A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 325 - 4/2/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week: sea otters surprise
- More wildlife news: desert tortoise
- 2008 Mustang Challenge
- More mustang and burro news
- Recreation on public lands:
- Monument hikes
- Pacific Crest Trail
- Energy, alternative energy:
- Large solar projects
- Wind energy project reviewed
- Sunrise Powerlink
- Green Path
- Spotlight on partners: Sierra Pacific Industries and more recreation
- U.S.-Mexico border fence
- Headwaters Forest Preserve and Palco bankruptcy
- Headlines and highlights:
- Wilderness boundaries
- Pipeline review
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Return of Weed of the Week
- Selected upcoming events
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
What are sea otters doing in the Monterey Bay area has researchers re-examining commonly-held beliefs?
(a.) Playing with each other
(b.) Wrapping themselves with kelp
(c.) Sleeping on their backs in the water
(d.) Using rocks to break open shells
(e.) Just hanging out on the beach
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
MORE WILDLIFE NEWS
"Desert tortoises set for speedy transfer from tank site" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/27/08)
Report from before this past weekend: "Biologists will begin gingerly removing 770 desert tortoises Saturday from land the Army wants to use for tank training in the San Bernardino County desert....They'll be placed into containers and moved in an air-conditioned vehicle or helicopter to their new habitat, which is mostly public land overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
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2008 MUSTANG CHALLENGE
Thirty-three top trainers received 33 wild mustangs this month. They have 100 days to gentle and train the mustangs -- then will compete for $7500 in prizes at the Horse Expo in Sacramento. We plan to follow some of these mustangs and trainers in the coming weeks. Some Mustang Challenge trainers have been kind enough to send photos depicting their progress with their Mustang Challenge horses.
Trainer Matt Sheridan writes:
"I have named my horse Luna. She is named in part after the new moon that was taking place at the time I picked up the horse and because of her color....She is progressing along and doing excellently in hand....It did take little longer than expected to get her settled. By this I mean that she was a lot more jumpy about being touched, sudden movement and having things over the top of her....I anticipate that her strong personality will pay off ultimately. I have noticed that when she latches onto an idea things start moving rapidly in a positive direction."
Matt's efforts have also been covered in news stories and videos online:
"Tehachapi man takes up challenge to train wild horse for competition" (Bakersfield Californian, 4/1/08)
"Even experts appreciate a good challenge every now and then. For Matt Sheridan, a Tehachapi horse trainer with more than 22 years experience, the test is a 3-year-old mustang named Luna. The fifth-generation horseman has been selected to compete in the Mustang Challenge, a competition in which 30 trainers are given 90 days to train a wild horse. Their work will be judged at Sacramento’s Western State Horse Expo in June." Includes photos, plus a link to a video.
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Another trainer, Saunya Bolton, writes that she was raised north of Woodland, California and now lives in Reno, Nevada. She named her filly Little Diva:
"By day three after she came home with me, she was leading, I had her saddled, and she was introduced to a blanket which she wears at night....Diva is now being ridden, she is doing OK once I get on but is still afraid of someone mounting and dismounting so I am having to go slow with that. I also am introducing her to different people as she is used to me but afraid of others. I have ponyed her with my gelding and that has gone really well. Today I am planning on loading her in my trailer." A Reno newspaper has run a story and photo:
"Rider trains mustang for challenge" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 3/29/08)
"When Saunya Bolton was 10 years old, her career as a horse rider began on a mustang that her uncle Charlie roped near Susanville. She since has professionally trained horses for 25 years and now lives in Lemmon Valley. Bolton, 57, will enter her first Western States Horse Expo Mustang Challenge on June 6-9 in Sacramento. The event typically attracts more than 50,000 spectators....Reno television station KOLO Channel 8 is following Bolton's progress, and plans to air a feature on her May 6."
MORE MUSTANG and BURRO NEWS
"Wild horses and burros available for adoption in Perris" (BLM-California news release, 3/28/08)
These living legends are available for adoption in Perris on April 19-20, 2008. Spectators are welcome. There are 65 young animals available for adoption, 20 fillies, 20 colts, 15 two- to four-year-olds, and 10 burros. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Animals arrive at noon on Friday April 18, and potential adopters may view the mustangs and burros from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California website)
Upcoming California adoption events include April 19-20 in Lake Perris and April 26 in San Jose.
