A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 322 - 3/12/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Mustang Makeover
- Wildflowers continue
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week: Wolverine
- More wildlife: Our readers write about desert tortoise
- More wildlife: Whale washes onto beach
- Yet more wildlife - and a visit: Piedras Blancas elephant seals and light station
- Outdoor recreation: Cosumnes, turkey hunt, fees
Power corridor, Sunrise, renewable energy conference
- Wildfire aftermath and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Desert base expansions, mining claims rise, BLM jobs, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: National Landscape Conservation System bill
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
"Trainers vie to train wild mustangs" (Sacramento Bee, 3/8/08)
"Wrangler Grant Lockie cuts a wild mustang from the group of horses Friday in northern Sacramento that were to be sent out to trainers -- who, as part of a competition, will try to turn them into riding horses for the public." The trainers will compete for $7,500 in prize money at the Western States Mustang Challenge this June in Sacramento.
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"National wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM national website)
The next regularly-schedule adoption events are April 26 in San Jose and May 3 in Santa Rosa.
"California wildflowers show their true colors" (Los Angeles Times, 3/7/08)
"'This year will be particularly good because of the winter rainfall we've had, which will bring all the spring annuals to bloom,' says Naomi Fraga, botanical field studies coordinator....And though it seems counterintuitive, all those fires that ravaged Southern California last fall will also contribute to this season's glory."
Includes photo gallery.
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RELATED: "North Algodones Dunes Wilderness" (BLM-California website)
(Mentioned in the story above) The Algodones Sand Dunes System covers 1,000 square miles, making it one of the largest dune complexes in North America. Other specially designated areas found within this wilderness include the Imperial Sand Hills National Natural Landmark and the Algodones Outstanding Natural Area.
"Wildflowers" (BLM-California website)
The wildflower season generally starts with an early spring in the desert regions of southern California, and works its way northward. When the wildflower seasons occur, and how lush they are, depends on the weather and can vary widely from year to year.
"Friday wildflower walks" (Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument)
Fridays in March - see BLM-California's "Upcoming Events"
"Wildflower hotline" (Theodore Payne Foundation)
Reports started Friday, March 7.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
Thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
When a wolverine has food it cannot eat right away, it keeps it away from other animals by:
(a.) Hiding it in the branches of tall trees
(b.) Digging under the roots of trees and burying it
(c.) Marking it with a foul-smelling musk
(d.) Chewing it, then spitting it out and forming it into balls which it buries in loose soil
(e.) Storing it behind the vegetables in the X-Mansion's fridge
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes -- along with the story behind what may be the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in the Sierra in more than 75 years.
OUR READERS WRITE: Followup on desert tortoise
"Regarding the Desert tortoise diet:
It’s fascinating to hear how readily many desert 'herbivores' will eat animal protein. Our experience has been the same with well-known herbivores like the Chuckwalla and the Desert Iguana…and it doesn’t seem to harm them in the least. Similarly, many reptilian carnivores/insectivores, such as members of the genus Sceloporus, will eat plant material from time to time. We’ve yet to see an Alligator Lizard eat plant material, however."
- James M. Bryant
Curator of Natural History
Museum Department, City of Riverside
Thanks for the first-hand information!
- Your News.bytes editor
"Petrolia's whale tale; what happens when a sperm whale washes up on your beach" (North Coast Journal, 3/6/08)
"Since this whale lies in repose within the King Range National Conservation Area, it falls under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management. 'In most cases, we let the natural process take hold,' said Kathy Stangl, Assistant Field Manager at BLM's Arcata office. 'Though we're not opposed to burying it, we need some idea of the plan.'"
RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area and the Lost Coast" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
YET MORE WILDLIFE - and Piedras Blancas Lightstation
Elephant seals crossing the road at Piedras Blancas, as reported in earlier issues of News.bytes, continue to attract news reports. Also, a traveler reports on a visit to Hearst Castle and an almost-visit to Piedras Blancas Lightstation.
"Elephant seals too close for comfort?" (CBS Evening News, 3/10/08)
"Among all nature's creatures, elephant seals are among the more unusual. 'They're ugly, but they are beautiful in their own way,' said tourist Barry Frank. But what is more unusual still is where thousands have chosen their favorite beach: right beside California's Highway One - a busy tourist route...'Twenty-five feet from the road! We're from Cincinnati - we don't see anything like this in Cincinnati,' Frank said."
Includes two online videos. Note: videos may start with a paid 30-second commercial.
"A roadside attraction...right on time" (CBS News, 3/10/08)
"It goes like this: We learn of something interesting happening and head off with a camera crew ready to record it all on video. But when we get to the location we hear the dreaded phrase: 'You should have been here yesterday'....the next time I show up somewhere only to be told: 'You should have been here yesterday.' I will be able to say, 'Yeah, but I did see an elephant seal being chased across a pasture.' And that’s not something you see everyday.'"
"Mansion close to Hearst's heart awes millions of visitors" (Ventura County Star, 3/9/08)
"You can't read about Hearst Castle; you have to experience it," said retired castle manager Kirk Sturm said. "Breathe the air. Stand on a balcony and dream." Writer also visited Piedras Blancas light station just north of the castle, but timing was wrong for the tours on the third Saturday of the month.
RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
More information, including photos, history, plant restoration efforts, research and tour schedule.
"Sacramento conservationist Steve Evans wrote the book on top area hikes" (Sacramento Bee, 3/6/08)
"At one point during our hike, as we gazed across a vast grassland in the 40,000-acre Cosumnes River Preserve, I posed a question to Steve Evans, the leader of our group: How similar was the landscape we were seeing, compared with what it was hundreds of years ago?"
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RELATED: "Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
"State has turkeys galore, but they're not easy to bag" (Stockton Record, 3/12/08)
"In California, where wildlife management success stories are an exception rather than the rule, conservationists can look with great pride to thriving populations of wild turkeys, currently estimated at more than 240,000 birds statewide....Searching for wild turkeys already is underway, at least the scouting part of the hunt. On federal lands maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and state wildlife areas, hunters are traveling back roads and walking through oak woodlands in the early hours, looking for sign and listening for birds." Spring season opens March 29.
"Recreation fees rising in wake of fires' costs" (New York Times, 3/7/08)
"Reeling from the high cost of fighting wildfires, federal land agencies have been imposing new fees and increasing existing ones at recreation sites across the West in an effort to raise tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, hundreds of marginally profitable campsites and other public facilities on federal lands have been closed....The Bureau of Land Management, the country’s biggest landlord, also doubled its revenues over the same period, to more than $14 million from $7 million."
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"Feds will proceed with power line plan" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/7/08)
"The U.S. Department of Energy said yesterday that it was moving forward with a plan that could give federal regulators the final say on whether to build power lines in Southern California despite opposition from state utility regulators and others....The Southwestern corridor designation could come into play in the fight over the Sunrise Powerlink, a 150-mile, $1.3 billion power line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric that would cross Imperial County, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and several communities in San Diego County."
RELATED: "SDG&E likely to miss green-energy mandate" (Voice of San Diego, 3/12/08)
"San Diego Gas & Electric will not likely meet a state-mandated goal to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010....While SDG&E has said it needs the Sunrise Powerlink to bring more renewable supplies to San Diego, it is pursuing a federal permit to bring wind energy from Mexico to San Diego, connecting to an existing power line known as the Southwest Power Link" but "says that power line is running out of capacity and wouldn't provide sufficient space to bring in other new renewable supplies."
RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
The CPUC is the lead agency for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft EIR/EIS was released to the public on January 3, 2008.
"Remarks as Prepared for Delivery for The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior Washington International Renewable Energy Conference" (Department of the Interior news, 3/4/08)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined three other cabinet members to address "WIREC 2008, the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004."
RELATED: "U.S. government announces cabinet-level participation for Washington International Renewable Energy Conference" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/6/08)
Information about the event, plus links to more.
WILDFIRE AFTERMATH and PREVENTION
"Experts unsure how much burn-area recovery to expect from this winter's rains" Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/9/08)
"The winter rains have greened up hillsides and produced a bountiful crop of wildflowers in parts of the Inland area, but scientists and wild land managers say it's still too soon to gauge how this rain may affect recovery from wildfires that burned in drought years." Researchers will look at recovery in "some areas burned a couple years ago, or as long as almost 80 years ago....looking at Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands."
"Fighters in the sky" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/11/08)
Photos: "For future practice sessions, smokejumpers will be using five locations that include parts of a 1,200-acre area managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The terrain is similar to what these firefighters, who parachute into difficult locations, might encounter on real fire calls...."
"Bureau of Land Management to burn piles at Fort Ord" (BLM-California news release, 3/11/08)
The exact date the piles will be burned depends on weather conditions and the announcement of a “burn day” by local authorities. The piles are part of the fuel reduction program at Fort Ord designed to protect firefighters, help suppress wildland fires and provide for public safety by reducing the threat of an uncontrolled fire in the area.
"Officials want seat on mutual-aid panel" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/12/08)
"Although no county lost more homes or lives during those firestorms than San Diego, local fire officials have been shut out of the mutual-aid meetings mostly because the region doesn't have a central fire department.....emergency resource allocation meetings are held in Riverside and are attended by representatives of 10 member agencies: the U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Cal Fire; the state Office of Emergency Services; the Los Angeles Fire Department; and the fire departments of Kern, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange counties."
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Bases in High Desert aim to expand" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/9/08)
"Two military bases in the High Desert are undertaking expansion plans that will widen the territory used for war games crucial to training soldiers and Marines being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms has announced its intention to extend its boundaries.....The Bureau of Land Management confirmed Friday that the combat center had not submitted an application to change its boundaries....Meanwhile, Fort Irwin is moving ahead with its expansion, which was divided into three phases."
"Blackwater bid is withdrawn" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/8/08)
"Blackwater Worldwide dropped its plans yesterday to build a military and law enforcement training camp in East County, ending a storm of controversy over the security contractor's presence in the county....Glenn Russell, interim deputy director of the county planning department, said noise tests for the proposed rifle range exceeded county standards on the east side of the property, along federal Bureau of Land Management land."
