walkie-talkie. I have become more familiar with GPS equipment. Best of all, I have improved my academic learning, and used it in hands on situations.

The Chumash used to call Mt. Pinos the “Center of the World,” and being here this summer, I completely understand what they meant. When standing at the top of the mountain, you can see for miles and miles in all directions. However, I do not believe the Chumash named the mountain just for its amazing view. While being in nature this summer, making collections and documenting locations, I felt at peace with the world. This may sound strange to come, but I believe the Chumash named this area the “Center of the World” because it brings a sense of calm to people, unlike anywhere else. I am very sad to be leaving this special place, but I am leaving thankful of the experiences and opportunities it has provided to me.

Exploring New Fields

This past month in the BLM office has been a lot of office work. Since collections have come to an end, I have getting the last bit of information wrapped up. With Seeds of Success out of the way, I have free time to help co-workers in extra work they might not have all that much time for. Many of my hours have been spent organizing the herbarium. The goal is to get our herbarium up on a symbiota so it can be found by fellow researchers who might be wanting to herbarium research in our area. This is a long and tedious process, since each herbarium specimen needs to be entering manually into the symbiota, but it sure does give me something to do.

Other extras I have had the chance to do is help out with the greenhouse. The greenhouse has been neglected for about 2 years now and getting it up and running again takes a lot of work. Special measures have to be done to ensure everything is sanitized and ready to use. We also get to do a education outreach with the greenhouse for 6th graders from the nearby elementary school every other week. This is a good experience because it gives me skills in working with children and education.

Mussel surveys have been another task that filled my spare time. This was a nice change from other tasks I have been doing. The surveys would of been a great thing to do when Redding temperatures were out of control, but it was still cool to wade in the cool water and count native fresh water mussels that were fastened to the stream floor.

With one more week to go in my internship my emotions are feeling scrambled. I am excited to take my new found skills and apply them to other jobs in the future, but am also scared to leave the secure feeling I have here. I have made friends and I like my co-workers; I will be sad to leave them. Life will go on though and I am eager to see what comes next.


-Amanda, Redding BLM Field Office

Water Work

Summer has drawn to a close and the focus of my work here at Cosumnes River Preserve has shifted slightly. While I am still involved in a wide variety of tasks from day-to-day, lately my time has been spent working in our wetlands and learning the wetland management system that is used here. With the guidance of our wildlife biologists, I have slowly but surely been learning the ins and outs of providing good habitat for the over-wintering waterfowl that we and the public love to see at the preserve.

As a wetland preserve with numerous ponds, tasks begin with first knowing what ponds need to be flooded up, the date on which they are to be flooded, and any work that needs to be done to the ponds prior to their flooding. Earlier on in the summer I was tasked with collecting GPS data points for the infrastructure of the ponds. This has turned out to be a critical learning opportunity for me because knowing the ponds (their location, design, and infrastructure) is, not surprisingly, absolutely necessary for managing the system.

Once any work has been done (mowing weeds down, moving soil around, treating invasives, etc.–essentially the focus of our work this summer), we then proceed to put boards into our water control structures. These water control structures basically act as mini dams to keep water in or let it out as we deem fit. After checking all of the valves to see if they are in their appropriate state (open/closed) for the task at hand, we turn on our pumps to flood the ponds. This is done much the way irrigated pasture or rice fields are done in the area. In fact, as a preserve with farmers practicing wildlife-friendly agriculture, they use the same system for maintaining their organic rice fields.

Due to an array of factors such as size, depth, valve output, etc., each pond takes a different amount of time to flood up. As a beginner, this would be troublesome. However, I have well-experienced co-workers who have been teaching the system and know very closely how much time it takes to fill these ponds.

Each day I have been going out to monitor the ponds for depth and bird usage to ensure we are providing the habitat we wish to be providing. With only basic familiarity with the waterfowl, this has been extremely helpful for letting me practice my on-the-fly counting skills and my bird ID skills. 

On an quite exciting note, the Sandhill cranes have finally arrived at the preserve. As our “superstar” birds, this is an exciting development and it has definitely increased the amount of visitor we have been receiving. One thing I have learned is that some people really, really love birds.

