A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 345 - 8/21/08

Art DiGrazia rides among the mustangs at the Ridgecrest Corrals A burro brays while awaiting adoption at Norco A crew works on fire restoration A coyote in the wild A loader dumps into a truck at the Mesquite Mine

- In the field: Ridgecrest Corrals
- Wild horses and burros
- Abandoned mines: Stay out and stay alive!
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - 'Native American Voices of the Mojave Desert'
- Wildfire and aftermath
- Headlines and highlights: Wilderness bill, Alabama Hills, jobs, more
- Energy
- Sunrise Powerlink
- Recreation and issues on public lands
- Marijuana season on public lands
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Mining law of 1872

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Art DiGrazia speaks to the cameraArt DiGrazia rides among the mustangs at the Ridgecrest CorralsIN THE FIELD: Ridgecrest Corrals
"In the Field" is an video visit with a BLM-California manager at work in the field. In this issue, visit online with Art DiGrazia, program manager at BLM-California's Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, as he goes about a day working with the wild horses and burros.


"Wild horses and burros" (BLM-California website)
Information on wild horse herds, links to adoption schedule and more.

A burro brays while awaiting adoption at Norco"As Inland residents give up costly horses, U.S. government puts more up for adoption in Norco" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/16/08)
"Federal efforts to find homes for wild horses may find there's little room in the Inland area, where residents are already trying to get rid of horses they can no longer afford. The federal Bureau of Land Management rolled into Norco on Friday with 50 horses and burros, but adoptions have been declining -- falling more than 16 percent in 2005 through 2007 -- which the bureau attributes to higher fuel and feed costs. For that reason, at least 30 fewer animals than usual were brought to the annual Norco adoption event. " Includes video report.

A prospective adopter looks over mustangs at Norco"Number of wild horse adoptions down over previous year" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/18/08)
"Wild horse and burro adoptions at a weekend event in Norco dropped significantly compared with the same event in 2007, a change officials attribute to the tight economy and high prices for gas and hay. The federal Bureau of Land Management found homes for 20 of the 50 animals offered for adoption Saturday and Sunday at Ingalls Park, said Art DiGrazia, head of the wild horse and burro program at the BLM's Ridgecrest facility."

"Mustangs and trainers put on a show for adopters" (News.bytes Extra)
Visitors at the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption event  in Norco last weekend were treated to demonstrations by several accomplished mustangs and trainers.

"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 trainers in the "News.bytes Extra" above are preparing for.

ABANDONED MINES: Stay out, stay alive!

"Man recalls time in mine" (Sonora Union Democrat, 8/19/08)
"After spending nearly 42 hours trapped in a dark, water-filled mine shaft, [the man] has a new outlook on life ... he knew better, but curiosity won out when the door to the mine, usually locked, had been cut ... rock tunnels absorb sound. No one heard Lee's screams..." Experienced cavers warn that abandoned mines are even more dangerous than caves: "Many mines are unstable and ready to collapse ... Then there are the hidden holes and pits, shafts that slant at different angles, and no easy point of reference for those who get turned around." Cy Oggins, manager of the Abandoned Lands Unit of the Department of Conservation, "estimates California has about 47,000 abandoned mines, with 697 known in Tuolumne County. It's possible there are even more that haven't been documented..."

"Man saved after 100-foot fall into abandoned mine in Tuolumne" (Sacramento Bee, 8/18/08)
"There was no light, no exit, just a hole. There was no way to get out," said the man, who was trapped more than a day. "His father had warned him to stay away ... but ... [he] went about 100 yards into the mine and then fell into a hole he never saw coming. He tumbled ... fell 20 feet more ... spilled into a vertical shaft and plunged 60 feet straight down. 'Fortunately for him, the bottom of that shaft has water in it,' said Dan Crow, search and rescue coordinator for Tuolumne County ... The mines are on federal Bureau of Land Management property, said BLM spokesman John Dearing. 'There are thousands of mines in the Sierra and hundreds in that area.'"
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.

Stay Out, Stay Alive"Staying safe" (Abandoned Mine Lands Portal)
This website, launched last month, is part of a "partnership that spans federal, state and local efforts, dedicated to raising awareness about abandoned mine lands." Learn why abandoned mines are even more dangerous than you think, in ways that you may not know of.

