A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 284 - 6/6/07
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Funny.bytes: The aftermatch
- Wildfires burn around the state
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- The kit fox on the Carrizo Plain
- Wild horses and burros: Mojave ride, upcoming adoptions, more
- Employee profile: More wild horses and burros
- Amargosa River
- Energy and transmission lines
- Abandoned mines
- Headlines and highlights: Trona royalties, minerals tour, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: New BLM director nominated, climate change, more
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
FUNNY.BYTES: THE AFTERMATCH
An encore performance of "The ant and the grasshopper." See how personal choices make a difference in which house survives a wildfire in the "wildland/urban" interface -- and which does not. Inspired by a true story! (Many of them, in fact.)
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.
WILDFIRES BURN AROUND THE STATE
"Fire season begins with multiple fires around county" (Lassen County News, 6/5/07)
"The National Weather Service has forecast a chance of thunderstorms throughout the coming weeks for Lassen County, and with more than 20 fires of varying size reportedly caused by lightning strikes, fire season has unofficially begun." BLM and other firefighters have been kept busy responding to fires.
"Danger eases from Mono County fire" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6/07)
"A 50-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 395 in Mono County remains closed today because of a wildfire that covers more than 1,400 acres, but the threat to about 50 homes in the area has diminished, officials said today....It's not known when residents will be able to return...About 650 people are fighting the fire."
"Wind could worsen Sequoia fire" (Associated Press on Yahoo! News, 6/6/07)
"A wildfire that has burned about 3,900 acres of grass, brush and wooded areas in Sequoia National Forest was about 30 percent contained Tuesday afternoon, but officials worried about winds predicted for later in the evening....About 800 firefighters from Kern and Los Angeles counties, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service were helping the Forest Service with the fire."
"Winds fan Larson Fire" (Nevada Appeal, 6/6/07)
"High winds led to a flare-up of the Larson fire near Coleville, Calif., about 10 a.m. Tuesday, spreading the flames over 600-700 acres and closing schools....about 70 families from the U.S. Marine housing were evacuated and 250 structures were threatened, according to information from the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center."
"Community is invited to fire prevention awareness program" (The Murphys, CA Pine Tree News, 6/4/07)
"[T]he Highway 108 FireSafe Council is inviting residents and homeowners in the Tuolumne Me-Wuk Rancheria area to meet and discuss fire protection emergency preparedness, and fire prevention measures needed to protect life, property, and resources from wildland fires."
"Federal fire restrictions begin Monday for Western Nevada" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 6/6/07)
"Vegetation in western Nevada and eastern California has dried out much earlier than normal this year and a large crop of low-elevation grass and brush from two consecutive wet winters is particularly vulnerable right now. The public is encouraged to safely enjoy the public lands, bearing in mind the recent...fires were all human-caused."
"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center)
Updated daily during wildfire season.
"InciWeb - Incident Information System" (Interagency website)
Current information on wildfires and other emergencies, nationwide.
"Use Esperanza as lesson to firefighters, report urges" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/4/07)
"Wildfire-fighters' lives are more important to protect than homes. That point of emphasis resonates in an action plan arising from last October’s deadly Esperanza wildfire, which killed five Idyllwild-based U.S. Forest Service firefighters."
NOT FOR EDUCATORS ONLY:
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
The number of San Joaquin kit foxes fell drastically, and they were listed as a federal endangered species 40 years ago. What is the major cause of their dramatic decline?
(a.) starvation from an extended drought in the 1950s
(b.) predation by invasive animal species
(c.) flooding of their dens
(d.) habitat loss
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
THE KIT FOX AND THE CARRIZO PLAIN
"Fox gets more room to safely roam on Carrizo Plain" San Luis Obispo Tribune, 5/31/07)
"More than 200 acres have been added to the Carrizo Plain National Monument as part of a program to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox."
