The Giving Land

Leaving my hometown to come to Buffalo, WY seems like forever ago to me. I feel at home out here and am grateful for all the outdoor activities, friendly people, outlet for creativity, and simple way of living that this land in the middle of nowhere seems to give. The town of Buffalo is a happenin’ place and I can’t wait for the next crop of CBG interns to get to know it. Where else can you take a bluegrass guitar clinic from the same guy who taught you how to shoot a revolver? Where else are there street dances every other week and nearly untouched (seemingly) miles of trail 20 minutes away? Yes, this internship is going by extremely fast but I also have fit in a dizzying amount of adventures and experiences in a very small amount of time. My job alone at the BLM is responsible for more than half of them.
In the time since I last wrote, I have continued range assessments (Sean and Dan, with some of my help, have completed 50 allotments), lent my time with a fuels crew and other volunteers from the state to thin some pines from a BLM piece north of Gillette, traveled to San Francisco and northern Cali (not for work), came up with an irrigation plan for a native plant propagation farm the Buffalo BLM is trying to get in the works, attended Longmire days (it’s a TV show filmed here) in Buffalo, hiked 3 miles upstream at Outlaw Cave (for work), and became UTV certified.
Range health assessments and I have a love/hate relationship. The Daubenmire, sagebrush length and height, and line point intersect tests are tedious, especially in the brutal Wyoming sun, but they do mean a day in the field. This means talking to ranchers, keying out new plant species, seeing first-hand the spread of Bromus tectorum (cheat grass) and the effects of over-grazing, and seeing more and more parts of north eastern Wyoming that I would probably have never traveled to. I particularly enjoy getting to know ranchers, and I admire the Buffalo BLM’s effort to establish a personal connection with the ranchers that lease BLM sections, even if some of these ranchers couldn’t despise the BLM more. One such rancher initially was very rude to us interns but after we chatted a while, I got to know his perspective and even if I don’t agree, I love learning about where people come from and what they think is important. After chatting further about gardening, he even gave us interns some squash that we fried up later. Thank you Rancher John for giving us a good meal.
Hiking at Outlaw Cave/Middle Fork (Hole in the Wall spot), the famous hideout spot for Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch, was comparable to my adventure at Gardner Mountain, which some of you dedicated readers may remember. Our objective was to pack out trash from the bottom of the canyon, where the caves are located. I was recovering from being pretty sick, so was kind of nervous about my ability to hike down and up the canyon, and the length in between. But your body usually rises to the occasion, and all sickness faded as I was overwhelmed by the canyon’s multi-colored rock and its river’s beauty. Sean and I were assigned fishing access #2 up to the outlaw cave campground, which gave us around 2.5 miles of river to scout for trash. We found several beer cans, propane canisters, possible Butch Cassidy gunpowder jar (!!!! doubtful), random foam and tarp pieces, and this big plastic ring that was not a fun hiking partner for Sean. There were many points where we had to be up to our waist in water to move forward, which was refreshing and pleasant until we found nematodes in the water. Besides nematodes, we found a centipede, bear scat, bones of all sorts, horsemint, dogbane that we made bracelets out of later (thank you Dean), and choke cherries. When Sean and I got to the campground bottom, we met up with the other two interns, Dan and Nick, who had fishing access #1-fishing access #2 and then down to the bottom of outlaw cave campground to scout for trash and we all ate lunch/fished. We hiked up the canyon from there to the campground to set up camp and wait for our mentors, who hiked 5 long miles of river from the other direction. They were down in the bottom of the canyon for 9 straight hours and were relieved to have dinner and set up tents waiting at the top.
I’m looking forward to the 2 more months of my internship and hope all of you that are nearing the end or are finished the best of luck with future endeavors. I hope that those of you that are still in your internship get the most out of it and always, happy hiking/exploring/interning!
-Kelly

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