Getting to know the Great Basin

June, 2018

In May, I moved from Colorado to Reno with the help of a good friend. Together we drove west across the state of Nevada, peering at the sage brush and endless mountain ranges, so different from those in Colorado. Every time we passed a sign declaring “Entering the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest”, we would look around, discussing my new “office” for the season.

My internship is with the Seeds of Success (SOS) Program working with the US Forest Service. However, I have realized that this internship is not going to function exactly as I thought it would. Unfortunately, I do not have a partner for the season. This means that I will be acting as a “third wheel” with two different 2 person SOS crews from the Great Basin Institute (GBI). In order to scout out populations and make collections, these teams go out for 8 days at a time, camping out in the desert. So far, I have gone out with one of these crews to help scout grass populations and to make a few collections. These two girls have been working together since April, so I was a little nervous to come into a group that had already been so established. It was also tricky because they already had their training and routines down – and here I was coming in with no real understanding of their work or group dynamics. It was awkward to try and learn on the job, asking for clarifications and tasks without wanting to slow them down. Luckily they are two lovely people who I immediately got along with on a personal level.

With the help of a fantastic crew of inmates from the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF), we collected a crazy amount of Indian Ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides)

A few SOS field tips that I have learned right off the bat:

  1. Don’t wear nice hiking songs in sagebrush habitat. The cheatgrass will shred them up
  2. Podcasts are king when collecting seed nonstop for hours at a time.
  3. Gatorade powder can really help out with those 100 degree desert afternoons.

Until next time,

Zoë Moffett

US Forest Service, Sparks NV

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