"Carrizo Plain National Monument biological resources" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
When early explorers first entered the Carrizo Plain, they found a lush paradise of native grasses and colorful wildflowers that sustained immense herds of tule elk and pronghorn antelope. California condors circled overhead, and intermittent pools provided food for waterfowl and shorebirds. Native Americans came to hunt the abundant game, and their many encampments dotted the plain. Today, the Carrizo Plain supports a wealth of threatened and endangered species - this page links to lists of plants and animals found there.
"Comments sought, plans continue for Carrizo Plain National Monument" (News.bytes Extra)
When you think of the Carrizo plain, you think of: Solitude; night sky; preservation and respect for Native American culture and history; and a desire to preserve natural resources and bring back indigenous species. Those were some of the characteristics members of the Carrizo Plain Monument Advisory Committee mentioned at their recent meeting. The committee made plans to continue the planning process, and will accept scoping comments through June 12.
WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Mustangs on the Mojave Trail" (News.bytes Extra)
"For the last twenty-one years, the Norco Mounted Posse has sponsored a trail ride across the Mojave Desert , using the old Mojave Trail....When Jason showed up with 'Stinger', his [BLM] 'company horse', there were a lot of reservations as to his presence, and I heard a lot of people voice their concerns over why he was there..."
"Bridled passion" (Seattle Times, 6/3/07)
"It starts with a steady, reassuring look in the eye. And within an hour, Lesley Neuman, a wild-horse gentler, has mustang number 7550, recently rounded up by federal land managers...nuzzling in close to smell her neck. So it goes for Neuman, a master practitioner of a different kind of horse training that is a distinct break from the cowboy-movie genre of swagger and whip, 'breaking' wild horses through force and intimidation." Lesley often works with BLM California on wild horse and burro adoption events.
"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption in King City" (BLM California news release, 6/5/07)
Mustangs fresh from the range and after training will be on display this Saturday (June 9) in King City. The BLM will offer 30 horses ranging in age from under one to about five, along with 10 burros at an adoption Saturday at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds. Also, Monterey County Search and Rescue will demonstrate mustangs they use in search and rescue operations.
"Wild horses and burros headed for Chico" (BLM California news release, 6/5/07)
The BLM will offer animals for adoption Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico. The BLM will offer 30 horses, including 20 yearling fillies and colts and 10 mares and geldings between 2 and 5 years old. Adopters can also select from 10 burros. The adoption event opens with an hour of silent bidding beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Animals not taken during bidding will be available for at $125 adoption fee.
"BLM to hold public meeting on wild horse gathering" (BLM California news release, 6/5/07)
Staff from the Bureau of Land Management will discuss upcoming wild horse gather plans in a public meeting June 21, at the BLM Surprise Field office in Cedarville. BLM Range Management Specialist Steve Surian will provide details and answer questions about upcoming gathers on public land in far northwest Nevada and northeast California. He will also discuss the BLM’s use of helicopters and motor vehicles in these gathering operations.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule - 2007"(BLM California website)
Attend now, before the adoption season winds down.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM national website)
AMARGOSA RIVER ACEC
"BLM seeks comment on Amargosa implementation plan" (BLM California news release, 6/5/07)
The BLM is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment (EA) and implementation plan for the Amargosa River Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The Amargosa ACEC encompasses 21,552 acres and is located in northeastern San Bernardino and southeastern Inyo counties near the communities of Tecopa and Death Valley Junction.
"Amargosa River Natural Area" (BLM California Barstow Field Office)
The narrow Amargosa Canyon is known for its dense greenery and the shallow Amargosa River, complete with "hanging gardens" and a small waterfall. The river flows year-long, dropping south from Nevada, and finally flowing into Death Valley National Park.
"Shrinking space, more vehicles squeeze off-road recreation" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/2/07)
"At the same time off-highway vehicle ownership in the state has soared, Bakersfield's sprawling development has left local riders few places to use their four-wheeled toys. As a result, nearby public lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management and Sequoia National Forest have been inundated with off-highway vehicles. Motorized recreation is allowed in many of these areas, but the surge in riders has agencies scrambling to designate routes, enforce rules and prevent the spread of trails into ecologically sensitive areas."
