Fire on the Mountain

Deep within the Great Basin, amongst the sagebrush ocean, lie the Desatoya Mountains. One of my fellow crew members and I ventured out to set down some of the natural splendor. We meandered up and down windy roads to reach the more diverse canyons to scout for potential SOS collections. Along the way, we discovered our rental truck had Sirius XM radio, so of course we had to keep it tuned to the Grateful Dead, bluegrass, and 40’s channels.

Much of the Great Basin is what it appears to be: plains of sagebrush and cheatgrass surrounded by mountain ranges. With a little exploration, however, many gems can be uncovered. Lush meadows, rushing waterfalls, and areas rich with biodiversity are mere steps away, if you know where to look.

The pinnacle of beauty… minus the weird guy.

Our trip to the Desatoyas was successful. We found several species viable for collection. Holodiscus discolor, Rosa woodsii, and Ribes sp. were, dare I say, ripe for the picking. As I write this post, the other three members of our team are on their way to harvest them. We were also fortunate enough to see pronghorn, several owls (either Short-eared or Great Horned), and a couple of hummingbirds.

In an adjacent mountain range, the Clan Alpines, a fire threatened to end our scouting trip early. Fortunately there are awesome fire crews all over the state that do an excellent job of maintaining these rangeland infernos.

That’s all for now and remember, Winter is Coming.

Until next time,

Jason, Carson City District Office-BLM


A collection of photographs from eastern Sierran wetlands

A series of photographs taken in several wetlands in the eastern Sierras over the last several months.

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum, the feminine fern, photographed roughly 100 yards from the Nevada shore of Lake Tahoe. This fellow was living atop a single rock stuck fast in the creek bottom.

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum, the feminine fern.

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum, showing developing sori.

Circaea alpina spp. pacifica, a beautiful little member of the evening primrose family. This growing very near to the Athyrium photographed above.

Circaea alpina ssp. pacifica, Pacific enchanter’s nightshade.

Circaea alpina ssp. pacifica, Pacific enchanter’s nightshade, flower closeup.

The Sierra rein orchid.

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys, the Sierra rein orchid.

Little elephant head, Pedicularis groenlandica. This species has a very wide distribution – from southwestern Greenland, across northern North America, as far south as montane areas of northern Arizona. This individual was photographed in a wet meadow in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, just to the west of Reno, Nevada.

Pedicularis groenlandica, the little elephant head.

Upon close inspection, the land was determined to be wet. This waterfall feeds the creek that wets the marsh in which I found the above photographed Pedicularis.

A partial rainbow in a waterfall.



Fun galore!

Currently, Oregon is LIT! As in it is literally on fire. Here in Klamath Falls we’ve had about a solid month of smoke-filled skies. It is heart-breaking that so many forests are being burned down (usually at the hands of inconsiderate folks) and hopefully things will begin to clear up soon with the weather getting a little bit cooler. Because of this, it has been slightly difficult to get out in the field at some points. We have made due, though, and there is much to share! Yippee!

Jeff and I were working on a little project at the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge that ended up being a bit of a disaster. We placed 300 juvenile sucker fish in controlled nets at different levels of the water column to observe what might happen and when we headed out to the ponds a week later to check on them, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. WAS. GONE. We found a couple of holes that must have been snagged during the placement of the nets that the fish escaped through. So long as the fish are alive and well, it’s quite alright. Science doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to.

My field supervisor put together a rather exciting field trip to Crater Lake National Park. We were taken out on a research boat for a private tour by David Hering and Mark Buktenica with the National Park Service. We were told all about the creation of the crater, the crystalline water, and several interesting odds and ends associated with the park. We eventually made our way out to Wizard Island, which is a small caldera (within the large caldera that is Crater Lake, CRAZY!) and we got to hike to the top. The 360-degree views of Crater Lake were breathtaking.

My field office posing for a group photo in front of Phantom Ship!

On top of Wizard Island!

I also want to give a shout out to my field Supervisor, Laurie, AGAIN, for putting together an awesome field trip to the Klamath Marsh to watch the eclipse. We weren’t in the path of the eclipse for totality, but we got to see it at 94% which was pretty incredible. It was wonderful getting to share the experience with everyone from my field office. Laughs were shared, new acquaintances were made, and enough food was eaten to feed a small village (I also got a bit sick after eating 7 cookies)!

(from left to right)
Emily, me, Jeff, and Sam gettin’ weird at the eclipse!

