Back in Vale!

I’m back in Vale, Oregon and I will be doing botany this field season! These first few weeks have involved lots of mandatory training and practice in Access databases.

Last week, I was able to go out all week and monitor sage grouse leks with our horse and burro specialist! It involved long days of early mornings and rough driving, but it was worth it since we got to see 4 leks with sage grouse actively lekking on them. I had never seen them in person before and it was awesome to be so close!  I even got to practice driving the manual rig off-road for the first time and I only stalled like 10 times, so I’d call it a success!

I’ve been out in the field a few times now and I’ve been working on learning the native plants. Sagebrush has always all looked the same to me, but I am finally able to tell a few species apart. I have even discovered a species that I actually enjoy the smell of!!! Additionally, we’ve come across a decent amount of plants that have already begun to bloom. Mainly, we’ve seen ranunculus and phlox with a few other species mixed in. It’s scary how early they’re blooming, but at the same time it’s nice to see the flowers which hint that spring is finally arriving.

 This week, I’ve been working trying to get the ESI team’s Access database containing soil descriptions and the species composition of sites to spatial data.  It is a work in progress, but once the database has spatial attributes we will be able to query out species of interest, find areas where they were found in abundance, and use that data to navigate to the sites to potentially collect seeds.

I’m so excited for this upcoming field season and I can’t wait to start collecting!  Hopefully, by my next post I will have completed a few collections!

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