Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A green summer at TNC's Ball Creek Preserve

Fresh from this summer - great shots of TNC's Ball Creek Preserve in Bonners Ferry from Kennon McClintock, TNC North Idaho Field Representative.

Plan your visit, click here

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beer and conservation: A visit to Barley Days

In 2009 The Nature Conservancy in Idaho and MillerCoors began a partnership for water conservation and habitat improvement projects at Silver Creek. A focus of this work is to put sustainable practices into action at barley farms around Idaho. Silver Creek Preserve Manager Dayna Gross recently attended Barley Days, an event to thank local farmers for their work. Here's Dayna talking about her recent trip to Barley Days:
Barley at the experimental farm.
Photo courtesy of Dayna Gross.

Rich Rosengren (TNC, Corporate Sponsorships) and I arrived at the hotel to find a bus waiting for us.  The bus was packed, and based on the recycling bag, had been waiting for awhile.  Once on the bus, we were immediately handed tall, cold Coors Lights before heading off to the Snug in Eden, Idaho for dinner. By 9:15 p.m., I was exhausted and lucky to find a ride back to the hotel (the bus returned a few hours later). No, this was not college revisited—this was MillerCoors’s Barley Days in Burley, Idaho!! 
The next morning we were set to present The Nature Conservancy’s work in Idaho to the executive team- including Pete Coors. Since 2009, we have been working with MillerCoors on a variety of water conservation and habitat enhancement projects in the Silver Creek watershed.  
First, we embarked on a watershed planning project that included developing an ecological model of Silver Creek and the surrounding area. This model will allow us to plug in management actions and see the results.  
Pete Coors listening to a presentation at
Barley Days. Photo courtesy of Dayna Gross.
During the planning process, we prioritized areas in need of enhancement or protection with a focus on working with barley farmers to help us protect Silver Creek while ensuring their farms are sustainable, healthy, and productive in the long term. Following the planning and pilot programs, we developed a list of best management practices for barley farmers and implemented as many of them as we could on one farm, the "Showcase Barley Farm."
This is a model for other farmers in Idaho and how they can conserve water, resources, and energy while protecting and enhancing important habitat. A summary of this project, including resources and contacts for farmers, will soon be available. 
Barley Days is a time to thank the local barley farmers for all their hard work and to celebrate their product. Several people commented that it was the first time they had seen The Nature Conservancy people at Barley Days. And finally, after three years, I got a Coors hat. Thanks to MillerCoors and all those making sustainable farming a reality.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inspired by Charlie's Story: Intern sets his sights on Silver Creek

Every summer The Nature Conservancy hosts interns from around the country to help us run Silver Creek and Flat Ranch Preserves. Like Veronika Horton, Ham Wallace is also interning at Silver Creek.  In this Q&A he shares his experience:

Ham night fishing. Photo courtesy Ham Wallace.
What school did you attend, when did you graduate and what was your major? 
I am entering my sophomore year at Colorado College, and am planning to major in Biology.

Where are you from?
Nashville, Tennessee

How did you become an intern for TNC/Silver Creek?
Colorado College sponsors an intern to work for Silver Creek Preserve each summer in honor of Charlie Blumenstein, a 1996 alum who passed away in May 2003. Charlie spent much time on Silver Creek and had a truly special connection with the place. I stopped and read the description for the internship after class one day. After doing a little more research on the internship and Silver Creek, I decided to apply.

Photo courtesy of Ham Wallace.
Why did you decide to become an intern for TNC/Silver Creek?
After reading about Charlie and the story behind the internship, I knew it would not feel right if I did not apply. Thankfully, I was accepted and given this incredible opportunity, and it has far exceeded all expectations. On a further note, I love the outdoors, and have been interested in conservation for a long time.

What was your first impression of Picabo/Silver Creek when you arrived?
I was excited to be living in such a beautiful place.

What is a typical day like for an intern at Silver Creek?
Specific tasks vary greatly from day to day, and almost all of them involve being outdoors, apart from working in the visitor center and in the office. As of late, the extreme heat and lack of rain has meant taking special care of recent plantings around the property.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about interning at Silver Creek?
Well, I love working here, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be for the summer. My favorite part about interning has been the amount I have learned. I also have great coworkers.

