This is the fourth month of my CLM internship in Vale, OR and I feel that I have learned so much. My experiences to this point have been wonderful. I love being able to wake up each morning and go out into the field. The large size of the BLM district here in Eastern Oregon has allowed me to see so much country from mountaintops to canyons to the high desert it has all been a visual treat.
The large size of the district requires a lot of driving time on 4×4 roads which are so much fun to drive but not without their dangers. One day in July the battery in our truck died while we were monitoring a plant population on the top of Cottonwood Mountain. We had to walk eight miles to ask a rancher to use his phone. Even this possible bad experience turned out to be be a good, allowing us to see a lot of country we otherwise would not have covered and learn about ranch life from the family we stayed with until the mechanics from the BLM motor pool came with a new battery.
My ability to identify plants has improve greatly as well as my appreciation for plant life. Whenever there is a plant I have not seen before I always have to pick it up and ID it. I attended a Grass ID course in July which was extremely beneficial. Before attending I had very little background in Grass identification. The class helped me to not only key out and ID more grasses but also learn how to better assess their phenology. I am scheduled to attend a Willow ID course in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to gaining as much knowledge about willows as I did about grasses.
My mentor has been great. Not only have I learned about plants, seed, and how to work within the government system from her, she has also given me great tips about places to go camping and backpacking on the weekends as well as info on other possible jobs after I finish my internship. I don’t think I could have been placed with a better mentor.
These four months have been great and I am looking forward to the next two here in the Northern Great Basin.