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BLM New Mexico Las Cruces District Hosts Girls Summer Camp 

Story by Deborah E. Stevens. Photos by Eileen Davis and McKinney Briske.

Adding to the list of accomplishments for the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, the BLM Las Cruces District hosted a week-long day camp from June 20-24 for 12 fourth-grade girls from Sunrise Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The camp focused on field trips and hands-on activities aimed at building the girls’ awareness of their surrounding public lands and natural environment. 

The camp was co-sponsored by the BLM Las Cruces District and Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The BLM’s Fort Stanton Snowy River Cave Conservation Area, the Lincoln National Forest, and White Sands National Monument also participated. 

“Watching the girls engage and enjoy our public lands is so rewarding and inspiring,” said Eileen Davis, BLM Las Cruces District volunteer coordinator. “And for a week in June, the BLM Las Cruces District and other agencies had the privilege of introducing these girls to a variety of science, technology, engineering, math, and conservation activities, specially designed to build their literacy in these fields.” 

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Collaborative conservation pays off for one of Idaho’s rarest plant species

Packard’s milkvetch (Astragalus cusickii var. packardiae) is one of the rarest plants in Idaho. The native plant is only known to grow on an approximately 10-square-mile area in Payette County in southwestern Idaho. Photo by Michael Mancuso

By Leith Edgar

Leith is the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Idaho state office.

Cardiologists advise patients to avoid tobacco use, exercise regularly, and stick to a heart healthy diet to prevent heart attacks. Sticking to the doctor’s directions often prevents costly and painful trips to the Emergency Room.

For some species of native western plants that ER is the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although plants don’t smoke, skip exercise or eat too much fatty food, many species face threats to their wellbeing. In some cases, stewardship determines how at risk they are for extinction – or in human terms, the probability of a fatal heart attack.

Fortunately for such plants in precarious positions, there are proactive conservation actions that can be taken early on – before there’s an acute condition to prevent the botanical equivalent of a myocardial infarction. Such botanical checkups prevent costly trips to the ESA. For Packard’s milkvetch (Astragalus cusickii var. packardiae), one of the most rare plants in Idaho, such a trip was never needed.

Pat Packard first discovered this rare plant in 1980, hence its name. It occurs on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Payette County in southwestern Idaho. The plant wasn’t documented again until years later, when Boise botanist Michael Mancuso relocated it.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) later hired Mancuso to routinely monitor the plants’ health.  In 2010 Mancuso’s routine checkups on the plant indicated the unique plant was showing an acute case of habitat destruction caused by unauthorized off-highway vehicle activity. A local off-highway vehicle park had recently closed, shifting use into the Big Willow area and damaging the unique and limited habitat needed by Packard’s milkvetch.  As a result, the plant was designated a candidate for listing under the ESA.

The Service applied an adaptive management approach to conservation of Packard’s milkvetch. Monitoring helped biologists identify potential issues early on and informed the conservation actions that were developed with partners to help alleviate the threats and protect the rare plant species. Photo by USFWS.

“In the Service’s Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, we apply an adaptive management approach to plant conservation, and monitoring is a critical part of that.  It helps us identify potential issues early on, and it also informs the conservation actions we develop with partners to help alleviate the threats and protect rare plant species,” said Karen Colson, a botanist with the Service.  

Steve Duke, a former senior biologist with the Service, agreed. “By committing more resources for monitoring upfront, we were able to use the resulting information to work with the BLM and private landowners to address the threat, and avoid listing by effectively conserving the plant.”

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Dear British (Wo)Men of Letters,

it’s very nice that you’ve got your fancy monster detection sigils and that you’ve kept the UK safe for decades, but you’re still a bunch of incompetent, arrogant, useless douchebags, and you need to get off your high horse.

If you’ve got the monster situation in your own country so perfectly under control, and if you’ve got the time and resources to monitor the rest of the world, if you knew about the apocalypse(s) the Winchesters were trying to prevent, if you knew about the incredibly powerful and dangerous enemies they were facing, enemies that have killed or hurt countless people… Why the hell did you do nothing to help?

Your total lack of help would make sense if you were handling a supernatural situation of similar magnitude in Europe, like trying to stop the Ragnarök or something. But sitting on your asses and twiddling your thumbs while so many hunters in America gave up their lives trying to defeat enemies that seemed undefeatable, and while many innocent people’s lives were destroyed, doesn’t really make you look very trustworthy or credible.

Also, a little tip: when you finally deign to graciously lend your help to the pathetic, barbaric hunters in America, maybe breaking into their base, threatening one of them with a gun, shooting, kidnapping, demeaning and torturing him isn’t really the best way to break the ice.

Maybe you could instead wait outside the bunker, knock on the door and only enter once invited, ask if everything’s okay and offer your help. Or show up to give some hunter a hand in the middle of a hunt – that way you’d prove your good intentions, and would have the chance to show off those incredibly superior skills and methods of yours that you brag about.

That would be the smart thing to do, anyway.


Everyone with a brain

We must develop higher standards of planetary hygiene and significantly greater scientific resources for monitoring and understanding the world. And we must begin to think and act not merely in terms of our nation and generation (much less the profits of a particular industry) but in terms of the entire vulnerable planet Earth and the generations of children to come.
—  Carl Sagan, ‘Billions & Billions’