Portland, Santa Fe, Chicago, and Santa Fe

The month of June has been full of variety for me. I left my Portland, OR home in the mossy, forested Pacific Northwest on the last day of May, and began a 1900 mile driving adventure to the desert southwest. After a refreshing soak at Summer Lake hot springs, a stunningly beautiful stay in the Ruby Mountains, crossing the Great Salt Lake desert, and a slow and reflective drive through the Four Corners area, the adobe town of Santa Fe and the southernmost Rockies greeted me with thunder and lightning.

bladderpod

Our first opportunistic seed collection was from a small mustard yet to be identified to species

I had only a week to adjust to a new climate, landscape, and people before flying to the midwestern city of Chicago for the CLM training. Between sessions, we had the opportunity to explore the Chicago Botanic Garden in its entirety. My favorite area was the arid greenhouse, letting me know that my tugging desire to live and work in the southwest was well-founded, and giving me the opportunity to meet dry-adapted carbon-fixers from all around the earth.

cactus flower

Cactus flower at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Back in my new home of Santa Fe, I joined with a large and diverse group of people for our regional training. A fellow CLM intern, an ACE (American Conservation Experience) intern, and I will be working closely with interns and employees from the IAE’s (Institute for Applied Ecology) Southwest Program. To begin our summer together, we camped in the Valles Caldera, a dormant, enormous, and beautiful volcano in the Jemez Mountains. With the help of Steve Buckley (National Park Service botanist), we sharpened our botanical skills and began to learn New Mexico’s flora.

Tsankawi, New Mexico

New Mexican beauty, Tsankawi ruins. A short hike break on our drive back from training at Valles Caldera.

After several weeks of travel and training, I am looking forward to a summer and fall spent exploring New Mexico, collecting seed from plants and places I have yet to meet, and honing my botanical skills!

Laura Holloway

Santa Fe (New Mexico State Office), BLM

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