So far, I have been working for the BLM botanist for just over a week in Vale, Oregon. Vale is located in the Eastern part of Oregon near the Idaho border and is miles upon miles of sagebrush country. This area is drastically different from the “prairies”( a.k.a. the corn/soybean fields) of the Midwest where I grew up, and it is a good change. I have worked in sagebrush habitat once before, loved it very much, and am glad to be back to learn more. This past week and a half has mostly consisted of getting re-familiarized with all of the different plant species of the area. We have been going out in the field with the botanist and identifying the various species of sagebrush, asters, mustards, grasses, sedges, and many others. The different field sites we will be going to throughout the summer are spread across a huge district (5.1 million acres) and will require learning to drive on unpaved, rugged trails to get to most of our destinations. Excited!
So far, one of the more memorable experiences was driving on the actual Old Oregon trail to a cottonwood restoration site. Seeing the original trails that settlers traveled on was amazing, in the least; no trees, no shade, very little water, and very bumpy… hard to imagine how rugged a life they had.
There are many projects to work on pertaining to sensitive plant species, climate change monitoring, community ecology, range land monitoring, and so much more. I am still getting the hang of everything, and will be getting more involved with the different projects next week. Can’t wait to learn more, and get some pictures up next time I write!