Greetings from lovely Carson City, Nevada! My 3rd week here at the Bureau of Land Management is in full swing and a few paragraphs can’t possibly sum up the wondrous ride I’ve been on for the past 17 days. The highlights: I had a crash course in the flora of the sierras and the great basin; I completed online courses on ethics, blood borne pathogens, defensive driving, and much more; I worked with the other 4 interns to make a dichotomous key of the flora in a single allotment; I explored Carson City, wild horse ranges, Reno, and miles and miles of sagebrush steppe.
Yesterday was by far my most exciting and interesting day thus far. The motley crew of botanical interns and our supervisor, Dean, spent all day in Canoe Hills, near Golden Eagle Regional Park. We were surveying for Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), an invasive grass that has just started to make inroads into the allotment. It’s a fierce competitor and terrible forage for all grazers so there is concern about its spread onto BLM land. Additionally, there’s a proposal to build a new set of bike trails in this area that may or may not aide in the spread of this plant that thrives in disturbed sites. To conduct the survey, I spent my day hiking on established and proposed trails all over these stunning hillsides, scanning the ground for Medusahead’s distinctive spikes. Lomatium austiniea, Viola beckwithii, and Phlox lomatifolium are in bloom in small patches, lending splashes of color to the dusty olive brown. When I finished my weed survey, Dean sent me to survey the cliff sides for Golden Eagle nests. So I climbed (gingerly and carefully, of course!) from hillside to hillside, in search of raptor hangouts. At this point, I could no longer contain my enthusiasm. My job was to hike, gather crucial conservation data, and record my findings on a map. Quite literally a dream come true!
Adventure is out there!