A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 292 - 8/3/07
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week: Quail
- Quail award
- More wildlife news: Bighorn, murrelet
- Employee Profile: Wildfire before, during and after
- Marijuana battle
- Carrizo Plain National Monument
- Energy and public lands
- Imperial Sand Dunes
- Headlines and highlights: Pechanga lands, mustang makeover,
grazing, Zzyzx, Surprise Canyon, more
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: BLM nominee blocked, communication, pollination
- National: Mining Law reform
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
NOT FOR EDUCATORS ONLY:
Thumbnail from a photo by H. Vannoy Davis, California Academy of Sciences
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
California quail young are precocial. What does precocial mean?
(a.) Born ready to feed themselves
(b.) Born ready to walk
(c.) Born unable to keep themselves warm without assistance from their parents
(d.) Born without feathers and with their eyes closed
(e.) Born covered in down and with their eyes open
(f.) Able to play a variety of musical instruments at a very young age, arousing pride and joy in their parents that other members of the flock often regard as excessive
------> See answer -- and other informative items -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
|RELATED: "Answer the Call Outstanding Service Award" (BLM News.bytes Extra)
Quail Unlimited and the BLM have awarded the Answer-The-Call Award of Excellence to Shelley Ellis, a wildlife biologist from BLM California's Ridgecrest Field Office. Shelley has been working with Dave Fischer and other members of the Ridgecrest Chapter of Quail Unlimited. Dave received the Answer-The-Call Volunteer Award of Excellence.
MORE WILDLIFE NEWS
"Feds propose 400,000-acre habitat for endangered bighorn sheep" (Monterey County Herald, 7/25/07)
"More than 400,000 acres of wildlands in the Eastern Sierra Nevada should serve as a protected habitat for an endangered mountain sheep rebounding from the threat of extinction, the federal government said Wednesday....The proposed critical habitat area runs from Tuolumne to Tulare counties and juts into the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe national forests, along with neighboring land administered by the Bureau of Land Management."
"Lizard protection still under negotiation" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/26/07)
"Coachella Valley officials still are trying to negotiate an extension to the permit protecting the threatened fringe-toed lizard."
RELATED: "Coachella Valley" (BLM California, Palm Springs Field Office)
The BLM currently manages three preserves with visitor facilities within the Coachella Valley area: the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve/ Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard ACEC, and the Dos Palmas Preserve/ACEC.
"New Carissa spill money to help protect rare seabird" (Portland Oregonian, 8/1/07)
"The payout from one of Oregon's most damaging shipwrecks will now help protect one of the state's most fought-over birds" by buying "3,900 acres of private forest north of Newport to help protect the bird....Marbled murrelets were listed as threatened in Oregon, Washington and California in 1992 when logging reduced their nesting grounds." The shipwreck was offshore from lands managed by BLM Oregon.
RELATED: "New Carissa begets land for imperiled bird" (Southwestern Oregon Worldlink, 8/1/07)
"Eight and a half years after the wood chip ship New Carissa ran aground off the Coos Bay North Spit, an Indian Tribe in Lincoln County has been assigned the task of protecting a species of seabird impacted by the accident.
RELATED: "Siletz Tribe given coastal forest management responsibilities" (Newport, Oregon News-Times, 8/1/07)
"The Siletz Tribe is recovering part of its native land, while helping restore the natural habitat of the marbled murrelet," said a county commissioner.
RELATED: "New Carissa oil spill triggers purchase of Oregon timberland" (Associated Press in Portland Oregonian, 7/31/07)
.'This is some of the best habitat left in the Pacific Northwest available for acquisition,' said Larry Mangan, a retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management biologist who was case manager on the project."
RELATED: "Marbled Murrelet - Brachyramphus marmoratus" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Populations of marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon, and northern California have been in decline for decades."
"Mountains on fire alert" (San Bernardino County Sun, 7/29/07)
"Temperatures have been high. Rainfall has been at an all-time low, stoking concern across the mountains ravaged in fall 2003 by the Old and Grand Prix fires....Anyone who works for an agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is qualified to help fight a fire must be freed from his or her other responsibilities and sent to help, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne ordered on Thursday. 'This starts to call up the militia,' said Ron Woychak, regional fire management officer for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's desert district."
