Cactus & Wind Cactus & Wind
23 July 2024

Cactus & Wind

I would like to take the time to detour from my daily work review and talk about the wonderful opportunity I was given. I joined an Ecological Services worker on her way to Vernal, UT to help with monitoring the Uinta basin hookless cactus. Alongside my standard work, I’ve been seeking out fieldwork opportunities. Community Engagement isn’t necessarily the end goal for me, so I am trying different things to see what I would like to do. Fieldwork has had a special place in my heart for a while now. When I was in college, a good chunk of my biology courses involved some form of fieldwork and I truly enjoyed doing them! Now, the goal is to add that on a professional level so I can have more experience when job searching.

This adventure lasted from April 30th to May 3rd. We had joined another group who were also working on this cactus project. (The project was called the Energy Gateway South Transmission Line.) We were monitoring the survivorship of the cacti that were moved out of the path of the transmission line disturbance area. We also monitored control sites so that survivorship can be compared with wild populations. This type of monitoring will be conducted for 10 years post-transplant. This whole project was coordinated with the Bureau of Land Management, project proponent, and consulting companies to develop transplanting protocols and monitoring strategies. This project was in the process weeks before we arrived on the tail end. I won’t get into all the things they had me do, but the work wasn’t very hard, just tedious although some hikes were brutal. I learned much about the cactus and the other desert plants that grew near them. 

The insane part of this work was the wind! We had over 40 mph gusts on some days and I was almost knocked over a few times while squatting! The wind made it very annoying to write information down but it did help us from getting overheated. Interestingly enough I did experience some early signs of dehydration without even noticing because the wind was making me freeze. I am from the south east so I am used to very humid conditions so being in a desert with dry conditions was/is new to me. It did not occur to me that even if I was cold I was still losing water and being higher up in elevation did not help either. I’ve always wanted to experience dry heat, so living here is giving me the desired experience. What I have learned so far is to drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty or cold (and not to wear rings at high altitudes). Those were long but rewarding days and I honestly can’t wait until I can do more types of field work!

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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