A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 226 - 4/13/06

Philip Moyer - BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Removing brush to prevent wildfire BLM archaeologist Duane Christian examines a mano (hand griding stone) Viriginia Freeman - national award winner

- Spotlight on partners: California Fire Alliance
- More on wildfires
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week: Liar?
      - Weed of the week
      - Environmental education: Desert learning
- Volunteer award: "Making a Difference"
- Headlines and highlights: Grazing, hydroelectric plans, BLM California jobs, more
- Public input
- Off-highway vehicle riding
- Meet your advisory council members: Philip Moyer
- Profile: Duane Christian

Removing brush to prevent wildfireSPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: California Fire Alliance
 Protecting 1,270 “at-risk” communities in the state and millions of Californians from wildfires is a daunting challenge. Federal agencies, including BLM, are meeting that challenge with their state and local counterparts in a unique partnership called the California Fire Alliance.

RELATED: "Spreading the word about the upcoming fire season" (News.bytes Extra)
Bureau of Land Management firefighters in northeast California are preparing for the upcoming fire season by getting out and spreading the word about the importance of fire safety. School children are among their most important audiences. Read more, and see photos of a recent event.

"BLM limits fires" (Palo Verde Valley Times, 4/12/06)
"Hoping to prevent 2006 from becoming a devastating fire season, fire restrictions on 2.5 million acres of public lands along both the Arizona and California sides of the Colorado River have been announced by the Bureau of Land Management."


wildlife trivia question markWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Liar?
How did the lyre snake get its name?
(a) From a corruption of the word "lair" by early settlers -- and its habit of hiding in dens when humans approach
(b) From a distinctive marking on its head
(c) From western explorer Samuel Lyre, the first European to discover the snake after stepping on one
(d) From the shape of its tail
(e) Instead of rattling before striking like a rattlesnake, the lyre snake waits until after it has caught its prey to make a sound. Its tail then produces a harp-like musical accompaniment appropriate to fine dining.
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

Recurved larkspur - special status plant of the weekSPECIAL STATUS PLANT OF THE WEEK: Recurved larkspur... a perennial herb with a stem seven to 34 inches tall. When seen, it is found in poorly drained, fine alkaline soils in grassland on public lands managed by BLM's Hollister and Bakersfield field offices.


"Desert Discovery visited by about 300 students" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 4/6/06)
"About 300 third and fourth grade students jammed into the Desert Discovery Center Tuesday to learn about the desert in an exciting way." They "had a chance to learn about geology, life sciences and animals, desert survival, recycling, to camp in the desert and leave it in the natural form like when they arrived....studies indicate students learn and retain information at a much higher rate when they are presented with interactive learning, where they can see and touch items, as opposed to sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture." BLM is a cooperator in the Center.

"California Desert Nature Festival" (News.bytes Extra)
The California Desert Nature Festival is organized by the Natural Science Collaborative of the Desert Region, a group of environmental educators which work closely with the BLM. The festival celebrated its second year this past weekend, with a variety of activities for 2500 visitors -- from guided desert hikes to shopping for spotting scopes to a presentation on BLM wilderness. BLM staff and volunteers presented a variety of topics related to BLM's multiple-use mission.

"Mojave Max makes Spring debut" (BLM California news release, 4/4/06)
Mojave Max, the famous Southern Nevada desert tortoise who resides at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, officially emerged from his burrow at 11:32 a.m. April 3, 2006. The tortoise's debut is hailed by hundreds of students in Nevada and California who have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures, and conditions to scientifically estimate when Mojave Max would emerge from his burrow in 2006. They entered their guesses online and their entries are being tabulated to determine a winner.


Viriginia Freeman - national award winner"Virginia Freeman - "Making a Difference'"  (News.bytes Extra)
For nearly two decades, Virginia Freeman's passion has been the well-being of America's wild horses and burros. Now, the BLM has recognized Virginia's dedication by naming her as a recipient of a national "Making a Difference" volunteer award. She will be honored with eight other recipients at a May 10 ceremony in Washington, D. C.
Read more, and see photos.

RELATED: "Outstanding volunteers, employees recognized" (BLM national news release)
Six volunteers, two organizations, and one employee of the Bureau of Land Management have been selected as winners of BLM's "Making A Difference" National Volunteer Awards. They will be receiving a prestigious national award for their public service contributions at a May 10, 2006, ceremony at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. Links to profiles of the winners.


"H.R. 3534, Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station ONA Act H.R. 5016, Las Cienegas Enhancement Act" (BLM national website)
Congressional testimony of Tom Lonnie, Assistant Director for Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection of the Bureau of Land Management, to the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. H.R. 3534 would designate the Piedras Blancas Light Station as an Outstanding Natural Area within the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System.

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office website)

"To paint the unpaintable" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 4/9/06)
"Someone once told John Barnard that the Carrizo Plain was unpaintable....But Barnard wasn't deterred....Despite the challenges that the plains present, 20 local painters have made several trips there during each season, capturing the still beauty of the land on canvas. Roughly 100 of their paintings, representing a variety of styles and scenes, will be displayed at the Santa Margarita Ranch on Saturday.....The current project will raise money for the Friends of the Carrizo Plain."