"Mining claims rising in the West" (Los Angeles Times, 3/11/08)
"Propelled by soaring prices for gold, copper, uranium and other metals, new mining claims on federal land are surging near heavily populated areas in the West, according to an analysis of federal records by the Environmental Working Group. More than 16,000 such claims have been staked in the last five years....In California, the site of the great 19th-century Gold Rush, active mining claims have increased by almost 20%. Millions of Californians in 293 cities or towns are within five miles of the current crop of mining claims...."
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"Board considers purchase of mountain" (Lake County Record Bee, 3/10/08)
The Lake County Board of Supervisors will consider buying 1,500 acres on Mt. Konocti at its March 18 meeting. Hiking trails that yield panoramic views would be a top feature of plans to develop the land as a park....Representatives from the county, the seller, California Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Sierra Club Lake Group, Lake County Land Trust and other organizations met in February to discuss the purchase, according to a March 4 press release from the Lake County Public Services Department."
"County would fail new rules for ozone" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/7/08)
"The federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering toughening its standards for ozone pollution from 80 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion....Under current federal standards, only the Carrizo Plain and other locations in the eastern part of the county exceed the standard of 80 parts per billion. Smog there is caused by ozone precursors wafting in from the San Joaquin Valley."
RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument"(BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
"Supervisors to send message to PALCO bankruptcy judge" (The Eureka Reporter, 3/9/08)
"The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved sending a letter to the Texas judge overseeing the Pacific Lumber Co.’s bankruptcy proceeding to make sure county residents’ interests are heard." Principles stated in the letter include "maintaining the Pacific Lumber Co. forests in a single ownership as working commercial forest lands;" and "fulfill all commitments associated with the Habitat Conservation Plan that accompanied the Headwaters Agreement."
RELATED: "Mendocino Redwood comes north to air Palco plan" (Eureka Times-Standard, 3/11/08)
"Two meetings will be held Saturday and another on March 18, an effort to simplify the complex restructuring plan filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas."
RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The BLM is not a party to the Habitat Conservation Plan, which is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of California, but one result of the negotiations was acquisition of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, managed by the BLM.
"Bomb scare for BLM a false alarm" (The Inyo Register, 3/8/08)
"A suspicious parcel sent to the Bishop office of the Bureau of Land Management sparked a bomb scare Wednesday that fortunately turned out to be a false alarm."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include several firefighting jobs, park ranger (river patrol), cartographer, and geographic information system specialist.
MEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Julie Rodgers...
...represents the public at large on BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, which has won many grants and undertaken numerous projects to improve community fire safety and protection. Read more:
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
March 14-16 - Sixth annual Dumont Dunes cleanup weekend
March 15 - Central California Resource Advisory Council tour of Clear Creek Management Area
Oak Flat Campground (meeting place)
March 22 - Sacramento River Bend Area - Iron Canyon hike
Iron Canyon trailhead (meeting place)
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Saving special lands" (Arizona Republic, 3/10/08)
Editorial: "From the breathtaking formations of the Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona to the historic Lewis and Clark Trail in Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management oversees extraordinary Western treasures. While amazingly varied, these places need to be organized in a coherent system....Congress should make [the National Landscape Conservation System] a formal, permanent designation akin to the national parks and national forests. The legislation (HR 2016 and S 1139) would sharpen the focus on 26 million acres of federal land in 13 states."
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RELATED: "House bill would expand oversight of lands" (Washington Times, 3/11/08)
"Hunters, miners and off-highway vehicle users could be affected by legislation that would limit access to more than 26 million acres of federal land, including Oregon's Steens Mountain area, Headwater Forest Reserve in northern California and more than 4,000 miles of national trails. The bill would grant the land additional protection from the Bureau of Land Management through its National Landscape Conservation System...."
RELATED: "National Landscape Conservation System" (BLM national website)
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Marking it with a foul-smelling musk
SOURCE: "Wolverine - Gulo gulo" (BLM California wildlife database)
Wolverines are not afraid to attack large animals, such as elk and bears, but the main portion of their diet is made up of various squirrels and rabbits. They are also known for stealing food from other animals. Wolverines keep their own food caches, but since they aren't very good at hiding their food they mark it with a fowl-smelling musk to keep other animals away.
"Photo has outdoors experts thinking wolverine" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7/08)
"A dark photograph of a ferocious-looking animal with an almond-colored stripe is being touted as the first documented wolverine in California in more than three-quarters of a century....Oregon State University graduate student Katie Moriarty had set up the heat- and motion-sensitive digital camera facing a tree where food and a scent lure were placed, in the forest about 10 miles north of Truckee." The student "was working on a master's thesis on the American marten, a slender brown weasel that likes old-growth forests."
"Elusive wolverine makes its first Sierra appearance in years" (Sacramento Bee, 3/5/08)
"The last confirmed Sierra wolverine was shot as a scientific specimen in 1922. Last year, a team of scientists reported that the wolverine – a chocolate-brown weasel the size of a border collie but as vicious as a grizzly bear – had apparently vanished from the Sierra long ago, squeezed out by human activity. Now one has been found in the Tahoe National Forest north of Truckee."
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