A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 337 - 6/24/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Wildfires -- and saving your home
- California wildfire news
- Energy issues: Renewables, oil
- Energy, powerlines: Sunrise Powerlink, Green Path North
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Environmental education: Desert Discovery Center, National Pollinator Week
- Outdoor recreation: King Range and Lost Coast, rail trails, more
- Mustangs and burros
- Headlines and highlights: History preserved, Bodie Hills, fireworks, jobs, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
WILDFIRES - AND SAVING YOUR HOME
FUNNY.BYTES: The ant and the grasshopper...
...both learn how to help protect their homes from wildfires. Can you guess what they do with their new-found knowledge?
Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Warning: soundtrack: you may want to adjust the volume on your computer before watching this Flash video presentation.
"Wildfire Protection 2008" (BLM-California)
In 2007, California suffered one of its worst fire seasons in history. including 3,830 homes and structures burned and lives lost. Factors included dry conditions, winds and fuels. Plus, the "wildland-urban interface" creates special challenges. While we can’t control the natural systems involved in fire, we can do more to reduce these risks by working together on projects such as those described in this publication.
PDF document, 415 kilobytes, four pages:
Fire program: (BLM-California website)
Links to a variety of information including thinning projects, wildland-urban interface, campfire permits and meteorology. Also links to several news releases about seasonal fire restrictions in various parts of California.
"Get defensive to save your home" (Grass Valley/Nevada City Union, 6/24/08)
"Though residents can't control lightning strikes, they can take greater precautions to reduce fire hazards, according to fire officials. Insurance companies are providing a further incentive by canceling some homeowners' policies ... Creating defensible space around a home is the first order of business, according to fire officials. A defensible space of 100 feet around your home is now required by law, up from 30 feet previously." BLM-California helps support California Fire Safe Councils and the defensible space message.
"Keeping a campfire under control can keep a forest from burning up" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/22/08)
"Many wildland fires are the result of poorly extinguished campfires. While it may be a common assumption that a fire left burning inside a campfire ring is safe, something as little as a gust of wind can spread hot embers to nearby ground fuels (leaves, needles, and other tree litter), which is likely to start a fire." This article gives tips from Shasta County Fire Prevention Officers Association, which includes representatives from BLM-California.
"Fire officials stress caution for July Fourth holiday" (BLM-California news release, 6/18/08)
"Conditions are very dry. People need to be extremely careful when camping, driving in the back country and cutting fire wood." Possession and use of all fireworks are illegal in national forests, national parks and on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Also includes basic fire safety tips for camping trips.
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE NEWS
BLM-California firefighters are among those from many agencies fighting wildfires across Northern California. Some websites with California wildfire news:
"Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California" (Associated Press on Google News, 6/24/08)
"More than 840 wildfires sparked by an 'unprecedented' lightning storm are burning across Northern California, alarming the governor and requiring the help of firefighters from Nevada and Oregon."
"Firefighters battling hundreds of blazes" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/08)
"Take one of the driest years on record in Northern California, add a few scorching heat waves, and sprinkle in the rarest of ingredients - coastal thunder and lightning storms in June - and what do you get? More than 800 fires sparking up in recent days, some stalking homes and others burning so far from civilization that nobody tries to put them out. Firefighters stretched thin, racing from blaze to blaze with little rest as commanders practice a form of triage - focus on the fires that pose the biggest threats."
"National fire news" (National Interagency fire center)
"June 24, 2008: A critical wildland fire situation continues to develop in northern California. Firefighters are battling 32 large fires in California that have burned more than 180,000 acres. New large fires were also reported in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas." Includes national fire news, and details by state. This site is updated daily during fire season.
"Walker Fire jumps fire lines, reaches 10,000 acres" (Lake County News, 6/24/08)
"A wildland fire burning in a remote part of the county nearly tripled in size Monday, with winds causing the blaze to jump fire lines as it continued on its path toward dozens of homes ... Jeffrey Tunnell, a fire mitigation and education specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, said the fire was burning a mix of private property and BLM-managed wildlands." Note: this is a lengthy story, with several photos.
