By Owen Yager
As the summer begins to wind down and the grasses and flowers start to dry out, the lambs are shipping, and my time at Lava Lake Lamb comes to a close (for now), I’ve had some time to reflect on the many hours I’ve spent wandering this special place. As I sift through the many photos I’ve taken out there, it’s occurred to me that I have come to know the land on a variety of levels. Of course, I’ve learned surface-level things, like names, landmarks, a bit of history, and how best to navigate the rough dirt roads that lead into the truly wild reaches of the ranch. Only during my last few weeks, however, have I begun to take on a more nuanced view of the place I’ve been lucky enough to call my office, though not nearly for a long enough period. I think I’ve only scratched the surface by beginning to notice the rhythm of the land’s composition—where I might find a useful game trail to take me to a distant GPS point when I’m far from any road, or which wildflower species are likely to grow in which conditions, or where the elk and moose prefer to make their homes—the sort of familiarity that can only come from spending long periods of time out there, moving through this rough, beautiful country, consciously and subconsciously taking in the subtleties of the environment and developing a limited, but growing understanding of how the components of a landscape come together to inform its surface features. In this way I’ve come to discover more than I thought possible about the diverse and thriving ecosystems that make up Lava Lake’s operating area. Here are a few photos from my field experiences this summer that I think represent many of those discoveries. Hope you enjoy them!
Ben Stout has just completed his first summer as the Lava Lake Science and Conservation Field Assistant – we are grateful for his hard work and wish him all the best as he heads back to Gonzaga for his senior year!