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Taft riders keeping 'secret' spot safe, clean" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/2/07)
"These hills used to be a local secret. Now the secret's out. And the only way the locals can keep their riding area is to prove they can take care of it....The heat of a spring day grew as the club worked. More people showed up. A heavy-duty Bureau of Land Management truck collected heavier objects, such as an ancient Frigidaire refrigerator and a rusted-out washing machine." Includes link to a video of the cleanup.
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Identity crisis: State agency struggles against itself" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/2/07)
"California's off-highway bureaucracy suffers from a dual personality. Environmentalists see it as a conservation agency, tasked with healing scars from illegal off-road use. Off-roaders see it as an agency, funded by their tax dollars, that manages off-highway venues and builds new ones....In 2005, the California State Auditor published a scathing report of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the State Parks department. It detailed an agency stuck between the opposing priorities."
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Dirt divide" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/2/07)
"An off-road motor sports park near Bakersfield isn't completely dead -- despite a near-fatal blow delivered by state bureaucrats in December."
(May require free registration.)
"Sand Mountain a city unto itself during holiday weekend" (Lahontan Valley News, 6/3/07)
"There are a few constants when spending a busy weekend at Sand Mountain - the continual buzz of ATVs, sand, thousands of visitors, towering rows of white RVs, sand, oceans of whip flags ... and more sand....Amid a small sea of white RVs, four-wheel drive trucks with lifts and countless off-road machines, most license plates read 'California,' though Nevadans had a strong presence." The area is managed by BLM Nevada.
"Wagons Ho! Four-wheel-drive outing to retrace historic Gold Rush trail" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/3/07)
"[S]port utility vehicle and other four-wheel-drive vehicle owners...will retrace the Lassen-Applegate Emigrant Trail July 20-23....The trip begins in Lovelock, Nev., and ends in Surprise Valley, near Cedarville in Modoc County....It's estimated that one-third of the 1849 Gold Rush emigrants used this particular trail." The ride is hosted by the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs under a permit from the BLM.
RELATED: "Applegate-Lassen Emigrant Trail" (BLM California, Alturas Field Office)
This was one of the major trails providing access into California and Oregon, also called the California Cutoff after it left the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall, Idaho. At Goose Lake the Lassen Trail turned south for the California gold fields, while the Applegate Trail ventured northwest to the fertile inland valleys of Oregon.
"BLM offers OHV sound tests" (BLM California news release, 6/4/07)
The Bureau of Land Management is offering voluntary sound testing program for off-highway vehicles including off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, Rhinos/Mules or other vehicles used on public lands. This will allow owners of vehicles to identify if the vehicle meets California sound regulations before venturing out on public lands where they may be subject to a citation and fine.
Individual testing will be conducted by appointment, including weekends, at the Bishop Field Office and other locations.
ENERGY AND TRANSMISSION LINES
"Calpine to pump up the Geysers geothermal project" (Los Angeles Times, 5/31/07)
"Hoping to tap into California's growing appetite for renewable power, Calpine Corp. today will unveil an ambitious expansion of its geothermal operations, considered one of the state's most promising clean-energy sources. The overhaul of the Geysers geothermal project, expected to cost $75 million in its first year, is evidence of the strong demand for cleaner energy in California." The company operates geothermal plants on BLM-managed and other lands.
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Calpine to expand geothermal-energy production" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/1/07)
"Tapping into the growing demand for renewable power as it pulls itself out of bankruptcy, power-plant operator Calpine announced ambitious plans...to expand its production of geothermal energy.... Calpine owns 19 of the 21 power plants at The Geysers and tapped the rugged terrain to produce its first megawatts of power in the 1980s."
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Calpine will look at solar, geothermal: CEO" (Reuters, 6/4/07)
"Glass Mountain is believed to be the largest known undeveloped geothermal resource in the United States with a potential on the order of 500 megawatts. The site, however, is an area that American Indians consider sacred, and development as a geothermal project is uncertain and faces legal challenges." BLM is involved in the geothermal leases at the Geysers and in environmental reviews of a proposed geothermal plant at Glass Mountain (Medicine Lake).
