News.bytes
A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 253 - 10/18/06

Hikers in the King Range look over the Pacific Ocean Onychomys leucogaster - gray (left) and cinnamon (right) variations. Credit: painting by Ron Klinger from Kays and Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002) A runner in the third annual Bizz Johnson Marathon passes one of the trail's most popular photo points, Bridge no. 1 at he Hobo Camp area on the western outskirts of Susanville. Tracy Albrecht backpacking burro

THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- North Coast Wilderness Bill includes BLM lands
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Correction to last week's Wildlife Trivia
      - Weed of the week
- Outdoor recreation, public lands
- Wild horses and burros
- Public land disputes
- Headlines and highlights: Navy training, environmental award, Carrizo Plain, plans, wildfire, more
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Go out and play

 

NORTH COAST WILDERNESS BILL

Hikers in the King Range look over the Pacific Ocean"North Coast acreage protected" (Los Angeles Times, 10/18/06)
"President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation granting wilderness protection to 275,000 acres of federal land in Northern California, including a spectacular stretch of coastline in Humboldt County....The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act spans five counties and includes both national forest and U.S. Bureau of Land Management holdings....A centerpiece of the new wilderness is 26 miles of mountain-backed beachfront that is the longest stretch of undeveloped coast in the United States outside of Alaska. Known as the Lost Coast, it is a place of rocky headlands, pounding surf and hillsides cloaked in chaparral and golden grass."
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-wilderness18oct18,1,762479.story?coll=la-headlines-california

"Jewels of California wilderness get strong federal protection" (San Jose Mercury News, 10/18/06)
"The remote 'Lost Coast' of Humboldt County, a salmon-rich river in Mendocino County and a rare cedar forest in Napa County will receive new protections under a law signed by President Bush on Tuesday, the largest federal wilderness protection measure in California in 12 years....The lands affected are owned by the federal government and are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management." Includes locator map of the wilderness areas.
(Free registration required to view story.)
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/15786345.htm

"Forever wild" (Eureka Times Standard, 10/18/06)
"Some of the wildest public lands in Northern California will remain untamed for generations to come, as a long-molded bill was signed into law Tuesday. The Northern California Coast Wild Heritage Act protects 275,000 acres as wilderness, 12 miles of river as wild and scenic and 51,000 acres as a recreation area for off-highway vehicles."
http://times-standard.com/local/ci_4509717

"President moves to protect wilderness" (Woodland Daily Democrat, 10/18/06)
"One of the areas included in the bill is the 27,000-acre Cache Creek Wilderness destined to become the 'crown jewel' of the Bureau of Land Management wilderness system....In addition, it designates a Recreation Management Area in Mendocino and Lake counties for off-highway vehicles and mountain bikes."
http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_4511088

"King Range National Conservation Area/Lost Coast" (BLM California website)
Here the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 and U.S. 101 inland. The remote region is known as California's Lost Coast, and is only accessed by a few back roads.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/arcata/kingrange/index.html

"Cache Creek Natural Area" (BLM California, Ukiah Field Office website)
Showcasing the area is about 35 miles of the main fork of Cache Creek and 2.5 miles of the north fork. Along the creek, wetland grasses, rushes and sedges grow under a canopy of cottonwoods, willows, oaks and alders providing excellent wildlife habitat. About half the Cache Creek area is shrubland, with vegetation including mixed chaparral, serpentine chaparral and chemise chaparral. The remainder of the area is about equally divided between native oaks and grassland. Numerous bird species have been spotted here.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/ukiah/cachecreek.html

"Cow Mountain" (BLM California, Ukiah Field Office website)
Named for the longhorn cattle that once roamed wild, the 52,000-acre Cow Mountain Recreation Area offers a variety of recreational opportunities. The terrain is rugged, consisting mostly of steep, chaparral-covered slopes with scattered stands of fir, pine and oak. South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area emphasizes off-highway vehicle use. Over 120 miles of vehicle trails interweave 23,000 acres, and offer challenges to motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, and four-wheel drive enthusiasts alike.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/ukiah/cowmtn.html



NOT FOR EDUCATORS ONLY:

Onychomys leucogaster - gray (left) and cinnamon (right) variations. Credit: painting by Ron Klinger from Kays and Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)

WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
What is special about the burrows of Northern Grasshopper Mice?
a. they are short and simple
b. they are elaborate
c. they are lined with the fur of other animals
d. they are burrowed through solid rock, with exceptionally sharp teeth
e. they are well-lit with natural light from makeshift "skylights"
f. the burrows do not exist - unlike Northern Ant Mice which are very industrious, Northern Grasshopper Mice lie around all day, then pay the price when winter comes and they have no shelter.
Thumbnail from a painting by Ron Klinger from Kays and Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


Common kingsnake - from a photo © 2003 William Flaxington - CalPhotos database Thumbnail photo of Common Kingsnake from a photo © 2003 William Flaxington - CalPhotos database

OUR READERS WRITE: Trivia error not trivial
Thanks to several alert readers, who emailed us about an error in last week's Wildlife Trivia photo :
"Hi, the picture you labeled the common kingsnake sure looks more like the mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata."
Another added:
"The Mountain Kingsnake is characterized by a tricolor ringed pattern whereas the Common Kingsnake has a bicolor (yellowish and brownish) ringed pattern. There also are variations on the ringed pattern in the latter species, including one characterized not by rings but by three longitudinal yellowish stripes on a dark background."

You can now find the correct photo of a Common Kingsnake in our BLM California wildlife database, at:
http://www.blm.gov/ca/forms/wildlife/details.php?metode=serial_number&search=2527

- Thanks to S.S., Professors G.S. of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and W.S. of Santa Monica College, and BLM California's G. M. and J.G. for pointing out the error so it could be corrected quickly.

The following webpage includes dozens of photos of various types of kingsnakes - including links to photos of an Eastern kingsnake constricting another for a meal (the photos are copyrighted). Note: the page takes a while to load:
http://pick4.pick.uga.edu/mp/20q?search=Lampropeltis+getula&guide=Snakes


Russian thistle prospers along a high desert highwayWEED OF THE WEEK: Russian thistle...
....is a Mediterranean annual sub-shrub with simple to multi-branched stems. Its seeds are easily dispersed by fractured plant parts, in vehicle tires, road grading equipment and clothing. It is found along roadsides, within mineral material pits, and in numerous open, disturbed sites throughout Inyo and Mono Counties.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/bishop/weeds/plants/russianthistle.html



OUTDOOR RECREATION, PUBLIC LANDS

A runner in the third annual Bizz Johnson Marathon passes one of the trail's most popular photo points, Bridge no. 1 at he Hobo Camp area on the western outskirts of Susanville."More than 500 runners at third annual Bizz Johnson Marathon" (News.bytes Extra)
A glorious fall day -- bracing morning temperatures, a warm afternoon and the colors of the season -- greeted more than 500 runners Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8, as they converged on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail near Susanville for the third annual Bizz Johnson Marathon and associated half-marathon and 5K and 10K runs. Story and photos.

"Fall colors highlight weekend mountain bike ride" (BLM California news release, 10/17/06)
The Bureau of Land Management and Lassen Rural Bus will make a fall color outing easy with the annual Fall Colors Bus Shuttle on Saturday, Oct. 21. The fall color ride is popular, and riders are encouraged to call ahead to reserve shuttle space.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/NCNews0703_fall_colors_ride.html

"BLM lifts campfire restrictions in the California Desert District" (BLM California news release, 10/17/06)
With the beginning of the winter season in the desert come many recreational opportunities for visitors on public lands. Fire prevention measures remain in place for your protection. For instance, campers still are required to provide proper clearance of flammable fuels to a minimum of five feet and to have a shovel or other extinguishing tools readily available.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/CDDNews0701_campfire_restrictions_lifted.html

"Our Opinion: Ensure all areas of dunes are safe" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/11/06)
Editorial: "The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is a place tens of thousands of people enjoy during the winter months....But with that many people in a limited space, there are bound to be problems. That is why since 2002, Competition Hill has been closed to the public on 12 of the most popular nights, mostly on holiday weekends....The problem is with the wild cards who drink to excess and then look for trouble." Editorial urges the "Bureau of Land Management, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and a technical review team for the recreation area" to take care in deciding if the area should be open more often.
http://ivpressonline.com/articles/2006/10/11/opinion/ed02_10-11-06.txt