A coyote in the wild
Thumbnail from a photo by Dr. Lloyd Ingles, California Academy of Science

Many animal species are in precarious shape - they have lost habitat to non-native species that invade their territory or as human residential, industrial or farmland spreads out over their former habitat. How has the coyote dealt with these challenges?
(a.) Their populations have gone into steep decline, so much so that they are endangered
(b.) They have retreated to remote areas, where they are rarely seen by humans
(c.) They have turned on each other, competing fiercely for an ever-decreasing range
(d.) They have smaller litters than they used to
(e.) Their populations continue to grow and their range continues to expand
(f.) They moved to Canada

------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

A mural of Native American scenes"'Native American Voices of the Mojave Desert' after-school program" (News.bytes Extra)
This Friday, the BLM Barstow Field Office Desert Discovery Center will host a screening of "Native American Voices of the Mojave Desert." Main Street Murals partnered with the BLM's Barstow Field Office Desert Discovery Center to head this unique arts program. The hands-on, multi-curricular after-school program involved elementary students from seven schools in the Barstow area. Students were led on a journey of discovery involving a diverse program that satisfied California curriculum standards in language arts, mathematics, history, social science, science, visual and performing arts.


A crew works on fire restorationA crew clears debris to help prevent wildfire"After Telegraph fire, work begins to heal the land" (Fresno Bee, 8/17/08)
"A new battle against the elements is unfolding in the foothills of Mariposa County, where the Telegraph fire has stripped away the natural architecture that holds up the hillsides -- the vast patchwork of grass, brush and trees. With the first autumn rains coming as soon as a month from now, hundreds of workers are scrambling to shore up the ravaged landscape and prevent a runoff disaster ... Fish could die from lack of oxygen in the water. Clogged waterways could result in widespread floods ... For now, the cost of the rehabilitation work has been paid from the interagency Telegraph fire incident budget ... but officials from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are expected to work out how much each agency will pay."
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"Fire crews contain Yolla Bolly Complex" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/20/08)
"The 89,994-acre Yolla Bolly Complex Fire was finally contained Tuesday, only one day short of two months after it was ignited by lightning. The wildfire, which began June 20 ... scorched about 54,523 acres in the Mendocino National Forest and about 34,213 acres in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest ... it also burned about 80 acres within the Six-Rivers National Forest and another 1,178 acres of private, state and Bureau of Land Management property."

"OHV area will be closed for fire restoration work" (BLM-California news release, 8/20/08)
The Chappie-Shasta Off Highway Vehicle Area northwest of Redding will be closed at least until next spring while areas damaged during the Motion Fire are stabilized and repaired. Officials from the Bureau of Land Management and the Shasta Trinity National Forest, agencies that jointly manage the OHV area, said the closure is necessary while crews and heavy equipment work to stabilize fire lines, clear blocked culverts, repair trails and replace burned bridges. Crews must also take down trees that are in danger of falling and replace structures that block access to abandoned mines. The closure will affect the Forest Service and BLM-managed parts of the OHV area.

"Colfax area closed" (BLM-California news release, 8/15/08)
The Folsom Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management today closed an area off Carpenter Road near Interstate 80 near Colfax, commonly used as an informal shooting area, to protect maintenance crews working on railroad tracks located directly above the area, and to protect public lands from wildfire.  The area will be closed to public access until further notice. 

"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center)
"August 21, 2008: The Northwest, including Oregon and Washington, is currently the most active with wildland fires. A total of 14 fires and 31,367 acres burned. Wildland fire activity has decreased throughout the country. Three new large fires were reported: one each in Oregon, Washington, and Virginia. Four large fires were contained: one each in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. " This website includes national fire news, plus details by state. The site is updated daily during fire season.


"Bill would protect huge chunk of California land" (Sacramento Bee, 8/16/08)
Congress may "vote next month to designate nearly 800,000 acres of California land -- an area larger than Rhode Island -- as federally protected wilderness. The House has already signed off on some of the land, giving the designation for nearly a half-million acres in six states ... This year's largest proposal for California ... would designate more than 470,000 acres in Mono, Inyo and Los Angeles counties as wilderness, along with 52 miles of Amargosa River in Death Valley and Owens River's headwaters. It's called the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.