"ACC rejects Calif. power line" (Phoenix, AZ East Valley Tribune, 5/31/07)
"Saying they don’t want Arizona to become an 'energy farm' for California, the Arizona Corporation Commission unanimously rejected an application by Southern California Edison Wednesday to build a power line to supply Arizona-generated power to its customers....Southern California Edison officials said Arizona would gain many benefits from the power line, including improving the state’s access to renewable energy produced in California and elsewhere, increasing its tax revenue and enhancing the entire state’s investment climate." BLM is involved in rights-of-way permitting for the proposed powerline.
"UCAN says power line more than San Diego needs" (North County Times, 6/1/07)
"A new power line isn't needed until 2018 to keep the lights on in San Diego County, and it's not needed at all to deliver electricity from the energy-rich Imperial Valley, according to a consumer group's analysis set to be filed today. San Diego Gas & Electric disputed the report, saying the county faces an electricity shortage in 2010, and the utility says it needs a major transmission line -- the Sunrise Powerlink -- to plug the county into Imperial Valley's power in order to comply with a state mandate to secure 20 percent of its supply from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2010."
RELATED: "More challenges leveled at power line" (North County Times, 6/5/07)
"Electricity would be less expensive for area ratepayers if San Diego Gas & Electric Co. chose to rely on new natural-gas-fired power plants in metro San Diego rather than build a power line through the backcountry, according to an analysis by a utility competitor....San Diego Gas & Electric disputed the notion that local plants would be more economical than long-distance wires."
"Wind supporters line up" (Los Angeles Times, 6/6/07)
"Industry players at a Los Angeles conference are told that two years of record growth could be just the beginning." Among possible obstacles is an energy bill in Congress that "requires the federal Fish and Wildlife Service to create standards for siting, building and monitoring wind projects to prevent unnecessary harm to birds and bats that can fly into the spinning blades....California, which had been the nation's wind-power pioneer, has 2,376 megawatts of production capacity at wind farms" including much on BLM-managed lands. "The state last year lost its top ranking to Texas...."
(May require free registration.)
"'Hot spot' cools" (Nevada City Union, 5/24/07)
"The dark 200-foot chasm known as the Boston Mine leached mercury into the environment for more than a century after operations were abandoned there in the 1880s....The mine is free of mercury now, thanks to a team of mine experts, engineers and geologists who spent several months cleaning up the hot spot using 75-year-old gold-extracting technology."
RELATED: ""2006 Department of the Interior Environmental Achievement Award Recipient" (Department of the Interior website)
As featured previously in News.bytes, BLM California's Abandoned Mine Lands Team won an award for their efforts.
RELATED: "Boston Mine cleanup" (BLM News.bytes Extra)
Repeated from issue 235, 6/13/06 - with photos.
"BLM closes hazardous mine tunnels on Quartz Mountain" (BLM California news release, 6/4/07)
The state of California Office of Mine Reclamation, in partnership with the BLM, is closing hazardous mine tunnels and shafts in the Quartz Mountain area this week.
Quartz Mountain, located about 22 miles northeast of Madera in Madera County, was one of several foothill gold mines that were first developed in the 1870s.
HEADLINES AND HIGHLIGHTS
"Royalty cut a mixed bag for Trona" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 5/31/07)
"Thanks to a new federal law passed by the U.S. Congress, Searles Valley Minerals will be paying fewer royalties for the next five years. And while this means a savings of $2.5 million to the company, it also means less money for Trona schools." The company pays royalties on chemicals it mines from land managed by the BLM.
"Northeast California RAC get taste of minerals" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council got a taste in what's involved in mineral extraction, when they toured a diatomaceous earth mining operation northwest of Burney. The RAC toured the mine to learn more about the mining, reclamation and processing operations that can occur when the BLM issues leases for saleable minerals mining.
