Sac Valley Grand Finale

I left home 6 months ago with a definite uncertainty of what was to come. As a recent graduate, it seemed like the world was beckoning for me to come calling. I had just finished up a degree, which had my entire focus up to its completion, and the opportunities all looked quite enticing. Ultimately, I chose to leave my home and embrace what California had to offer with open, albeit anxious arms. I knew I was in for hard work in a challenging and unfamiliar environment, especially arriving amidst one of the Central Valley’s many summer heat waves. I knew that I was going to be without the family that has been such a crucial aspect of my upbringing. I also knew that I was going to be living in what some people consider to be the middle of nowhere.

What came next was one of the most rewarding learning experiences I have ever been engaged in. Even beyond college. Every day was truly something new. New problems to solve and trouble to shoot. Frustrating at times. On the whole, it was an experience in very hands-on management that sometimes meant long hours of hard labor in a seemingly unrelenting heat.

There were many days I came home absolutely exhausted. Enough energy to fully rehydrate, cook a quick meal, and then retire to the comfort of a chair to clear my mind with the guitar that accompanied me on this cross-country expedition. Weekends of adventure were numerous. In a short period of time I managed to see the Pacific Coast in its summer glory, Big Sur in particular, Yosemite, the Desolation Wilderness, Lassen, and many other fantastic places. It’s not hard to see what Muir and many others since have been on about when it comes to this state’s beautiful places. I learned to adventure and make new friends through these adventures, something I was previously disinclined to do.

I learned what it means to have a job that you take, and are expected to take very seriously. This thanks to my mentor, who taught me to have confidence and trust in my abilities to figure out what needed to be done and when with minimal interference. I also learned just how incredible it is to manage wetlands and see the changes of such a system through the seasons. In summer the ponds are dry and don’t really resemble a pond at all. Of course, by looking at the vegetation you can see their purpose. Once flood-up starts you quickly learn that fresh water being pumped into these ponds really brings them to life. Cranes and egrets begin to poke around and then more geese and ducks as the ponds continue to fill to their planned levels. There are intricacies to every pond that I don’t think I even began to scratch the surface on understanding, but that are certainly observable given enough time and the eye to spot them. To me there is still nothing quite as rewarding as seeing ponds go from dry ground to wetlands with thousands of birds in them. It isn’t hard to feel like your work is appreciated by the birds in whatever way they might feel appreciation.

I don’t know if I truly understand all the ways in which I grew through this internship, or even all the ways in which I have changed or learned. I do know, however, just how inspired I feel to continue to go forth and engage in conservation as a full-time focus of my life. Who can say where it will take me, but I am certainly excited for the ride. There will always be my found memories of this time no matter where I end up and it will undoubtedly be a crucial step in the story that is yet to unfold.

With that, I am very grateful for this opportunity and all that are involved in making it possible for young folks like myself and so many others that are hoping to put their love and appreciation for the land and beings around us to good use. I am very appreciative for all the wonderful people I met, worked with, and was mentored by along the way. It’s reassuring to know that there are people working hard to set a precedent upon which those of us just recently entering the “real world” can build on and learn from.

Signing out—

Tyler Rose
CLM Intern
Cosumnes River Preserve
Galt, CA (Mother Lode Field Office–Folsom, CA)

Boll on Lookout

It is my last day here at the Bureau of Land Management. I owe a giant thank you to the entire office who welcomed me since day one. I wish everyone the best as we part ways and head on to other opportunities. To the district, to the people, to the landscape, thank you for all the experiences.

For those potential interns listening, take this opportunity. No matter how far from home this takes you, run with it and make the most of it. It is truly an internship that will give you the exposure and experiences you need to succeed in the natural resource career field. Make the most of this and discover/develop your passion.

This is Boll on Lookout signing off.

Take care.

Rare Species Monitoring

Hello all!!

