Today is my last day working from the Bishop Field Office. The plan was to spend one more beautiful day taking in the scenery of the place I now proudly call home, the Eastern Sierra, surveying for pygmy rabbits in the Bodie Hills. However, Bishop awoke today to the blessed sound of rain hitting its thirsty desert dirt. So here I am on the dry side of the window reminiscing over the many amazing field days I have had out there over the past two years.
The Bodie Hills are a place that I have grown to know at an intimate level, the time and space we have shared are incomparable. A vast open landscape, that at first glance appears to be a monotonous sea of sage, is truly an irreplaceable expanse harboring 14 unique plant communities, ancient cinder cones, gently rolling hills, meadows, aspen stands, hidden conifer groves, and much more. These diverse communities support an important collection of fauna including the iconic greater sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, and a variety of endemic rare plants. Perhaps one of the greatest features of Bodie is its removal from the beaten path and because of this I found great value in the hours spent seed collecting while day dreaming. The opportunity to carry on a continuous thought for extended periods is something that a lot of people infrequently have the luxury of doing. Never doubt its value.
As the rain outside continues to steadily fall, my mind is being flooded with feelings of satisfaction from knowing the strength my surroundings have on shaping my attitude. True happiness comes from within, but the things that bring it out are what matter. People and places matter, conservation land management matters, and the opportunity to be a steward of the land is rewarding far beyond our day to day feelings. So the next time you are filling your government vehicle with gallons upon gallons of gasoline and the feelings of being a conservationist are fleeting, remember that your efforts are for everyone. We cannot predict when the (proverbial) sun will shine, but when it does we CAN make sure to embrace it. Edward Abbey sums it up better than I can: “it is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.”
Beyond the places I get to spend my work time, I also must extend great appreciation to everyone in the Bishop Field Office They are a strong community that has made me feel both welcome and valued. Thanks to them and those at the Chicago Botanic Garden.