I have been challenged every day to learn something new and I have been really enjoying the focus of my recent work. With a little over a month left, it is hard to believe that my experience here is almost up. Each day I continue to do my best to get the most out of this great opportunity and am very thankful for it.

Until next time,

Tyler Rose

Cosumnes River Preserve

Sandhill cranes utilizing a managed wetland pond.

More Sandhill cranes

In the Archives

Settling down to more office days here at the Uncompahgre Field Office. Been working on an exciting project with the Gunnison Sage Grouse, (GSG) Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF) data from 2004-present. Things are finally coming to a head with all this work; it’s a great time to be here and watch the numbers unfold.

Recent weeks, (minus the workshop in Chicago) have been spent in GSG breeding grounds on the north rim of the black canyon, where all the vegetation data has been collected since ’04. My partner and I spent 3 days driving around, scouting out transects, throwing down lines. We decided to camp a night to save time, we slept right next to the transect we’d do in the morning. We’d first run a line-point intercept for 100 points on a 50 meter transect, then a forb belt, and finally a line intercept to determine shrub cover. We did 15 of these at around an hour each.  Most transects were miles apart by driving and/or by foot.

The pain in the neck from data entry is compensated for by the work that comes after: comparing the data to last years, last decades, and comparing one to the other.  I wasn’t aware while in the field that we were specifically located in randomly selected plots within a polygon of high-use for GSG.  High-use areas were determined by a group of USGS scientists that tagged 12 grouse and tracked their location from 2010-2015.

My mentor had an abundance of data from 2004-06 (collected by his predecessor), and his personal work from 2013-present.  Now we had large enough sample size within these high-use areas to make statistically significant comparisons to high and low use areas in terms of, (most importantly) sage cover.  My job was to mine the habitat inventory data from 2004-2006 in Microsoft Access so that we could begin comparing the data sets.  We soon realized that there was no category for sage cover in this old data, (which is weird because it’s the most important thing).  We found ourselves in a bind that has turned into a sort of scientific historical detective story.

The only way to determine sage cover from 2004-2006 was to find the hard copies and hope for the best.  The archives at the BLM are full of research, books, manuals, newspaper clippings, unfinished projects and very significant work over the last 50 years or so.  Among these, for example were stacks of peregrine falcon research; information on habitat, monitoring, and de-listing.  It was daunting to believe we would find the hard copies, but we did.  I was a kid in a candy store.  I even found a flora by Arthur Holmgren from 1948 of the Northern Wasatch, my home.

The data sheets were complex and used a sampling method unfamiliar to both my mentor and I.  The method to determine cover was called the Bitterlich method, which uses laws of proportionality as a shortcut to extrapolate cover, (often used for tree cover).  After researching this method, I realized that it was unlikely that these researchers actually used this method for sage cover, because they reported a range of values, (1-5%; 6-25%, etc.) whereas Bitterlich yields a specific percentage.  I was stumped.

Curiosity, however got the best of me.  I found the midpoints of each range for sage cover and compared the means with those of the 2012-2015 HAF transects within 75 meters of each other in ArcMap.  There was a trend of decreasing sage cover from then to now.  At this point we had to know if we could compare the two data sets in any way.

I ran across a name in the data sheets that looked familiar.  We could find this woman and ask her exactly how they determined those ranges for sage cover.  I went down a rabbit hole…

And this is where I stopped writing this blog, months ago.  Now it is my last day as a CLM intern as I read this reflectively.  It is so important to write this stuff down!  There are many details I had forgotten about this project.  This is how it ended:

Missy R., (the familiar lady on the data sheets) talked to me for nearly 30 minutes about her work all those years ago.  She confirmed that there was nothing resembling the tools used for Bitterlich in their monitoring.  Rather, cover was determined by a sort of rough visual estimation.  She recommended I have coffee with the retired BLM biologist, Jim Fergusson.  I was ready and willing to do that but at this point we had more important things to do.  If I come back in the spring hopefully I’ll have another shot at this.

