It’s my third week as a Wildlife Intern in the Casper Field Office and I am loving it so far. Being in the mountains is such a nice change from New Jersey. Although the landscape here is mostly grassland, there are still so many mountainous landscapes nearby. Every day I think to myself, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
During my first week, I learned about each of the divisions within the resources department here at the Casper Field Office including Wildlife, Archeology, Range, Hydrology, and Forestry. I learned how to ride a UTV, which was a lot of fun! We also trained on our first big project of the summer, Range Health Assessments. During these assessments, the wildlife, range and hydrology crew all go out together to assess the ecological health of different plots of BLM land all over Wyoming to collect data used in making future land management decisions. I learned about a lot of new plant and animal species and I’m excited to keep learning more.
My second week of work was a full week of Range Health Assessments. The crew and I have a lot of fun driving all over Natrona and Converse Counties while getting work done.
My role includes working with the wildlife biologists in the office to evaluate the wildlife habitat, specifically for greater sage-grouse. We use transects to examine the diversity and health of sagebrush shrubs as well as overall vegetation cover to assess the habitat. We are always looking for signs of wildlife in the area, and I have seen a couple of female sage grouse with their chicks so far! The wildlife here is so different from New Jersey and I am really enjoying working with wildlife biologists to learn as much as I can about it.
During week 3, there was a lot of rain which made it difficult driving on the two-track roads to get to our destination. A few days were spent turning around after failed attempts to get the truck past the mud on the roads. In addition to the normal range health days, I got to scout a plot of BLM land that is being overtaken by Pinyon Juniper in the sagebrush ecosystem. We used the GPS to navigate around the land and mark off boundaries for a contractor to come in to take out most of the Pinyon Juniper.
I am so grateful that CBG is able to provide me this amazing opportunity. I am looking forward to the experiences I will have out here, at work and in my free time. So far, it has been life-changing.