August 2006

Surveillance | Land Management | Education | Research | Conservation Management

New on the ESER Website

Third and Fourth  Quarter 2005 Surveillance Quarterly Reports

2004 Annual Site Environmental Report Summary

Ask an ESER Scientist - Ask a Scientist is an easy way to get answers to your biology questions. Browse through the question archives or submit a question of your own!


Desert Species of the Month

An Animal of the High Desert - Loggerhead Shrike

Desert Species of the Month Archive


Environmental Surveillance:
Focus on Lettuce

ESER Program personnel collect lettuce samples every year from the gardens adjacent to the INL. To make this sampling more reliable, ESER added two self-watering lettuce planters at Atomic City and the Experimental Field Station (EFS) on the INL. These locations are relatively remote and have no access to water. These new planters allow for
the placement and collection of lettuce at areas previously unavailable to the public.



Environmental Education
ESER staff members are available for presentations to groups and classrooms in southeastern Idaho.

Presentations are adapted to grade-level and are free of charge.

Presentations available
Schedule a presentation:
Alana Jensen


Contact Us
Contact us:
ESER Program
S. M. Stoller Corp.
1780 First Street
Idaho Falls, ID 83401



Land Management

Sagebrush Demography -   Four college interns, under the direction of ESER scientists, began collecting data this summer for a sagebrush demography study on the INL. Data collected, which includes sagebrush size, growth, density, and distribution within a representative sample of sagebrush stands, will add tremendously to DOE’s ability to make knowledgeable land management and land use decisions. A simple study to establish a working knowledge of the age dynamics of sagebrush stands will yield information useful to land management issues including; fire risk and fuel management, post-fire vegetation recovery, rangeland health, wildlife habitat management, and land-use planning.

For More Information

Long-Term Vegetation Study -  Four college interns have spent three months this summer, under the direction of ESER scientists, collecting data for the Long-Term Vegetation Study (LTV) at INL.    Ecological research at the INL began in 1950 with the establishment of the LTV study.  This is perhaps DOE's oldest ecological data set and one of the most detailed vegetation data sets in the West

Two linear vegetation transects cross the INL from southwest to northeast and from southeast to northwest. Data collected along these linear transects are used to monitor long-term changes in vegetation and the impacts of INL activities on the natural environment.   Although the LTV study was initially established to monitor effects of operations at the INL, and still provides that function, it has become one of the more significant data sets for understanding vegetation dynamics of the sagebrush steppe.

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War on Weeds - The War on Weeds Project is a “learn by doing” project that employs students for an six-week period to map noxious weeds using Global Positioning System (GPS) units and to create weed maps for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.  This is the sixth year ESER has sponsored the program and the fifth year and the Idaho Department of Agriculture has provided grant money.

During the 2006 War on Weeds Project, eight students from Butte County, under the direction of the ESER Program, mapped noxious weeds on the INL and in Butte County. Area mapped during the 2006 season included:

  • 921,000 acres on the INL

  • 29,000 acres on private and public lands in Butte County


Rocky Mountain Adventure Summer Camp

For Kids: During the week of June 12-16, the Museum of Idaho, in cooperation with the ESER Program, held the Annual Rocky Mountain Adventure Science Camp. During this day camp for students from fourth through ninth grade, daily field trips provided participants an opportunity to investigate southeastern Idaho's forest, marsh, stream, lava field, and desert habitats. Hands-on activities provided experience in science investigation and approach. We had fun, made new friends, and gained an appreciation for Idaho's great outdoors.  Forty-nine students attended this year's camp.

For More Information

For Teachers: 
During the weeks of July 17-20 and July 24 - 27, the Museum of Idaho, in cooperation with the ESER Program, held the Annual Rocky Mountain Adventure Workshop for Teachers.  Four two-day sessions provided continuing education credit through Idaho State University.  Forty-one teachers attended at least one of the sessions.

The landscape surrounding Idaho Falls is unsurpassed in all of North America.  Known for its diversity, the city is bordered by sagebrush steppe, mountain, wetland, and stream habitats.  The Rocky Mountain Adventure for Teachers provided an opportunity for educators to visit and study each of these unique natural environments.  The goal of the workshops was promote a passion for these habitats in each of the attendees and to provide them with new educational resources to foster that passion in their students.

For More Information

Nature Probe website - Idaho Nature Probe is a free, web-based, interactive project designed to engage students and citizen scientists in authentic scientific processes. The website, created in partnership between ESER, Wildlife Conservation Society, Idaho NatureMapping and Idaho Fish and Game, connects Idaho students and scientists and provides a resource to Idaho teachers in fulfilling the State science standards.

.                               For More Information

Conservation Management Plan

Biodiversity Inventory and Analysis of the INL Developmental Corridor -  Five summer interns have been working with Wildlife Conservation Society scientists as field technicians this summer on a collaborative Wildlife Conservation Society/ESER project to develop a conservation management plan for the Idaho National Laboratory. The students spent three months at INL conducting point counts for breeding birds, vegetation sampling, reptile trapping, small mammal trapping, bat surveys, and weasel trapping.

The goal of the biodiversity inventory is to identify and map occurrences of native plants, rare plant populations, native animals, and rare animal populations and habitat needs within and adjacent to approximately 123 square miles within the designated INL development corridor. This will provide DOE-Idaho with an account of rare species and ecosystems on the INL in order to make informed resource management and land use decisions.

Preliminary Progress 2006

  • Around 100 pygmy rabbit burrow systems were found in the southeast portion of the INL.
  • Five previously unknown sage grouse leks were located.
  • Eleven burrowing owl breeding pairs were located.
  • Around 120 breeding bird surveys were conducted.
  • Around 300 Reptiles have been sampled.
  • 103 Townsend Big Eared Bats were found wintering in Rattlesnake Cave.
  • Three Bats were found using Rattlesnake Cave as a summer roost.
  • 800-1000 passes of bats were detected with echolocation equipment.
  • Small mammal and weasel trapping and vegetation surveys were conducted at about 50 plots.
  • Field data on substrate and vegetation cover have been collected at a number of locations to facilitate the development of a vegetation classification system and map.

    For More Information