After a little over a month here, I’m slowly getting acclimated to the town and the expectations of the internship. Since last time, my co-intern and I have been scouting for seed collection areas, which have included different areas in Red Canyon and various trips outside of Lander, such as Tough Creek (north of Shoshoni) and along the Gas Hills Highway. So far, we have vouchers for roughly 15 collections that we hope will be ready soon. We welcome the outdoor time after a very precipitous beginning of the month!
We also had the opportunity to work with a botanist from the Nature Conservancy in the Red Canyon area, which included identifying plants and monitoring different types of seeding methods. Broad spread seeding applications and the presence or absence of furrowing were two of these methods. The two main species we worked with were Indian Rice Grass and a sage (Artemesia) species. It was incredible to be able to learn how to identify each of these plants from such a young age! They were roughly a centimeter or so tall (if we were lucky!) as we had our faces to the ground, scouring the plot to count each plant 🙂
Another exciting opportunity we had this past month was to be on an SOS (Seeds of Success) conference call that discussed the BLM Native Grass and Forb Seed Increase IDIQ Contract. Having only worked with seeds from the Midwest, I at first did not understand why this new “seed grow-out” idea was so exciting for Wyoming and those nearby. The seed grow-out involves BLM offices collecting a certain amount of seeds of a certain species and sending it out to a third party. This third party will then grow these seeds (and multiply them), and then field offices can buy these seeds back in bulk. From my limited experience, I couldn’t understand why the field offices would not just purchase seeds from a local/Wyoming native plant nursery. The fact is, there are no native plant nurseries that the field offices can buy in bulk from! So whenever these field offices must purchase seeds for seeding projects (such as for rehabilitation, reclamation, and restoration), the seeds are not able to come from the same ecoregion that they are being planted in, and therefore not truly native to the region and are not as successful as they could be. So this is really exciting! I’m hoping to be able to be on similar calls in the future and find out how this progresses!