RELATED: "S. 3069, Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act" (BLM national news site)
Congressional testimony of Henri Bisson, Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, on July 16. (Some of the details of the proposal have changed since this time.)
Note: clicking on the link on the following page will open a Microsoft Word document with the testimony.

A couple walks among rock spires in the Alabama Hills"Alabama Hills as a National Monument?" (Inyo Register, 8/16/08)
"Members of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and the Bureau of Land Management have been hard at work in the Alabama Hills, and are hoping that recent efforts could bring federal money for management of the lands and help make the Hills an even more attractive destination for residents and visitors. One of the things being discussed by the BLM and the Stewardship Group is the possibility of obtaining a federal designation for the Hills, such as a National Monument."

RELATED: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)

"Base taking closer look at Johnson Valley property" (Hi-Desert Star, 8/20/08)
"The Department of the Navy has submitted an application to the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw from public use 421,270 acres of land that border Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, including land in the Johnson Valley area ... Base officials say the withdrawal request gives the Marine Corps the opportunity to carefully study these areas as alternatives for meeting training requirements ... The BLM will publish a notice of intent for the withdrawal request, which will trigger a public-comment period." Off-road vehicle groups have urged base officials "to look to the east of the base for its expansion plans, not into Johnson Valley."

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)

"Loleta woman looks back on rescue by CCC crew" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/17/08)
"One wrong step ... 'When I fell, it was a total, total surprise,' said the Loleta resident and longtime hiker. But when she moved her leg at the bottom of the 8-foot-deep ravine she found herself in, she knew she was in trouble..." Unable to get her out of the ravine, her husband "started yelling, hoping for help in the middle of a wilderness." To their surprise and relief, they were answered by two members of " a California Conservation Corps backcountry crew working in the area." The crew "spent six weeks hacking away at the brush and poison oak in the area, and working on about 26 miles of trail between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's northern border and Usal Beach."

"Arizona company plans to drill for silver, barite in Calico" (San Bernardino County Sun, 8/17/08)
"International Silver Inc. ... hopes to start drilling in a few months on the Laviathan Property - a 1,300-acre piece of land [managed] by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the Calico Mining District near Barstow. Silver is only the half of it, though. The company estimates there's about 1 million tons of barite-silver ore entrenched throughout 60 mining claims on Laviathan. Barite is a heavy material used in manufacturing oil drills."

A loader dumps into a truck at the Mesquite MineAn overview of the Mesquite Mine pit"Mesquite Mine goes for the gold" (Imperial Valley Press, 8/15/08)
"Past the sand dunes in Glamis and next to the Chocolate Mountains bombing range sits the Mesquite Mine and the Mesquite Landfill. These facilities, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, are an economic force in the Imperial Valley -- and they soon will be an even larger force ... The mine had closed in 2001 when gold prices dropped .... The landfill, which is next to the mine and shares an entrance, will open in 2009." Includes link to five-minute video report. BLM was involved in a land exchange for the landfill site. A portion of the revenues from the mining operation will be shared by BLM with the State Lands Commission, under provisions of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act.

"Share the Experience Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest"
BLM is a partner in the 2008 Share the Experience Photo Contest. The contest runs through December 31, 2008. Entrants can win one of five prize packages, with a total of 14 winners. The Grand Prize winner's image will grace the 2010 "Federal Recreation Lands Pass," an annual admission that provides access to all participating Federal Land Management Agency sites where an entrance fee is charged, plus a digital camera kit and a five-day, four-night trip to a federal recreation land of his/her choice.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include archaeologist technician/aid, biology technician/aid and survey aid/technician.


"ThermaSource expands" (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 8/14/08)
"Flush with an infusion of money from investors, a Santa Rosa geothermal company is rapidly expanding as energy companies search for steam to fuel new power plants in response to high oil and natural gas prices ... Record bids for geothermal leases on public lands reflect the rising interest in developing steam fields. The federal Bureau of Land Management has held four auctions in the past 14 months in California, Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Last year, the federal agency awarded six lease parcels at The Geysers, the first made by the BLM anywhere in California in 13 years. The Geysers, which straddles Sonoma and Lake counties, is the world's largest geothermal operation."