RELATED: "Secretary Kempthorne takes action to strengthen Interior's wildland firefighting efforts" (Department of the Interior news release, 7/25/07)
To help address the severe wildfire conditions in the West, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today issued directives and orders to immediately strengthen Interior's wildland firefighting efforts. The action could mobilize about 1,000 additional employees to assist in wildland fire suppression and support activities.
"It can happen again" (Sierra Star, 7/25/07)
"The 1961 firestorm burned out of control for two-and-a-half days, destroying 41,000 acres, burning 160 structures, killing two people and searing terrifying images in the minds of all who witnessed what would become known at the Harlow Fire. A new DVD, 'The Harlow Fire - Then and Now,' has been released by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management capturing the Harlow Fire in the words of some of those who lived through it. The 35-minute DVD makes it clear that fire officials believe it is 'just a matter of time' before a fire like the Harlow Fire happens again, and it's up to people to be as ready as they can be."
RELATED: "Fire prevention is a team effort" (Sierra Star, 7/27/07)
Editor's column: "We're in a bad situation here. Dry vegetation is at dangerous levels. Temperatures are hugging the 100-degree mark. Humidity is relatively low. All of these factors add up to an extremely high fire risk in the Mountain Area. So it's perfect timing that the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management joined efforts to release a DVD that highlights the 1961 Harlow Fire, which burned through the Deadwood portion of Oakhurst in about the same time it takes to roast a marshmallow."
"Conservation Camp helps Lake County region in fighting fires" (Lake County Record-Bee, 7/31/07)
"As the county braces for the remainder of a summer that spells a recipe for fire disaster...Cal Fire will call on what some might consider an unusual source for firefighters: California's state prison inmates....an administrator... says the five inmate crews at Konocti camp participate in projects for the state parks, school district, Bureau of Land Management, the County of Lake, county roads, and non-profits."
"Reducing wildfire risk begins at home" (Sierra Sun, 8/1/07)
"The forest in the Tahoe Basin and surrounding areas has four times the amount of potential fuel for wildfires than before Americans settled the area...." At a public meeting, "participants received a 20-page pamphlet, 'Living with Fire -- A Guide for the Homeowner,' that summarized Lake Tahoe’s fire history and described the existing hazard from an overstocked forest. The handout also advised forest homeowners how to implement safety measures in and around the home." BLM Nevada is among the agencies involved.
"'Got Space' sticker aims at fire safety" (Sierra Sun, 8/1/07)
"Move over Keep Tahoe Blue. Another bumper sticker will soon tempt locals to slap the decal onto their all-terrain vehicles...." The 'Got Space" sticker is not produced the the BLM, but shares the same message "about the need for homeowners to create defensible space to reduce the threat of wildfire."
"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.
EMPLOYEE PROFILE: William Kerwin...
...holds a "Service First" position as an interagency fuels archaeologist with BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, implementing fuels reduction projects for the Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest. He functions in the before-during-and-after capacities of of the fire program. The before is the fuels reduction; the during, responding to wildland fire as a fireline archaeologist and resource advisor; the after is as a burn area emergency rehabilitation (BAER) team member. Read more:
RELATED: "Tribes, firefighters cooperate to save sacred sites" (Los Angeles Times, 8/2/07)
In the San Bernardino Mountains, a "fire marshal and the Indian tribe member discussed their options on how to preserve ancient artifacts and still protect the community." The meeting is "emblematic of a burgeoning relationship between firefighters and Indian tribes, whose ancient burial grounds and ceremonial sites are often on land prone to wildfire."
In this example, tribes work with county fire officials and a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist.
(Free registration may be required.)
"Burned bodies found near site of Inyo pot plantation raid" (Sacramento Bee, 7/24/07)
"The burned bodies of two people were found Tuesday near an illicit plantation along the Eastern Sierra where 50,000 marijuana plants were found and five people were arrested. The bodies appeared to have been burned in a wildfire that consumed some 35,000 acres of vegetation in the Inyo National Forest this month. The growing sites were in the Inyo National Forest and on Bureau of Land Management lands."
(May require free registration.)
