Situated at the eastern side of the Sierras, half an hour from Lake Tahoe is the BLM’s Carson City district office.
Carson City is part of the Carson Valley watershed. All of the melt water from the snowy tops of the ranges melt and flow into this area’s lakes and soils. This year was anomalous for its amount of snow and rainfall. In many areas of Nevada the yearly rainfall average was surpassed in May!
Normally one would think that’s great for the plants. And it is! There were beautiful super blooms in the Spring. However, the high precipitation fairs better for the most problematic weeds in the area- medusahead and cheatgrass. We’ve spent quite a bit of time mapping medusahead populations for herbicide treatment. We’re also learning quite a lot about the ecology of these weeds based on our observations and literature reviews.
We’ve done some post-wildfire monitoring called ESR (Emergency Stablilization and Rehabilitation). In the course of our data collection we were happy to see a relatively diverse recovering population of native forbs instead of a blanket of cheatgrass or medusahead.
For our SOS work we’ve been mostly on BLM land in Nevada so far- although the BLM Carson City district office has some land in California that we’re going to be venturing off to in the coming weeks.
Swan Lake, one of the best birding spots in Nevada- near Reno. The most birds I’ve ever heard in one place! Though what you’re looking at is supposed to be a nature walk! Unfortunately the entire boardwalk along the lake is underwater due to the high precipitation in recent years. We’re using GIS to map how the drainages and vegetation have changed in this period! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_Lake_Nature_Study_Area
What I’ve learned so far about Nevada is that the public thinks of BLM land like the wild west. There are signs warning people about the danger of wild fires with gun use during the summer, but there is no enforcement. Always fun to hear gunshots a couple hundred feet away on a 95 degree day with dry cheatgrass surrounding you.
We’ve done some youth educational outreach too. I find it is excruciatingly important for the BLM to provide outreach to youth and the public at large because unfortunately the locals don’t see the benefit of managing public lands. This is because of an education gap. So whenever we have a chance to educate the public we pounce on it. The previous years’ techs focused mostly on botany so we decided to switch it up and focus our outreach on geology! Nevada and the Great Basin and Range region have a fascinating and complex geology, and we’re excited to impart this knowledge to the locals so they better appreciate what they may see as commonplace!
From noxious weeds to rare species monitoring to wetland ecology and range ecology — my mind is sponging it up! Happy to be here *dance emoji*