Middle point of my internship

Hi!

The field season is barely winding down here at the Eagle Lake Field Office (which I am perfectly content with). Carrie and I have been collecting more Mountain Mahogany and Great Basin Wildrye seeds to plant in the areas damaged by the massive Rush Fire (Aug. ’12), and we’ve managed to monitor another handful of Special Status Plant populations, too. After collecting Mountain Mahogany on a mountain called Fredonyer, we drove up to the top (7789 ft) and climbed into the fire Lookout. We met the lookouts, Bob and his wife, who stay up there in the single-roomed cabin-on-stilts 4 days each week in the summer months–which they’ve been doing for 31 years! It was awesome being able to see our field office from a bird’s eye view, and I was able to point out areas where Carrie and I have done field work, such as the Horse Lake area. Best of all, Bob helped to point out more Mountain Mahogany stands all over the mountain for seed collection.

Horse Lake, a dry lake, or playa, surrounded by mountains.

One of my favorite features of the basalt mountains out here is the myriad of lichens that grow on the ancient rocks:

It almost looks like the rocks have been spray-painted!

We also did some surveying of areas that were burned during the fire last summer. Some areas that had been drill-seeded and planted with seedlings aren’t doing as well as hoped, but then there spots like this aerial seeding site in the Skeddadle Mountains where sagebrush and grasses are sprouting beautifully. We visited an aspen stand high up in the Skeddadles, and were amazed to see the aspens not only re-sprouting from the charred ground, but spreading, leading us to believe the stand may be larger than it was before the fire!

You can see a sagebrush seedling popping out from behind the rock among the burnt antelope-brush trunks and ashy soil.

As the internship reaches its middle point, I’m anxious to spend as much time in the field as possible, gaining more familiarity with the beautiful landscape in which I’ve been placed and more experience with monitoring, plant ID, and understanding the BLM’s unique task of managing¬†public lands.

Until next time,

Deb

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