"The desert and green power: A love triangle" (Chicago Tribune, 8/18/08)
Mojave Desert: " Once considered wasteland, this expanse of sunshine and wind is now a prized battleground between unlikely opponents. For generations, conservationists ... have guarded the landscape, but 21st Century demands for renewable energy are threatening to crash into the pristine desert, now deemed a gold mine for solar, wind and geothermal farms ... Unlike offshore drilling and other oil and gas ventures in which developers and environmentalists are obvious adversaries, renewable energy is increasingly pitting two kinds of green advocates against each other as the nation seeks alternative sources in the face of record oil prices and global warming..."

"BLM announces availability of oil and gas lease auction environmental assessment" (BLM-California news release, 8/14/08)
The Bureau of Land Management has completed the environmental assessment (EA) for the oil and gas lease auction scheduled for December 10, 2008. A 30-day public review and comment period runs until September 15. The EA was prepared to analyze the environmental impacts of leasing the mineral estate for oil and gas exploration and development. The lands considered for competitive lease auction are located in Kern and Ventura counties.


"SoCal farmers angry about proposed power line path" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/14/08)
"San Diego Gas & Electric Co. contends that stringing high-voltage lines over agricultural land in San Diego and Imperial counties as part of its $1.5-billion Sunrise Powerlink project is the most secure and economic way to deliver wind, solar and geothermal energy. Farmers counter that utility profits from the project would come at their expense."

"SDG&E says it did not mislead state" (North County Times, 8/19/08)
"San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has denied that it deceived the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this summer when it stated that an alternate, southern route for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage power line would cross tribal lands."

"SDG&E says it didn't lie to PUC over Powerlink"
(San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/20/08)
"San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has denied misleading the California Public Utilities Commission about its Sunrise Powerlink proposal and asked the commission to dismiss a sanctions proceeding before it gets started.".

"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.

"SDG&E's Proposed Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
More links and sources of information.


Looking down at the coast from a cliff-top Lost Coast Trail"Where fog, sun play peekaboo; Lost Coast Trail passes by beaches, redwoods, ferns, cliffs and critters" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14/08)
"The 50-mile route runs from the Mattole River at the northern end of the Bureau of Land Management-administered Kings Range National Conservation Area to Usal Creek at the southern end of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. The most popular treks are a four-day, 24-mile hike of the Kings Range beach, taking care to avoid high tide on several stretches and pitching a tent on the sand; and a three-day through hike of Sinkyone's 16-mile stretch of backcountry. To do a through hike, bring a second car or contact one of the park-approved shuttle services...."

RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area/The Lost Coast " (BLM-California Arcata Field Office)

"Lacks Creek proposal goes public" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/14/08)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has proposed a plan to rehabilitate forests and prairies while creating a network of trails on thousands of acres it controls in Lacks Creek, an important tributary of Redwood Creek ... The ecologically and geologically diverse watershed can be reached in 45 minutes from Arcata ... 'We saw an opportunity to be a little more expansive in this area to accommodate more of a recreational opportunity,' said BLM Arcata Field Manager Lynda Roush. Restoring and maintaining oak woodlands and prairies is also called for in the plan" plus monitoring of protected species.

"Purdon camping tradition to be revived?" (Grass Valley/Nevada City Union, 8/14/08)
"For years, camping out beneath the stars along the South Yuba River at Purdon Crossing was a cool way to beat the heat for folks all over western Nevada County ... Those romantic evenings of easy recreation access came to an end in May when the state park closed down overnight parking at the crossing. Officials hope the move would improve emergency vehicle access and reduce the risk of wildfire and sanitation problems affecting water quality ... The county owns the road, while state parks, BLM and one private individual owns land along the river...."

"Outdoors behavior, ethics are ready for modification" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/17/08)
"Studies show that an informed outdoor skill set ... can be vital to the mental, physical and spiritual health of youngsters, as well as the safety of others and the landscape ... The average American weighs 30 pounds more than he did 30 years ago ... Hiking and biking can be a solution to that, as well as to the rising rate of youth obesity ... Youngsters are six times more likely to play a video game than to ride a bike ... and fewer than 15 percent have taken part in an outdoor recreation program ... The most common cause of personal watercraft accidents was operator inexperience..." California proposals include youth outdoor education and boater education.

RELATED: "Take It Outside!" (BLM national website)
The Bureau of Land Management’s "Take It Outside" program promotes and supports outdoor activities and experiences of children on the public lands. The program strives to improve the health of our nation's children, families, and communities, while at the same time developing the next generation of public land stewards.