RELATED: "Marijuana farms hidden in Sierra" (Sierra Wave - KSRW TV/radio, 7/30/07)
"In the last 3 months, the Inyo Sheriff's Office has conducted a series of raids in the foothills of the Sierra on what may be one of the biggest marijuana cultivation operations in the Western United States....This week, some 65 members of all local law enforcement agencies plus federal and state drug agents organized a sharply choreographed raid on a cultivation area west of Independence in the Shepherd's Creek Canyon. Officers from Mammoth and Bishop Police, Inyo and Mono Sheriff's, CHP, USFS, BLM...."
RELATED:"Massive pot farm raids near Indy" (Inyo Register, 7/31/07)
"Before dawn on Monday law enforcement officials from 12 different agencies gathered outside Independence for their briefing on what would turn out to be one of the largest drug busts in California history, uncovering more than 150,000 marijuana plants, two suspected cultivators and two dead bodies."
"Seized pot in 2007 surpasses '06 total" (Fresno Bee, 8/1/07)
"More marijuana plants have been eradicated so far this year in Fresno County than in all of 2006 after a string of recent raids, a Sheriff's Department spokesman said Tuesday. As of this week, 136,892 plants with a street value of about $548 million have been destroyed this year....Last week in Tulare County, Tulare County sheriff's investigators and CAMP agents tore out more than 1,600 plants found growing in two gardens east of Three Rivers on federal Bureau of Land Management property...."
(May require free registration.)
"Cops collect 3,000 plants in Mokelumne Hill raid" (Tuolumne County Union Democrat, 8/1/07)
"Five thousand marijuana plants spotted from the air last week on public land near Mokelumne Hill had disappeared by the time Calaveras County and state drug agents raided....But officers were luckier when they converged on a Ponderosa Road plantation at 5:30 a.m. There, 3,000 young plants were uprooted and seized." Both raids took place on public land managed by the BLM. "It's a constant battle that we are going to deal with every year," said an officer.
"Marijuana farm busted in South Yuba River park" (Sacramento Bee, 7/25/07)
"The South Yuba River State Park, bordering Bureau of Land Management property, is known for its idyllic covered bridge, hiking trails, rugged canyons and as a great place for swimming. Apparently, a Mexican cartel armed with semi-automatic weapons thought it also was a great place to grow marijuana."
(May require free registration.)
"Calaveras deputies seize more marijuana plants" (Stockton Record, 7/31/07)
"Calaveras County sheriff’s deputies today raided two marijuana gardens on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land and seized 3,000 plants."
(May require free registration.)
"Two marijuana gardens destroyed" (Visalia Times-Delta, 7/25/07)
The gardens were found on Bureau of Land Management property near Three Rivers.
ENERGY AND PUBLIC LANDS
"Power plant proposed" (San Bernardino County Sun, 7/26/07)
"The largest solar power plant in the world has been proposed for the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County....The plant would generate 533 megawatts of power, enough to power 400,000 homes. Two sites are on land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
"BLM plans oil and gas lease auction" (BLM California news release, 9/12/07)
The Bureau of Land Management will conduct an auction of oil and gas leases on federal land on Sept. 12 in Bakersfield. The competitive lease auction involves 17 parcels for a total of 16,107.72 acres of public lands in Kern and Kings counties."
"BLM California and Nevada to hold combined geothermal lease sale" (BLM California news release, 7/20/07)
BLM California will offer for lease 6 parcels containing more than 2,700 acres in Lake, Sonoma and Mendocino counties at a competitive oral auction -- to take place at the BLM Nevada State Office in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, August 14.
"L.A. utility applies for local access for power lines" (Hi-Desert Star, 7/27/07)
"The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently submitted applications to both the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service for right-of-way access on federal lands where the utility company hopes to locate a 500 kilovolt (kV) power line carrying energy from Imperial County to the City of Angels."
"Sunrise Powerlink hearings on hold" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/27/07)
"Regulatory hearings into San Diego Gas & Electric's proposal to build the controversial $1.3 billion Sunrise Powerlink have been suspended, as parties study recent corrections made by the utility to its application for the project....In a separate setback...the PUC commissioner overseeing the case, said this week that efforts to complete an environmental review of Sunrise had been delayed at least five months by actions of SDG&E." The BLM is involved in rights-of-way permitting for the proposed power line.