"Local Border Patrol rides in Chicago St. Pat Day parade" (Colville, WA Statesman Examiner, 3/26/08)
Eight Border Patrol mustangs took part in St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. The border-patrolling mustangs are a collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management. "Wild mustangs from Colorado are captured, gentled, and trained to carry Border Patrol agents through the rugged terrain of the Pasayten Wilderness, Glacier National Park, and U.S. Forest Service habitat where motorized vehicles are prohibited."
"Backcountry rider leads group" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/30/08)
The Backcountry Horsemen of California Inc. formed in 1986 "to advocate open wilderness, to support trail construction and maintenance efforts, and to educate the public and its members about Gentle Use and Leave No Trace techniques.... Packing supplies and equipment on horses or mules to go deep into the backcountry trails is the main focus of BCHC." Working with agencies including BLM-California, the group sets up trail maintenance crews and keeps them supplied using pack horses.
"Project aims to lead hikers to the valley's 10 top birding sites" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/29/08)
"'There's a Costa's (hummingbird) doing a mating display,' Leuschner piped up, binoculars at the ready, during a recent walk on a trail at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitors Center in Palm Desert.....instructors at College of the Desert are hitting the trails around the Coachella Valley to talk up a joint project, the Palms to Pines Birding and Nature Trail. The trail is actually a network of the valley's top 10 birding spots, from Morongo Valley to the Salton Sea, all contained in a free map...available for free at each of the 10 birding sites.
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument - points of interest" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
One of the top 10 birding spots in the article above.
RELATED: "Monument treasure" ( Friends of the Desert Mountains website)
The gift shop in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center is one place to get the free birding guide.
RELATED: "California's Coachella Valley offers visitors escape to mountains, desert at the same time" (Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/2/08)
"Other visitors prefer hiking and other outdoor recreation. The valley is surrounded by the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains on the south and San Jacinto Mountains to the west. Trails can be found at Joshua Tree National Park, San Jacinto and Santa Rosa National Monument, historic Indian Canyons, the Coachella Valley Preserve and other sites."
"Off-road event draws huge crowd" (Victorville Daily Press, 3/29/08)
"Nearly 1,000 people arrived to watch the pros compete in a weekend-long off-road rock crawling event under a clear-blue sky Saturday at Cougar Buttes in Lucerne Valley....Saturday's competition was the first in a three-part series....As the day progressed, a ranger from the Bureau of Land Management passed through and asked those enjoying the weekend's fun not to leave litter behind or drink too much alcohol."
RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)
Johnson Valley is a varied landscape for the off-highway vehicle driver. It is punctuated by steep red rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, dry lake beds and sandy washes. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills to 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake. Vegetation consists of creosote scrub, annual grasses, wild flowers and Joshua Trees.
"Adventure of the Week: Sampling the 2,650-mile 'Crest'" (Sacramento Bee, 3/27/08)
"The Pacific Crest Trail is a hiking and equestrian trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. Along the way, it passes through California, Oregon and Washington, meandering through diverse territory ranging from desert and old-growth forests to alpine country and rain forests. Sections of it vary dramatically in altitude. In the Sierra Nevada, the 165-mile-long Tahoe Rim Trail overlaps 43 miles of the PCT near Lake Tahoe." The story features Trail Fest 2008 last weekend....
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RELATED: "Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail" (BLM-California, Ridgecrest Field Office)
BLM-California's Ridgecrest and Bakersfield field offices manage more than 180 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The trail crosses four designated wildernesses - the Bright Star, Kiavah, Owens Peak and Domelands. Elevations range from 4,000 feet in the south at Tylerhorse Canyon to 7,600 feet in the north at Bear Mountain. Temperatures in the summer months can range from 32°F. to over 100°F.
RELATED: "Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, online map and guide - Mexico to Canada" (Partner website hosted by U.S. Forest Service)
Includes links to sections in northern, central and southern California, plus other states.
"Sounding the gobbler call" (Nevada City/Grass Valley Union, 3/26/08)
"A mild winter devoid of large fires created an abundance of turkeys fattened on acorns, wild grasses and grass hoppers. “It should be a banner year with more turkeys than I’ve seen in 10 years,” said Mike Wahl, a local hunter who produces hunting and fishing films....Public lands such as Spenceville Wildlife Area, some NID property, Bureau of Land Management and National Forests are open with restrictions, so hunters always should research an area before heading out."
SPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: Sierra Pacific Industries
BLM coordination with Sierra Pacific Industries leads to improved recreation access: a cooperative relationship between California’s largest timber company and the Bureau of Land Management’s Redding Field Office has meant improved public land access for pursuits ranging from hiking and horseback riding to off-highway motorcycle activities.
ENERGY, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
"PG&E backs 3 solar plants in the Mojave" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/1/08)
"The three installations, together, will generate enough electricity for more than 375,000 homes. Fields of mirrors at each plant will focus sunlight on centralized towers, boiling water within the towers, creating steam and turning turbines." The plants would be on public lands managed by BLM-California.
"Comment period for Granite Wind Energy Project extended" (BLM-California news release, 3/31/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and the county of San Bernardino have agreed to extend the comment period for the Granite Mountain Wind Energy project east of Apple Valley from March 31 to May 5. The proposed wind farm would be located between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley, east of SR 247 and north of Lucerne Dry Lake in San Bernardino County. The proposed project includes up to 27 2.3-megawatt wind turbines on approximately 80 acres.
RELATED: "Desert's dilemma" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/31/08)
"A new kind of gold rush is going on in the Mojave Desert, according to county Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. The sought-after objects are sunshine and wind. More than 100 wind farms and solar-energy installations are proposed, enough to cover 1,300 square miles. The rush has raised alarms among residents and local officials who fear the stark beauty of the desert could be destroyed....The alternative-energy projects seemed poised to spring up with virtually no public notice or input, under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Land Management."
(Note: this website may require free registration to view content.)
RELATED: "BLM, county team up on reviews for alternative energy projects" (Needles Desert Star, 3/26/08)
"With the potential for wind and solar energy projects to spread across the desert, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has approved an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to work together on environmental reviews of these proposals." County officials and others were "concerned that with continuing pressure on desert spaces for habitat protection, expansion of military bases, urban growth and recreation, the proposed power plants will make it more difficult to balance needs."
RELATED: "Visual power" (Victorville Daily Press, 4/1/08)
Editorial: "The good news about the proposal to build 28 or so 415-foot-high wind turbines along the ridge tops of the Granite Mountains between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley is that, at the request of First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, the Board of Supervisors has extended the public comment period for the project to May 5....if you can view the Granite Mountains from your home or business -- and they’re easily visible from most parts of the Victor Valley -- imagine how visible they’ll be with 28 giant wind turbines on top of them."
"State's role over Powerlink debated" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/27/08)
"A lingering question in the Sunrise Powerlink controversy is what influence and legal powers, if any, the state Department of Parks and Recreation might have if a 500-kilovolt transmission line is ordered to be built through 22 miles of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is concerned enough that it has revised its preferred route to stay within a 100-foot easement through the park where a smaller line runs. By doing so, the parks department will have no legal way to protest the project, the utility says. However, the lead attorney for the parks department said that's not how he sees it."
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.
"Claims about Green Path surveys don't add up" (Hi-Desert Star, 4/2/08)
Groups dispute "the mystery of supposedly non-existent Los Angeles Department of Water & Power survey markers found on public and private land in the Morongo Basin...."
"Challenging transmission corridors" (EnergyBiz Magazine Online, 3/26/08)
"Two lawsuits intend to de-energize parts of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Environmental and conservation groups are saying that broad transmission corridors that have been authorized by the law are illegal, claiming they allow utilities to bypass state jurisdiction, environmental standards and private property rights." One says "that the 'fast track' permitting process would allow utilities to run roughshod over 77,000 square miles in Arizona and Southern California and put at risk national parks and monuments as well as threaten endangered species. "
U.S.-MEXICO BORDER FENCE
"Border fence will skirt environmental laws" (Los Angeles Times, 4/1/08)
"The two waivers, which will allow the department to slash through a thicket of environmental and cultural laws, would be the most expansive to date, encompassing land in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas that stretches about 470 miles." A number of the projects involved would be located on public lands managed by BLM-California.
(Note: this website may require free registration to view content.)
