Stranger in a Rangeland

Now over halfway through my internship here in Dillon, Montana, I’ve officially made the switch from full-time Seeds of Success work to rangeland monitoring.

Wyethia helianthoides, a Seeds of Success collection

Platanthera dilatata, a potential SOS collection

Arnica fulgens, a Seeds of Success collection

The transition is both bittersweet and well-timed. I’ve enjoyed the Seeds of Success work much more than I initially expected: the thrill of roaming around the mountains of Beaverhead and Madison Counties, searching for large populations of native wildflowers; the unadulterated delight of locating a robust population of plants and identifying its associates; the satisfaction of pressing well-composed voucher specimens and collecting complete field data; the sense of relief at returning to these populations at the perfect time for seed collection; the serenity of collecting seed high up in the mountains among the flowers and butterflies and magnificent views.

The critters really love Gaillardia aristata!

There are so many amazing plants around here it was hard to narrow our Seeds of Success collections down to just fifteen species! I’ve already started a document of potential seed collections for next year’s intern.

Hopefully a future intern will enjoy collecting from this huge population of lovely Calochortus

All that said, I’m already enjoying the transition to rangeland monitoring. One of the best things about this job is the variety! It’s nice to work with other people more frequently, and in the week since I switched over I’ve gotten to pick up some useful monitoring skills and visit parts of the field office I hadn’t yet explored.

Such as this surprise abandoned cabin we stumbled upon during a stream reach assessment – pictured here, smack-dab in the middle of the dry creekbed

Did I already mention that it’s beautiful and amazing here? In addition to all of the places I get to go for work, there are countless incredible places to explore for backpacking, hiking, swimming, driving, flowers and views within 1.5-5 hours drive from Dillon. Five months is hardly enough time to see and do everything that I want to do here, but I’m loving these three day weekends as much as my four day workweeks.

Marvelous Mimulus lewisii at Yellowstone, just a 2.5 hour drive east

Gentianopsis in Yellowstone

Pink lupine in the Gravelly Mountains just 1.5 hours east

Until next time,

Stellatrix LeRange

Dillon, Montana Field Office

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