Winter

As the days keep getting shorter (where did my evening sun go?) I’m beginning to accept that the transition from the field into the office is real. We’ve been managing to sneak in a few late season seed collections (prickly pear, rabbit brush, a few sages), after each one saying “this is our last collection.” But the weather, in its seemingly typical bipolar fashion, has been swinging back and forth between windy, cold, snowy days and beautiful, sunny, 60 degree respites. On these days we’ve grabbed our plant press and dashed into the field, for “one last collection.” We’ve made it to 34 collections, and all I wanted to do was get one more, for a nice round 35. On Wednesday we attempted what would have truly been our last collection. After a beautiful drive into the mountains we discovered that sadly, the sages we’d come to collect had already dropped their seed for the winter. The trip was still useful though, because we discovered a great new site for potential collections next year! I’m sad to see the end of the field season, but happy with the collections we did make, and happy to have participated in SOS this year.

In the office, my winter project is to conduct a literature review of native pollinators. I’m looking at it as the thesis I never wrote, and am glad for the opportunity to conduct a lot of research and prepare a document that reflects that. My mentor’s ultimate goal is to use my recommendations in writing a state-wide policy regarding the width of the buffers that need to be placed around rare and endangered Colorado endemics, so I’m also excited that my work could be part of something so far-reaching. To date, the results of my research are a 15 page bibliography-style document of references that I think will be worthwhile to read, and a large spreadsheet where I am compiling information about all documented pollinators of the 15 rare, endangered, or threatened plant species that I am focusing on. I’ve recently found a new program that I think will be extremely helpful to me as I read and take notes on all of these sources, so I’m in the process of learning how to use Scrivener, a powerful note-taking, organization, and writing program. There’s an incredible amount of data and research to sift through, so the project seems overwhelming at times, but I’m confident that I will be able to come out of it with a meaningful understanding of the issues that play into buffer distances and hopefully be able to make realistic and knowledgeable recommendations for future policies.

One of our late-season collection sites (Photo by Jeffrey Flory)

One of the little guys I'm studying...

Smallest bee on the eye of the biggest bee (found this pic on the internet)

Sama Winder
BLM State Office, CO

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