Aside from all of the amazing adventures my field office and I have been fortunate enough to have, Jeff and I have partaken in a few activities in the last month. We have done some electro-fishing, stream survey’s, wolf tracking with ODFW, and monitoring a few streams and lakes.

Getting sensual with my dip net 😀

I want to give a HUGE shout out to CLM for being such an incredible internship program and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of something so amazing. I’m pretty sure I end every single blog post this exact same way, but there really aren’t enough thanks to be said. Oregon is amazing. This field office is amazing. Life is pretty amazing!

Marissa – Klamath Falls Field Office – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Travel break!

I’m 3 months into my internship with the BLM in Buffalo, Wyoming and last week I got some time off to take an amazing trip up north!

First, we visited Glacier National Park for a few days and did some really awesome hikes. From there, we continued north through Alberta, Canada to visit Calgary, Banff National Park, Yoho National Park (British Columbia), Jasper National Park, and Edmonton. This trip was full of gorgeous colored lakes, glaciers, and wildlife sightings. Southern Alberta and Montana were quite smoky due to all of the wildfires in the area, but the views were still incredible! Over the ten day trip, we hiked around 46 miles, skated 19 skateparks, and climbed in some cool new areas. Today, I am back in the office and eager to finish up this last stretch of my internship so I can take off again!

Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park

Crowfoot Glacier in Banff National Park

Banff National Park, Alberta

Vale Dispatch this is me on Lookout

I am nearing the end of my original internship of five months, in fact I just entered in the last 80 hours of the 880 allotted before this post.

I obviously have not been very punctual when it comes to writing blogs describing my Conservation Land Management experience. However, I have come to learn several lessons in the past five months and several thoughts have crossed my mind which are as follows.

Public lands worked on by Conservation Land Management interns are not always functional. These lands are often plagued by disturbance events, enveloped in invasive plant and animal species, and left altered beyond recognition of the native state. These picturesque public lands we often see are not always indicative of the state of health of other lesser known lands available to the public. I have seen channelized streams, monocultures of invasive species, severely grazed pastures, unimaginable soil loss, and large scales of land conversion among other things, as I am sure many of my fellow interns have.

These sights may make some people pessimistic, or even defeated. I however, am somewhat empowered by the fact that I have so much work ahead of me. Even though I feel the weight of such a daunting task, and am touched with the hint of sadness and responsibility associated with this destruction, I am reminded that these processes can often times work in the opposite direction. A direction that pushes these landscapes out of a negative spiral and back to a functioning condition. I just need to figure out along side other interns how to make that happen. We are here to witness the non functioning along side the pristine. We are shown the pristine in order to stoke the fire under the non functioning and surround ourselves with the desirable. It is all well within our power.

CLM thank you for this knowledge.


Ode to Survey123

In between trips throughout the Great Basin,

To check for ripe seeds on the species we’re chasing,

Seeking drupes, legumes, siliques and achenes,

I spend time in front of my computer screens.


I do GIS, data entry, research, and planning.

There are seeds that need mailing and forms that need scanning,

Plants that need filing and labels that need gluing.

After that, though, there’s something else I’ve been doing.


What do you think? We have some massive grants?

Maybe we’ve got a greenhouse and to grow out some plants?

I wish I could say we’re programming a drone,

Nope — just making surveys to fill out on a phone.


Decimal, selection, and geopoint questions,

Complex choice filters, calculated suggestions,

I spend hours pasting huge excel expressions,

Moping when it crashes upon refreshing.


And though I’d still rather pick fruits from a tree,

I do love you and hate you, Survey123.

Working with you can’t beat picking buckwheat,

But your relational questions are really quite neat.


Entering data just once – wow, what an idea!

Though making surveys keeps me from Rhus and Piscea.

I do love creating the ideal survey form,

But I’d rather be hiking in a summer rainstorm.


I hope that these hours and hours I’ve spent

Sitting at a desk rather than camping in my tent

Will help keep all of the botanists to come

Out in the field with sagebrush, currant, and plum.


Britney, Carson City BLM

Monarch tagging, bat mist-netting, and riparian species!

Things have been interesting at the Shoshone BLM. With our AIM duties ending pretty early, we are left to help out on several different projects. These include fun things like monarch tagging, cave monitoring, and recently PFC (Proper Functioning Condition) for riparian areas. The plant identification has been slim lately, but I am excited to ramp things up by learning all of these new riparian species for PFC.

