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Continental N Sampling: New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada

As a small addendum to the Spring Break sampling that Emily and I completed a couple months ago, I also made plans this weekend to sample in the desert southwest, namely New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. This trip had a number of purposes: 1) sample trees for Continental N, 2) drive Anthony and the rest of his stuff out to LA for fieldwork and then flying to Hawaii, and 3) visit the Barley clan in Las Vegas.

Our first site was near the Sevilleta LTER south of Albuquerque. I say ‘near the Sevilleta’ because I was told that getting permits from the Sev is very difficult, so we technically sampled on BLM land near the Cerro Montosa site of the Sevilleta. The trees weren’t very big around, and the chronologies don’t look very long, but if the rings are narrow, we might get some good temporal length out of them. In Albuquerque, we also picked up Anthony’s friend Levi, who is a grad student at UNM. After we leave Nevada, Anthony and Levi will head to the Mojave for some herping fieldwork.

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Our second site was in Kaibab National Forest, just west of Flagstaff, AZ. Anthony and Levi helped me core a ton of nice big ponderosa pines. We also found an alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), whose distinctive bark lead to their common name. Unlike the New Mexico site, Kaibab produced nice long chronologies.

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Our third site was Red Rock National Conservation Area just west of Las Vegas. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sample here on this trip because the permitting became a bit of a snafu. I started the contacting process for this site at the same time as the other two sites, but was bounced around between contacts at the forest service and the BLM. It was unclear who manages the land on which I planned to sample, and once I found the correct contact (which turned out to be Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest), there was only a week or so left before sampling. Generally, the permitting process takes about a month to get all the signatures and approvals required. At Humbolt-Toiyabe, one of the largest national forests in the country, it can take 6 months to a year. Fortunately, the permit manager at H-T was incredibly understanding and managed to fast-track our permit. I officially got approval on Thursday 😛 This site was also the best of the trip – HUGE pines with nice long chronologies. Eye-balling and guesstimating years looks like these are definitely several hundred years old. They might be the longest chronologies we have yet in the project.

Anthony’s brother, Mike, also came with us to help out. We had a Barley family barbecue the night before, and I did a little tree-coring demonstration on my father in law’s backyard trees. Mike apparently enjoyed it enough to join us for real tree-coring!

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Now that the coring is done, we’ll spend the rest of the weekend hanging out with the Barley clan, doing a little gambling on the strip, a little sunbathing by the pool, and a little relaxing before Anthony and Levi head to the Mojave to look for gila monsters and I head back to Manhattan!