A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 305 - 10/31/07
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Continuing coverage
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- More wildlife on public lands
- Public lands 'test your knowledge"
- Recreation on public lands
- Planning for public lands:
- Central California Advisory Council meets
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Headlines and highlights: Wild horses and burros for adoption, jobs, more
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items:
- Wind turbines and wildlife
- Cooperative Conservation Act
- Helium shortage
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
"Off road: Volunteers turn out to lend a hand" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/25/07)
"Ken Belt is an off-road enthusiast who wants to preserve the desert, so four years ago he decided to coordinate a clean-up effort. 'I use the desert a lot and I saw a need to clean up the Superstition Mountains area because a lot of local people go there,' Belt said....On Saturday, about 250 people showed up looking to lend a hand....Bureau of Land Management officials are always willing to work with groups willing to lend a hand."
RELATED: "Superstition Mountain Open Area" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
Located north of the Plaster City OHV Open Area, this 13,000-acre open area presents an array of challenging OHV riding opportunities from sand dunes to mud hills. Cross-country OHV use is permitted within the boundaries of this area. Limited use areas and military practice bombing targets are immediately adjacent to the open area. Please observe all posted signs and do not enter the bombing ranges.
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:
"Rademacher Hills and Indian Wells Canyon" (BLM California Ridgecrest Field Office)
The Ridgecrest Field Office held two National Public Land Day projects over two weekends. Thirty-seven volunteers and BLM staff turned out at Indian Wells Canyon to for maintenance, cleanup and carrying a heavy picnic table in pieces up to the Sky Ridge Trail to install it. The next weekend, 21 volunteers from the Friends of Rademacher Hills, the Sierra Club, and others assisted with work at the Downs Roadhead in the Rademacher Hills viewshed.
"The Kimery Report: The California fires: Was state, federal govn't prepared?"(HSToday Magazine, 10/30/07)
Firefighters "waged a courageously Herculean battle against the onslaught of fires that roared across southern California last week. And yet, legitimate concerns festered over the adequacy of...preparedness for catastrophic disasters....These questions have expanded to challenge the adequacy of the Departments of Interior and Bureau of Land Management to be prepared for megafires and performing appropriate fire prevention."
"First line of defense" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/07)
"'Blame Washington' has become something of a post-disaster ritual for state and local officials. But when it comes to preparation for the types of wildfires that just swept through Southern California, Washington gets better marks than Sacramento in one significant regard. The federal government has consistently and generously poured funding into the California Fire Safe Council, a nonprofit group with a network of 125 local councils that are dedicated to educating homeowners, preparing disaster plans and helping communities clear out 'defensible space' around fire-prone areas." See stories under "wildfire: prevention" below for examples of two grants from the BLM working with Fire Safe councils.
"Fingerpointing over grounded helicopters" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/07)
"State and federal officials on Saturday blamed each other for allowing nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters to sit idle while deadly wildfires ravaged Southern California, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged to improve the state's response to battling wildfires."
"Bay Area crews: Long wait for assignment" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25/07)
"There's nothing more frustrating for a firefighter than sitting around, waiting, while more than a dozen blazes wreak havoc....the wait is an unavoidable side effect of an effort to organize 8,000 firefighters spread across Southern California....Don Ferguson, a federal Bureau of Land Management spokesman assigned to the Ranch Fire, acknowledged that the waiting 'probably isn't the proudest part of a firefighter's life.' But it all comes down to logistics...."
"Exchange Club honors three of county's finest" (Kern Valley Sun, 10/31/07)
Firefighters "give up what is often a chunk of his or her personal time to go off and help people they've never met, and may never meet at all...to lend a hand to fellow brethren in need of help....working odd hours at the expense of family time, often without pay....Each honoree was chosen in a vote by their peers, making it an even more poignant accolade -- Justin Sundberg of the Kern County Fire Department, George Bowen of the United States Forest Service, and Leif Matheisen of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
RELATED: "Kern Valley Hotshots" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
"Weathering the storm" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/31/07)
"Eventually, outdoors lovers will return to a resilient backcountry that has been razed and changed by fire....Deer season for rifle hunters opened Saturday in San Diego County, but with the Cleveland National Forest and now Bureau of Land Management lands closed and so many areas affected by the fires, most hunters chose not to hunt."
"Behind the wildfires" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/27/07)
Interview with "conservation biologist and forest researcher Dr. Reese Halter" on the southern California wildfires: "We've got it in national forests, state forests, Bureau of Land Management lands....This is that funky urban-wildland interface. It's a cocktail of everybody's stuff. But we've got to do something."
"Fires spark new energy questions" (North County Times, 10/25/07)
Editorial: "The infernos around us have ripped new holes in the cases both for and against the Sunrise Powerlink. We still support the Sunrise Powerlink because, among other reasons, we do think it will increase our access to reliable energy. But whatever solutions we arrive at must take into account the challenges illuminated by the firestorms of 2007, so that they emerge smarter than they were before this devastating week."
