Working with the BLM in Bishop

Three weeks have passed since I made the big move out to Bishop, CA. My first week here was full of training videos and driving tours of the land. My mentor and I spent a couple days in the field together that week, I was armed with plant lists and ready to learn the native flora. It’s crazy how many shrubs are out here, distinguishing among the Atriplex species is still driving me crazy. I’m looking forward to honing in on my shrub ID skills though- lots of studying to be done! I have mainly spent my time surveying the land the Bishop field office manages (meaning I get to go off-roading all day in big trucks!) for any wild flowers beginning to sprout. My aim is to find large enough populations of plants to collect seed from when the time is right. There are so many beautiful cactus and bright yellow annuals popping up currently. So far I am anticipating a seed collection of a Lepidium flavum population and maybe a Mentzelia population. Other flowering plants popping up include species in the Eriophyllum, Syntrichopappus, Phacelia, Cryptantha, and Amsinckia genus. I spent a few days last week camping in the Amargosa Valley with Sarah DeGroot, the Seeds of Success coordinator from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. We went over how to properly collect seed in the field and how to do tissue sample collections. It was a very useful and fun experience.

Besides the Seeds of Success program I have been involved in the Sage-Grouse study our field office does. I’m looking forward to learning more about these funny looking birds as I have more opportunities to participate in the lek counts. I’ve heard the counts take place around sunrise when the birds are the most active, which means I will need to be out of bed around 4 am, the joy! I have also heard about bat surveys which take place a little later in the summer and I’m hoping I can tag along for some of those. I love the variety of work I am able to participate in, it makes the days go by fast and I absolutely love learning new things.

Working with the BLM has been great fun so far and I’m looking forward to all the new experiences to come.

Brittany Betz

BLM Bishop Field Office

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