A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 304 - 10/24/07
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Wildfire ravages southern California
- California Coastal National Monument on TV
- Wild horses and burros: Cele'bray'tion and upcoming adoption events
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- BLM "test your knowledge" quiz
- Wildlife: More birds on public lands
- Environmental education
- Imperial Sand Dunes volunteers and fun
- Continuing National Public Lands Day wrap up
- BLM advisory councils
- Energy on public lands
- Headlines and highlights: Taft buys BLM land, Piedras Blancas neighbor, jobs
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Pollinator conference, mining bill debate
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES
Southern California wildfires have triggered "the largest evacuation in state history.". Firefighters, even with the help of others from throughout the state, are stretched thin. Firefighters from the BLM and other agencies in other states are joining them.
At left: Eric Downard, BLM fire engine operator based in Apple Valley, digs a line while trying to contain a wildfire in southern California -- thumbnail from a Sacramento Bee online slide show, "Southern California Firestorm:"
"Fire outbreaks stretching resources" (Ventura County Star, 10/23/07)
"[A] San Diego-based firefighting company raced to Ventura County to help quell the outbreak of wildfires....but never made it. Fire in San Diego County erupted, leading to massive evacuations. The team turned back to help out at home. Such is the volatility of firefighting and, more important, the need to deploy limited resources as a plethora of blazes hits Southern California all at once. 'Rarely do we have this much going on,' Bill Nash, a Ventura County Fire Department spokesman, said Monday. 'Virtually the entire Southern California area is all out of firefighters.'"
(Site requires registration, free for recent stories.)
"Local crews heading south" (Porterville Daily Recorder, 10/23/07)
"Forest Service spokeswoman Margie Clack...said at least 125 Forest Service firefighters from the Sequoia National Forest traveled south Sunday and Monday to assist Southern California battle numerous wild land blazes....Clack said an additional 25 firefighters and five engines from the Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Tule River Indian Reservation were traveling south...."
"North state fire personnel travel south to assist" (Redding Record Searchlight, 10/24/07)
Shasta Lake firefighter "is one of at least 500 north state firefighters, support staff and disaster relief volunteers who've traveled to the San Diego area to help a force that has been stretched to the breaking point. 'You see everybody from BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to the National Park Service,' he said. 'Every agency, even little ones like Yreka and Mt. Shasta. It's pretty unbelievable.'"
"Federal and state wildland fire experts jointly respond to southern California wildfires" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/23/07)
"More than 2,000 members of the interagency wildland firefighting community mobilized through the National Interagency Coordination Center are engaged in a wide range of wildfire response efforts to several fires in Southern California. Requests for assistance through the National Interagency Fire Center began on Oct. 21 and firefighters and incident management teams were mobilized from across the country. These professionals come from across the spectrum of federal, state and local wildland fire organizations."
Many newspapers are continuing coverage on their front pages, with updates, photos (including many from their readers) and often video:
San Diego Union-Tribune
Los Angeles Times (site requires free registration)
Los Angeles Daily News
San Francisco Chronicle
Orange County Register (site requires free registration)
San Bernardino County Sun
Sacramento Bee (site requires free registration)
Santa Clarita Signal
Associated Press on Yahoo! News
"Northern California fire season extended" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/24/07)
"The raging Southern California wildfires forced state fire officials on Tuesday to cancel plans to end the fire season in the northern half of the state. Fire season in a number of Northern California counties, including Humboldt and Lassen, had already been closed for the year, and the season was scheduled to close Monday in other areas, like the Sacramento region."
"Why Californians don't leave" (Time, 10/23/07)
"Why do people choose to live in hazardous regions in the first place? As University of California Riverside fire ecologist Richard Minnich says, "What...are these people doing living in vegetation which at times behaves like gasoline? They should know better. Would you live in gasoline?" Minnich advocates public policy that stops approving development in fire danger areas without removing the natural fuel -- a move that may require policymakers to overcome their own brain wiring. (Includes links to related stories and photos.
"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.
CALIFORNIA COASTAL NATIONAL MONUMENT
A 30-minute segment on the California Coastal National Monument will appear on the Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) “California’s Golden Parks” series. Huell Howser and his cameraman visited portions of the monument from the northern section of Big Sur to Pacific Grove along the south side of Monterey Bay. The episode was made available to PBS stations throughout California. Some upcoming airdates for "California Coastal National Monument" are:
KCET - Los Angeles: 10/23/07, 7:30 pm
KVIE - Sacramento: 10/25/07, 8:00 pm; 10/26/07, 3:00 pm; 10/27/07, 4:00 pm.
