After arriving in Colorado, less than a week ago, I was welcomed by my mentor Ken Holsinger, Biologist at the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office. After general orientation, Ken introduced me to the endangered Eriogonum pelinophilum, (clay-loving buckwheat).
E. pelinophilum is endemic to the adobe hills in the salt-desert shrub ecosystem of the Uncompahgre Basin, within Montrose and Delta counties. The vegetation is sparse in these delicate soils, which are highly erodible and saline. The rolling hills and flats create unique scenic formations, with vegetation unlike any I have seen before.
On Tuesday we began training and data collection for the Gunnison Sage-grouse habitat assessment, Crawford population, Black Ridge, Delta County.
We collected data using protocol as outlined in the Sage-grouse Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF). More specifically we used several different vegetation sampling methods along 50m transects including: 1) Point-intercept sampling method to collect vegetation type and height data for all graminoid, forb and shrub species; 2) Line-intercept sampling method to collect canopy cover data for sage-brush species; 3) Belt transect method to collect relative abundance data for preferred forbs.
Overall, I have to say, this CLM/BLM internship is off to a fantastic start. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, the wealth of knowledge which surrounds me is impressive, and the diverse array of new floral species to learn is more than intriguing.
Hope you all are enjoying your many adventures,