"Firefighters struggling to corral North Coast blazes" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/24/08)
Today's online edition has links to updates on fires, related stories, health warnings because of the smoke, a map of northern California fires, and links to video and many photos.
"Fire resources stretched" (Eureka Times-Standard, 6/24/08)
"Three fires are of some concern in the area, including one about 4 miles outside of Shelter Cove, one in the Orleans area and several fires in the Hyampom area of Trinity County. The Paradise Ridge fire near Shelter Cove has blackened about 500 acres in the King Range National Conservation Area."
RELATED: "Paradise Fire forces temporary closure of campgrounds, roads" (BLM-California news release, 6/23/08)
A 500-acre wildfire burning in the King Range National Conservation Area northeast of Shelter Cove has forced temporary closure of the Tolkan and Horse Mountain campgrounds, the Paradise Ridge Mountain Bike Trail and Paradise Ridge Road. Additionally, officials are asking area residents and visitors to minimize use of the King Peak Road.
"How to protect your family from the health effects of smoke" (California Air Pollution Control Officer's Association)
Even people far from the blazing wildfires can be threatened by the smoke. This site offers advice on how to keep safe.
"Shadow cast on desert solar arrays" (Inland California Business Press, 6/19/08)
"With its sun-drenched 11 million acres, the California Desert District of the Bureau of Land Management finds itself inundated with proposals to build generators that convert the sun's rays and wind into electrical power. The Bureau of Land Management, in conjunction with the Department of Energy, is preparing an environmental impact statement to aid in evaluating large-scale solar electricity-generating installations proposed in the western United States. The statement will aid in evaluating which large-scale solar electricity-generating installations in the western United States are permitted."
"Additional public scoping meetings planned in California for Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement" (BLM-California news release, 6/20/08)
The purpose of the PEIS is to analyze the potential impacts of solar energy development in a six-state area, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The two additional public meetings are July 9 in San Luis Obispo and July 10 in El Centro. Includes a link to preregister for the meetings.
"Congressional stalemate over renewable energy" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/18/08)
"Even as lawmakers of both parties talk about the need to shift the country toward clean, renewable energy, Congress is in danger of letting key tax credits that have fueled the growth of wind and solar power expire at the end of the year ... There are currently 22 major solar power plants nationwide in the planning phase, many of them in Southern California, but all those deals were signed based on the assumption Congress would extend the solar energy tax incentives."
"Finding a compromise" (Las Vegas Sun, 6/20/08)
Editorial: "Government and power company officials should be making sure that in building renewable energy plants they aren’t sacrificing sensitive habitat and watersheds in Nevada or any other state. These are relatively new technologies whose effects are not wholly known. The West needs renewable power, but it needs its ecological systems and diversity too. We can have all three, with diligence on the part of the BLM to finish these studies in a timely manner and with cooperation between power companies and the agency."
"Geothermal meetings set in energy-hungry West" (Associated Press in Seattle Times, 6/19/08)
"Geothermal energy prospectors' plans to develop vast swaths of federal land in the West are due for a boost, part of Congress' effort to help feed the region's rapacious appetite for energy. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service plan 13 meetings next month in 11 Western states and Alaska to gather public comment on a newly released environmental impact statement that, when completed, will open millions of acres to companies aiming to tap naturally superheated subterranean steam and water to power turbines or warm buildings."
"Test your knowledge" (BLM-California homepage)
"In California alone, geothermal energy displaces the need for _____ barrels of oil each year." Test your knowledge with this interactive quiz on BLM-California's homepage.
