Back at it.

After a long hiatus away from this blog, I’ve decided to return– I’ve missed having a place to share my stories and photos with family and friends who live far away. So as a brief update, here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to since my last post in September 2010. I:

-graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Environmental Science


Graduation (March 2011)

-moved to Corvallis, OR to work for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) doing watershed monitoring (stream mapping and habitat surveys)

-moved back to Bellingham for a winter at home

-and, finally, moved BACK down to Corvallis this May to work for the same BLM program for the 2012 field season.

So, now I write from ‘my room’ in the lovely house I get to stay at every few nights I’m actually in Corvallis– my friend’s family was kind enough to open their home to me last season, and again this season. They say I’m the perfect house guest, seldom around. This is because I’m fortunate to have a fantastic work schedule: eight days on, six days off. I find myself sleeping more nights in my tent than in my house throughout the season. I can’t complain, and I hope this pattern keeps up. I love the adventurous life I’m able to lead right now. Already this summer I’ve gone to Newport (on the Oregon Coast), to the tour Thompson’s Mill (in Shedd, where my grandpa grew up), on an overnight backpacking trip to Wahtum Lake (near Hood River), and just today got back from a long weekend climbing trip to Smith Rock State Park. 

Thomson's Mill (Shedd, OR)

Thomson’s Mill (Shedd, OR)

Tunnel Falls (hike to Whatum Lake)

Tunnel Falls (hike to Whatum Lake)

Belaying at Smith

Belaying at Smith

Climbing at Smith

Climbing at Smith

When I’m not out adventuring around the PNW, the program I work for sends me to watersheds that were chosen from a set of ‘randomly generated’ GPS points on public land throughout northern CA, OR, and WA. We usually survey six sites within a watershed, each site falling on a different reach of stream/creek. Within the reach we survey a variety of habitat characteristics such as: large woody debris distribution, substrate size, amphibian and invasive species presence, as well as collect a macroinvertebrate sample. We also map the channel morphology of the site. The data we collect is used to monitor watershed ‘health’ over time. It’s used to observe the effects of a variety of land uses and management practices. From what I hear it’s a very well respected program, and the data we collect is used by a variety of agencies for various documents influencing land management decisions. I’m so thankful to have found such a great program to work for– this type field work is exactly what I was hoping to do when I graduated from college. I’m looking forward to this seasont, and will hopefully get to spend another season surveying next year (we’ll see where my life leads). 

Training Week

Training Week

Red Legged Frog

Red Legged Frog

After two weeks spent learning (or refreshing on it for the returners) protocol in the office, and one week training in the field, we had our first stint at the beginning of June. My crew of four (one crew leader, two BLM employees, and one intern) was sent to a watershed near Cottage Grove, OR. It was a nice first stint. We had a bit of rain and a bit of sunshine, a high flow site and a bunch of lower flow tributaries–it was an all around beautiful watershed, a good place to spend a week. 

Crew Three

Crew Three

On Wednesday I’ll head out for my second eight day stint. We’re headed down south to a watershed near Hayfork, CA to survey. It should be an excellent, beautiful, hot, and hopefully poison oak-free week!


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2 Responses to Back at it.

  1. Andrew Pennell says:


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