"Investigators pounce on pot again in mountain bust" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/13/08)
"Undercover Riverside County sheriff's investigators and U.S. Forest Service drug agents cleared $150 million worth of marijuana growing near Pinyon Pines during their second sweep in two weeks. Narcotics officers discovered the pot growing in the rugged mountains ... The sweep marked the second major operation in two weeks by sheriff's and forest officials during an operation with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Justice Campaign to Eradicate Marijuana team and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Pot raid yields more than 1,600 plants" (Grass Valley/Nevada City Union, 8/14/08)
"In the biggest pot raid of the year, Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies seized more than 1,600 marijuana plants near the South Fork Yuba River ... During the raid, sheriff’s deputies found six to seven interconnected pot gardens all on federal Bureau of Land Management property, said Sgt. Bill Smethers of the county’s Narcotics Task Force. The gardens were spread out over the hillside and had a gravity-fed irrigation system..."

"Marijuana gardens may have Mexican connection" (Grass Valley/Nevada City Union, 8/16/08)
"The raid of several connected marijuana gardens this week revealed the continued presence of what appear to be Mexican growing operations in Nevada County, sheriff’s officials said ... '(Mexican growers) live in the gardens, as opposed to a grower who visits a garden, tends to it and goes home,'" said Capt. Ron Smith of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. "Mexican organizations have expanded their presence throughout the United States in recent years, especially in rural California."

Find listings online at:


"The Mining Law of 1872" (Montana; The Magazine of Western History, Summer 2008, reprinted at RedOrbit)
"Debate over the repeal of the Mining Law of 1872 has been raging in the West now for almost two decades and once again reached the halls of Congress in 2007-8." Includes references to California situations, and list of citations.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Their populations continue to grow and their range continues to expand

SOURCE: "Coyote - Canis latrans" (BLM California wildlife database)
Coyotes have historically not been favored much by humans. For years they have been hunted, poisoned, and trapped to keep them away from human territories and to prevent them from killing farm animals such as sheep. Despite efforts to control them, coyote populations continue to grow and their range continues to expand. Part of their success is due to versatility. Coyotes are opportunistic animals. They can eat a large variety of foods and live in a wide range of habitats.

Coyotes in the News:

"Coyote pups are on the prowl"
(San Francisco Examiner, 8/14/08)
"The population of the four-legged creatures in San Francisco has grown to roughly two dozen from fewer than five last summer, according to wildlife officials. Once confined to the Presidio, coyotes have now been sighted in neighborhoods such as Diamond Heights, Glen Park, Twin Peaks and Bernal Heights... Normally docile creatures, coyotes lose their natural fear of humans when they habituate in urban populations, said Mary Fricke of Fish and Game ... several local agencies are posting signs where coyote sightings have been reported ... Outreach efforts also are under way to implore city residents to refrain from feeding the animals and to keep their pets on a leash..."

"State wants help counting coyotes" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/8/08)
Officials held a forum in Long Beach "to ease anxiety and educate residents on all things related to wild coyotes ... following an overwhelming number of calls from residents about coyotes roaming in their neighborhoods ... At the meeting, officials urged residents to begin to form 'Wildlife Watch' groups in their neighborhoods ... Simple steps such as keeping tight lids on trash bins, safeguarding small pets outdoors and cleaning out food trays go a long way toward keeping wildlife off properties and preventing conflicts..."


"Coyote in California"
(California Department of Fish and Game)
Links to tips on dealing with coyotes, especially in urban and suburban areas, and warnings on coyote attacks.

"Coyote ( Canis latrans)" (State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
"Bites from snakes, rodents, and domestic dogs are a far greater possibility than coyote bites, according to public health authorities. However, coyotes that are fed become accustomed to people and present a human safety risk."

"Canis latrans - Coyote" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
Information and photos, at this "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

"Burned tortoise found in Joshua Tree grate"
(Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/20/08)
" The burned remains of the tortoise were discovered Aug. 4 in a fire grate at the Black Rock campground [of Joshua Tree National Park]... Officials estimate the animal was about 45 years old ... California's population of desert tortoises has declined by 80 percent or 90 percent since the 1970s, said Bureau of Land Management Wildlife Biologist Mark Massar ... Tortoises have been killed by passing vehicles, ravens that eat baby reptiles and an upper respiratory tract disease that Massar compared to the flu."

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