My internship here in Idaho is zipping along! After a fun and informative week spent attending the CLM workshop in Chicago, my crew jumped into collecting data for MAIM (Modified Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring). A typical day for this includes driving up to two hours on somewhat treacherous dirt roads deep into sagebrush country. We then record information about the plot, set up a three-spoke transect and record vegetation heights and cover using the line-point intercept method. We also conduct forb sweeps along the lines and take an inventory of every species present in the plot. This data can then be used to assess the site’s suitability as sage grouse habitat and to inform decisions about grazing permits.
Last week, I also got the opportunity to go out with the non-game wildlife biologist for Idaho Fish & Game. Myself and some other interns were lucky enough to escape a hot day by going underground to look for bats and cave invertebrates in the lava tubes. Although we didn’t see any bats that day, we did find a rare cave beetle! We also helped conduct insect surveys aboveground- we looked for a rare jewel beetle commonly found in the roots and flowers of Eriogonum sp.
As my plant ID skills sharpen, I find myself spending more and more time looking at them, even in my free time. For fourth of July weekend, myself and a few friends headed up to the Sawtooth Range near Stanley, ID. We backpacked up to the beautiful Goat Lake, which was still coated in snow and ice! I expected there to be snow up at high elevation, but didn’t expect the entire area to still be completely buried. Instead of heading up higher through slushy snowfields, we opted to hike down at lower elevations, which afforded us more time to look at plants. We were entranced by beautiful meadows filled with Artemesia tridentata, Calochortus nuttallii, Eriogonum sp., Penstemon sp., Purshia tridentata, Delphinium sp., Balsamorhiza sagittata, and more.
Shoshone Field Office- BLM