A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 344 - 8/13/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Spotlight on partners: Border Field Coordinating Committee
- Drug busts on public lands
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros: Adoption, makeover
- Renewable energy
- Other energy
- Fort Ord turnover
- Headlines and highlights: GIS award, wilderness bill, jobs, more
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Endangered Species Act, soils
This issue of News.bytes online at:
SPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: Border Field Coordinating Committee (FCC)
With national attention often focused on U.S.-Mexico border security issues, the importance of good working relationships among Department of the Interior agencies is increasingly important. The partnership formed through the Field Coordinating Committee meets that need.
"Interior official tours burned area" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/13/08)
"Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett saw the blackened landscape left by the Motion Fire, which burned 28,336 acres from Shasta Dam to the corner of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. She said she came to learn about restoration plans ... Scarlett discussed restoration plans with officials from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, two of the agencies that her department oversees."
RELATED: "Federal official tours fire damaged Shasta County" (KHSL-TV Chico, 8/12/08)
"Lynn Scarlett ... Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior ... spent the day evaluating the damage left by the Motion Fire, including thousands of acres of burned wildland."
RELATED: "Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior in Shasta County" (KRCR-TV Redding, 8/12/08)
"The Motion Fire charred nearly 30,000 acres. If something isn't done right away, it could be bad this winter." Online video report.
RELATED: "Interior official honors firefighters, views areas needing restoration after fire" (News.bytes Extra)
Stabilization and restoration needs in the wake of northern California wildfires were highlights when Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett visited the Redding, California region Tuesday, Aug. 12. Scarlett spoke at an event honoring the work of firefighters who have battled hundreds of blazes across the state, and visited areas needing restoration and stabilization after recent wildfires.
"Two ceremonies set for firefighters lost in crash" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/13/08)
"The nine firefighters killed in the Aug. 5 helicopter crash near Junction City will be honored this weekend at two ceremonies in two states." A Redding firefighter will be honored Saturday in Redding, and a tribute for all nine victims will be held Friday in Central Point, Ore, just north of Medford.
"State won't press charges in Telegraph Fire" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8/08)
"The state's firefighting agency is not seeking charges against a 28-year-old target shooter from Mariposa suspected of sparking a massive wildfire west of Yosemite National Park that burned 30 homes and 100 other buildings, an official said ... investigators 'made it clear that they didn't see gross negligence, that it was just a tragic accident.' ... He was shooting ... near his family's mining claim on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property ... Cal Fire may still file a claim against the target shooter seeking to recover some of the firefighting costs."
"BLM plans fuel break maintenance work at Forty Acres, Wilkerson and Oak Creek" (BLM-California news release, 8/14/08)
The Bureau of Land Management's Bishop Field Office will conduct brush cutting, mowing, piling, and chipping work to reduce fuels and provide better wildland fire defensible space for firefighters and the communities.
"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center)
"August 13, 2008: Firefighters contained the Lime Complex in northern California at 64,502 acres. Eight large fires continue to burn 379,322 acres in California. Light wildland fire activity was reported throughout the rest of the states. One new large fire was reported in New Mexico. Five large fires were contained: one each in Texas, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Utah. " This website includes national fire news, plus details by state. The site is updated daily during fire season.
"Wildfire updates" (Sacramento Bee)
Includes links to wildfire news, photo gallery, interactive map of Northern California wildfires and related links.
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.
DRUG BUSTS ON PUBLIC LANDS
"Stockton men held in massive drug bust" (Stockton Record, 8/8/08)
"A federal grand jury has charged 12 men, including four from Stockton, with running a massive marijuana growing operation on state and federal land throughout two northern California counties ... According to the indictment, [one suspect] financed two large marijuana plots: one on land in western El Dorado County owned by the Bureau of Land Management and the other in Clementine State Park in Placer County ... The growing operations caused significant environmental damage through clear-cutting, diversion of streams and use of illegal pesticides."
RELATED: "Operation LOCCUST attacks plague of marijuana plants on public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 83,000 marijuana plants were destroyed on BLM lands in Tulare County in late July and early August during an interagency effort to eradicate marijuana on public and private lands. Fourteen state, local and federal agencies participated in Operation LOCCUST - Locating Organized Cannabis Cultivators Using Saturation Techniques. BLM provided 19 of the 230 team members, said Troy Bolen, special agent in charge in BLM’s California state office.