"BLM announces upcoming prescribed burn in Clear Creek Canyon" (BLM California news release, 5/31/07)
The Hollister Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management will be conducting a prescribed burn the week of June 13, 2007 to control the spread of yellow star thistle on public lands in the Clear Creek Management Area in southern San Benito and western Fresno Counties.
"To protect spotted owl, larger rival is targeted" (Los Angeles Times, 6/4/07)
"To save the northern spotted owl, federal authorities have listed the bird under the Endangered Species Act, set aside 7 million acres of forest for owl habitat, and imposed stiff fines on those who harm the chocolate-colored football-sized raptors. But the spotted owl population is still in deep peril....So the government has hit on another approach to saving an icon of the Pacific Northwest: shooting its cousins.
(May require free registration.)
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
June 7-8 - Northwest California Resource Advisory Council meeting
June 9-10 and 16-17 - Guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve
June 23-24 - Wild horse and burro adoption
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS
"Kempthorne lauds President's intention to nominate Jim Caswell as director of the Bureau of Land Management" (Department of the Interior news release, 5/30/07)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne praised President Bush’s intention to nominate James L. Caswell, a veteran public land ecosystem manager, as the next Director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.....Caswell currently heads the State of Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation, which was established in 2000 by the state legislature to bring a policy focus to endangered species issues and to coordinate state and federal efforts on endangered species management in Idaho.
"AP profile: Forester who opposed roadless plan tapped to head BLM" (Associated Press in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/5/07)
"When President Clinton proposed sweeping protection for millions of acres of roadless national forest during his final weeks in office, James Caswell was front and center in a mutiny of forest supervisors." For the last 6 1/2 years, he has headed Idaho's Office of Species Conservation "...environmentalists say with the credibility Caswell has earned in Idaho and ticking clock on the Bush administration, there are no immediate plans for a confirmation fight."
"Secretary names Henri Bisson Senior Advisor for Alaskan Affairs" (Department of the Interior news release, 6/5/07)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced Henri Bisson will be Acting Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Alaska Affairs." Bisson will also continue as Deputy Director of Operations for the BLM.
"New climate change task force at Interior Department" (Department of the Interior news release, 5/31/07)
"[A]s President Bush announced U.S. support for development of a new framework on climate change, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne affirmed that the ongoing work of a new Interior Department Climate Change Task Force is essential to ensuring that his department fulfills its mission....Headed by Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett, the task force involves a hundred individuals...from across the country."
"Interior Department in 9 words or less" (Washington Post, 5/31/07)
"A few months ago, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne thought his department -- what with it overseeing 20 percent of America's land and all -- deserved a motto. He wanted something pithy, something the department could print on the back of employees' identification cards. And he wanted it to inspire people, of course."
(May require free registration.)
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) habitat loss. This is one reason the addition of habitat to the Carrizo Plain National Monument, as reported above, is so important.
SOURCE: "San Joaquin Kit Fox - Vulpes macrotis mutica" (BLM California wildlife database)
In 1967 the San Joaquin kit fox was listed as federally endangered, and in 1971 the State of California listed it as a threatened species. The major reason for the population decline is loss of habitat. As natural land was converted to agricultural land, San Joaquin kit foxes lost precious food, cover, and space.
"San Joaquin Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
"Historically, San Joaquin kit foxes occurred in several San Joaquin Valley native plant communities....By 1930, the kit fox range had been reduced by more than half, with the largest portion remaining in the southern and western parts of the Valley. By 1958, an estimated 50% of the Valley's original natural communities had been lost, due to extensive land conversions, intensive land uses, and the use of pesticides. In 1979, only about 6.7% of the San Joaquin Valley's original wildlands south of Stanislaus County remained untilled and undeveloped."
"San Joaquin Kit Fox - Vulpes macrotis mutica" (California Department of Fish and Game)
More information, plus a drawing of a San Joaquin kit fox.
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News.bytes published by
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