It’s been an eventful first month here at the Colorado State BLM Office in Lakewood. This is my second stint as a CLM intern after spending last field season working at the Alturas Field Office in northern California. It is a definite change of pace and scenery to be living and working in the hustle and bustle of the highly developed and urban Denver Metro Area after spending six months in the Wild West of the Modoc Plateau. I am looking forward to working around the great state of Colorado in some of the off-the-beaten-path areas which characterize the western slope.
As the snow continues to fly in the southern Rocky Mountains (and in great quantities) it will be a while before our field work kicks into gear. In the mean time I am working on a report and demographic monitoring design for an extremely rare endemic species of mustard of the genus Eutrema (related to wasabi). The species was isolated in the high elevation alpine tundra of the Mosquito Range in central Colorado as the glaciers retreated post last glacial maximum. The species from which Eutrema penlandii apparently diverged now persists over 1,000 miles to the north on the arctic tundra of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. This ice-age relict is perhaps the most rare and endangered taxa in all of Colorado; consisting of 13 small populations which cling to extremely specified habitat above 11,800ft.
For me it is fascinating to work with a species which exemplifies the complexity of a changing climate and the dynamic processes which shape life and diversity within the biological community. I am excited to spend the next half a year or so working in various capacities with rare and endangered species while developing my skills both in the field and the office. There should be plenty of good stories and photos to share over the coming months; so stay tuned.
Until next time from the Front Range,