How is it the end of August?!?

This last month has flown by once again. At the beginning of the month my Dad came to visit me and we took a road trip up to Northern Arizona. It was an amazing experience to see the Grand Canyon for the first time!

Beautiful Day at the Grand Canyon in Northern AZ

We have had 4 trips out to Bonita Creek for Green Sunfish Removal. It has been very interesting to see the stream change over the past 4 months. The site that we went to our very first day in Bonita was a large open expanse of water that we were able to walk through up to a few pools further upstream. When we visited that same site just last week the stream was almost entirely choked with tall plants and we couldn’t even walk through it. Nature is definitely not a constant thing!

Also, I SAW A COATI!!!!! Well, to be more exact I saw 6 coati, a mom and her 5 babies. We were driving into Bonita Creek and they scampered across the road and into the trees on the other side. I didn’t have my camera with me, and when I tried to get a picture on my phone you couldn’t see them in and amongst the trees. But I saw them and it makes me so happy! 🙂

I have also had the opportunity to get a GIS Tutorial, which is how to use a fancy mapping program (ArcGIS) to locate possible areas of interest based on preexisting water, vegetation and ownership maps (etc), without having to drive to every single site first. It will be very useful in selecting sites for Seeds of Success Collection. I also completed an online NEPA training which concerned the formation and structure of the National Environmental Policy Act. I think it is great to be able to take advantage of the resources available to me as a BLM intern and receive trainings like these. You never know when you will/can use some random information you learned!

This past week we had an American Conservation Experience Crew based out of Flagstaff come down and camp at Sands Draw for a full week. Sands Draw is a large livestock exclosure (keeps cows out) in the middle of the San Simon Valley. The crew planted and seeded native grasses and dug hundreds of planting holes for BLM to use in future planting efforts.

The plants are put in the ground, then have gravel placed around them (acts as a windblock, support and to catch more water), and then additionally have straw placed on top (keeps direct sunlight off to keep plants cooler and will eventually break down into a mulch).

The Crew’s last day in the field we switched over to working at a site called Howard’s Well. This was a large pool that houses native fish, but it becomes over-grown with sedges (cat-tail like plants). If this is allowed to go unchecked, then the sedges will completely choke the pond and it will dry up and all the native fish within it will die. So nine of us (the 6 crew members, then myself, Rosalee and Heidi) spent the whole day ripping and cutting the plants out of the pool. At the beginning we didn’t think we would get too far and hoped for getting half the pool done. But by the end of the day we had completely cleared the pool! That was definitely a great feeling of accomplishment.

Here is what the pond looked like at the begining of our day.

Here is what the pond looked like at the end of our day! Felt extremely accomplished to get everything cleared out!

The over-arching theme of this past month for me has been DATA ENTRY!! I have completed over 100 hours in the last month. I have been consolidating and cleaning up the data files for Heidi’s Green Sunfish removal from 2009, 2010, and 2011. I have also then been confirming all entered data against the physical data sheets. Needless to say this takes quite a bit of time, especially when some of the files are as messed up and confusing as these have been! However, I can’t complain too much. I am one of those strange people who likes to sit down and organize things, likes to sort and figure and get everything worked out. So though it is hard on the lower back to be crouched over a keyboard for 10 hours a day, I still enjoy it!

I am going home for a long vacation around Labor Day Weekend and I am very much looking forward to seeing my family! Once I return I am excited to knock out my last 3 weeks here in Safford. Then it’s back to California and on to other opportunities!

Heather Paddock
Safford, AZ
BLM

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