"Local wildlife officials bracing for crowded waterfowl season opener" (Fresno Bee, 10/18/06)
"Hunters awaiting Saturday's waterfowl opener can expect to see more birds this year … and more fellow hunters....In anticipation of Saturday's upland game bird opener, the Bureau of Land Management will open gates in the Panoche Hills and Tumey Hills on Thursday for vehicular access. These west side locations are prime valley quail and chukar habitat."
(May require free registration.)

http://www.fresnobee.com/371/story/8120.html

RELATED: "BLM to open Panoche and Tumey Hills gates" (BLM California news release, 10/13/06)
The Hollister Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management will open the gates in the Panoche and Tumey Hills to provide vehicular access on Thursday. These areas will be open for upland bird game hunting which begins October 21. Precautionary fire restrictions on public lands will remain in effect until cooler and wetter weather conditions occur.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/CCNews03_PanocheTuneyHills_fire_restrictions.html



WILD HORSES AND BURROS

"Wild horse gentling training offered" (BLM California news release, 10/16/06)
A northern California horse trainer will offer free tips and advice on gentling wild horses when the Bureau of Land Management brings its wild horse and burro adoption program to San Luis Obispo Saturday and Sunday.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/CCNews0705_slo_gentling.html

Backpacking burroBurros and people have fun a Longears Cele'bray'tion" (News.bytes Extra)
They made pancakes, panned for gold and changed clothes in an outhouse. They competed in traditional halter, leading and driving classes -- but in the Gold Rush Race, obvious cheating was encouraged. Read more and see photos from the annual Longears Cele'bray'tion, "a two-day, slightly offbeat donkey and mule show."

kids with burroRELATED: "Dealing in donkeys: BLM sponsors adoption program at Cele'bray'tion" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 10/16/06)
"Three young burros nibbled hay contentedly at the Tehama District Fair grounds on Sunday afternoon, while not far away, BMX motorcycles buzzed like a monster horde of bees." The BLM has coordinated a burro adoption with the Cele'bray'tion for the past five years.
(May require free registration.)
http://www.redding.com/redd/nw_local/article/0,2232,REDD_17533_5069618,00.html



PUBLIC LAND DISPUTES

"Supervisors move to save desert plan" (San Bernardino County Sun, 10/18/06)
San Bernardino County supervisors voted "to join in defending a desert wildlife habitat-conservation plan from an environmental lawsuit. If the U.S. District Court in San Francisco allows the county to participate in the suit, San Bernardino County would have the right to argue in front of the court and participate in any future settlement talks on the West Mojave Plan." An environmental group "alleged the plan illegally permitted disastrous amounts of off-highway-vehicle use and asked for an injunction barring the federal Bureau of Land Management from 'issuing any permit, approval, or other action' for any activity that would adversely affect the desert tortoise or three plant species."
http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_4509102

"Dispute over property deed lives on in Imperial County" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/16/06)
Forty years ago, a rancher "announced he owned about a quarter of eastern Imperial County and had the paperwork to prove it." He even recorded a deed with the county, based on "a 19th-century Spanish land grant." But "the patchwork of parcels listed in the deed includes part of the Navy's Chocolate Mountain gunnery range, along with swaths of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees the recreation area, a popular playground among ATV riders and other off-roaders." People are still being asked to invest in the land.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20061016-9999-1n16deed.html

"Is lake for homeowners only, or for everyone?"(Los Angeles Times, 10/16/06)
"In Riverside County, a fisherman sues after being challenged by security guards, then deputies." Lakeside residents say they pay water district for "exclusive recreational rights" to their reservoir. "Lawsuit aside, one thing that seems clear is that the line between public and private lakes is often murky at best....Part of the lake's northern shore includes hills owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. [The fisherman] drove over that land to get to the lake."
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-lake16oct16,1,2637850.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

"Agency weighs in on Sunrise power line route" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/13/06)
"The agency overseeing electricity reliability for most of California said yesterday that routes studied for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink south of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are inferior to a path across the park, agreeing at least partly with a position taken by San Diego Gas & Electric....[for] a 150-mile, $1.3 billion transmission line that SDG&E says is needed to ensure regional electricity reliability. The utility says the project would also allow it to tap renewable energy projects that it says will be developed in Imperial Valley." BLM is involved in rights-of-way permits for parts of the route.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/business/20061013-9999-1b13sunrise.html

RELATED: "Coastal power plants figure into Sunrise equation" (North County Times, 10/14/06)
Some question if upcoming plans for San Diego-area power plants will reduce the need for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink.
http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/10/15/news/top_stories/21_32_3310_14_06.txt



HEADLINES AND HIGHLIGHTS

Tracy Albrecht"Tracy Albrecht nominated for National Environmental Education award" (News.bytes Extra)
A second Tracy from BLM California has been nominated for this national award. Read more about what she did to earn nomination, and see photos of some of the work she has done.

