Just who do we think we are?

We was just David Schmoller when it all started, back in the spring of 1978.

I was finishing up my third year of college and was looking forward to my summer job. This time, instead of working at some smog-choked site in Chicago, I was going to spend the summer working way up in northern Wisconsin. Vilas County, 1500 lakes. Today I might call it Northern Upland Forest, but back then, it was just the Northwoods. I had been hired as a seasonal laborer with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We would build canoe campsites on the Northern Highland State Forest. Pausing a couple of days in Illinois, I bought my first 35mm camera (a sturdy Fujica that would last some 25 years) and Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers. My objective was to identify and photograph as many plants as I could. By the end of the summer, I had catalogued well over 100 species. Twenty-eight years and thousands of species later, I just can't seem to quit.

Here is a photo from that summer. It is of Black Tern Bog State Natural Area, in Arbor Vitae, WI. A cold August morning over a hot bog pond.



A road trip in 1983 introduced me to the beauty of the western plains and northern Rocky Mountains. Along came my camera and field guides, and another catalogue was born. Below is a photo from one of those early trips, probably 1986. It is of the Little Missouri River, in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the north unit.



A friend who worked for the US Soil Conservation Service in Pierre, South Dakota saw my catalogue and asked if I would like a job mapping wetlands for them. Part of the National Wetlands Inventory. That job led to work with Badlands National Park. Then the folks at Buffalo Gap National Grassland in Wall, South Dakota saw my catalogues and I was hired. Buffalo Gap was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational experience.

Notice some of projects that I did with them:

  • Rare plant surveys for Astragalus barrii and Eriogonum visheri, including status reports describing the population, biology, and habitat of the species.

  • Range Analysis on 72,300 acres of grassland

  • Wooded Draw classification

  • Black-footed ferret surveys

  • Rare bird surveys

  • Prairie dog surveys

  • Wrote fact sheet on Bouteloua curtipendula for Northern State University

It was out there that I met my wife, Amy. She was raised on a cattle ranch along the Cheyenne River, north of Wall, SD. Her experiences out there gave her a remarkable ability to orienteer, hike over rugged terrain, spot distant landmarks, and identify flora and fauna of the Great Plains. She was hired by the Forest Service and Park Service a few times, but in the end, she was recruited by Yellowfield Biological Surveys.

Before that happened, we made our way back east and I got on with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. My work there expanded to include ecosystem surveys and technical writing. Here are some of the projects I did with them:

  • Rare plant surveys: Surveys for 72 rare plant species in anticipation of proposed logging, prescribed burning, herbicide application, and construction. Surveyed 2000 acres in 1992, 3500 acres in 1996, 1500 acres in 1997, and 1300 acres in 1998. Rediscovered 39 rare plant locations in 1992, found 14 new rare plant locations in 1996, 20 in 1997, and 11 new locations and six rediscoveries in 1998. The species included Utricularia resupinata, Taxus canadensis, Panax quinquefolius, Platanthera orbiculata, Cypripedium reginae, Platanthera hookeri, Arabis missouriensis, Malaxis brachypoda, Ribes hudsonianum, Medeola virginana, Juglans cinerea, Vaccinium cespitosum, Polystichum braunii, Botrychium mormo, Calypso bulbosa, Polemonium occidentale, Valeriana uliginosa, Amerorchis rotundifolia, Tiarella cordifolia, Carex gynocrates, Carex assiniboinensis, and Juncus stygius.

  • Wrote population viability assessments on plant species of concern in Region 9. The plants were Oxytropis campestris, Oxytropis viscida, Taxus canadensis, Valeriana uliginosa, Betula alleghaniensis, Thuja occidentalis, and Tsuga canadensis.

  • Composed rare plant guidebook and rare plant database for CNNF.

  • Vegetation monitoring to assess impacts of controlled burning

  • Natural Community inventories

  • Noxious weed surveys

  • Vegetation inventories

  • Summary reports

  • Trout stream rehabilitation

In the 1990's I expanded into wetland delineations, or, if you prefer, wetland determinations. I won't provide a list here, because there are dozens of them, but my most significant project was at Yellowstone National Park.

  • Wetland determinations along 14 miles of roadway. Included GPS mapping, Arcview mapping, and summary report.

  • Discovered a new population of the rare plant Carex deweyana and a new noxious weed for the park, Juncus compressus.

It was during the 2001 field season that I began including Amy on my projects. Quickly, she became an invaluable asset.

Here is a sample of what she does:



Wait a second. Here is what she does:



Anyhow, that is enough about us. If you want more information, call me or email me. And we do have more information and imagery from our personal lives at Travels.


- David Schmoller