"Drug agents find nearly 2,700 pot plants in south county" (Hollister Freelance, 8/11/08)
"Local drug agents Friday eradicated about 2,700 marijuana plants with a street value of nearly $11 million off Coalinga Road in southern San Benito County." BLM agents joined local law enforcement officers in the operation. "You have to be careful in these large raids," said a commander of the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team. "They put fishhooks in the plants to slice you open, hide weapons so they can get to them easily - they even put out large animal traps to catch people."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
Thumbnail from a photo by Tom Brakefield, California Academy of Sciences
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
In some areas, bears have become a problem. What is the most common reason?
(a.) They leave the remains of their prey lying around and breeding flies
(c.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans
(d.) They make dens in abandoned houses and empty garages
(e.) They destroy trees and other vegetation while chasing prey
(f.) Zoning violations
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Wild Horses, Burros neighing to be adopted in Norco" (BLM-California news release, 8/11/08)
Wild horses and burros will be offered to qualified adopters at Ingalls Arena in Norco, Calif. on Aug. 16 and 17. All animals can be adopted for $125.00 and spectators are welcome. Horse trainer Joe Meisner will offer free wild horse gentling demonstrations between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Potential adopters may view the animals on Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
"1200 mustang miles" (KOLO-TV Reno, Nevada, 8/11/08)
"Two months ago, Las Vegas resident Matt Replogle made the top ten finals of the Western State's Mustang Challenge at Cal Expo with his horse Jennifer. The horse was named through a contest in Clark County by local school children, one of whom's sister Jennifer was serving in Afghanistan. While Matt did not win this competition...which entailed training the wild mustang in 90 days..he says he was inspired to try it again at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Fort Worth Texas in September." Includes video report. The TV station says it is setting up a link to follow Matt and his mustang's progress.
RELATED: "Extreme Mustang Makeover 2008" (BLM national website)
The Bureau of Land Management and the Mustang Heritage Foundation have joined forces once again to present the Extreme Mustang Makeover 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas on September 18-21, 2008. This is the contest the Matt Replogle in the story above is preparing for.
"Kern's green energy boom: Firms grabbing land, for wind, solar" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/11/08)
"Applications for utility-scale renewable energy projects have flooded into local permitting agencies the past two years, driven by state mandates and a scramble by companies for a piece of land in Kern’s sunny and windy open terrain. The trend has positioned Kern to become one of the state’s major producers of clean energy ... The Bureau of Land Management is currently processing two dozen applications for wind and solar projects in the eastern Kern desert. Meanwhile, the Kern County Planning Department has received applications for wind and solar as well as a biogas pipeline and sludge-to-energy plant."
EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Greg Miller
With the ever increasing attention to renewable energy development in the California Desert, it was time to bring in a person to focus on these resources. Enter Greg Miller, program manager for renewable energy projects for BLM's California Desert District. Read More:
"SDG&E lagging behind in state deadline for renewable energy" (KPBS radio San Diego, 8/11/08)
"SDG&E's strategy is to rely on construction of the proposed 1.5 billion dollar Sunrise PowerLink transmission line. SDG&E's Jennifer Briscoe says that line is needed to meet the region's future energy demand and to connect to solar and geothermal projects in the Imperial Valley: 'We have said that without the Sunrise PowerLink it will be very difficult to meet the mandate.'"
RELATED: "Southern California Edison leads the way in renewable energy" (KPBS radio San Diego, 8/12/08)
"SDG&E's Jennifer Briscoe says Sunrise PowerLink will connect it to renewable resources in the Imperial Valley: 'The Imperial Valley has been designated as a real place that has sources of solar, wind, geothermal and it's untapped. It's just waiting for the mechanism and the transmission to be able to bring it out of that valley.' But Edison is spending almost half a billion dollars less on its solar project than SDG&E wants to spend on the Sunrise Powerlink."
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.
"Rush to renewables not always Earth-friendly" (Hi-Desert Star, 8/13/08)
"Laws are requiring utilities to bulk up on renewable energy sources and lose the coal … fast ... Locally, the project that comes to mind is Green Path North ... Not too far away ... is San Diego Gas and Electric Company’s preferred route for a high-powered transmission line of its own ... We believe in the near future, there will be ways for Californians to use renewable energy without permanently damaging the environment those renewables are supposed to be preserving. But ... politicians must throttle back on scattershot mandates and allow renewable energy technologies to be developed, tested and proven to benefit the environment and humanity as a whole, not simply big cities and certain manufacturers."