"Rules to be waived for border fence" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 4/1/08)
"The Bush administration will use its authority to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest U.S. border by the end of 2008, federal officials said Tuesday. Invoking the two legal waivers, which Congress authorized, will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that currently impede the Homeland Security Department from building 267 miles of fencing in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to officials familiar with the plan."
For further information, see links on:
Department of the Interior homepage:
Department of Homeland Security homepage:
HEADWATERS FOREST PRESERVE and PALCO BANKRUPTCY
"Bankruptcy court holds fate of Headwaters land" (Sacramento Bee, 3/30/08)
Op Ed: "On April 11, in a Texas courtroom, a federal bankruptcy judge will make a momentous decision concerning the fate of California's Headwaters Forest and its surrounding watershed....The bankruptcy court is called upon to weigh the same competing values which were before us in 1999: how best to produce permanent timber jobs while preserving the conservation values of the timberlands."
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"Judge hangs on to Palco plans" (Eureka Times-Standard, 4/2/08)
Update on hearing.
"Woodsman, spare that politician" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31/08)
Column on the "near-billion-dollar bankruptcy of the world's largest redwood company, Pacific Lumber....Back in 1998, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Pete Wilson played leading roles in a $480 million buyout of nearly 10,000 acres of primeval, 300-foot redwoods that Maxxam was considering for the chainsaw. The Headwaters deal carried a second crucial part: a requirement that Maxxam obey strict timber-cutting policies on its remaining land. Ever since, the company has blamed these strictures for driving it onto the financial rocks."
"Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 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, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Feds helping Alpaugh to clean up" (Visalia Times-Delta, 3/29/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management wants to clean up Alpaugh, for endangered species’ sake. As such the federal bureau, along with AmeriCorps, hosted an Alpaugh Cleanup Days event Friday....BLM has had problems with people dumping trash on its Atwell Island Land Retirement Project, which covers 8,000 acres one mile south of Alpaugh."
"Volunteers renew Whipple Mountains Wilderness markings" (News.bytes Extra)
A group from the Sierra Club's Mojave Desert and San Francisco chapters spent Easter weekend installing fence and signs to help protect the Whipple Mountains Wilderness.
"Clarification of wilderness boundaries sought" (Inyo Register, 3/31/08)
"It will take a congressional act to change the 1994 Death Valley National Park boundary designation, and that is what a group of concerned citizens are hoping will happen. The citizens are concerned that an unclear boundary between the national park and designated wilderness has restricted hunting and other activities and even driven others from out of the area to seek their recreational hobbies in other counties."
RELATED: "Inyo Mountains Wilderness" (BLM-California)
"Managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Inyo National Forest, this wilderness encompasses a large portion of the Inyo Mountains, which rise to 11,000 feet at Keynot Peak and separates the Owens Valley on the west and Saline Valley on the east."
"BLM, partners accepting comments on Ma-le'l Dunes Initial Study/Environmental Assessment" (BLM-California news release, 3/27/08)
Those interested in management of the Ma-le’l Dunes area of the Samoa Peninsula have the opportunity to comment on an initial study/environmental assessment recently released by the Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State Coastal Conservancy. It contains revisions made after public comments were received on the initial release of the document last year. The document addresses public access improvements and environmental impacts to the area.
"Study of pipeline proposal advances" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/31/08)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is moving ahead with its study of a proposal to increase the capacity of underground pipelines that pump fuel from Colton to Las Vegas....The project will meet the growing fuel demands in Nevada over the next 20 years, said Emily Thompson, a spokeswoman for Kinder Morgan....The Bureau of Land Management must review the project because the pipeline runs through federal land."
(Note: this website may require free registration to view content.)
"Cataloging history" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 3/28/08)
"It may look like a very strange yard sale, but it's not. Volunteers spent Friday morning moving an antique grandfather clock, hundreds of rocks, minerals, fossils and other artifacts from the Mojave River Valley Museum on Friday into boxes for vehicles waiting in the parking lot. The spring cleaning was needed to prepare the museum for a $25,000 re-carpeting project...." Among the items: "Part of the more than 800-pound Bishop Rock, named for Samuel Bishop, who founded the town of Bishop" recovered from BLM-managed lands.