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM California website)
The Carrizo Plain, 100 airline miles from Los Angeles, is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by steep mountains. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, is an area culturally important to Native Americans, and is traversed by the San Andreas fault. The monument is managed by BLM.

"Lake Perris Adoption and Education Fair to highlight wild horses and burros" (BLM California news release, 4/11/06)
America's wild horses and burros will be the main attraction at the BLM's wild horse and burro adoption and educational fair at the Lake Perris Fairgrounds April 21-22. BLM will offer an outstanding selection of 80 wild Mustang yearlings, geldings, and mares and 20 wild burros to qualified adopters through its Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program. The animals usually arrive at the facility around noon Friday, and the public is welcome to view the animals.

"Celebrate Earth Day 2006" (BLM national website)
BLM is sponsoring more than 20 events across the United States to mark the event. BLM California is participating in six of the events, on April 21 or 22.

"More charges in fire at corral" (Sacramento Bee, 4/7/06)
"Four defendants in an eco-terrorism case were charged Thursday with arson, conspiracy to commit arson and use of a destructive device in the 2001 firebombing of a Bureau of Land Management wild horse corral near Susanville."

"BLM oil and gas lease sale results" (BLM California news release, 4/6/06)
The oil and gas lease sale held March 15 in Bakersfield generated $226,000. The lease sale offered 34 parcels in Fresno and San Benito counties. The 26 parcels that sold totaled more than 48,000 acres. Bids at the competitive oral auction ranged from $2.00 per acre to $15.00 per acre. BLM is currently planning the next lease sales tentatively scheduled for June 14, 2006 and September 13, 2006. The June sale is to be held at BLM's California state office in Sacramento.

"Lizard eyed for shielding" (San Bernardino County Sun, 4/11/06)
"A lizard that can run on sand and swim beneath it should be protected in an area popular with off-highway vehicle riders, according a petition filed Monday by an environmental group." The Mojave fringe-toed lizard "has no formal protection but is identified as 'sensitive' by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which operates the Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area."

RELATED: "Group seeks protection for lizard" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/10/06)
"An environmental group on Monday filed a petition with the federal government seeking endangered or threatened status for a desert-dwelling lizard, saying off-roading in wind-sculpted dunes of remote San Bernardino County is leading to the reptile's demise....Off-roaders were concerned that another protected species in the desert could lead to riding limits at Dumont Dunes, much like a threatened plant has done at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area near the Mexican border."
(Free registration required.)

"Hearing scheduled on hydroelectric plant" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/5/06)
"Federal regulators will come to Lake Elsinore Wednesday to take public comment on a project that envisions a hydroelectric power plant and 30-mile transmission line in the hills southwest of the lake....The project would occupy 2,412 acres of federal lands, including acreage managed by the U.S. Agriculture Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the Cleveland National Forest, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Defense Department (Camp Pendleton)."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include administrative officer, natural resource specialist (interpretation), and several firefighting jobs.


"Environmental assessments to renew grazing permits available for public review" (BLM California news release, 4/6/06)
Seven environmental assessments analyzing the proposed renewal of thirty-two cattle and sheep grazing permits within southern California have been released by the Bureau of Land Management for public review and comment. This action affects livestock grazing on eighteen allotments within the Ridgecrest Field Office and eight within the Barstow Field Office.

"BLM needs public input on South Spit plan" (BLM California news release, 4/11/06)
Public comments on management needs at the South Spit of Humboldt Bay will be accepted by the BLM and partner agencies, as development of a long-term management plan begins. Comments will be taken during a month-long public "scoping" period that closes May 19.

"BLM issues final solicitation for District Advisory Council nominations" (BLM California news release, 4/5/06)
The BLM is continuing to seek nominations for qualified people to serve on BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council for the 2007-2009 3-year term. Applications must be received by Wednesday, May 31, 2006. Five positions are to be filled.

"BLM resource advisory council to meet in Susanville" (BLM California news release, 4/4/06)
Members of the Bureau of Land Management's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council will focus their attention on provisions of draft land use plans, when they meet Thursday and Friday, April 20 and 21, at the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office.

"Notice of realty action; Non-competitive land use authorization for public lands in Yuba County, CA" (Federal Register Notice, 4/13/06)
The Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee has submitted a written proposal to the Bureau of Land Management to utilize portions of lands in Yuba County for the purposes of constructing and operating a training facility for heavy equipment operators. Interested parties may submit comments in writing to BLM not later than May 15, 2006.

"AV man named to advise BLM" (Antelope Valley Press, 4/7/06)
"Leona Valley resident and desert access advocate Randy Banis has been selected to be on a team that will advise the Bureau of Land Management on the development of facilities and services for visitors to the Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle area who come without motorcycles, quads or dune buggies."