KQED - San Francisco: 10/26/07, 2:30 pm.
See more listings online at:
RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California)
Spanning the entire 1,100 mile length of the California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument is comprised of more than 20,000 BLM administered islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles. The Monument includes those public lands that are exposed above mean high tide, within the corridor extending 12 nautical miles from the shoreline between Mexico and Oregon.
WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Longears Cele'bray'tion celebrates burros and mules" (News.bytes Extra)
Burro and mule fanciers from a wide area of northern California met Oct. 13-14 to celebrate their love of longears. The annual Longears Cele'bray'tion brought together people who have adopted burros and horses from the Bureau of Land Management as well as owners of more unusual animals such as mini donkeys. Organizer Virginia Freeman, a founder of California BLM Adopter Assistance, said the intent of the event is to have fun and to tone down the sometimes serious nature of horse and donkey shows.
"Wild horses, burros available for adoption in Colusa" (BLM California news release, 10/17/07)
Young and healthy wild horses and burros from public ranges will be looking for new homes when the Bureau of Land Management offers them for public adoption Nov. 2 and 3 in Colusa. The BLM will offer 20 horses ranging in age from under 1 to about 5 years old, along with 10 burros, at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
"BLM sets meeting of National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for November 5 in Portland" (BLM California news release, 10/15/07)
The board will discuss issues relating to the management, protection, and control of wild horses and burros on western public rangelands.The advisory board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule - 2007" (BLM California website)
Wild Horses and Burros are also available from these California facilities:
Litchfield, along U. S. Highway 395, about 21 miles northeast of Susanville:
Ridgecrest four miles east of Ridgecrest. Adoptions are by appointment only, call (760) 384-5765 or 1-800-951-8720 for details or tours.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM national website)
NOT FOR EDUCATORS ONLY:
Thumbnail from a photo by C. Barr, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
After a particularly large meal, California condors:
(a.) usually behave as if they are about to migrate south for the winter
(b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again
(c.) tend to focus their next hunt for a meal on slower-moving animals that are easy to catch
(d.) try to cover any remains with leaves and branches, to save it for their next meal
(e.) bury any remains, so as not to attract scavenger animals to their hunting territory
(f.) fall asleep while listening to the after-dinner speaker drone on about commodity futures contracts and convertible debentures
------> See answer -- and more information, including recent state legislation banning lead bullets condor terrirory -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
BLM trivia question
"Test your knowledge" with the interactive quiz on the BLM California homepage:
WILDLIFE: More birds on public lands
National Monument designated as globally important bird area" (BLM California news release, 10/18/07)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument was recently designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. This designation is due to the large number of species of special interest found within the monument.
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains rise abruptly from the desert floor, reaching an elevation of 10,834 feet at the summit of Mount San Jacinto. Providing a picturesque backdrop to local communities, the National Monument significantly contributes to the Coachella Valley's lure as a popular resort and retirement community. It is also a desirable backcountry destination that can be accessed via trails from both the valley floor and the alpine village of Idyllwild.
"Discovery Center programs teach kids about environment, desert safety" (Victorville Daily Press, 10/18/07)
"Bureau of Land Management park ranger Art Basulto told the class to stay away from off-highway vehicle race courses and to pay attention to the warning signs posted in front of caves and abandoned mine shafts. Basulto said that young children who grow up near the desert need to understand the risks of their environment. 'It’s basically preventative. We don’t want to wait until someone gets lost,' he said.
"Renewable energy: POWERful choices!" (BLM national office)
This web-based program for middle school students features three segments:
- A “virtual visit” focusing on five major renewable resources and the role of public lands in their use and development;
- An “Ask the Experts” segment in which BLM energy specialists answer student questions online; and
- A student journal, which allows educators to assess student learning.
Register now for free. The field trip is available for viewing now. Take part in the "Ask the Experts" online session, on Oct. 29-31.
VOLUNTEERS AND FUN: Imperial Sand Dunes
"When playtime is over, there's still plenty to be done in the dunes" (Yuma Sun, 10/15/07)
"The Imperial Sand Dunes are great for fun and play, but they need to be kept clean to stay that way.
That's why United Desert Gateway (UDG), a nonprofit coalition of Yuma County, Brawley and El Centro chambers of commerce, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management have partnered up to organize events to keep the dunes clean."