WILDFIRES AND AFTERMATH: Continuing coverage
"Wildfire coverage" (KPBS San Diego, 10/31/07)
Continuing coverage of the aftermath of the fires, including print, audio, photo slideshow, and blogs.
"Inland wildfires" (Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Updates, resources, archive of many videos and slideshows from the fires, and more.
(May require free registration.)
"Fire and wind" (San Bernardino County Sun)
"Latest updates on the fires and wind conditions."
"Battling California's wildfires" (State of California)
Fire updates, advisories and assistance information from the State of California.
"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.
"Don't feel like burning?: Chipper Rows are a no-cost alternative" (Oroville Mercury-Register, 10/25/07)
"Residents of Butte County can now participate in the No-Cost Chipper Program [that] operates outside of fire season from November to June and provides an alternative to burning or driving brush and tree limbs to the landfill....The Chipper is funded by grants and donations" including the Bureau of Land Management's Community-Based Wildfire Prevention Grant Program of the California Fire Safe Council.
"California fire watchers tap wi-fi for blaze control" (Information Week, 10/30/07)
"The system is being paid for with grant funding from the National Fire Plan, under the auspices of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the California Fire Safe Council....Using the cameras -- two fixed and three on tilt/swivel mounts atop collapsible fiberglass poles -- the network will survey more than 20 square miles of parks, wilderness and open space that surround Laguna Beach."
"BLM issues emergency closure of public lands in eastern San Diego County" (BLM California news release, 10/26/07)
To protect public health and safety, the Bureau of Land Management has issued an emergency closure of public lands in the McCain Valley Conservation Area (Boulevard, CA) to include Cottonwood Campground, Lark Canyon Campground and Lark Canyon Day Use OHV Area effective today, October 26, 2007 through the end of the current fire emergency.
"Fire expert: State needs to change ways" (Inside Bay Area, 10/26/07)
"The catastrophic damage and loss of life from wildfires in California will become a costly way of life...a fire ecologist warned.... 'unless we make decisions on where we build and how we manage growth'....a recent U.S. General Accounting Office report stated that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management spend between 50 and 95 percent of their firefighting budgets protecting homes next to federal lands. That's upward of $1.2 billion a year, the report stated. Other governmental agencies bear costs as well...."
"Climate change: Hotter world may fan flames" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25/07)
"The risk of catastrophic wildfires like those sweeping through Southern California will increase all over the state as the world heats up, forests dry out and weather patterns shift, forestry experts said Wednesday. The 16 wind-blown fires that forced the largest mass evacuation in California history may or may not be the result of climate change, but studies have shown that the hot drought conditions that fed the flames are becoming more common."
"Grazing Trails: Cows will help park fight weeds, wildfires" (San Mateo County Times, 10/30/07)
"The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District will re-introduce grazing to two former ranches within the preserve this winter as a naturally efficient way to manage weed buildup and cut back on wildfire risk....Agencies from the state Department of Fish and Game to the Bureau of Land Management have publicly recognized the value of cattle grazing....Instead of cows, steers and sheep, elk and deer used to graze the valleys and mountain slopes of California. Natural wildfires used to sweep through fields every couple of years, promoting wildflower and native plant growth."
NOT FOR EDUCATORS ONLY:
Bighorn sheep, BLM photo
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
Why do bighorn sheep butt heads?
(a.) fighting over food
(b.) to try to drive each other away from their territory
(c.) to practice fighting off large predators
(d.) to establish superiority and dominance within their herd
(e.) to toughen their horns and skulls with scar tissue, to improve their hardiness for survival
(f.) for fun - it's a guy thing
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
"Desert floor to mountain top vital to birds" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/26/07)
"The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument has joined several other Inland areas as a Globally Important Bird Area. In all, the area designated covers 272,000 acres from the desert floor to Mount San Jacinto's summit at 10,834 feet.... Designated sites must have critical habitat -- for at least part of the year -- supporting a significant population of endangered or threatened species or species on a Watch List. Other factors include species with a limited range or a large concentration of breeding, migrating or wintering birds."
"TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE"
Visit our BLM California homepage to answer the question, "Which are the two BLM-managed National Conservation Areas in California?"
RECREATION ON PUBLIC LANDS
"50,000 open dunes season" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/28/07)
"About 50,000 visitors made their way to the Imperial County Sand Dunes Recreational Area during the weekend and at least another 40,000 are expected next weekend, according to Bureau of Land Management officials. In this, the opening weekend of the dunes season, about half as many people were out as there were last year...."