"Proposal to harness wind power off Mendocino Coast worries fishing industry" (Sacramento Bee, 8/11/08)
"Wind power off California's coast is now just a thought among power developers, and there are no concrete plans to erect turbines at sea. But optimism is fueled by NASA and university studies indicating wind over waters off picturesque Cape Mendocino is strong and consistent enough to become one of the nation's best sources of electricity. Offshore wind and wave technologies are promising, but they're untried. They also raise concerns about potential damage to the coast's prized vistas and fish industry. One proposal to draw electricity from waves off the Mendocino coast already has generated problems for developers, government agencies and coastal residents."
RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM-California website)
Located off the 1,100 miles of the California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument is comprised of more than 20,000 BLM administered small 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.
"Sniffing for oil" (Hollister Pinnacle, 8/8/08)
"An Ojai-based oil company could start drilling in San Benito County within months, if county planning commissioners approve the project ... [on] a 13,000-acre cattle ranch near the Monterey County border south of Pinnacles National Monument. Under the Williamson Act, mineral rights are separate from surface rights, said Tom Slavich, county assessor for San Benito County ... if exploration is successful, Nahabedian officials would drill 18 wells on 16 acres, Slavich said ... There are already a small handful of developed oil fields in San Benito County, all of them in remote south county sites ... There are quite a few steps that Nahabedian officials must go through before they can start drilling..."
RELATED: "Competitive oil and gas lease sales and results for calendar year 2008" (BLM-California website)
Nahabedian was the winning bidder on several parcels in San Benito County during BLM-California's June 11, 2008 oil and gas lease sale.
|FORT ORD TURNOVER TO LOCALS
"Army hands locals 3,300 acres at Fort Ord" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/12/08)
"Under a landmark, $100 million agreement, local authorities are taking over the cleanup and conversion of [parts of] one of the biggest, most complex and contaminated military sites in the country. On Tuesday, federal and state officials celebrated the official transfer of 3,300 acres from the U.S. Army to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, a group of local city and county leaders who are overseeing the redevelopment of the 28,000-acre base ... closed in the mid-1990s as part of the large-scale downsizing of the U.S. military ... Under the agreement, the Army will continue to restore and monitor a leaking landfill and the groundwater supply across the former base and will also be in charge of munitions disposal within the remaining 18,000 acres of open space that eventually will transfer to the federal Bureau of Land Management."
"Last Ord parcel is a civilian" (Salinas Californian, 8/13/08)
"The Army will continue munitions cleanup on about 18,000 acres dedicated for open space [managed] by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that will have public recreational trails. Alternative routes away from munitions removal will be established during cleanup to allow access to recreational areas."
RELATED: "Fort Ord public lands" (BLM-California, Hollister Field Office)
The BLM currently manages about 7,200 acres at Fort Ord, and will take over the remaining 7,400 acres when the Army completes cleanup. Here the Bureau of Land Management protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals and their native coastal habitats. While habitat preservation and enhancement are primary missions at Fort Ord, there are also more than 50 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, on bike or on horseback. Includes a link to "Beyond the Brochure" - a video tour feature highlighting recreation opportunities at Fort Ord.
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Navy and BLM to begin restoration of Centerville" (BLM-California news release, 8/8/08)
The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management today signed an agreement to begin restoration of the lands at the former Centerville Naval Facility near the community of Ferndale, Humboldt County. The Navy will begin demolition of the old buildings on site later this year, beginning with the largest near the cliff overlooking the Pacific.
"BLM partnership wins GIS award" (News.bytes Extra)
A BLM partnership to improve management of cultural resources has received an award for Special Achievement in Geographic Information Systems. The BLM Cultural Resources Data Sharing Partnership received the award for its efforts in "providing cultural resources professionals consistent, easy to use, reliable spatial information systems on their desktops with access to cultural spatial data servers that assist them in doing their jobs as managers, researchers, and cultural resource professionals."
"Mammoth council endorses wilderness bill" (Sierra Wave, 8/7/08)
"In what was likely the most calm wilderness discussion yet in the Eastern Sierra, Bob Haueter with Congressman Buck McKeon’s Office briefed the Mammoth Town Council Wednesday night on recent changes to the Boxer-McKeon Bill. Stressing how local input influenced this Wilderness bill, Haueter explained the various changes that have been made since the bill was introduced to the Senate natural resources committee ... The Council did decide to put a letter of support on their consent agenda at their next meeting." The bill proposes to designate certain areas managed by BLM-California as wilderness or as wild and scenice rirvers.