POWER LINES: SUNRISE POWERLINK, GREEN PATH NORTH
"PUC: Revisit alternatives to Powerlink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/21/08)
"It may rank as the biggest environmental study in California history – and now it's going to get bigger. In a ruling yesterday, the state regulators overseeing the formal review of San Diego's proposed Sunrise Powerlink directed the state's power grid operator to provide a more detailed assessment of alternatives to the high-voltage transmission line. The four-page order from the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to delay a decision on the estimated $1.5 billion project by months."
"Power line decision delayed until November" (North County Times, 6/20/08)
"In a setback for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s controversial transmission line, state regulators Friday ordered that a draft report examining the Sunrise Powerlink's environmental impacts be expanded to include new information about a Mexico wind power project. The four-page ruling by California Public Utilities Commissioner ... and Administrative Law Judge ... also directs the agency that runs the state power grid to recalculate the economic benefits of Sunrise and project alternatives."
"Utility lashes back at opponents" (North County Times, 6/18/08)
"In a final round of reports filed with a state regulator about a proposed $1.5 billion power line that would cross North County, the San Diego region's electric utility fired back at opponents in asserting they exaggerated the project's wildfire threat. And San Diego Gas & Electric Co. said opponents were wrong in saying imported electricity from a proposed desert solar farm would be more expensive than home-grown power from solar panels on roofs of local businesses and homes."
"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.
"Hills on list for Green Path" (San Bernardino County Sun, 6/19/08)
"A string of high-tension electrical towers may someday dot the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, affecting scenic views from Banning to San Bernardino. After a long silence on the issue, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced Thursday that the Banning-to-San Bernardino route along with five others are being considered for Green Path North." Part of the power line route would cross public land managed by BLM-California and would require full public involvement and environmental review.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
California condor: Thumbnail from a photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
After eating, California condors:
(a.) Clean their heads and necks by rubbing them on grass, rocks, or tree branches
(b.) Scatter the remains -- what they cannot finish eating -- to deprive their competitors of any easy meal
(c.) Take a nap in the nearest protective thicket of brush or secluded arroyo
(d.) Bury the bones of the animal they have eaten, so it won’t attract other scavengers to their territory
(e.) Immediately start looking for a new source of food
(f.) Sometimes fall asleep while flying after an especially large meal - with generally negative consequences
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
"Helping Hands: Barstow a busy place this summer" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/23/08)
"The Jr. Naturalist Day Camps were started a few years ago by the Bureau of Land Management. There are four sessions of summer day camps. Each is for one week, Monday through Friday. The camps start at the Desert Discovery Center" in Barstow.
"Podcasts: National Pollinator Week June 22-28, 2008" (Pollinator Partnership website)
"National Pollinator Week is your chance to listen to a series of podcasts and learn more about the essential birds, bees, bats, and even beetles that pollinate your food and flowering plants, and make our wild areas beautiful and healthy. The podcasts were produced for National Pollinator Week by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and its federal partners in the Department of the Interior -- Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey." Today's podcast: "Endangered pollinators - endangered plants."
"Trails trust receives grant for rail line" (Lassen County News, 6/17/08)
"The California Wildlife Conservation Board awarded a $420,000 grant toward the acquisition of the old Modoc rail line to Lassen Land and Trails Trust ... The grant is for a cooperative project with the Department of Fish and Game, the United States Bureau of Land Management, and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to assist with the acquisition of 86 miles of railway corridor ... through a rail-banking agreement ... All public use of the corridor is currently illegal. Future public uses of the corridor may include trail recreation, touring, hunting, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing, biking and other activities."
RELATED: "Bizz Johnson Trail" (BLM-California, Eagle Lake Field Office)
The popular Bizz Johnson Trail was created from a former rail line. Following the old Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific railroad, the trail winds 25.4 miles from Susanville to Mason Station.
"Shelter Cove and the Lost Coast are the true jewels of the Southern Humboldt area" (Redwood Times, 6/18/08)
North Coast visitor's guide: "Some folks call the road between Redway and Shelter Cove 'Dramamine Highway.' It has lots of twists and turns, several of them of the hairpin variety. And if time is a factor, count on it taking about three-quarters of an hour [for 22 miles]. But make no mistake. The slower trip to transport you from towering redwood groves to the majestic scenery on the Lost Coast is well worth the time and, if you need it, a motion sickness pill to get you past the curves.
RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area and The Lost Coast" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
Here the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 and U.S. 101 inland. The remote region is known as California's Lost Coast, and is only accessed by a few back roads. The recreation opportunities here are as diverse as the landscape. (Note temporary closures due to wildfires, in wildfire news above.)
"New trail map shows the way in wilderness" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/21/08)
"A big, new foldout map pinpointing more than 75 trails in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument spotlights desert hikes and alpine forest treks. It's all part of the national monument's Celebration of Trails campaign."
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument was established by an Act of Congress "in order to preserve the nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational, and scientific values found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and to secure now and for future generations the opportunity to experience and enjoy the magnificent vistas, wildlife, land forms, and natural and cultural resources in these mountains and to recreate therein."
"Leave No Trace program promotes minimum impact ethics" (Half Moon Bay Review, 6/18/08)
"The Leave No Trace program is the product of a joint effort of the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Outdoor Leadership School. The program ... aims to promote and instill its core values ... of minimum-impact recreational activity. Through partnerships with youth groups and education programs worldwide, the program is a kind of grassroots, word-of-mouth approach to spreading the message on wilderness ethics, one person at a time."
RELATED: "Leave no Trace"
More information, including links to California communities with partners.
"Follow pioneers' wagon tracks" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/21/08)
California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs will stage its 14th annual Lassen-Applegate Emigrant Trail Ride, July 18-21: "The 200-mile off-road and on-road trip leads participants from Lovelock, Nev., to Surprise Valley, near Cedarville in Modoc County. This is the same route traversed by Peter Lassen in 1849 and traveled by thousands of gold-rush pioneers in covered wagons until 1852." The trip operates under a permit from the Bureau of Land Management.
RELATED: "Applegate Lassen Emigrant Trail" (BLM-California, Alturas Field Office)
This was one of the major trails providing access into California and Oregon, also called the California Cutoff after it left the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall, Idaho. The trail crossed the foreboding Black Rock Desert, then into the High Rock Canyon complex with its towering rock walls.
MUSTANGS AND BURROS
"Man, mustang join up" (Red Bluff Daily News, 6/24/08)
"His name is Magnum, and he's as wild as the Nevada desert. But with a little work and a lot of patience, David Buntain will be riding the horse at the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in September. If he's lucky, he'll bring home the $50,000 prize. Buntain and two other Tehama County residents, Robert Carlson and Stacey Spangler, are competing in the makeover, where 200 competitors are each given a wild mustang and three months to train and gentle it before competing in front of 15,000 people." This is another cooperative event between the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the BLM (see next item below).
"Mustang Heritage Foundation" (BLM partner website)
Includes specific results - conditioning scores, in hand scores, horse course scores and freestyle scores - from the Mustang Makeover event earlier this month in Sacramento. Also links to information about the upcoming Extreme Mustang Makeover, mentioned in the story above.
"BLM plans emergency wild horse gatherings in Nevada" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/18/08)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced plans Wednesday to gather about 1,700 wild horses from the Nevada range, citing ongoing drought, dwindling forage and an over abundance of animals in three herd management areas ... On the Nevada Wild Horse Range north of Las Vegas, Stokke said animals are traveling 5-10 miles a day to get food and water, causing some animals to become lame."
RELATED: "BLM sees need for emergency wild horse gathers due to drought and overpopulation" (BLM-Nevada news release, 6/18/08)
"Ten consecutive years of drought, overpopulations of wild horses in some herd areas and poor forage conditions are setting up emergency gather situations in at least three herd areas within the next 30 to 60 days. The Bureau of Land Management Nevada will receive additional funding to perform emergency gathers of nearly 1,700 horses to be removed" from Nevada lands. "Gathered horses are taken to BLM’s holding facilities, located in Ridgecrest, Calif., Fallon or Palomino Valley, Nev." where they are available for adoption.
