I am going to say the cliche statement — I can’t believe how quickly my time in Reno came and went! In a couple of weeks I will be driving back east to Colorado, and I am happy to say that I will miss this area. I learned a saying here, “Reno: so close to hell, you can see Sparks”(If you don’t know, Sparks is a town right next to Reno). I use this saying with no negative intent towards Reno; it is a crazy place full of great people. I have made a lot of friends in this town, and it feels good to know that Reno is a place I can call home. To the west lies the Sierras where I caught frogs and fish, and to the east lies myriad Nevadan mountain ranges where I collected native seed.
Here is what I have been up to in my final month here: I spent a few days in September helping to monitor a wetland restoration project near Sonora Pass. I walked around as the “biologist on site” looking for any Yosemite Toads that may be displaced by the construction. In order to restore the meadow to make it a more wet site, the road crew removed the top layer of sod in and surrounding the unwanted ravine, filled in the area with dirt to make it more level, and then returned the top layer of sod. This will allow next year’s water to flow more slowly and into a larger area of the meadow, rather than directly into the nearby river.
This month, I have also been helping out on the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) campus. I worked with a current grad student (who is a botanical genius); together we transplanted some native plants into her pollinator garden on campus. We also worked on designing a dry creek bed where she will soon transplant more native plants. Our final project together was planting two beds of native plants at the USFS station in Sparks. These beds will qualify as an official pollinator garden for the Forest Service. We used about 15 different species of flowering plants that will bloom at different times over the course of the summer. I hope they survive the winter and flourish next spring!
Overall, I think that my most important gains from this season were the friendships and professional relationships that I formed. I met a lot of different people working for different government agencies, all of whom are trying to advocate for native plants and wildlife conservation. I have learned a lot from them all, and I hope that I am able to continue their work wherever I end up.
US Forest Service, Sparks NV