My name is Carla and I’m finishing up my second week here in Shoshone, Idaho working for the BLM. I just moved here from Chicago about two weeks ago, so I’m still trying to take in all the new people, places, and things around me. I love the city, but it has been very refreshing so far to be in a new environment. Considering I grew up in Michigan and did forestry research in college, one of the most noticeable changes for me was the lack of trees. However, I can’t complain that I get to see beautiful views of canyons, rivers, and snow-topped mountains every day on my way to work! (Although I could do without the sulfuric odors coming from some of the farms).
My first day of work at the Shoshone Field Office actually consisted of very little time in the office. I went out to one of the BLM field sites with several of the office employees for a training session–for all, not just the new interns–on their Habitat Assessment Framework project, which aims to study sagebrush habitats for the Greater sage grouse (a ground-nesting bird I was not familiar with until I got here). It was a great way to meet the people who work in the office and get a view of their group dynamics. It was impressive to see how much they knew about the local plants and ecosystems. There were times when I had no idea what they were talking about, but there were other moments when I did understand their references to ecological/GIS terminology and I knew I was in the right place.
I also couldn’t help but think about the importance of this work that the federal government is doing. I bet so many people have no idea that the BLM is doing such detailed research in the fields of botany, ecology, geology, and more! Perhaps it is more common out west, but since there are not as many BLM field offices in the Midwest/east, it felt pretty new to me.
The rest of the week consisted of touring the field office and BLM field sites. I got to visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument, which was full of lava rock, and surprisingly full of wildflower life. I got to explore dark and icy caves with one of my co-workers that knows the insider places to go (Way to go, John!).
I have also been working closely with a fellow CLM intern (& roommate), Diana, on long-term trend monitoring. This project consists of visiting specific locations and conducting plant surveys to see how the vegetation is changing over long periods of time. It feels good to get back into the habit of plant ID and spending the days outside while it’s not too hot yet.
It has been fun going off-roading and driving around the many scenic areas in this part of Idaho. It’s amazing how the landscape can change so drastically from flat range land to steep slopes, snowy mountains, and quick-drop-off canyons. I look forward to exploring more of Idaho and the surrounding states in my free time!
Until next time,