Hunting for Seeds in the Steppe
I’m finally here!
For months, I have daydreamed about getting out of the Southeast and once again exploring the West. Now, at long last, I have packed up my things and driven the 1,500 miles separating the Appalachians from the Rockies.
One thing is for sure: I’m not in Tennessee anymore. The Wyoming Central Basin is just the sort of alien landscape I’ve been longing for – somewhere completely different, where I can take my next steps toward a career in conservation.
After a first week filled with paperwork, training, and navigating a few unexpected developments, I’m finally out in the field, learning about an entirely new ecosystem, the Sagebrush Steppe. My mission: to identify suitable populations of selected species, collect seeds for use in reclamation, and to go where no Tennessean has gone before. The Rawlins field office has had an unusually cool, wet spring this year, presenting me with a unique opportunity to learn more about the early spring flowering species than I would have during a normal year. However, even under these unusual circumstances, many of my target species will be gone before I know it. The hunt for suitable populations is on!
Faced with a wilderness full of species yet unknown, armed with my dichotomous key and trusty hand lens, I feel up to the challenges Wyoming has to offer me, and lucky to have this landscape be the setting of my development as a botanist and a conservationist.