I look back at this time and wonder where it went because it seems like I just arrived to the San Juan National Forest, and yet I realize I have been here a little over four months. My time has been spread out among many activities and I have enjoyed every second of it.
Working with the Forest Service has exposed me to a variety of things I have never been exposed to. One of these being electroshock fishing! The Rocky Mountain Research Station, my boss Ben, and I went up to the South Mineral area in Silverton, Colorado to check water quality. One way to check water quality is through the presence or absence of fish. With a little bit of patience and a touch of electricity, we were able to shock a decent amount of Brook Trout in both the streams and the ponds; although this was the only type of fish we found. Their presence was great news for the overall quality of the water present. Silverton is an area with high heavy metal content, making water quality a constant concern.
Field work extends to desk work and eventually leads to presenting this work at conferences. This last week I attended the Silverton Mining and Reclamation Conference. During the conference people from across the region, nation, and world came together to discuss their work regarding abandoned mines and various elements surrounding them. With over 20 speakers, it was a conference full of innovative ideas on how to best tackle the issues facing these mines. I was able to meet a Chilean man named Santiago who actively worked in the active and abandoned mines in Chile. He expressed how difficult it was because of the lack of government help to tackle these mines and often communities are exposed to the heavy metals in the tilling piles left behind from them.
The best part of this work is it is nowhere close to my job description and that is what I have enjoyed most about my time with the forest. Although I am able to do partnership and volunteer work, I am also able to get into the field and actively contribute to the science happening on our forest. It never gets boring on the San Juan National Forest. Until next time.