03 May 2022

Mexican Spotted Owl Survey Training

Written by: Liam Fressie

Hello my friends! My name is Liam Fressie and I am once again writing you from the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grassland (or ARP for short) located in northern Colorado. I have written several blog posts detailing my experiences while working as a Natural Resources Assistant in the Lands department of the USFS, however this is the first blog I’ve written from my new position as Natural Resource Assistant in the Wildlife program. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you all what I’ve been working on!

  Things have been very busy here in the wildlife department as we gear up to begin our summer field season. Because so much of what we do as wildlife biologists takes place outside and up in the mountains, winter weather can be a major hindrance to field work and surveying. For that reason, a greater emphasis is placed on productivity and efficiency in the spring and summer season as they are our best chances to conduct operations without the potential hazards of winter conditions. With that in mind, the focus of the first quarter of my wildlife internship has been on planning and preparing.

   A large part of this preparation process is training. Its very important to the Forest Service to ensure that their biologists and techs are conducting programs safely and correctly, so pertinent training opportunities are offered quite frequently. With the support of the Hispanic Access Foundation, I was fortunate enough to attend one of these trainings last week in Cañon City, a small town outside of Pueblo in southern Colorado. The focus of the training was to help trainees earn their certification for conducting Mexican Spotted Owl surveys.

  Often times when new projects are submitted to the Forest Service, a form of environmental impact analysis must be conducted to determine what effects the proposed project may have on the habitat and the wildlife that lives there. A large part of the process of these environmental analyses is surveying for specific species to determine how many individuals inhabit an area and where they might be, species such as the Mexican Spotted Owl.

  The training consisted of one day of classroom learning and two evenings of field work training. For the classroom portion, we spent an afternoon discussing the methodology and practice of conducting field surveys. We discussed what tools we would need and how to use them, how to identify Mexican Spotted Owl (MSO) habitats, and even learned how to mimic the MSO’s call! We then spent the next two evenings applying what we had learned in field trips that we took to a nearby canyon. This training was an awesome experience with long lasting benefits. I had the chance to network with other professionals in the field from various government bodies like CDOT and Colorado Parks and Wildlife as well as the opportunity to learn and practice invaluable skills that significantly bolstered my aptitude in the wildlife field.

   The benefits that accompany an internship with the Hispanic Access Foundation are innumerable, but I am especially thankful for the plethora of ways that the HAF supports me and helps to foster my goals. From their openness and receptivity to my desire to transition from Lands to Wildlife, to the nearly $3000 dollars that is allocated specifically for professional training, the Hispanic Access Foundation proves time and time again that they are whole heartedly committed to helping interns such as myself, achieve our professional goals and become the best version of ourselves. If you are a passionate about what you want to do and committed to making the world a better place for everyone, equally, than I strongly encourage you to consider the Hispanic Access Foundation.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Rocky Mountain Regional Office

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