"Salmon Festival a hit" (News.bytes Extra)
Thousands of people got a hands-on education in resource management at the annual American River Salmon Festival. An estimated 23,000 people attended the festival Oct. 14 and 15 at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Festival-goers visited exhibits on resource management issues from fish to mountain lions, viewed salmon at the fish ladder and fed fingerlings. Read more and see photo.

"Educational trips to Southland sponsored by Maturango Museum" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 10/17/06)
"Local adventurers will have plenty to choose from the first weekend of November, when the Maturango Museum will host three separate field trips - a three-day trip to the volcanic tablelands near Bishop, a one-day excursion to Ayers Rock and Walker Creek and another daylong trip to two Southland museums. The first trip of the weekend gets under way in Bishop on Friday evening, Nov. 3, when participants will meet for an orientation session presented by Kirk Halford, Bureau of Land Management archaeologist."
http://www.ridgecrestca.com/articles/2006/10/17/news/features/nie03.txt

"Home, home on the plain" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/14/06)
"A program of modifying barbed-wire fences is helping a pronghorn antelope herd in the Carrizo Plain National Monument recover from near extinction....A crew of volunteers and Bureau of Land Management employees" worked last weekend to "make the fences more antelope friendly." Pronghorn cannot jump fences like deer can, and the old fences "prevent the antelope from reaching needed habitat and make them vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, which trap the antelope against the fences...."
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/15758397.htm

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM California website)
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield Field Office. The Carrizo Plain is the largest remaining remnant of the original San Joaquin Valley habitat, 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.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/bakersfield/carrizoplain/carrizoplain.html

"Navy wants bigger survival training site in Warner Springs; hearing scheduled on proposal to double acreage" (North County Times, 10/17/06)
"The Cleveland National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Vista Irrigation District own separate parts of the land. They allow the Navy to use it to teach survival skills to members of the military -- pilots, air crews and special forces members -- who face an above-average risk of capture by hostile forces behind enemy lines." A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/10/17/news/top_stories/8_04_5510_16_06.txt

RELATED: "Hearing tomorrow on Navy land plan" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/18/06)
"The Navy wants to double the size of a training area in the backcountry where air crews and special-operations forces practice how to survive when trapped behind enemy lines. Navy officials will hold a public hearing tomorrow at the school...joined by officials from the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Vista Irrigation District, all of which own portions of the land the military hopes to use."
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20061018-9999-1mi18sere.html

RELATED: "Navy looks to expand SERE school" (Marine Corps Times, 10/13/06)
"Navy officials are holding an open house Oct. 19 to discuss a proposal to expand the Navy SERE training facility in Warner Springs, Calif....Navy officials, along with representatives of the Cleveland National Forest, Vista Irrigation District and Bureau of Land Management will be on hand to discuss the proposal, and public feedback will be incorporated in an environmental assessment that will be done on the proposal."
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2173851.php

"Draft management plan meeting scheduled in Mariposa" (BLM California news release, 10/12/06)
A public meeting on the Bureau of Land Management's Sierra Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement will be held Wednesday in Mariposa. When final, the Sierra RMP will provide direction and guidance for more than 230,000 acres of public land located primarily in nine central California counties including Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Tuolumne and Yuba counties.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/CCNews02_SierraRMP_Mariposa_meeting.html

"BLM to conduct prescribed burn on Case Mountain" (BLM California news release, 10/16/06)
The prescribed burn will be conducted on Case Mountain, just east of Three Rivers in Tulare County, pending appropriate fire management conditions. The prescribed burn is expected to take up to three days and cover a succession of small plots totaling approximately 135 acres of public lands.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/2006/10/nr/CCNews0704_casemtn_burn.html

"Experts examine land scorched by Day Fire" (Santa Clarita Signal, 10/13/06)
"A team of geological experts are on the scene of the Day Fire, examining how to rehabilitate the land and how to prevent major erosion problems in the coming rainy season. Fire lines - 163 miles of shoveled and bulldozed vegetation and earth - have created paths that helped firefighters get control of the 162,570 acres that burned for nearly a month. But as the weather cools, those same lines of defense against fire can cause problems to the environment."
http://www.the-signal.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=33458&format=html