So over the last 4 weeks I have been working on some rare species monitoring in the Ridgecrest Field Office. The Ridgecrest field office is commonly used for off highway vehicles and certain populations must be monitored for potential human interference. The other Ridgecrest SOS intern and I have been going out into the field and searching for these populations in places they have been spotted before.

Doing this has been a lot closer to what I actually see myself doing in the future. Having the ability to go out and make sure that these populations are safe and reproducing is close to what I see myself doing in the future.

Its been a lot of fun going out and searching for these

Life at the BLM BFO II

Here at the Buffalo Field Office the other Range interns and I have finally completed all our field work for the season, as well as all the paperwork that goes with that. With the joy of that in mind, we promptly threw a potluck party that weekend. The following Monday most (if not all) of the office went out to see the Solar Eclipse (us included). Since we were only a few hours away from the zone of totality, a fellow intern and I went down south with a friend we had made in Buffalo, near the small town Lost Cabin WY. We took BLM roads and parked on BLM land, using some of our acquired navigating skills to lead us.

It was a long but enjoyable day and we were all happy to get back in our beds at the end. 🙂

August was a packed month that brought a lot of new experiences in and out of the field. My partner and I have continued to monitor where cattle are grazing and check on the health of their favorite “ice cream feed” spots, the coveted riparian areas that dot the allotments. Doing these compliance checks has allowed me to gain more experience in using the GPS, try out different monitoring techniques and get out in some of the most remote areas of the field office to see some incredible views and creatures. Recently, while solo surveying a riparian area, I came across a group of about 150 wild horses and was able to admire them from a few hundred yards away while they snorted at me and slowly trickled out of the draw we were in.

At the beginning of August, a friend came up from Colorado and we went on a spectacular backpacking trip to the Cirque of Towers in the Wind River Mountain Range. We quickly learned that most people took four or five days to do the route we were completing in three, but it was a great challenge and we came home sore but refreshed. A couple weeks later I went home for a weekend and it was so fun to see friends, family, and of course my dogs!

Since I didn’t start the internship until early June I still have about a month and a half to go and have just recently started the arduous task of applying to jobs all over the country. There is still plenty of field work to be done and the weather just recently changed from being in the high 80s or low 90s to all of the sudden being in the 40s when we wake up (not even mad about it). I am excited to get our first snowfall and see how our work may change as the weather gets a little less predictable. The cows have about a month before they are rounded up for the winter, a task that still blows my mind after seeing how spread out and surprisingly adept at hiding they are. In the mean time, I will be switching from iced to hot coffee and busting out the wool socks.

Winter Reflections and Warm Goodbyes

When people ask me how my internship has been, there is always a moment of fraught silence as I wrestle for a place to even begin.  How can you give a glib watercooler answer about an eternity of grass, silence so deep that only the gulls and ospreys dare break it?  To hours and hours pouring over hundreds of species of plants, becoming intimately aware of their endless variations?  The carefully nurtured, by now almost instinctive reflex to look for diagnostic characteristics in grasses and sedges that had you in tears six months ago?  

Over the course of the past few months I’ve learned that unexpected beauty can be found everywhere.  I didn’t anticipate finding much in the sense of wild spaces in the history laden, densely settled northeast coast, but New England continued to surprise in how resilient it’s natural areas continue to be, as well as how passionately the region’s residents will defend these spaces.  Five miles from a drag race track, in an old ATV area,  we found one of the most botanically biodiverse sites on our collection list.  A barren, at risk mudflat in one of our estuaries exploded into greenery and yielded more than fifteen collectable species.  In the the saltmarsh we took careful steps as native grasses sheltered nests of baby birds and mice, the only indication of their presence a quiet chirp or squeak that would startle us as we worked.  

Although at first I was intimidated by how many private landowners we had to work with, I soon found the people of New England to be not only accommodating, but also genuinely interested in the work we did.  Email inquirires would be answered with offers of maps, inventories and other potential locations.  Passerby would stop to ask us questions and suggest other parks they knew about when they found out what we were doing.  Even when apprehensive park visitors called the rangers on us while we were doing permitted work it was, in it’s own way, refreshing – people were invested in their local ecosystems.  They were proactive in learning about what was happening to them, what kind of work was being done, and in the event of a perceived threat, were willing to call authorities – never have I felt the bystander effect to be so lacking.  