RELATED: "Ruling disrupts utility's schedule" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/07)
"A state utilities commissioner yesterday dealt what could be a fatal blow to San Diego Gas & Electric's plan to build the Sunrise Powerlink by 2010, when the utility has maintained the controversial, 150-mile-long electric transmission line will be needed....errors and delays by SDG&E in the application process would force a postponement in completing a draft environmental impact report from next month to early January. That delay would have a cascading effect and make it impossible for the five-member panel to issue a final decision on the project early next year, as previously scheduled."
IMPERIAL SAND DUNES
"Plant habitat slashed?" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/29/07)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a 5,700-acre cut in land designated to protect a threatened desert plant in the Imperial Valley Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
The move is the latest in a seven-year dispute pitting environmental groups against off-road enthusiasts with one of Imperial County’s most critical natural and economic resources -- the sand dunes -- at the center of the debate....In 2000, in the face of a lawsuit then by environmental groups over the plant, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management settled the issue by agreeing to close 48,000 acres of the sand dunes."
(May require free registration.)
"Our opinion: More dunes, more money" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/30/07)
Editorial: "The first rush of dunes visitors won’t descend on Imperial County until October, when the cooler weather kicks off the season at one of the country’s biggest and busiest off-roading playgrounds.
Yet the wind-swept and sun-baked dunes, as empty as they may be today, are still making news, much to the delight of those with an economic stake and much to the detriment of those environmentalists bent on controlling its usage in order to preserve plants and animals that call the desert home."
(May require free registration.)
"Proposed rule would shrink plant's habitat" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/27/07)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule Friday that would shrink by 25 percent the boundaries of critical habitat set aside for survival of a plant threatened with extinction in an area popular with off-road enthusiasts in Imperial County. The new proposed protection for Peirson's milk-vetch...stems from a lawsuit....The service proposes a 16,108-acre protected area in the Algodones Dunes, an area managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management as part of the Imperial San Dunes Recreation Area...."
RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
HEADLINES AND HIGHLIGHTS
"Plan has Pechanga receiving U.S. land" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/1/07)
"Temecula's Pechanga tribe would get more than 1.7 square miles of federal land, some of it in San Diego County, under a bill passed by the House of Representatives....Critics of the transfer say it's unclear whether that bars any possibility of casino development....The bill, H.R. 2963, specifies that the land is to be used for 'protection, preservation, and maintenance of...archaeological, cultural, and wildlife resources' and that only maintenance roads can be built on it....The federal Bureau of Land Management owns the 1,178 acres -- 119 in San Diego County...."
RELATED: "House approves bill that would give Pechanga tribe 1,178 acres" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/31/07)
"A bill that would give 1,178 acres of federal land to the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians passed the House and now goes to the Senate, Rep. Darrell Issa announced Tuesday. The legislation would transfer acreage in Riverside and San Diego counties from the Bureau of Land Management to the tribe to preserve lands that are culturally and historically significant...."
(May requre free registration.)
"Cedar Hill is now public land" (BLM California news release, 7/27/07)
Through a generous donation, the Bureau of Land Management has acquired nearly 4,000 acres in Mono County. Portions of these new public lands may be accessed from State Highway 167 via existing, primitive roads and on foot or horseback.
"Clear Creek paradox: Bulldozers are restoring ecosystems" (News.bytes Extra)
"As massive earth-moving equipment rumbles across a creek channel near Redding, a casual observer might surmise that a huge sand and gravel mining operation is in full swing. But the work now underway at Lower Clear Creek just south of Redding is not a gravel mining project. This is ecosystem restoration on an industrial scale...."
"Taming the wild spirit" (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 7/29/07)
"A television crew went to see a man about a horse last week. The star of the show was Hail Yeah, a 3-year-old wild mustang that was plucked from the hills of Nevada by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Since June, the horse has been under the watchful eye and gentle hands of Norco's Ray Ariss, who was one of 100 horse trainers nationwide chosen to compete in 'Extreme Mustang Makeover'." Includes links to a photo gallery, plus a 3 /12-minute video.
"A dustup over weed control" (High Country News, 7/24/07)
"They race across the West covering 2,300 acres each day, devouring an area the size of twenty Wal-Mart superstores every minute. They reduce habitat for wildlife, dry up water tables and intensify the threat of wildfires on 35 million acres of public land...in California, yellow star thistle has invaded between 15 and 20 million acres."
