I have been working throughout different locations for the past year or so in ecology jobs and so I have a comfortable routine of moving, readjusting, and fitting into new environments. But as I drove into New Mexico from the El Paso Airport I felt completely out of place. Where were the deciduous trees, grass, and oceans I had either inadvertently or purposefully chosen to live near before? Everything was foreign to me and I realized I was no longer in a place that I personally felt connected too but instead was in a land I had only read, seen pictures, or heard of. At first everything seemed vast, brown and desolate from the green rolling hills I was used to. But as I have started to work and explore New Mexico I am continuously surprised on the habitat diversity, life, and sometimes even lushness of the BLM land.
While working in the wildlife department for the first week I was like a kid in a candy store. Everything we saw was a first for me. First jack rabbit! First
roadrunner! First antelope! And man oh man, the arthropods! Arthropods, especially insects, are my study group of choice and the diversity and sheer size of some these animals in the desert is astounding. I have seen giant tarantula hawks that paralyze their victims, burying them underground with ferociously hungry, soon to hatch eggs inside. Large owl flies with furry faces, hundreds upon hundreds of mating stick insects, and my first scorpions. Working for a multiple-use agency is also new to me. After working for Fish and Wildlife and USGS I am used to wildlife and environmental needs being the first priority. But as land space becomes scarce for both human and wildlife, compromise and multiple use sustainable practices are going to become more common. The BLM is a great place to learn how different agents work together to tackle this issue.
I have been working on a number of different projects in just one week, including sand dune lizard presence/absence searches, small mammal trapping in either mesquite removed or control land, and maintaining wildlife waters. I was able to attend a three day bat conservation international workshop on how to incorporate bat habitat and resource management into new and existing habitat plans. As work continues I am excited for the large number of opportunities available to me but also hoping to be able to concentrate more on single projects so I can understand all the mechanisms and considerations that go into them. Its only been two weeks, but so far so good!!