A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 316 - 1/30/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- BLM, Dept. of Interior officials visit border area
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Elephant seal: Another one crosses the road
- Wild horses and burros
- Energy on public lands: Oil and gas auction, wind, solar, power corridors
- Energy: Sunrise Powerlink
- New Gold Rush?
- Historic mine contamination
- Land preservation
- Headlines and highlights: Planting native, snowbirds fight fire, new mine, oil spill, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Mining law, geospatial data, more
OFFICIALS VISIT BORDER AREA
"D.C. delegates get update on dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/28/08)
"For United Desert Gateway president Nicole Gilles, Monday was a 'monumental day' for those involved with the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area." She spoke to a touring delegation including Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Stephen Allred, BLM Director James Caswell, BLM-California Director Mike Pool and others, "as UDG showed off what it has accomplished in the dunes....In 2004, UDG was formed as the Brawley, El Centro and Yuma chambers of commerce teamed with the Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District in an assistance agreement."
"Assistant Secretary and BLM Director tour border area" (News.bytes Extra)
Assistant Secretary of the Interior Steve Allred and Director Jim Caswell toured the border area in San Diego and Imperial counties earlier this week, focusing on law enforcement challenges and recreation opportunities.
RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes"(BLM-California, El Centro Field Office)
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
Pacific fisher - from a BLM photo
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
The Pacific fisher is one of the few animals who are able to use this as food source. Which of these is it?
e. Pine needles
f. Sea stars ("starfish")
g. Wax from beehives
i. Canned sardines
j. So-called "nutrition bars"
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
ELEPHANT SEAL: Another one crosses the road
"You may have heard of 'Lucky,' the lonely elephant seal near San Simeon who was spending time on the east side of Highway 1. Well, he has a buddy who has just taken his place. A young four to five-year-old elephant seal, as of this morning, is still on the east side, or Hearst Ranch side of Highway 1, in danger of crossing at any moment." With photos and link to a video news report.
As reported earlier in News.bytes, issues 313 through 315:
ENERGY ON PUBLIC LANDS
"BLM plans oil and gas lease auction" (BLM California news release, 1/25/08)
The BLM will conduct an auction of oil and gas leases on federal land on March 12 in Bakersfield. The room will open at 8 a.m. to allow bidders to register and obtain a bid number. The competitive oral auction will begin at 9 a.m. The competitive lease auction involves 8 parcels for a total of 3,798.32 acres of public lands in Kern and Fresno counties.
"Energy project slated" (Victorville Daily Press, 1/26/08)
"A project proposed for the unincorporated area east of Apple Valley will place 27 wind turbines on 2,600 acres. The Bureau of Land Management is working with the county and published their intention to conduct an environmental impact study and environmental impact report, said Steve Razo, BLM’s deputy district manager."
"Little energy behind state solar plant efforts" (Los Angeles Times, 1/25/08)
"Despite state goals to encourage alternative energy, no application to build a large solar power plant in California has been approved in 18 years, and new projects could face significant delays in the bureaucracy, the state auditor said Thursday....More than 50 applications have been filed with the federal Bureau of Land Management for large solar plants, those that would produce more than 50 megawatts, but no application for such a facility has been approved by the state since 1990."
RELATED: "California State Auditor Report summary: Solar Energy"
"As the cost of this resource becomes competitive with other renewable resources, applications to construct new solar power plants should increase." Links to full report in PDF format. From page 10 of the full report: "For large solar thermal power plants located on federal land administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), both the BLM and the energy commission must give their approval, as outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the two entities."
"More help urged for 'green' energy" (Las Vegas Sun, 1/28/07)
"At issue: how much planning is being given to placing electrical power lines near generating plants that use renewable resources, versus conventional coal-fired power plants....Heather Feeney, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington office, said...because the corridors may cross only federal lands -- and because the agencies try to avoid wilderness areas, parks, monuments, military bases and other sensitive areas -- the routes they can take are limited."
ENERGY - Sunrise Powerlink
"San Diego hearing added for power line" (North County Times, 1/24/08)
"Residents of metropolitan San Diego now will get the chance to formally weigh in on the draft environmental impact report prepared this month for the proposed $1.3 billion, 150-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line without driving an hour or longer....The added public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the San Diego County Administration Center...."
"Workshops discuss parts of report on Sunrise Powerlink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/30/08)
"The state Public Utilities Commission and the federal Bureau of Land Management are holding the workshops to provide information about sections of the environmental report dealing with such topics as land use, fire management and air quality."
"Respect bayfront plans, state told" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/25/08)
"In an environmental impact report for the Sunrise Powerlink...the PUC staff described a plan to build a new power plant on Chula Vista's bayfront." Chula Vista's mayor "requested that the bayfront location be withdrawn from the final EIR for the Sunrise Powerlink....Local officials are determined to free up the valuable waterfront land for other purposes -- including, potentially, a Chargers stadium" and resort hotel.
RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
Background and more information.