"Safety and litter campaigns to open dunes season" (BLM California news release, 10/18/07)
The upcoming Halloween weekend at the Imperial Sand Dunes will see several new awareness campaigns emphasizing safety and litter awareness. A “Take It Outside” program aimed at young duners has information such as OHV safety, history, outdoor ethics, wildlife, weather, and topography. The American Sand Association, in partnership with the BLM, United Desert Gateway, and the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office has released a “Time Out for Safety” DVD that targets all levels of off-road users in covering basic rules, duning techniques, emergency contact information and “Tread Lightly” principles. Throughout the upcoming season, several dune-wide cleanups will occur.
"But, but, but officer ..." (Yuma Sun, 10/15/07)
"It's all fun and games at the Imperial Sand Dunes - but there are rules and regulations you need to know before you hit the sand."
"You play, you pay" (Yuma Sun, 10/15/07)
"Make sure you have the right permits before hitting the sand....You play, you pay - but it's so you can keep playing.
All duners going to the Imperial Sand Dunes need a permit per primary vehicle or otherwise they'll get a citation...."
"Outdoors - offroad" (Yuma Sun, 10/15/07)
Links to several off-road informational stories -- those above, plus more.
"Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
VOLUNTEERS: National Public Lands Day
We continue our wrap-up of projects completed by volunteers and staff during recent National Public Lands Day events organized by many BLM California Field Offices:
Hollister Field Office: Fort Ord
For National Public Lands Day 2007, volunteers helped rebuild trails, worked on erosion control projects, collected native plant seeds and removed invasive weeds. Sixty volunteers turned out for the event, working through the morning and finishing with lunch and entertainment.
El Centro Field Office: Table Mountain ACEC
On Saturday September 29, 2007 the El Centro Field Office hosted a National Public Lands Day event which drew 16 volunteers and 5 staff members. Volunteers collected three large truck loads of trash from the edges of the Jacumba Wilderness and the Table Mountain Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in Eastern San Diego County.
ENERGY ON PUBLIC LANDS
"Go solar over sunrise, report says" (Voice of San Diego, 10/19/07)
"A regional energy study released Thursday calls for a massive increase in San Diego's reliance on solar power as a way to supplant the need for the Sunrise Powerlink, a $1.3 billion power line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric....Installing 2,000 megawatts of solar on large local buildings would be nothing short of revolutionary. The region currently gets about 30 megawatts of its energy from the sun -- less than 1 percent." The proposed Sunrise Powerlink would require rights-of-way permits from the BLM for portions of its route.
"Report recommends shifting power-line money to solar panels" (North County Times, 10/18/07)
"For the cost of constructing a controversial 150-mile power line through the backcountry, San Diego County could boost its electricity supply about the same amount by offering incentives to home and business owners to install solar panels on roofs, a new report says. Utility officials and supporters of the proposed power line immediately criticized the report Thursday, calling it unrealistic. Environmental groups and elected officials who oppose the line commended the study as a forward-thinking, practical blueprint for steering society into a new era of clean electricity generation."
"Sunrise Powerlink, other SDG&E plans to be discussed" (North County Times, 10/21/07)
"The public will get a chance to learn more about San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line Thursday at a Rancho Bernardo Community Council meeting. Two SDG&E representatives will explain the utility company's plans for the 150-mile line, which would run from El Centro to San Diego.'
RELATED: "SDG&E's Proposed Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Project" (California Public Utilities Commission)
Much information about the proposed project.
"Western Wind seeks to expand Mesa, Windridge capacity" (Energy Current, 10/24/07)
"Western Wind Energy Corporation has filed a final plan of development to expand the current Mesa wind generating facility in southern California from 30 MW of production to 50 MW of production. The plan was submitted to the Bureau of Land Management with all the completed biological, archeological and cultural studies."
"Energy Resources" (BLM California website)
Links to summaries of various types of energy production on public lands in California --from biomass and solar to oil and gas -- plus the transmission lines that link them to consumers.
"SDG&E says key Southwest Powerlink may be back Weds" (Reuters, 10/23/07)
"The Southwest Powerlink that feeds power from Arizona into San Diego County is expected to be back in service as soon as Wednesday.... A more precise timing of the return of the key line and an assessment of damage can't be known until wildfires diminish, SDG&E said."
HEADLINES AND HIGHLIGHTS
"BLM sells city of Taft land for $10 per acre" (Taft Midway Driller, 10/19/07)
"[T]he Taft City Council jumped at the chance to by 454 acres of vacant land between Gardner Field Road and Petroleum Club Road with an eye towards using it for everything from Rails to Trails paths to drilling islands for the oil industry.
The land is being sold through a BLM program that makes land available to cities at the low price through its Recreation Public Purposes Act.