To answer the question I began with, to any who might still be wondering – this internship has been a summer of change, of personal growth, frustration, victories, and quiet, meaningful, beautiful moments where I’m suddenly made all too aware of how very precious these places are, and how worthy they are of our care and support.  A sentiment that’s a bit heavy to carry back from the watercooler perhaps, but one I hope will refresh and satisfy nonetheless.  

Keep every cog

I’d wager that the average person who pays some attention to the news and has some light interest vested in the sciences is familiar with the Svalbard Global Seed Bank. Located, as its official website states, “deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole”, it is hardly tangibly accessible, as a physical site and even, I think, a concept.

“Oh yes, like Svalbard,” a person might say after they ask why I’m knee-deep in mud, picking seeds in a salt marsh and I reply “For seed banking purposes.” Yes, like Svalbard. But what is Svalbard? What does that mean to you?

I had never sat down to examine Svalbard as a complete concept. In fact, I didn’t think to until a New England MFA candidate documenting seed banks mentioned the “interplay of Science Fiction and Reality” as it pertains to my job. Science Fiction?

If you look at Svalbard slanted, not over a Jeopardy answer board or a glass of white wine at a botanical garden soiree, it’s staggering. Biologists across the globe are up there in the snow hoarding seeds like so many winter-fearing squirrels anticipating the hunger of the future. The very nature of seed banking anticipates disaster: the loss of a regional genebank at best, the loss of a habitable world at worst. And who is to say that a habitable world is a guarantee in our future? Will the seeds I collected today even have healthy soil to grow in tomorrow?

I  brought up my newfound grim outlook on our work with my mentor during a long drive back from a successful field excursion to Cape Cod, some twenty canvas bags of seed bouncing gently in the backseat. He was quick to dismiss that line of thinking, reminding me that it is the job of every conservationist not only to prepare for the worst, but also to anticipate the best. It was a long conversation with much back and forth, but here is what I took away:


Backpack tour: Seeds of Success edition

“What is that smell?” asked my friend when she hopped in my car in Boston this weekend.

“Must be the harbor,” I said quickly, thinking guiltily of my field pack moldering in the backseat.

There are only so many times you can fling a backpack down in a salt marsh before it picks up an undeniably fishy funk. There are also only so many times you can fall face first in a salt marsh before you lose the ability to smell said fishy funk entirely, but even with my deadened senses I am fully aware that my backpack is due for a good wash. I figured unpacking its contents is not only required for due cleansing, but also an interesting glimpse into the daily necessities of an SOS intern.

Here is my backpack. I bought it roughly 6 years ago and it has served me well lo these many seasons. It has traveled roughly around the world on various airplanes, boats, and buses. It was once as white as the driven snow, and my advice to aspiring ecologists is: do NOT purchase a white backpack for your field pursuits. Realistically I owe it to myself to purchase a new one. Realistically I will use this backpack until it dissolves in my hands.







Life in the time of Orchids

If their is one song that describes my life, it is DBS out from the album Rogue Taxidermy by Days n Daze. To date, I have explored over 15,000 road miles in California (I mean since plants up), and collected all over the state. Let’s be honest, I need to get out way more but i’ve been working on grad school stuff. I’ve hiked over 1,000 miles, and up more than about 50,000 feet. Collected about 1,000 plants, and identified a few hundred more. It’s been a dream 🙂

“I wish we were leaving tomorrow you say
And I really can’t blame you
cause I hate to stay in the same place too long
I swear it drives me insane
The smell of the air, the roads and the people
Become too familiar
no longer exciting to me
That’s annoying I just want to get away

The monotony is killing me it’s killing you
So what to do
Jump in the car and drive away
We’ll worry about gasoline later
When we’re broken down on interstate ten west
Cause I just cannot stand it here for any longer….”

