Range life: Month 4

August in Idaho has been a great month. I’ve gotten the chance to travel more around my area and try some new things at work. We wrapped up our habitat assessments. At this point I’d say my field partners and I are pretty good at identifying dead and dry plants. 😉 On some days we had the opportunity of working in mountainous areas which were a treat, visually, but a test, physically.

Habitat assessment transect along a very steep hill

Habitat assessment transect along a steep hill

It took a while to get the protocol down because it has undergone many changes in recent years. I always carried a hard copy in the field with me because we had to refer to it several times when we were unsure of a measurement technique.

We also drove around some allotments for use supervision, which entails making sure the cows are grazing in the right pastures. They have to go through a proper rotation to allow for vegetation regrowth. I’ve learned that this can be a point of contention between the BLM and the ranchers or the public.

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Microphone that picks up the frequencies of bat calls. It’s connected to another device that shows us the frequencies and saves 15 sec clips of sound.

Just recently we’ve had the opportunity to work on a couple of GIS projects here in the office. It feels good to get back into that practice. I was also able to tag along with a Fish & Game employee for a couple of nights of bat monitoring! We went to a few sites, set up recording devices, and then drove along a transect near the Snake River and some agricultural land to record bat echolocation activity. It was interesting to see how different species have unique frequency patterns.

Late July and the month of August has been full of travels and time spent with friends. I’ve made 4 trips to Boise since my last post. I got to see two of my favorite bands play live and I got to hang out with several other CLM interns (shoutout to Megan, Austin, Jessica, Amy, Dan, and Lara!).

This month I also had the chance to camp in the Sawtooth National Forest, north of Stanley along the Salmon River.

Campsite along the Salmon River near Stanley, ID

Campsite along the Salmon River near Stanley, ID

 

 

 

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Craters!

Craters!

I’ve also spent time in Ketchum. Hailey and I re-visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument. I also made it down to Salt Lake City and Jackpot, NV where I won $900+ on a slot machine! (Jackpot, indeed!) I’ll be trying to take in some more Idaho beauty during my last month here. So much time and so little to do! Strike that. Reverse it.

crystal clear water at Redfish Lake

crystal clear water at Redfish Lake

 

 

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Lunch stop

 

Oh yeah, and I went to the Twin Falls County Fair

Carla–BLM, Shoshone, ID

Winter, and a new beginning

I moved to Boise, Idaho two weeks ago. Coming from Miami, the scenery seems barren due to the lack of green. It is also significantly colder, about 30 degrees compared to 70 degrees. Once I bought a winter jacket (there were none in Miami stores), I felt comfortable. Now I’m used to biking in the cold weather, and commuting to work in below freezing weather. I can see why layers are so important.

During the winter I will mostly be working on databasing projects. There is a large collection of lichens, at the BLM herbarium that needs to be reorganized and updated. It’s amazing how many nuances there are to maintaining a herbarium. Some of the details that need to be considered are nomenclature changes, GPS, and making sure all the details on the collection label match the database record. It is time consuming but rewarding to know that I am putting together a collection that future researchers can utilize.

At the moment, I am working on a Florida lichen database, checking all 1,000 records and tying up all the loose ends. My boss collected lichens in Florida for many years, and would like to donate the lichens to Florida institutions. Many universities in Florida do not have large collections of Florida lichens, and this is a way to disseminate knowledge and put the lichens in a place where they will be useful and accessible. For my undergraduate studies, I studied Florida lichens, so the opportunity to continue working with them is exciting. There is so much to study, and the information from this database will be important for ecological research.

I hope to go out in the field next week. There might be sagebrush seeds to collect. If there is precipitation or snow, it might be possible to lay some seeds on a restoration site. I’m very curious to see what this desert looks like. From afar it looks lifeless, but I’m sure many plants are growing, camouflaged into the scenery.