Monarch tagging was such a blast, even though we didn’t actually catch any monarchs! We saw quite a few but they are surprisingly quick and hard to catch. However, as a person who worked with native bees for two years, having a bug net back in my hand felt great.  We did however catch a few viceroy butterflies AND a half black bumble bee (Bombus vagans). Ross Winton, our liaison from Idaho Fish and Game, is very knowledgeable with western bumble bees and has taught me so much about the species here in Idaho.

The following week, we were fortunate enough to help out with some bat mist netting. I wasn’t able to handle any bats due to the fact that I am not vaccinated for rabies, but getting to see bats up close was quite the experience! Doing field work at night is definitely an adjustment though (I was so tired by the end of the night).

Anyways, I am looking forward to seeing what the next two months bring. I am definitely happy to begin keying and learning new riparian species.

Signing off from Shoshone, ID


Half black bumble bee (Bombus vagans)

Silver-haired bat we caught – such a cutie

Juevenile Yellow-bellied Racer found in a riparian area!

Mimulus guttatus (a fun riparian species!!)



I’m two months into my CLM internship at the Eagle Lake Field Office, in Susanville, CA, and I have been reflecting on the ways in which water, while not always present, has shaped and shapes my new home. Moving to Susanville, a dry town on the edge of the Great Basin from New Orleans, a humid swamp, has been quite the change in water regimes. After recent heavy rain events New Orleans’ pumps system failed, resulting in local flooding. And now, with Tropical Storm Harvey headed towards Louisiana, New Orleans is gearing up for more flooding. But out here in my new town, I have seen it rain only a handful of times. However, when it does rain, lightning strikes and starts often ensue.

This was one of the prettiest springs we have seen on our field office.

Besides the potential for fire, in the high desert, standing water brings life. American avocets forage along the edges of mudflats, Canadian geese prepare their young for a long migration south in ephemeral ponds, and foot prints dot the edges almost every water sources we have visited. Plus, there are always a few “regulars” around streams and springs:denseflower boisduvalia (Epilobium densiflorum), field hosetail (Equisetum arvense), povertyweed (Iva axillaris), dock (Rumex sp.) and if you’re lucky, aspen, (Populus tremuloides). After a high snowpack and unseasonably high spring rain events, many of the flats, ephemeral wetlands, and stock ponds on our field office are full of water, an uncommon sight so I’m told. Even the playa where Burning Man is currently being held (not on our field office, but close) was filled with water relatively late into the summer. With the unusual snow melt, we were able to find a special status plant (Gratiola heterosepala) that has not been seen the area in a few years due to the California drought. During the past month, my fellow co-intern and I have had the opportunity to visit a few multiple stream monitoring sites across our field office. The first couple we visited were unusable after the high spring stream flow events bent the steel pipes where the gauges were housed. But this past week we visited a couple more that survived the f!

A week or so after the mudflats dried up, these sunflowers (Helianthos sp.) began popping up, bringing a pop of color to the landscape.

Even where you least expect it, water brings life- in this case, hotsprings (like the one above) draw quite the crowd.

Water has also shaped the nature of our seed collections this season. My co-intern and I have been having difficulty finding perennial bunch grasses with seed, which we believe is due to the high snow melt and heavy rains at the beginning of the summer. Many of the people at our office hypothesize that that unusual precipitation patterns resulted in the grasses putting more energy into above their ground growth. After the rains, the heat wave that followed resulted in a spontaneous abortion of seeds. But fortunately, we have been able to locate other populations that have been keeping us busy.

A photo from our wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii) collection.

Wild burros visiting one of the reservoirs on our field office.

I was super excited to find this parasitic rydberg’s broomrape (Orobanche corymbosa) in a recently flooded field.

Until next time,





As a CLM botany intern, my love for plants has grown exponentially this summer. I’ve gotten to know the best method for beating the seeds off a Purshia tridentata bush, smelled many a sagebrush, and puzzled over whether or not a Penstemon’s anthers dehisced from the center or the sides. However, I can’t deny my roots in the field of wildlife biology, which is what I studied as an undergraduate. As a climber, it seemed natural to be interested in bats- which often roost in the cracks and crevices only accessible to rock climbers. (For any other wildlife-enthusiast climbers out there, you should check out Climbers for Bat Conservation on Facebook, a cool citizen science project!) My undergraduate thesis research dealt with the acoustic side of bat science, but I didn’t participate in any of the field work for the data. So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that I would get to assist in several bat-related projects this summer.