So anyways, what do  I do when i’m in town? Well I’ve switched over to the Cotini-Coast Dairies National Monument for the next four months. It’s a small (6000 acre) parcel, that was designated by President Obama in his last week in office! We don’t really have much (if any…?) funding so it’s all being dealt with pretty off the cuff- which means if their are plants i’m dealing with ’em.


I’m currently working on an assemblage of 20+ seed collections simultaneously, mapping insane amounts of weed, collecting every plant and identifying them, and writing up things all government like, while also surveying for rare plants. It’s alot of things to be juggling, It feels like I spend the majority of my time rummaging through my pack to grab out another thing I need to do one of the above tasks. Anyways. those seeds only go one way, so I gotta get outta town back out to the Coast.

By the way…. in one week: Piperia michaelii, P. elegans, and…. LAST ORCHID FOUND IN SISKIYOU…. It’s orchid time! WaHooo

Phlox hoodii


back here

Those are lichens, packets of lichens. Today I was staring at the Ocean, breakers roaring as I collected Bromus carinatus, Danthonia californica, Elymus glaucus, and Stipa lepida seed by seed in a prairie. It hearkens back to my college days. I passed my days running barefoot through the Thuja plicata, Pseudotsuga mensiezii, Tsuga heterophylla forests- and scraping lichens off branches. Collecting any plant I could to analyze it’s volatile’s with every minute I could spend on a GC mass spec. I lived on the water nearly the whole time. going out on midnight hikes through the woods on full moon nights, canoe voyages on moonless nights. Always watching the waves from the Pacific creep into the Southern stretches of the Puget Sound. Flipping side after side of LPs and cassettes, coz you’d better know the grass ain’t greener on the other side, but better than that Jerry’s there too!

Anyways, living in a college town again, with ecologists, working near the water and still screaming along to Pigpen is making me something like nostalgic. It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am that CLM ever put up with me and offered me an internship in the first place-let alone ths extension for the fourth time. It’s shown me how much i’ve grown. When I was a junior in college I never thought i’d be able to get a job as a botanist- I thought I was a hopeless case. Then I got one, then after my senior year I got another.

When I started as an ecologist my goal was to work in the wet wet forests of the West; and then my head got spun right around by heading to the Columbia Basin. After my second season in the desert i’d started to metamorphose into one of the infamous desert rats. I didn’t really think about coming back over the crest for long, but then well ya know life happens..

So yes, as mentioned i’m a 4th term intern now- I might finally be a CLM legend, although only Justin could verify this. So what am I up to? When not writing sub-par blog posts-despite my extensive experience, I am working on the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument collecting seed and surveying.

It’s a fascinating area to work. It’s small, only 6,000 acres. It’s composed of three main habitats, Coastal Prairie, Soft Chaparral, and Coastal Redwood, but their is some Oak Savannah and mixed forests in here too. It’s not open to the public yet, but it’s in a very urban area. It’s apart of what i’d almost call an endangered ecosytem-much like the San Joaquin Desert. It was designated in the last week of Obama’s presidency. It’s really unlike any experience or area I have heard about in BLM.

Anyways, i’d like to say it’s all relaxed, but it’s not quite yet. This extension here started kind of late, and so every day I find myself doing an insane amount of activities. I now carry a burlap bag full of envelopes to collect seed into- 19 types of envelopes, yes these woodland species, don’t produce much seed, and they are distributed at low density, so alot of my time is spent flipping through this accordion of envelopes looking for the right guy. Most of these collections are multiple (5+) day events! Not what i’m use to with SOS…

In between flipping through my purse-like bag i’m mapping weeds, collecting every plant, noting GPS of anything interesting, and collecting anything that I look at and go “yeah X genus, uhm but what species?” As you can imagine, I don’t cover a lot of ground.


CCMA, Sampson Peak. Radiolorian chert. Collecting lichens.