Rawlins, Wyoming has treated me well over the past two weeks. Being a small town girl from Montana, I had some sort of an idea of what I was getting myself into upon moving here. With any transition comes uncertainty, and this can be rather nerve-wracking. I drove over 1,000 miles to arrive in this high elevation city of around 9,000 inhabitants. On the way, I drove through canyons, glided passed incredible rock outcroppings, and started to acquaint myself with my new ecosystem. I was greeted by the smiling faces of my new mentor, coworker, and housemate, and immediately felt comfortable and welcomed.
The first few days in the Rawlins Bureau of Land Management field office were overwhelming, but only in the best ways possible. My mentor, Frank, introduced my coworker, Kyle, and I to close to everyone in the office (probably 35 handshakes). From range management, to the minerals division and (of course) the wildlife department, each and every person was welcoming and light hearted. I found that the office was a rather close-knit community, each division and department working together in ways unique to most offices.
The weather in Rawlins the first week (the last week of April) was rather daunting. Sideways blowing wind, sleet, rain, and even hail throughout the week, and a foot of snow on Friday to top it off.
My housemate, Katie, assured me that summers around here would be amazing- warm with clear skies close to every day. This made me forget about the 20 degree temperatures and look forward to the field season to come.
So far I have spent three days in the field, each day so new and exciting. I have seen wild horses, golden eagles, Columbian sharp tailed grouse, sage grouse, a horny toad, cottontail rabbits, antelope, and so many more creatures. But, even more exciting, are the plants. Although it is still early in the season (it snowed last week, after all) I have become acquainted with a diverse array of inhabitants of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Multiple different species of Artemisia, other shrubs including Atriplex, as well as forbs- Lomatium foeniculaceum, Cymopterus bulbosus, Phlox hoodii, and Astragalus spatulatus– just to name a few, were introduced to me the first day. I am so amazed by these high desert plants, each with a unique life history to be able to sustain life in such an extreme environment.
I look forward to the season to come. I know that I will not only find curiosities and excitement at work in the field, but also at home with my new roommates and in my surrounding area. Here’s to a great season!