"Ranchers, agency specialists study rangeland monitoring methods" (News.bytes Extra)
"Livestock grazing permit holders and federal agency resource managers spent a day in the high desert range of northeast California recently, in a training session on monitoring the health of rangelands. The session, hosted by the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee, was designed to enable ranchers to learn the monitoring methods used by rangeland management specialists with the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service."
"It's a road movie that could quell curiosity about Zzyzx" (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 7/29/07)
"Zzyzx is the name of one of the strangest places in San Bernardino County. And 'Zzyzx' is the name of one of the strangest movies ever shot in San Bernardino County....'Zzyzx,' the movie, has just been released on DVD, and I had a chance to screen it last week....Since 1976, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed California State University to manage the site as a research and educational facility called the Desert Studies Center."
"Surprise Canyon lawsuit tossed out of court" (Sierra Wave - KSRW TV/radio, 7/30/07)
"In another controversy over desert roads, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed to re-open Surprise Canyon, (near Ballarat) to off road vehicle use....Off road vehicle travel in Surprise Canyon was banned in 2000 and 4x4 fans sued the federal government to re-open the Canyon under a civil war era law known as R.S. 2477."
RELATED: "Judge dismisses Calif. off-roading rights case" (Associated Press in ABC News, 7/28/07)
"A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at opening a fragile canyon streambed in Death Valley to off-road enthusiasts, parties in the case said."
RELATED: "Surprise Canyon closure and EIS information" (BLM California, Ridgecrest Field Office)
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
August 4-5 and later dates - Guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve
August 14 - Geothermal lease sale, California and Nevada BLM
August 18 - Guided hike: Coastal prairie ecology
Mattole Beach, King Range National Conservation Area
August 21 - Dumont Dunes Technical Review Team meeting
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS
"Salazar blocks BLM pick" (Associated Press in Colorado Springs Gazette, 7/26/07)
"Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar officially blocked on Wednesday the confirmation of President Bush’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management."
"No go on BLM nominee" (Denver Post, 7/25/07)
"Sen. Ken Salazar will continue to block confirmation of President Bush's pick to head the Bureau of Land Management until the administration addresses Colorado's concerns about drilling on top of the Roan Plateau, he said."
"BLM launches satellite technology to serve remote locations" (BLM national news release, 7/31/07)
"The Bureau of Land Management has solved the problem of providing enterprise network resources to employees who work at remote, generally rural locations where no commercial wireline data services exist. These places are typically fire guard stations, recreation sites, national monument visitor centers, resource offices, and ranger stations....One of the more successful VSAT sites is the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located at Soda Lake in the San Joaquin Valley of California."
"Bureau of Land Management signs on to three-nation campaign to promote pollinators" (People, Land & Water, 7/29/07)
"The Bureau of Land Management recently entered into an agreement with the California-based Coevolution Institute to promote pollinators....BLM’s partnership with CoE is part of a national effort to increase public awareness about pollinators. Along with other animals, pollinators enable the reproduction of 85 percent of flowering plants, accounting for as much as one-third of the nation’s food supply.
NATIONAL: Mining Law reform
"Bush administration opposes proposed rewrite of mining law" (Denver Examiner, 7/26/07)
"The Bush administration on Thursday came out against a suggested revision of a 135-year-old hard-rock mining law that would impose the first-ever royalty fees and environmental restrictions for mining on public land. The regulations could hurt the mining industry, the economy and U.S. security, said Henri Bisson, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management."
"Subcommittee On Energy And Mineral Resources: Legislative Hearing On H.R. 2262" (U.S. House of Representatives, 7/26/07)
"The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources...will hold a legislative hearing on the following bill: H.R. 2262: To modify the requirements applicable to locatable minerals on public domain lands, consistent with the principles of self-initiation of mining claims, and for other purposes. (The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007)"
"Statement of Henri Bisson, Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management...H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007"(U.S. House of Representatives, 7/26/07)
PDF file, 5 pages, 45 kilobytes:
"Mining Law reform juggernaut; not so wild about Larry or Harry" (Mineweb, 7/27/07)
"Thursday's House Energy and Minerals Subcommittee Hearing on H.R. 2262, aimed at U.S. Mining Law reform, appeared to be divided into several camps: environmentalists ... miners ... and the rest of us." Witnesses including Henri Bisson, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, spoke of the impact of, or need for, mining operations on public lands.
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