"Stewarded PG&E land gets 100 interested takers" (Chico Enterprise Record, 3/27/08)
"So far, about 100 groups want to take charge of land now owned by PG&E, an official of the Stewardship Council said Wednesday. The names of those groups are still confidential, but soon they'll be made public....The council, a nonprofit corporation, was formed after PG&E went bankrupt several years ago. A bankruptcy judge ruled that 141,000 acres of land PG&E owns must be protected and used to benefit the public." The BLM and U.S. Forest Service
are represented on the Stewardship Council's board of directors.
RELATED: "Stewardship Council"
"The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council) is a private, nonprofit foundation that was established in 2004 as part of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) settlement. We have two goals: to ensure that over 140,000 acres of California’s pristine watershed lands are conserved for the public good through our Land Conservation Program, and to invest in outdoor programs that serve California’s young people through our Youth Investment Program."
"The colors of life" (Fresno Bee, 4/1/08)
With wildflowers come wildflower viewers: "They run the gamut from those who can't go 2 feet without dropping to their knees, magnifying glass in hand, to those who note a blur of new color outside their car windows as they speed down the road." Observes a BLM botanist: "'When you talk to people about why they're out looking at them, it's almost always because they bring to mind what's good about life. They remind us about hope.'"
(Note: this website may require free registration to view its content.)
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Announcements include various firefighting positions, hydrologist, and several for park ranger (river patrol).
WEED OF THE WEEK: Scotch broom
"Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) " (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
Reintroducing a former News.bytes feature -- watch for more next week, including a possible surprise!
Scotch broom is a perennial shrub six to ten feet tall. It is native to Europe and North Africa. "Do not allow these plants to seed as they have a persistent seed bank that will require subsequent treatments. Cutting the plant off at the base will not kill it as is readily resprouts. The entire plant with root system must be pulled."
RELATED: "Home invaders: Pretty plants turn ugly fast" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/15/08)
"They look pretty and often smell good, but some common landscape plants are nothing more than invaders in disguise....Because they create a monoculture and disrupt biodiversity, invasive plants cause other ecological problems that can lead to floods, fires and crop losses. Many don't have natural predators to control them. Brooms, for example, are hardy shrubs with fragrant yellow blossoms in the spring, but they block light and take up water. They can produce as many as 12,000 seeds per plant, forming dense stands and dominating the landscape. Moreover, the seeds can remain viable for as long as 25 years."
RELATED: "Big sweep to uproot Scotch broom"
"Ridding the county of Scotch Broom is a daunting task, but volunteers are targeting four sites in the county this spring as part of a long-term war to stop the weeds.The effort is being led by the Nevada County Fire Safe Council and the Nevada County Resource Conservation District."
"Test your knowledge"
See the weed quiz question on the BLM-California homepage.
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
April 3, 10, 17 and 24 - National Monument hike
April 4, 11 and 18 - Eastern Sierra wildflower outings
BLM-California Bishop Field Office
April 8, 9, 10, 15, 17, 22 - Public scoping meetings for the Caliente Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement
Various locations - see listing and news release:
April 12 - Cosumnes River Preserve Spring Workday Extravaganza
Bring a sack lunch, they provide the drinks - see details in this listing
April 19 - Earth Day restoration activities, BLM-California Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
Exact location to be announced - see listing and RSVP for more information
...and much more!
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Just hanging out on the beach -- the other behaviors on the list were already well-known.
"Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris" (BLM California wildlife database)
Research has long stated that: "Sea otters spend the majority of their time in the water. In fact, they usually only come onto shore to wait out a storm."
"Sea otters? Maybe not" (Hollister Pinnacle, 3/21/08)
"Researchers discover otters like the beach as much as we do." Sea otters were thought to "haul out" of the water onto the shore when sick or injured, or were "females getting away from males." But observers noticed large groups of apparently healthy males just hanging out on the beach. Also of note: "While researchers don't all agree on what is causing local sea otters to climb out onto beaches in Moss Landing, they do agree that educating the public is important." Tips in the story include: stay away, avoid sleeping sea otters, and avoid eye contact.
RELATED: "Saving sea otters" (Monterey Bay Aquarium)
They "once ranged from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest. Today, they're found only on California's Central Coast, at a fraction of their historic numbers. The population is growing slowly, when it grows at all....Disease and parasites, possibly linked to coastal pollution that can weaken otter immune systems, take a heavy toll. The risk of a major oil spill remains a serious threat."
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