What kinds of animals have you seen?
All kinds on the preserve–Moose, Deer, Beaver, Muskrat, Snakes, and more birds than I can handle. Off the preserve I have seen Coyote, Elk, Marten, Antelope, Pika...

Do you fish?

How long have you been an intern?
I started on May 25, 2012.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Expect the unexpected on Flat Ranch

Howdy from the Flat Ranch Preserve! But wait…is it already July?
Help keep the invasive mussels from
spreading, use the new wader wash at Flat
Ranch Preserve. Photo by TNC staff.

The weeks seem to be flying by here. There hasn’t been a dull moment since the summer kicked into full gear. We haven’t been lonely either, as more and more wildlife seem to venture out of the woods and onto the Preserve. Herds of elk saunter through the pastures almost daily, and several bald eagles are regularly seen perching stoically on fence posts – almost as if a tribute to the Fourth of July. We’ll soon see a lot more of whatever the willows hide with our newly installed wildlife camera, which is a motion activated camera that we have perched near an active game trail on the far reaches of the Preserve. From my time here, I’ve quickly learned that its safe to expect the unexpected, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted with our finds from the camera!
In fishing news, we’re experiencing warmer waters due to the soaring outside temperatures, thus the fish have been a little sluggish. However, don’t let this discourage you. The valiant few that have recently trekked down to the stream have still been rewarded with fish well inside the 18- to 24-inch range. I recommend a small brown PMD to stir them from their slumber. Even if you’re not in the mood to cast a line, come by anyways to make a quick scrub stop and prevent the spread of invasive species with our recently installed wader wash station in the parking lot. Thanks to generous contributions from Idaho Fish and Wildlife Biologist Jessica Buelow, we’ve built our own station to wash off your waders so we can keep catching massive trout rather than zebra mussels here in the Henry’s Fork watershed. More news to come, so come on by until that time!

Friday, July 06, 2012

From The City to Silver Creek

Every summer The Nature Conservancy hosts interns from around the country to help us run Silver Creek and Flat Ranch Preserves. Veronika Horton, a recent college graduate from Atlanta, Ga., is our newest edition. In this Q&A she shares a bit about herself and tells us what it's like to work at Silver Creek:

Veronika doing some water monitoring. Photo by TNC staff.

What school did you attend, when did you graduate and what was your major?

A: I attended Morris College in Sumter, SC. I graduated May 5, 2012 with a BS in Biology.

Where are you from?

A: I am from Atlanta, Georgia.

How did you become an intern for TNC/Silver Creek?

A: I applied for the internship while I was in school and received an email from Shawneece Hennighan to schedule an interview with Dayna Gross. The interview went well.  A few months later here I am.

Why did you decide to become an intern for TNC/Silver Creek?
A: I decided to come to see what I could do with my degree besides research.  My school was mainly focused on research and tried to encourage all of the students who majored in biology to do research and my attention span is too short for a career in research for longer than a few years if that long.

What was your first impression of Picabo/Silver Creek when you arrived?
A: The first thing I thought when I arrived in Picabo was Where am I and what have I gotten myself into? When I came the weather was bad, it snowed, and it was extremely dark. Everything was closed which was definitely new for me. My first impression of Silver Creek was that it was a beautiful place.

Planting aspen trees. Photo by TNC staff.

What is a typical day like for an intern at Silver Creek?
A: A typical day depends on what needs to be done. When we come in we have a list on the things that we need to do and throughout the day we complete them.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about interning at Silver Creek?
Preparing to spray for weeds.
Photo by TNC staff.
A: My favorite thing to do is probably watering because to me it seems like time flies when I’m watering.  My least favorite thing to do is cleaning the outhouses; I’ve only done it once but once was enough for me.

What kinds of animals have you seen?
A: I have seen cats, dogs, chickens, sheep, cows, horses, deer, antelope, elk, ducks, fish, a variety of birds, seagulls, a badger, field mice, and an owl. 

Do you fish?
A: No, but I fished for the first time yesterday (June 30). I caught four fish.

How long have you been an intern?
A: I have been an intern for a little less than a month.