Hi everyone! It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been offered an extension for this position, so look forward to more posts from me! Although I’ve been working on the same task, locating abandoned oil and gas wells within the US Fish and Wildlife Southwest region’s refuges, this is only the start to mitigating abandoned oil and gas wells. It is now essential to collaborate with refuge staff in order to understand whether my predictions on well locations were correct based on the information they will obtain in the field. I’m excited for this next step as it’ll provide necessary feedback for me to refine my process for identifying oil and gas wells on refuge land.
This experience has taught me a lot about what it’s like to work within the government as well as environmentally focused work. During this position, I’ve learned is the importance of collaboration between many staff members in the agency to make projects successful. Although my position allows me to identify potential wells in a many refuges, the tradeoff for this is that I have no experience on the conditions of these sites. As a result, my priority for this year is to communicate with refuge staff to relay my current findings and have better context about the refuge to improve my ability to identify wells. I plan to visit some of these sites first hand as the year goes on to refine my understanding on what features to look for when identifying wells. You would think that identifying oil and gas wells in person or through remote sensing would be easy. However, this is not the case as various terrain features such as moisture and terrain alterations, caused by human or natural processes, can hide well locations, and these same conflicts can make finding wells difficult by foot as well. That’s why it is so important to work together with staff to combine both approaches to correctly identify sites to be remediated.
Aside from work, I’m also looking forward to exploring more of what New Mexico has to offer. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the southwest is so different from where I’ve come from, living in the southeast for most of my life. I’ve already visited a few nature sites in the state, but I’m looking forward to revisiting those places and seeing how different they look at a new time of year and making memories in completely new areas around town and the state!