Things have been nothing short of interesting here in the Rogue Valley. The heat has been on as temperatures have been reaching averages of 104 degrees regularly. We got a bit of relief last week as some cloud cover, rain, and storms moved in, but this has only lead to the birth of numerous lightning fires throughout the state. Luckily most of the fires have been to the East of the Cascades so far and we have not experienced much air pollution from the smoke of nearby fires.
As a result of the weather, and the fact that pretty much everything on the valley floor has gone to seed and dried out, we have moved our scouting for plants into the higher elevations of the nearby mountains. Between 2,000 and 5,000 feet elevation, plants are now either still flowering or going to seed. Scouting the mountains has reignited an appreciation for the geology of this region. At the south end of the Rogue Valley the Klamath-Siskiyous and the Cascades encompass the valley like a large bowl. This leads to a wide variety of habitat niches. Some of the mountains nearby are plutons, large rocky bubbles, essentially. Some mountains are volcanic, others the result of the North American tectonic plate shifting over the Juan de Fuca plate. Most of the mountains nearby are basaltic while others toward the Illinois River valley are mostly serpentinite and yield diverse plant communities all their own including many local endemics.
We have now reached approximately 50 collections, so we are merely 10 collections away from our initial target of 60 collections, which we are sure to exceed. So far we have vouchered approximately 130 botanical specimens. As the season starts to enter its final leg, it seems like we have made good progress and I am satisfied with our results.
This all comes in good time as my Environmental Education graduate program at Southern Oregon University starts back up. I am now in a transition period between switching from the seed collecting world to the outdoor education world as I have to reduce my work time in exchange for taking classes and planning lessons in preparation for our Fall in the Field residential and day programs in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Ashland, OR and the Deer Creek Center in Selma, OR. I have a little over a month to go with the BLM/SOS and I can say that I am pleased with my experience in this program thus far and will look back fondly on this internship. It looks like we will have accomplished what we set out to accomplish and got to explore Oregon’s many wonderful outdoor areas in the process. I suppose I can’t ask for much more than that.