The first project involved setting up stationary acoustic bat detectors with Ross from Idaho Fish & Game- this work was conducted for the North American Bat Monitoring Program, a continent wide protocol aimed at gathering data on the status and trends of bat populations across North America. After securing these detectors during the daylight we waited till nightfall to conduct mobile acoustic surveys. This involves attaching a bat detector on top of the truck and driving at a constant speed for at least 25 km, all while recording the bats flying overhead. This was fun because I got to watch the calls coming in on a spectrogram in real time.

Sunset view before the mobile acoustic transect

Last week, myself and other interns had the opportunity to attend a bat bioblitz- an event where scientists attempt to capture all the biodiversity in an area. We set up triple-high mist nets over the river and patiently waited for bats to fly in. We saw and recorded many bats, but only managed to trap two in the nets. Regardless, it was really cool seeing them up-close and learning how to take measurements. At our station, we captured an adult female silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and a juvenile male Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis).

Adult female silver-haired bat

Juvenile male Yuma myotis

We camped out after the bioblitz and got a quick night of sleep before returning to the office for a day caving in Gypsum lava tube, the second largest lava tube in the continental US! This was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed the pressing silence and impenetrable darkness that each bend in the passage concealed. In the tube, we found pack rats, a jackrabbit carcass, and even a few bat friends hanging out almost two miles into the tube! It was a great experience to put myself in such a different environment.

The entrance to Gypsum lava tube

Jackrabbit carcass

Kind of low quality photo of the inside of the tube- check out the multiple levels!

I’m thankful that this internship has allowed me to gain experience in a variety of areas, especially since bats are creatures I’ve been interested in for a long time. I only have 6 more weeks left here in Idaho, I’m excited to see what’s next.


Shoshone Field Office-BLM

Adventures and more!

August has provided some great opportunities for me both in learning field trips and adventurous times. Starting off the month, a seed collection for Western needle grass (Stipa occidentalis) took place just north of Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou county. Unlike the normal chaparral and pine forest I am used to, northern Mt. Shasta provides a unique sage brush habitat. The plants that dominate this area are sagebrush and juniper, but others strive, like common woolly sunflower, yarrow, and many native bunch grasses. We also strolled upon a snowy thistle patch which painted the landscape with bright fuchsia and a light pastel green.

View of Mt. Shasta from the north side of the mountain.


Standing next to this thistle to capture it’s beauty and height.

My first thought upon seeing this thistle was “great another collection”! However, when the time came to collect it I had found most of the plants were being predated on by some species of lepidopteran. The caterpillar did not seem out of place. It’s color matched the flower head completely and it resided nestled away in the flower munching on the plethora of seeds that were in their process of maturing. After collecting from about 50 plants, I decided to call it quits since many of the seeds were getting eaten and I did not feel like decimating this insects population.

Mystery caterpillar eating all of the seeds I was planning on collecting.

Multiple days were spent collecting seed for the western needle grass. On the first day of collection, I found out that most of the seeds had not filled. In disappointment, I still decided to push on and collect knowing that I would need to collect from a lot more plants than if most the seeds had been filled out. Out in the grueling heat, me and my co-worker decided to take our lunch break in the caves that were on the property of our seed collection. These caves had been created from old lava tubes; they were massive and you can see as the lava cooled it created really neat rock formations. As I approached the caves, I could hear bats yelling from above and got to see a packrat sitting on one of the crevices not too far from the cave opening. It was a great sight to see and a nice break from the harsh sun.

Our lunch break cave spot

Aside from collections, I got to go on a couple pollinator outings. We learned about native bees and went out in the field and caught bees with mist nets. Upon capturing them, we identified them the best we could without a dissecting scope and released them or killed them for the learning collection. This was a great time because it was a nice change of scenery, as I got to see high elevation mountain meadows and many neat plants that I was not used to seeing.

Me standing with a bee gun, which is a device that has a slight suction and used by kids, but is great because it is efficient in capturing insects.

As August is coming to an end, I am interested in what my future will hold. With my new knowledge in plants, I definitely want to take my career working with them and widening my knowledge in restoration work. One more month is all I have left with the Redding BLM and I hope to make the best of it.


— Amanda, SOS Intern at the Redding BLM field office