The thousand mile trek from Reno, Nevada to Denver, Colorado felt like the blink of an eye, but passing through the White River National Forest made the time stand still by its beauty, also probably because driving a 15′ truck while pulling a car up 10,000′ passes almost literally brought us to a standstill. Aspens on the left and right and snow still on the ground, it was like a right of passage into the beautiful capital of Denver.
The first week of my first CLM internship was filled with the elusive potential for computer access and many informative scientific papers. One that stood out was called “Evaluating approaches to the Conservation of Rare and Endangered Plants” which started off with a quote from Nirvana:
“Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don’t be late”
and then proceeded to discuss the general currently accepted process behind setting up a rare and endangered plant evaluation, which I see echoed in the past and present work of my mentor, Carol Dawson.
I also spent the week being brought up to date on the plants that Carol and past interns have worked on. Including 9 threatened and 3 candidate species, one of which we monitored my second week.
Now on to the fun stuff!
Since 2011 Astragalus debequaeus has been listed as a threatened species, is found near the Roan Plateau, and is the first species that we surveyed for.
I can already tell that I am going to like field work here in Colorado. Not only was I able to see hundreds of million year old formations, but also I met up with the Ecologists that worked out of the Silt and Grand Junction field offices as well as the director of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.
We spent our field days scrambling along the lose shale foothills of the Roan plateau surveying for Astragalus debequaeus. At one point we were looking for more plots when we also stumbled upon Sclerocactus glaucus and Astragalus naturitensis as well. Although these were not our intended targets per say (I am learning that this geologic area is as Dr. Dawson would say “chock a block full” of rare species) it was nice to see what we would be looking for in the future.
Sclerocactus was blooming its dainty pink flowers and so was Echinocereus triglochidiatus:
After a full day it was nice to come back to Silt and peer down at the tame but powerful Colorado River. I have grown up in a state (Arizona) where the Colorado River not only plays a part in our everyday life as a source of drinking water and is the border of our western edge, but is also a part of history, something I learned and heard about as a kid. I realized I have actually not spent too much time observing it and I felt an odd connection to home as I watched the sun set and the swallows catch their pray and return to their mud nests.
Next week we survey again!
Colorado State Office