I finally got to posting again after three amazing days at Tinker. I've been touring the base with John and Justin (the other SCA intern), checking out all the projects that the Integrated Environmental Team has going. Most everyone's civilian, and I haven't really interacted with too many Air Force people yet. The environmental team on this base is really impressive. You've got a guy for fisheries, two for wildlife management (mostly taking care of pest species), a GIS expert, a PhD student with three field techs studying Texas Horned Lizards, and John, who oversees the projects and is really into native plantings and restoration. That's just one office, but it covers most of the people involved.
The base has an Urban Greenway, which is a series of natural areas connected by trails. The goal is to have all the reserves connected by native plant species, including prairie, forest, and wetland areas. John's really focused on habitat variability, which is great because a lot of native plantings end up being monocultures. On the first day I got in and met John and Justin at the airport, after which we toured some of the base. On the second day we toured some more and checked out the native tree farm. The farm has sets of two rows of trees planted together and sharing an irrigation line. The trees are staggered, planted in big holes with a rootbag to keep it all together. The rootbag works better than a pot because they keep the roots from wrapping around in the pot.
The other intern, Justin, has an incredible amount of practical knowledge, especially when it comes to game-type wildlife. He's a Bio Major form Michigan and he's memorizing plant names way faster than me (story of my life!). He eventually wants to apply what he's learning here to land that he wants to buy in Michigan. Justin hates snakes, and he saw his first 4-foot wild black ratsnake snake today. He was peein' in the woods and almost peed on it!
We also had a fun experience in the office with another black ratsnake. The Texas Horned Lizard people usually keep the little "Varmints" (as John calls them) in burlap bags. So when I saw a bag that looked really full, I naturally assumed that it was a bag full of Lizards. Ray, the fisheries guy and practical joker, assured me that it was ok for them to all be together in the bag like that. Then he told me to open it, and when I did, I jumped back because it was another black ratsnake! Anyway I got to eat, but I'll catch up with day three soon!