By Shelly Leachman
UC Santa Barbara
Peeking through a grove of svelte, white aspens, dusty hills ascend from sagebrush, giving way to jagged, rocky peaks piercing an impossibly blue sky that extends as far as the eye can see.
“The drama of the landscape here — the wide-open spaces, the mountains larger than life, the natural beauty — you feel yourself in the environment in a different way. You feel yourself as this smaller thing … and that’s what I really love about the Eastern Sierra. All this rugged beauty.”
That’s Carol Blanchette talking about her backyard. Her actual backyard.
“Every day I walk out here and I’m blown away that I have a place like this that is protected, where I see people doing research, and see kids out exploring,” said Blanchette, who assumed the role just this summer upon the retirement of longtime director Dan Dawson, who ran the reserve for 37 years. “This is the dream job.”