As the month of August began, the heat set in and the fires ignited! This past month has been both busy and enjoyable for me, with many more memories to add to my BLM-Buffalo experience. I would say that the bulk of this month has been spent seed collecting for me personally. I have collected and shipped a total of 9 populations with 5 more on the way! To be honest, I would have liked to have collected a few more populations by this time of year, but the weather continues to be unpredictable and sometimes uncooperative, which has definitely been a learning experience in being flexible and compromising. One of my favorite collections I did though was of Achillea millefolium, or Western Yarrow. By chance, I had found this (huge!!) population of yarrow on a small patch of BLM just within the property of a very friendly rancher. Better yet, this rancher has a herd of awesome goats that he is using to help curtail another unwanted plant species on his property. So of course, coming out to monitor the yarrow and then collect it, we were always welcomed by the goats that would come to the truck looking for some pets, hugs and food 😛
Another seed collection site that I have been enjoying this past month is called Outlaw Cave, on the southern end of my office’s boundaries. This area is both beautiful and historically interesting, as it is the known as one of the hiding places of famous Wild West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It is quite a picturesque drive to get to this area, as you drive along the “Red Wall” of Wyoming and among many beautiful horse and cattle ranches. I have three seed populations in this area that are just starting to ripen late in the season for collection. Unfortunately, with all of the fires that have been raging in the West as of late, the views have been rather hazy and the air smoky, even though there are no serious fires in this immediate area. This has made collecting a little more challenging, as the air is extremely dry and hot, making hydration crucial for the long days in the field. Even so, it is still an breath-taking site to collect at, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to work within such awesome, rugged scenery!
In other news, it appears that collection season is slowly winding down. I can’t believe that within just two weeks it will be September and fall and cooler weather will start setting in. I expect that my work will begin transferring to more office work as I begin mapping my population sites on GIS, inputting collection data onto the computer and preparing my voucher specimens. This internship has certainly flown by quickly, and I am anxious to figure out my next steps and plans for the months ahead!