"Power-line debate on the horizon" (North County Times, 1/26/08)
Underground power lines cost "10 times that of overhead lines" and more discussion.
"Power line unwanted above or below ground" (North County Times, 1/29/08)
NEW GOLD RUSH?
"Mesquite Mine has the golden touch" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/29/08)
"The Mesquite Mine northeast of Brawley has seen a tremendous increase in employees and resources produced during the past year, a time period that saw the price of gold increase from $636 per ounce to $923.60 per ounce, as of Tuesday." A portion of the revenues from this mining operation will be shared by BLM with the State Lands Commission, under provisions of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act.
"Golden opportunity in Grass Valley?" (Sacramento Bee, 1/29/08)
"So far, the latest mini-Gold Rush has mostly bypassed California, in part because of the state's tough environmental rules, industry observers said. But that could change this year: Several major mine expansions and reopenings are in the works, from the Mesquite Mine in Imperial County to Sutter Creek in Amador....The Idaho–Maryland produced 2.4 million ounces of gold during its 100-year life, making it the second-most-productive underground mine in California history, behind the Empire Mine a few miles down the road."
(Site may require free registration)
HISTORIC MINING CONTAMINATION
"Elevated arsenic levels discovered at Cactus Mine site in Kern County" (BLM California news release, 1/25/08)
The BLM has initiated preliminary actions at the Cactus mine site near Soledad Mountain in eastern Kern County to protect human health due to concerns about elevated levels of arsenic from mine tailings on both public and private lands.
"NID seeks funding for mercury clean-up" (Grass Valley Union, 1/25/08)
"Mercury contamination from mining practices 150 years ago is a widespread problem affecting many Sierra foothill lakes and rivers....In the latest step toward clean-up, Nevada Irrigation District's board of directors agreed to submit an application with other groups for a $1 million grant to remove mercury from Combie Reservoir....The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service [have] been working to clean up abandoned mine sites on a small scale throughout the county, including the Boston Mine project in the Greenhorn area."
"Boston Mine cleanup" (News.bytes Extra, from issue 235)
Photos and more details from the BLM cleanup referred to in the article above.
"Abandoned mine lands" (BLM-California website)
"Nearly 13,000 mine properties in CA and northwest NV are listed in the Bureau of Mines Mineral Industries Location System database as on BLM land. An estimated additional 5,000 sites not recorded in the database are likely on BLM land. Of these 18,000, an estimated 3,000 significant properties contain hazardous substances or physical features and/or have environmental problems."
"Mountain for sale, portion of Mt. Konocti offered to county" (Lake County Record-Bee, 1/30/08)
"A significant portion of Mt. Konocti has been offered for sale to the county in an effort by property owner Mike Fowler to preserve the land, which officials agree is the most significant landmark in the county, along with Clear Lake.... Another meeting will be held next week, and the interested groups in the consortium, including the Land Trust, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Sierra Club, plan to discuss options."
"Land trust adds 480 acres to list of protected parcels" (Inyo Register, 1/29/08)
"A 480-acre tract is now protected from development by a conservation easement granted to the Eastern Sierra Land Trust.....approximately one mile from the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area and...adjacent to the recently preserved, 3,700-acre Cedar Hills property. Surrounded on three sides by Bureau of Land Management property, the Yednock tract consists of undisturbed alkali dune scrub and scattered juniper trees, which...are habitat for many species of wildlife."
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Snowbirds learn to prevent RV fires" (News.bytes Extra)
Each year, BLM long-term recreation areas and other campgrounds in southern California swarm with "snowbirds" from northern climes. The BLM hosted a flock of these snowbirds, as they learned how to better prevent fires in their recreational vehicles.
"BLM hosts native species planting on Fort Ord" (BLM California news release, 1/24/08)
The Bureau of Land Management, in cooperation with the Return of the Natives at California State University, Monterey Bay, is holding a habitat restoration project at Fort Ord on Feb. 2 About 15 native plant species will be planted at the Picnic Canyon site in south-central Fort Ord in an area where a cement parking structure and an asphalt parking lot were removed.
"Trona info kiosk dedicated" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 1/30/08)
"Panels include traveler's information and desert safety, history, geology, and local points of interest provided by the BLM, Searles Valley Minerals, the Searles Valley Historical Society, the Gem and Mineral Society, Trona Railway, San Bernardino County Sheriff's and Fire Departments, Death Valley National Park, and the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Station."
"BLM announces openings for summer 'weed warrior' jobs" (BLM California news release, 1/31/08)
The Bureau of Land Management is recruiting “weed warriors,” seasonal employees who will work this summer to combat the spread of invasive and noxious weeds on public land in northeast California and far northwest Nevada. The BLM’s Alturas and Eagle Lake (Susanville) field offices plan to fill six positions for a season that begins in mid May and runs for up to six months.
"How much for a bird? A day not surfing?" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/30/08)
"The men and women from six government agencies are trying to put a value on how the Cosco Busan oil spill affected people and wildlife, and they held a meeting in Mill Valley on Tuesday night to ask the public for ideas on what restorations might be needed in the wake of the disaster....the department of Fish and Game, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State Lands Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management will have to place a monetary value...."
RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM-California website)
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.
"Palco gives glimpse of new bankruptcy plan" (Eureka Times-Standard, 1/31/08)
"Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger filed a statement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court...saying the outcome of the Pacific Lumber Co. case is of paramount importance to all Californians...[and] the nearly $500 million state and federal investment in the Headwaters Forest deal should be protected."
RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,474 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka. The reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area.
"Off-roaders like hands off" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/27/08)
"At the Nellis Dunes, northeast of Las Vegas...there are no tracks, no fences, no traffic cops, no fees. Just 10,000 acres of dirt and sand....But the dunes' wide-open freedom -- and free rides -- could change if Clark County takes over the land from the Bureau of Land Management. County and BLM officials have been discussing since 2005 whether the county should oversee the Nellis Dunes, one of the two sizable areas in Southern Nevada where off-road riding is unrestricted."
RELATED: "Hands off the dunes, off-roaders tell county" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/31/08)
"Of the more than 50 people who attended the forum, most seemed skeptical, even suspicious, about the county's vision for a venue that would offer multiple tracks for varying skill levels and a large, open area for unrestricted riding."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
January and February - Sunrise Powerlink informational workshops
See calendar link above for locations.
February 2 - Family excursion to the fish traps and Salton Sea
February, various Saturdays - Guided bald eagle viewing hikes
Cache Creek Natural Area - call for reservations
...see and more online!
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Bush Administration would consider hardrock royalty on public lands" (Mineweb, 1/25/08)
"Federal officials told a Senate committee Thursday that Bush Administration would like to work with Congress on Mining Law reform, including the possibility of royalties on hardrock minerals mined on public lands....Henri Bisson, Deputy Director of the BLM, says the agency believes that 'existing statutes and related regulations provide sufficient authority to regulate mining operations when properly monitored and enforced by state and federal regulatory agencies.'"
RELATED: "Mining law rewrite faces uphill battle in Senate" (Reuters, 1/23/08)
"A bill passed by the House of Representatives last year that would impose stiff new royalties on hardrock mining companies will likely be toned down by the Senate, where pro-mining lawmakers hold more sway....If it becomes law, it would be the first major overhaul of the General Mining Law since President Ulysses S. Grant signed it 136 years ago to encourage Western land development."
"Kempthorne acts on independent panel's recommendations to improve Interior's mineral royalty management" (Department of the Interior news release, 1/25/08)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today received the final report of an independent panel that recommended more than 100 actions to improve the Department’s minerals revenue management program, and he has ordered top officials to begin implementing recommendations that can be carried out administratively."
"Secretary Kempthorne names members of National Geospatial Advisory Committee" (Department of the Interior news release, 1/29/08)
"In particular, it will provide advice on the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), which promotes sharing of geospatial data throughout all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors and the academic community."
"First couple sees progress in effort to reintroduce native plants to Texas ranch" (Fox News, 1/25/08)
First Lady Laura Bush: "We love our home -- and one of the things we're proudest of is our project to restore the Prairie Chapel Ranch to its original landscape....The Department's Bureau of Land Management, in partnership with Great Britain's Kew Gardens, operates the Seeds of Success program. Seeds of Success collects, conserves, and develops native seed materials for restoration, and provides seeds from more than 5,000 species to growers and researchers in the United States."
Editor's Note: A number of people have noted the typo in last week's issue of News.bytes, under the "National and/or Department of the Interior items." The item should have read:
"Former Forest Service chief to advocate for mining law reform before Senate" (MineWeb, 1/22/08)
"Longtime mining law reform proponent Mike Dombeck, the former chief of both the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate.
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
SOURCE: "Pacific fisher - Martes pennanti" (BLM California wildlife database)
Pacific fishers are opportunistic predators with a diverse diet. They typically eat herbivores, but occasionally will also eat plant material and some carnivores. Snowshoe hares are the most common prey, but fishers often eat squirrels, mice, and shrews as well. Fishers are well-known for being one of the few predators of common porcupines. They also consume various types of plants, including berries and nuts.
"Protection sought for Pacific fisher" (Eureka Times-Standard, 1/24/08)
"Environmentalists are petitioning the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the Pacific fisher, a carnivore related to the weasel family that may number less than 1,100 in the state."
"Group files to list Pacific fisher as endangered" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/24/08)
"A furry forest mammal whose numbers may be down to 850 in California deserves protection under the state's Endangered Species Act, an environmental group said in a petition filed Wednesday....The elusive Pacific fisher, closely related to otters, martens, wolverines and weasels, is seldom seen by humans. Researchers have been warning for nearly 20 years that it is disappearing and perilously close to extinction as the timber industry continues logging and road building that eliminate forest habitat."
"Protection sought for fisher" (Redding Record Searchlight, 1/24/08)
Short story, nice clear photo. Site may require free registration.
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