RELATED: Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office website)


"Board rejects bid to close off-road site" (Redding Record Searchlight, 4/11/06)
"Shasta County supervisors Tuesday sided with sportsmen and gun enthusiasts in rejecting a federal agency’s request to close a dirt section of the county-maintained Walker Mine Road to motorists. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed gating off that section so it could create a system of hiking and equestrian trails and prevent rampant illegal dumping in the area.",2232,REDD_17533_4614908,00.html

RELATED: "End of the road" (Redding Record Searchlight, 4/10/06)
Redding-area resident "is tired of seeing pickups full of trash go by her house on Walker Mine Road and then come back empty. The trucks are going past the end of the windy road's pavement, onto a secluded dirt road and dumping their loads onto Bureau of Land Management land." Like her, "the BLM is tired of the dumping, so it wants to close the road to motor vehicles and put in a trailhead where the pavement ends. To do so, the BLM is asking Shasta County to abandon the first mile of dirt road, which is considered a county road.",2232,REDD_17533_4609853,00.html

RELATED: "Board action can help end off-road, other problems" (Redding Record Searchlight, 4/11/06)
Editorial: "It may seem straight out of 'Alice in Wonderland,' but it's true: Shasta County supervisors can make a corner of the county more accessible by blocking it off. We hope they take that step at their meeting today....The board will be asked to abandon about a milelong stretch of Walker Mine Road where it turns from pavement to dirt....While the first unpaved mile belongs to the county, another 2-1/2 miles is Bureau of Land Management public property, snaking through brush and backcountry toward the Sacramento River.",2232,REDD_18098_4612453,00.html

"County cracks down on illegal off-roaders" (Victorville Daily Press, 4/12/06)
"Off-roaders who kick up dust and zip through private property in San Bernardino County could face hefty fines — and jail time for repeat offenses — under a tough new law passed Tuesday." The ordinance applies to unincorporated areas. A county enforcement officer "said there are 300,000 acres of legal riding land operated by the Bureau of Land Management in San Bernardino County, in addition to U.S. Forest Service lands and private parks."

RELATED: "Off-highway vehicle riding" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office website)
Links to five OHV areas managed by BLM, in the San Bernardino County area, plus upcoming off-road events in those areas.

BLM would be involved in rights-of-way permits across public lands for San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink electric transmission line. The plan has sparked controversy:

"SDG&E to submit revised power line proposal" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/6/06)
"San Diego Gas & Electric is turning away from a controversial approach it had taken in its bid for regulatory approval of the Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile electric transmission line it proposes to build across Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the region's backcountry....SDG&E had said it would be more efficient to first win PUC approval solely on the need for the new line. Later in the process, the utility said, it would seek approval for a precise route."

"Coalition supports SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink transmission line" (North County Times, 4/5/06)
"A newly formed coalition of California business and labor groups is backing San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink electric transmission line, it was announced Wednesday."

"Activist trekking across desert on proposed power line's path" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/13/06)
"The environmental activist today enters the third day of a planned 78-mile hike across desert lands that are part of the route San Diego Gas & Electric says it prefers for the Sunrise Powerlink, a proposed $1.4 billion electric transmission line. 'The Powerlink is an awful proposal that will harm our public lands so we're going into the field to experience and document the desert in its current state,'" he said.

"10News Editorial: Rancho Penasquitos Power Line" (, 4/4/06)
Editorial: "The easement was always there for SDG&E's use. Accept that reality and don't block a reliable flow of electricity to Southern California."

Philip Moyer - BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory CouncilMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Philip Moyer... an artist and landscape designer who represents the public-at-large on BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council. Read more.

BLM archaeologist Duane Christian examines a mano (hand griding stone)EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Duane Christian... an archaeologist with BLM's Bakersfield Field Office. He grew up Back East, and says his interest in the field began at an early age, after being exposed to the voluminous amount of history that Virginia offers. Read more in this week's News.bytes Employee Profile.

Ant and grasshopper - fire Funny.bytesFunny.bytes graphicRepeat - FUNNY.BYTES: The ant and the grasshopper...
Due to technical difficulties, the link to this feature was unavailable for part of last week. We are repeating it this week for your enjoyment.
Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: this link will work in browsers that have the Macromedia/Adobe "Flash" plug-in -- which should be most browsers.
Warning -- soundtrack: you may want to adjust the volume on your computer.

close-up of a Lyre snake's head with its distinctive markingsWILDLIFE TRIVIA answer
(b) From a distinctive marking on its head -- " which resembles the harp-like musical instrument of ancient Greece," says the Tonto National Monument website. The Lyre snake does rattle: "When disturbed, lyre snakes are one of several species which imitate rattlesnakes, flattening their head and 'rattling' their tail against dry plants." They do have a mild venom, but "there is no evidence that their bite is harmful to humans."
source: "Lyre snake" (National Park Service, Tonto National Monument website)

RELATED: "Lyre Snake - California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System" (California Department of Fish and Game website)
Information on habitat, life history, distribution.

RELATED: "California Lyre Snake" (USGS Western Ecological Research Center website)
Two photos: a full-body shot and a close-up of the head with lyre-shaped marking.

What's happening this weekend on your public lands

Saturday, April 15:

Piedras Blancas Light Station public tours

Cache Creek wildflower hike

Birding and wildflower tour at Pine Hill Preserve

Butterfly hike

For other upcoming BLM California events, see our online calendar:

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