RELATED: "Mono supervisors endorse wilderness bill" (Sierra Wave, 8/7/08)
"The Mono County Supervisors have directed staff to write a letter stating their support for the Boxer/McKeon Wilderness Bills, and to place it on the regular agenda for August 19th."
"Audit raises mine safety questions" (Amador Ledger Dispatch, 8/8/08)
"California's Gold Country is a dangerous place, according to a recent federal audit of the nation's mines ... The existence of these residual subterranean treasure houses has never been willfully hidden from the public. Many have plaques posted nearby to show their locations to touring students of Golden State history. Most of these mines are on private property ... The thrust of the Interior Department's report is that the BLM should be making a greater effort at protecting citizens against the dangers posed by the many abandoned mines ... The enormity of the task of cleaning up the abandoned mines boggles the imagination for some. Environmentalists have estimated cleanup costs as high as $72 billion..."
"BLM campgrounds on Merced River re-open" (BLM-California news release, 8/7/08)
The Merced River Trail and three popular campgrounds along the Merced River near Briceburg in Mariposa County have been re-opened effective today after hazard trees were removed from the area. The campgrounds - McCabe Flat, Willow Placer, and Railroad Flat - largely are undamaged, but vegetation on the steep slopes above the Merced River burned after the Telegraph Fire.
"Judge dismisses case seeking roads in Death Valley" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/12/08)
"A federal judge in Fresno largely dismissed a lawsuit that sought to open up roads through miles of remote desert canyons and valleys in Death Valley National Park ... Inyo County sought to re-establish access to four roads near the Nevada border" closed in 1994. Environmental groups in the lawsuit "argued that reopening the old mining roads that had been washed away would harm the park's fragile ecosystem, including a number of federally protected animals ... The conservation groups saw the disputed area as remote canyons that the Bureau of Land Management deemed to be 'roadless' years earlier. The county, however, saw the same area as 20 miles of established roadways that could one day be widened."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include archaeologist technician/aid, biology technician/aid and survey aid/technician,
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:
August weekends - Guided hikes, weather permitting
Headwaters Forest Reserve - must call to reserve space
August 26 - Public meeting on Rathburn-Petray Mine cleanup
NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Secretary Kempthorne proposes narrow changes to ESA consultation process" (Department of the Interior news release, 8/11/08)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today followed through on his commitment to propose common-sense modifications to the existing Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations ... The proposed changes to the regulations are designed to reflect current practices and recent courts cases. The changes will make it easier for agencies to understand when and how the regulations apply. While this rule will help avoid misuse of the ESA to regulate climate change, the rule will also generally improve the consultation process ... The Department is seeking comment on this proposal for the next 30 days."
"Bush to relax protected species rules" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/11/08)
"Parts of the Endangered Species Act may soon be extinct. The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants. New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years ... internal reviews by the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that about half the unilateral evaluations by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that determined wildfire prevention projects were unlikely to harm protected species were not legally or scientifically valid."
"BLM soil scientists contribute to national exhibition at Smithsonian Museum" (BLM national news release, 8/12/08)
The significance of soil and the history of its management are highlighted ... “Dig It!” features a monolith, or soil profile showing the layers formed in the soil, of the state soil for each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. , Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam ... based on their special significance to the economy of the particular states. The monoliths for Scobey (the Montana state soil) and Orovada (the Nevada state soil) were collected on BLM land. Many of the other state soils in the West occur extensively on BLM lands as well.
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans
SOURCE: "Black Bear - Ursus americanus" (BLM California wildlife database)
As they find food in urban areas they lose their fear of humans and could become quite aggressive. For this reason, people who live in areas where bears are present should make their garbage cans bear-proof and keep their land clean. When camping, food should be stored in lockers that are specially designed to keep bears out. If the lockers aren't available the food should be kept in the trunks of cars. As long as bears are not invited into areas inhabited by humans, they will maintain their fear of humans.
IN THE NEWS: "Bear activity on the rise in Owens Valley" (Inyo Register, 8/11/08)
Owens Valley is getting more bears, earlier in the year. One recently made off with pet goats. The California Department of Fish and Game issued "a depredation permit, which allows landowners to destroy the animal themselves or they can hire a trapper to do it ... given to owners whose livestock or other properties have been attacked by wildlife, but have not yet caused an immediate threat to humans or the general population ... Wildlife that become a public safety hazard and threat to humans are destroyed by official agencies." Wildlife officials try to educate tourists not to leave food where bears can get it, because "a fed bear is a dead bear."
RELATED: "Ursus americanus - American black bear" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
More information, plus several photos, from this website "written largely by and for college students."
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