Things are starting to ramp up as we head full swing into summer here in Rawlins, WY. I am almost two months into my field season and we’re in the middle of our voucher specimen and seed collection. I’m enjoying getting to see so much of the field office collecting and scouting for plants and really being in the wilderness. As of early July, we’ve completed 6 seed collections so far, putting in long days with travel and collecting.
We also got to branch out a little bit this past month from seeds to do some endangered species monitoring with our mentor, Frank Blomquist, and Bonnie Heidel, from the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD) in Laramie. We went out to Bear Mountain, in the northeast section of Carbon County, to monitor the Blowout Penstemon (Penstemon haydenii). Our first day at Bear Mountain included hiking to the sand dunes in the mountains and censusing all the plants we could find, listing them into 3 categories – flowering or fruiting, vegetative, and browsed. We were prepared for a long day in the mountain; we had tried to census the day before and got hailed out so we made sure we had all our rain gear this time.
Our second day was on the other side of Bear Mountain running transects to get an idea of how many seedlings and mature plants were present in a different sand dune blowout. This census is done each year to look at the persistence of the seedlings in the blowout and see if they are surviving despite the changing placement of the dunes.
I think the endangered species work has been one of my favorite things out here so far, other than getting to seed pronghorn every single day – I’m still not used to it! I enjoyed the deviation from our usual scouting and collecting to go to a different site (this one is actually an ACEC, or Area of Critical Environmental Concern) and complete work that contributes to emerging research.