First Week in Colorado

It’s been a little over a week since I loaded up my hatchback, said goodbye to my cat and my potted plants, and drove the flat stretch from Tulsa to Denver. During my first week with the BLM in Lakewood, I’ve already learned a lot about Colorado’s flora, and I’m beginning to really appreciate the diversity of vegetation across the state.

My first day on the job, I was able to assist with a seed collection of Lomatium orientale, a little member of the parsley family, whose seeds you practically had to sneak up on to collect before the shock of your touch made them drop in unison. This collection had us trekking back and forth through foothill shrubland, where the yucca leaves I stumbled into served as the helpful pinch to reassure me that I was not dreaming–I really was being paid to hike around Colorado, learning about and playing Where’s-Waldo with plants.

My incredulity has only grown since then, with scouting trips through foothill meadows, ponderosa pine woodlands, and a trip into a montane lodgepole pine forest to collect the Dr. Seuss-esque Pulsatilla patens. This area has been heavily impacted by mountain pine beetles, with many dead lodgepole pines still standing, but nevertheless displayed a beautiful array of wildflowers in bloom.

I hope to see and learn even more in the coming weeks, and I’m excited about several trips we have planned to the northern sand dunes, the Roan Plateau, and past the timber line into the alpine.

Katherine Wenzell
BLM State Office
Lakewood, CO

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