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/a9blm-ca.asp



SANTA CLARITA GRAVEL MINE

"City: Cemex site would hurt river species" (Santa Clarita Signal, 10/17/06)
Santa Clarita city officials "toured property in and around the site where Cemex Inc. plans to begin operating a 69-million ton sand and gravel mine in 2008.... As part of its campaign to stop Cemex's mega-mining in Soledad Canyon, the city has consistently said Cemex's mining water demands will frequently draw water from the Santa Clara River at the project site and negatively impact local fish, wildlife and plants.... Representatives from Cemex did not participate in the tour, and were surprised to learn that city officials toured property they considered not fully accessible to the public." BLM approved the mine in 2000.
http://www.the-signal.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=33534&format=html

"Bill fighting mine not intended to pass" (Santa Clarita Signal, 10/17/06)
"The 'Soledad Canyon Mine Leases Adjustment Act' would cancel the Cemex Inc.'s leases - providing the company with other mining options instead - and prohibit the federal Bureau of Land Management from re-leasing the land except at historic extraction levels of about 300,000 tons per year." Its House sponsor said the bill was introduced to test reaction among fellow lawmakers, and he would push it hard next session. Meanwhile, Santa Clarita's mayor said, "'we're taking off the gloves ... (and) we're going to use every weapon in our (arsenal)' to see that Cemex does not succeed in setting up shop."
http://www.the-signal.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=33542&format=html

"City asks for no Cemex contact" (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/11/06)
"City officials are prevailing on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to heed the voice of 250,000 local residents - this as Election Day approaches - and cancel any plans to meet with Cemex officials during a trade mission next month to Mexico. The city has spent about $7 million battling the 56.1-million-ton sand and gravel mine planned on the outskirts of town, and voiced opposition to the Mexican conglomerate's project in a recent letter to the governor."
http://www.dailynews.com/santaclarita/ci_4477754

"Cemex says city's facts mislead" (Santa Clarita Signal, 10/13/06)
"Mexico-based Cemex Inc. is seeking to clarify what it calls 'misleading' facts presented by the city about how the cement giant's 69-million-ton sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon will affect the Santa Clarita Valley." BLM approved the gravel mine in 2000.
http://www.the-signal.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=33436&format=html



NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS

"Generation 'In' gets a new nudge: Go out and play" (Christian Science Monitor, 10/11/06)
"Attendance at national parks has slipped around 25 percent....Today's youngsters and their parents are more wired and more scheduled than earlier Americans, leaving less unstructured time to spend outdoors....that can mean missing out on childhood bonds to nature.....These trends prompted academics and officials - including US Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne - to gather last month in West Virginia for a first-of-its-kind conference entitled 'Children and Nature.'" A study found "a high correlation between the drop in national park visits and the increased time spent with TV, home movies, video games, and the Internet."
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1011/p01s02-ussc.html



WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer
b. they are elaborate. Grasshopper mice are known for their elaborate burrow systems. Their home ranges may be very large, and within that range they may have a large number of burrows used for different purposes. Some burrows are used simply to mark the boundaries of the territory, some are used for escape from predators, and others are used to store food for later use.
SOURCE: Northern grasshopper mouse" (BLM California wildlife database)
http://www.blm.gov/ca/forms/wildlife/details.php?metode=serial_number&search=2774

RELATED: "Northern Grasshopper Mouse" (Weaselhead.org - Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
"Although at 10,000 vibrations per second, which is just beyond the hearing range of most humans, it gives a long, shrill, insect-like whistle while sitting on its haunches, throwing its head back to howl much like a dog or coyote! It also utters short bark-like squeals." Plus more information on this "non-profit, ad-free, spam-free, volunteer moderated nature web site."
http://weaselhead.org/profile/index.php?s=535

RELATED: "Onychomys leucogaster" (Smith College website)
This American Society of Mammalogists account from Jan. 6, 1978 offers six pages of information including general characteristics, behavior, fossils, results of various studies, and references to a large number of literature cited.
PDF file, 800 kilobytes.
http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-087-01-0001.pdf

Thumbnail photo above from: http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/full_image.cfm?image_id=1395

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