"Ocean view goes public" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/20/07)
"The 20 acres of the Piedras Blancas Resort
had been "used for decades as a motel, recreational vehicle parking lot, coffee shop and gas station...." The Trust for Public Land transferred the parcel to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. "The area’s scenic value was obvious under warm sunshine Friday. As waves dashed against dramatic bluffs and white-frosted rocks that give the area its name, the beacon of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse blinked in the background."
RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse was completed in 1875. The Bureau of Land Management has assumed administrative control and is in the process of initiating restoration and stabilization efforts. The Bureau has completed a planning framework that will guide these activities.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Jan Bedrosian...
...is BLM California's Deputy State Director for External Affairs. She has served with BLM for more than 34 years, 20 of those in the California state office. For her dedication, expertise, and service, Jan was selected to receive the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award. Read more:
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
October 27-28 - Guided hike
Headwaters Forest Reserve
October 27 - Demonstrations: wild trout and fly fishing
Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS
"Interior Department hosts international pollinator conference" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/19/07)
The U.S. Department of the Interior will host the 7th Annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign International Summit on October 24-26. Top experts from the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather in the nation’s capital at the department’s headquarters and other locations to explore options for preserving and protecting native pollinators and honeybees in North America.
"Making gold miners pay" (Time, 10/23/07)
"Today, gold and other precious-metal mining companies are extracting bounties of ore, leaving behind scarred mountainsides, toxic acid-rock runoffs and waste-rock dumps -- and although much of the damage is on public land, the mining operations, most of which are multinationals, are not required to pay royalties on precious-metals production, and many escape liability for environmental restoration. That tradition may be about to change....a new bill was being debated by the House Natural Resources Committee,which could force the mines to pay up."
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again
SOURCE: "California Condor - Gymnogyps californianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Like all vultures, condors are carrion-eaters. They prefer large dead animals like deer, cattle, and sheep, but will also eat rodents and more rarely, fish. If a meal has been particularly big, they may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can take off again."
RELATED: Lead bullet ban intended to help protect condors
"Schwarzenegger OKs lead-bullet ban" (Monterey County Herald, 10/14/07)
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law...a bill that would ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game in the California condor range....Assembly Bill 821, the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act...requires the use of nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition when shooting big game or coyotes within specific areas of the state identified as the condor's range....One possibility is extending the nonlead ban to encompass the entire historic condor range, or making the ban apply statewide." Historic condor range would include parts of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, managed the by BLM California, and areas managed by BLM's Hollister Field Office.
(Site may now require free registration.)
"Gov. ignores gun lobby, and condors get a lift" (Los Angeles Times, 10/18/07)
Columnist: "The bill...will ban the use of lead center-fire ammunition -- bullets used in big game rifles -- throughout condor country, stretching roughly down the coastal range from Monterey to Santa Paula. The alternative metal presumably will be copper....For years, waterfowl hunters have been banned from using lead shot. Eagles were dying from nibbling on lead-saturated duck carcasses."
(Site requires free registration.)
"Local hunters cry foul over new law protecting California condor" (KSBY-TV, San Luis Obispo-Santa Barbara)
"The new state law protects the California condor but hunters say it has nothing to do with the endangered bird."
"Governor signs lead bullet ban" (Santa Barbara Independent, 10/18/07)
"'It’s a start, but there’s so much lead out there already that it’s going to take years and years and years for the condors to be out of harm’s way,' said Anthony Prieto, a lifelong condor enthusiast and avid hunter. Prieto said he’s taken flak from fellow hunters for championing lead-free ammo.
"Governor signs bullet ban in condor country" (Gilroy Dispatch, 10/17/07)
RELATED: More about California condors
"Wings of the spirit: California condor" (California State Parks)
"In historic times, the birds ranged from British Columbia to Baja California Sur, but by 1940, they were seen only in southern California. By 1977, approximately 45 birds were known to exist in the wild and by 1985, only 9 birds remained. On April 19, 1987 the last free-flying California condor was captured from the wild and placed in captivity. At that time, only 27 condors remained alive, all in zoos." With some history, photos and a list of references cited.
"Gymnogyps californianus - California condor" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
Includes more information, photos, plus a copyrighted sketch. "The Animal Diversity Web is an educational resource written largely by and for college students."
"California condors" (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Includes links to more information about condors, their recovery program, "field notes", frequently asked questions - and more links.
"California condors" (National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park)
"Regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is the largest land bird in North America with a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet and weighing up to 22 pounds." More information and photos.
"California condor - Gymnogyps californianus" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Life history account and list of literature cited.
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