"Open space at the lake" (Napa Valley Register, 10/28/07)
"The general public could one day have greater access to sweeping views of Lake Berryessa, with the county’s proposed purchase of a 224-acre parcel from the Land Trust of Napa County, a nonprofit agency....The property -- actually three parcels known collectively as Berryessa Vista, is located between lands owned by two federal agencies -- the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Land Management. Eventually, the dirt roads that criss-cross the Land Trust property would be linked to a planned trail around the lake."
"BLM announces Carrizo Plain tour" (BLM California news release, 10/30/07)
The Bureau of Land Management and the managing partners of the Carrizo Plain National Monument invite the public to a day-long tour of the Carrizo on Saturday. Participants will need water, lunch, hiking shoes and transportation. A carpool will be formed at the start of the tour. The tour will include stops along the east side of the monument that were not included in a tour in August.
See more under "selected upcoming events" section near the end of this issue.
PLANNING FOR PUBLIC LANDS
"Advisory Council visits Fort Ord, plans future discussions" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM Central California Advisory Council at their meeting Friday and Saturday in Marina made plans to further explore issues with off-highway vehicle use. Following a tour of Fort Ord, council members discussed plans for development and habitat management at the former military installation.
RELATED: "Fort Ord public lands" (BLM California, Hollister Field Office)
Some of the last undeveloped natural, public lands on the Monterey Peninsula are located on the former Fort Ord military base. Here the Bureau of Land Management protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals and their native coastal habitats. There are also more than 50 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, on bike or on horseback.
MEET YOUR ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Geary Hund...
...represents national/regional environmental protection interests on BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council. Read more:
RELATED: "BLM California Desert District" (BLM California website)
HEADLINES AND HIGHLIGHTS
"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 public can preview the animals from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 2. There will be a silent auction from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Nov. 3. Animals will be available after that on a first-come, first-served basis for a $125 adoption fee.
"Local forest yields record pot haul" (Porterville Recorder, 10/24/07)
"As of Oct. 20, 41 arrests have been made related to illegal cultivation within the Sequoia National Forest, and on adjacent Bureau of Land Management and private lands with the majority of arrests occurring in Kern County."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
November 1 and 8 - National monument hike
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Palm Desert
November 3-4 and 10-11 - Guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve
November 2-3 - Wild horse and burro adoption event
November 4 - Autumn natural history walk
Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve (near Redding)
November 10 - Veteran's pheasant hunt
Paynes Creek wetlands, north of Red Bluff
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS
"Interior Secretary Kempthorne names members for committee to address wildlife impacts of wind turbines" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/26/07)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today named 22 individuals to serve on a special Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee who will advise the Secretary and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats from land-based wind energy facilities. Said Secretary Kempthorne, "This committee will help examine issues, such as site selection and turbine design, so we can develop wind resources while protecting wildlife."
"Department of the Interior thanks Senator Bingaman for introduction of cooperative conservation legislation" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/25/07)
The “Cooperative Conservation Enhancement Act” would remove barriers to fostering additional cooperation among federal agencies, local and state governments, and the private sector.
"Price of helium keeps rising, area party retailers say" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/30/07)
"Customers don't believe balloon-seller Darlene Jaycocks when she tells them she cannot accept last-minute birthday party orders because of a global helium shortage....An array of industrial uses of helium, such as cooling MRI magnets or manufacturing semi-conductors, lasers and telecommunication cables are driving up global demand. Meanwhile, supply is stagnant, said Hans Stuart with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, one of the world's largest suppliers of crude helium to private refineries. 'Demand for helium is ballooning,' said Stuart, chief of external affairs for the bureau's New Mexico office."
(Site requires free registration.)
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) to establish superiority and dominance within their herd
SOURCE: "Bighorn sheep - Ovis canadensis" (BLM California wildlife database)
"One of the most fascinating activities to watch is the butting contests of bighorn sheep. This occurs in the fall, when rams with similar sized horns charge at each other at speeds near 20 miles per hour! The males do this to establish superiority among the herd. The butting contests are a precursor to mating, which takes place from November to December."
"Rams remain in southern California" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25/07)
"Off in the distance, what sounded like a rifle shot reverberated down the canyon...It turned out to be no gunshot. In fact, it was two bighorn sheep ramming heads, part of the rutting ritual rams go through in their annual fights for dominance of ewes in each family herd." The author accompanies a wildlife photographer: "The ethics of wildlife photography require that your distance and actions cannot affect the behavior of your subjects."
"Bighorn sheep - Ovis canadensis" (California Department of Fish and Game)
Information such as distribution, habitat and life history, plus references.
PDF file, 17 kilobytes, three pages:
"Bighorn sheep of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
"Bighorns are a true sheep distantly related to domestic sheep. The name 'desert bighorn sheep' applies to those bighorn inhabiting hot and dry desert mountain ranges with sparse vegetation and water." This refuge is in Arizona.
"Ovis canadensis - bighorn sheep" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
Information including physical description, reproduction, behavior and references, on this website "written largely by and for college students."
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