"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California website)
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"A piece of history restored on safer ground" (News.bytes Extra)
A piece of history has been moved, board by board, to a new location inside the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Eureka. A train barn (some say a more correct term is engine house) now stands along the Elk River Trail, looking much as it did in the late 1800s when it housed locomotives used to haul logs to the lumber mill at the town of Falk.
RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
"Group formed to study Bodie Hills" (Inyo Register, 6/19/08)
From evidence of drought patterns during the Middle Ages to current satellite images and computer modeling, "the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy are exploring paths toward the future ecological health of the Bodie Hills ... scientists, researchers, conservationists, ranchers, private land owners and [BLM] staff" have participated in the "Bodie Hills Coordinated Resource Management Planning group."
"Gualala residents explode over fireworks ban" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/20/08)
"Outraged Gualala citizens filed a lawsuit and marched with placards denigrating the California Coastal Commission in front of its San Francisco office this week after the agency halted the town's planned fireworks display on the Fourth of July ... The order blocking the fireworks came after biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and naturalists from the Bureau of Land Management and other organizations monitored the bird nests on the coastal rocks after the fireworks last year and found an inordinate number of nests were abandoned, leaving eggs vulnerable to predators."
RELATED: "Gualala cancels July 4 fireworks" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/20/08)
"Sea birds won out Thursday over a planned July 4 fireworks display at Gualala, a controversial event at the center of a dispute involving the California Coastal Commission ... a property rights group in Sacramento vowed Thursday to continue a legal challenge ... The issue has divided residents of the coastal region..."
"Desert Hot Springs OKs draft to join habitat plan" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/20/08)
"Desert Hot Springs took another step in its effort to catch up with the rest of the Coachella Valley as the City Council voted to move forward with its plan to join a $2.2billion conservation plan ... the City Council approved a draft Planning Agreement ... that outlines how Desert Hot Springs will join the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan." BLM-California is a partner in the plan.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include engineering technician (petroleum), wildlife biologist, archaeologist technician/technician, biology technician/aid and survey aid/technician.
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
Just some of the upcoming events on our calendar:
June 28 - Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Council meeting
Carrisa Elementary School
June 30 - National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting
June 30 - Public meeting, West Fry wind energy project
July 1 - Public meeting, West Fry wind energy project
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) Clean their heads and necks by rubbing them on grass, rocks, or tree branches
SOURCE: "California Condor - Gymnogyps californianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Condors are fastidious birds -- after eating, they clean their heads and necks by rubbing them on grass, rocks, or tree branches. Condors also bathe frequently and spend hours preening and drying their feathers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
CALIFORNIA CONDORS IN THE NEWS : "Wildfire threatens condor refuge, 8 birds evacuated" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/08)
"Eight captive California condors were evacuated by helicopter from the hills above Big Sur in Monterey County this weekend when a wildfire threatened their sanctuary...." Links to video of the evacuation effort.
Pro: The Tejon agreement is a true conservation victory" (High Country News, 6/23/08)
Columnists disagree on whether California condors and other wildlife are protected by an agreement to preserve portions of the former Tejon Ranch while the rest is developed: "Of course, no development at all would have been preferable. But one has only to look around Kern and Los Angeles counties and see what is happening on privately held land to understand that this outcome is just wishful thinking."
"Con: A housing development that’s a tragedy for condors" (High Country News, 6/23/08)
"In recent weeks, several high-profile environmental organizations have been celebrating a deal they call 'perhaps the greatest victory for conservation that many of us will see in our lifetime.' If only this were true ... The 'deal' does result in permanent preservation of substantial amounts of open space on California’s Tejon Ranch, but it also involves the creation of a major housing development of thousands of dwellings in the heart of critical habitat for the endangered California condor."
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