Work continues to go well for me here in Lander, Wyoming. In the recent weeks, my partner and I began familiarizing ourselves with the Seeds of Success protocol and have done some preliminary surveying for potential collections.
After the plentiful precipitation we have received this month, many plants are finally beginning to flower. One of the steps of the SOS protocol involves collecting voucher specimens of the species you will be collecting seed from. These vouchers specimens are usually collected before the plant goes to seed because the flowers are useful aids in the identification process.
My partner and I went out to a location called Red Canyon and located 6 potential collections there. These species include Aletes sessiliflorus, Pteryxia terebinthina, Lomatium triternatum, Dodecatheon conjugens, Balsamorhiza incana, and Oxytropis sericea.
Other species that we have collected vouchers for include Allium textile, Vicia americana, Erigeron sp., Lomatium foeniculaceum, Cerastium arvense, Astragalus oreganus, Townsendia incana, and Thermopsis rhombifolia.
We recently returned to all of the sites to check the progression of seed set. Nothing is ready quite yet, but a few species are getting close. We should be able to begin collecting next week.
This past week marked the second week of my internship at the Bureau of Land Management’s Buffalo Field Office in the High Plains District. As I transitioned from formal training to field work, I got a chance to experience the landscape from which this district gets its name. Heading up Route 16 into the Bighorn Mountains, though private, state, and public land was truly a beautiful commute. Myself and our Rangeland Technician were headed to collect an old pile of barbed wire on BLM land. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like the most glamorous of tasks but this is just one piece of making our public lands beautiful, clean and accessible.
The Bighorn Mountains poking up behind the high plains.
Along the way to and from our site we were welcomed by one elk, five mule deer, and three moose, one male and two female. We saw this wildlife wading in wetlands and grazing in the same pastures as cattle, all taking their time grazing on the high plain grasses and shrubs. Traversing this landscape provided views of sprawling sage brush and grasslands on rolling hills with the impressive background of the snowy mountain tops. Looking into the distance at what I thought was more sage brush soon became clearer. A herd a sheep, hundreds, easily the largest I have ever seen.
Rolling the windows down to hear their greetings and say hello to the rancher herding them on an ATV, I felt shift in temperature at this altitude, noticeably cooler than in the valley. We spoke to this land owner about who we were, what we were doing here, as well as the BLM’s role and authorities on the land they manage, asking him about his own observations and suggestions.
While this half day in the field involved several hours of driving just to perform the simple task of picking up barbed wire, this experience gave me a much greater understanding of the land managed by the BLM in this area and the relationships present among humans and wildlife. Boundaries between land ownership seem clear on our maps and are important when it comes to the actions that the BLM takes. However, to the wildlife, good graze is good graze, and they’ll go wherever they can to find it.
– Buffalo Field Office, Bureau of Land Management
I took a hike after work to some beautiful waterfalls nearby and got to see so much Fallugia paradoxa!
My group and I during the CLM workshop scavenger hunt
My scavenger hunt team (myself, Lucas, and Claire) perusing our list for potential nearby plants
My first two weeks of work were mostly training, but it was valuable information sprinkled with some fun team building. At our BLM office in Carlsbad we worked together with the fire guys, the other interns, and some younger people in the office in a series of activities that required blindfolding and communication. At one point we had to send everyone through a type of “spider web” made of rope. That involved picking people up and sending them feet first to the other side, all without touching the rope! It was very difficult, but it definitely brought our office together. When I got to the CBG CLM training I immediately felt welcomed and appreciated by the awesome staff who perfectly organized the workshop for us with tons of useful information and even more amazing food during the week. I was taken aback by the kindness, sincerity, and authenticity of Krissa, Chris, Joanne, and the other members of the CLM team. Since these first weeks were full of job and safety training I had a lot of time and energy to explore both Carlsbad and Chicago after work. We have a few really nice parks in our area of New Mexico and I loved getting a relaxed introduction into the new landscape and flora. One of my favorite parts of the workshop in Chicago was Chris’ scavenger hunt around the Botanic Garden. We were all so jazzed for the opportunity to explore, and having a goal meant we were joyfully forced to become fast friends with our fellow interns. I feel so honored to be starting in this position and thankful in advance for all the things I’ve yet to learn!