I absolutely love this aspect of the work I’m doing.  It’s so rewarding to see how all the components of these multi-faceted projects come together: the characters involved, the old data sheets, outdated techniques, archives, etc.

The end…?

Misty Sanone

Uncompahgre Field Office

Montrose, CO



Crazy Things

I inquired about creating an environmental education opportunity in town. We ended up working the BLM booth at the Harney County Fair. We developed a nature, picture scavenger hunt for kids to explore on the fairgrounds. We made s’mores as prizes and handed out “Leave No Trace” materials. We received great feedback about the scavenger hunt directly from the kids, parents, and other vendors.

BLM Range is required to remove horses off of private land. I had the opportunity to be a part of capturing wild horses. I spent a day setting up the horse “traps”, which were portable horse corrals and “wings” coming off the edges that funneled the horses in. I sat on a hill to watch the capturing process. A wrangler waited with a pilot horse, as a helicopter herded the wild horses towards the trap. When the group of wild horses were close to the trap, the wrangler let go of the pilot horse, which was trained to run towards the trap, causing the wild horses to follow it into the trap. It was very eventful watching the wranglers herd the wild horses through the trap and into the trailer. The wild horses were brought to the horse corrals. If you want to buy a wild horse, they sell in the horses at the Hines, OR Wild Horse Corrals  for $125.

Wild horses captured!

While WSA monitoring, I got our truck stuck on a sand trap of a “road.” The sand was deceiving, my feet sunk at least 12 inches to 18 inches in the fine sand. My co-intern and I did not manage to get the truck out of the sand trap on our own. We needed reinforcement, so we contacted one of our supervisors. Our supervisor showed up about an hour and a half later, only to also get stuck in the sand trap road. The three of us could not get our supervisors’ truck unstuck, so we all sat in a truck for another two and a half hours until someone could help us. The guy who helped us made quick work of pulling us out with the wench on his truck. We were very thankful to be out of the sand trap, after having been stuck there for 5 hours. The worse part of the ordeal, is that the wind was constantly blowing sand. It felt like being in a sand storm from the movie Star Wars.

My foot sank 12 inches to 18 inches in the sand trap road.

There is already snow back on the Steens Mountains as of Thursday, September 21. It was an interesting experience to go from sunny weather at the bottom of the mountains, into the snowy weather heading up the mountain. Needless to say, it wasn’t far up the mountain before my co-intern and I turned around as the snowflakes became thicker.

First snow storm in the Steens Mountains.

A Farewell to Klamath Falls

I could see my breath drift above me as I lay wrapped in my sleeping bag and quilt, snug in my bed. It had started snowing as the night wrapped my van in a chilly embrace. I was parked a few miles outside of town, tucked into the Klamath foothills. A few hours later I would wake up to a winter wonderland and take off on a run into the snowy hills with new friends. That was my first weekend in Klamath Falls, OR, way back in April. Now, six months later, the heat and smoke of summer have abruptly left. Brisk evenings are replacing the summer swelter. As the weather turns its gaze back towards winter, I am also turning in a new direction.

My favorite place to run, Moore Park

Tomorrow, I wrap up my last day of work interning with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Klamath Falls Field Office. The past six months have been filled with everything from electrofishing to goose banding to frog surveys. I am grateful to have gained so much valuable experience working with a government agency. Many days spent in the field gathering data, conducting experiments, exploring the local environment, and helping out with countless projects were coupled with report writing and research in the office. I am so grateful to have lived in such a beautiful corner of the world for the last chunk of my life. I managed to race four trail ultramarathons, run countless miles on trails around town, and climb in California and Oregon. So many wonderful adventures were had from my home base in Klamath Falls!

Leading a climb at the Williamson River Cliffs

I will depart Klamath Falls with a heavy heart this weekend and make the long drive down to LA. From there, I will fly back east for two weeks with family and friends. Then back to LA, where I’ll mobilize once again and spend all of October exploring the incredible desert country of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Come November, I will wind up in northern California. I will work with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission until late April monitoring salmon and steelhead populations on the Mendocino coast. I can’t wait to apply wait I have learned here in Klamath Falls and explore a new part of the world!

Jeff Mogavero
USFWS Klamath Falls