Life at 7000 ft

I think one of the most lasting elements of my CLM internship in Flagstaff, Arizona will be the land itself. Flagstaff is an anomaly; its a Ponderosa-clustered volcano in a sea of red and pink sandstone. It remains cool and rainy during the hot southwestern summers, and sports an astonishing diversity of ecosystems, transitioning from pinyon-juniper forest to alpine tundra in a matter of miles. On one particularly clear day, a friend of mine living in Bryce, UT said he could see the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff from the ranger station, some 177 miles away!

The forests here are of a storybook quality, and I enjoyed and wandering through them collecting seed immensely.  Thousands of acres of contiguous national forest surround Flagstaff, all filled with giant butterscotch-smelling trees. Furthermore, there is no understory,  such that one could easily walk for miles and miles, possibly getting separated from their car for hours (not saying that ever happened).  It is not uncommon to catch a gang of elk, or wandering coyote off-guard.

For a multitude of reasons, it is no wonder that this place has particular significance for all the Native American Tribes in the region. Flagstaff is just a special place.  It is for this reason that I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work here, to traverse and memorize its backroads, to learn its flora and collect seed from its variety of ecosystems.  It is encouraging to believe that the seed we collected will be useful for land managers and researchers in the future, who wish to take care of this land.

Stephen Fick

Seeds of Success / Landsward Institute

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