I am amazed that we are already well into November, which means I am two months (plus a little) into my year-long internship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is going by so fast!
On the whole, it has been an easy transition (read: I don’t have too many of those “what was I thinking?” moments). I find it surprising (in a good way) that I can move across the country and resume my usual habits – running, internet-ing, shopping at Trader Joe’s – without much difficulty. Of course, the actual mechanics of moving were onerous, but those are behind me now. Since moving and settling, the most substantial change to my daily routine has been the brand of bread I buy (no Arnold’s or Pepperidge Farm here). Reflecting on this makes me realize how ingrained my own habits are, and I am good with that. I like my system, and I like that it is transposable.
The bigger changes are outside of how I manage my life, they are: my social connections and my work.
I expected to miss my friends on the east coast, and I do, but thankfully our small group of interns has banned together. We carved pumpkins for Halloween and the next week, drove to Chico to celebrate the holiday at a house party. It was the most fun I have had on Halloween in a long time.
From a broader perspective, the context for social opportunities is dramatically different in Redding than where I was living before. Greenville, South Carolina is a vibrant little city with events and shows taking place every weekend. Meanwhile Redding seems to have far fewer young professionals and therefore less for them to do, but even as I write this, I am thinking of two breweries I have visited and enjoyed. I think finding things to do and people to do them with just requires a little more elbow grease in Redding, and I am up for that challenge!
One thing Redding and the greater northern California region has over the east coast are oak savannas. My heart is completely smitten with them. They create these magnificent landscapes that seem impossible to capture properly (or maybe that’s just my phone’s camera). Anyhow, here are a few pictures of my new love.
I have also been treated to a bounty of beautiful sunrises.
As four of the previous five pictures were taken while on the job, I think it is easy to appreciate how different my daily work is. On some days, our single sentence mission statement could be appropriately stated as: “Go out and look for stuff” and implied would be: “Document if you find anything cool.” Another translation of this is: “Go hike around: if you see stuff, great; if not, at least have fun.” You don’t have to tell me twice.
Less picture-worthy, but equally exciting (to me) is the time I have been spending in the office learning about how land management actions are decided. All federal agencies must conform to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which outlines procedural requirements for preparing environmental assessments (EAs) and environmental impact statements (EISs) for proposed actions. Another way of putting it would be to say that NEPA creates a process to ensure decision makers consider environmental effects of a proposed action and alternatives that would achieve the same goal.
On a finer scale, I have also been studying the Redding Field Office Resource Management Plan (RMP), which outlines the goals and guidelines for managing the 250,000 acres we oversee. The RMP underwent the NEPA process and was approved in 1993 and is still a guiding force today, though the office will begin the process of creating a new RMP soon. It’s exciting (to nerdy me) to understand how the NEPA process and RMP can be used to create tangible outcomes and to imagine using them to put together a project of my own one day.
That’s the scoop from northern California. I hope the learning opportunities continue coming at the pace they have been so that I can make the most of the next ten months because I am sure they will be over before I know it!
PS Here’s something I never thought I would see again: gas for $2.99! I even documented the last time I thought I would see such a sight (the picture on the left is of a QT station in Greenville, South Carolina from August 2014).