A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 362 - 12/17/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Salazar nominated for Secretary of the Interior
- Off-highway vehicle issues
- Other recreation
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- In the classroom: Smokey Bear highlights visit
- Energy, renewable energy: Solar, wind, Sunrise Powerlink, oil and gas
- Headlines and highlights: Eagle Lake water concerns, advisory council appointments, more
- Selected upcoming events
- Other national and/or Department of the Interior items: National System of Public Lands, BLM announcements
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
|INTERIOR SECRETARY NOMINEE
"Obama names Salazar as Secretary of Interior" (Washington Post, 12/17/08)
Includes link to video.
"President-elect Barack Obama today nominated Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) as interior secretary and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be secretary of agriculture, adding two centrists with considerable government experience to his nearly complete Cabinet roster. Salazar, a fifth-generation Coloradan whose family settled in the West before the United States' founding and has ranched and farmed on the same land in the San Luis Valley for more than a century, is better known for brokering deals between warring interests than for outlining an ambitious agenda of conservation. In four years in the Senate, he has pushed to temper energy exploration in the West even as he has backed offshore oil drilling and subsidies for ranchers on public land."
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"Obama Picks Vilsack, Salazar for Cabinet" (Associated Press on ABC News. 12/17/08)
"Salazar will head a department that oversees oil and gas drilling on public lands and manages the nation's parks and wildlife refuges. He is expected to try to balance protection of natural resources with use of the nation's energy potential -- an approach Obama said in the announcement that he wants." The Bureau of Land Management is within the Department of the Interior.
"Obama says Salazar, Vilsack to be ‘guardians’ of land" (Bloomberg News, 12/17/08)
"Both departments will be crucial to finding the balance between preserving the environment and determining 'how we harness our natural resources,' Obama said today ... The Interior Department, which has been called the 'department of everything else,' encompasses the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, among other agencies. It has more than 70,000 employees and a budget of $16.8 billion."
"Fixing Interior" (New York Times, 12/16/08)
Editorial: "Senator Ken Salazar, the Colorado Democrat who is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of the interior, will inherit a department riddled with incompetence and corruption, captive to industries it is supposed to regulate and far more interested in exploiting public resources than conserving them ... Mr. Salazar has his work cut out for him."
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"Off-roading off-limits in valley" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/16/08)
"Billboards over Coachella Valley freeways ... will serve as reminders that off-road riding in the open desert is against the law ... Desert bighorn sheep, migratory birds, the fringe-toed lizard and milk vetch are some critical animal and plant species being affected by riders who trespass on public protected land. Trespassing and public safety also are concerns ... The Bureau of Land Management technically has about 70 miles of dirt roads sprinkled across the Coachella Valley ... But the trails are not conducive to the traditional off-road recreational rider who trailers their vehicles, brings the whole family, sets up a camp for day and grills outside ... A legal riding area is in the works, though, and could be established within the next four years. An off-highway vehicle commission was formed in 2006 to find potential locations for such a park."
RELATED: "Off-highway vehicle riding opportunities - BLM lands in Riverside County" (BLM-California, Palm Springs South Coast Field Office)
There are no BLM designated open OHV areas in Riverside County where riding off of existing routes is permitted. Various agencies within Riverside County are presently working towards identification of an open OHV area. In the interim, information on BLM OHV areas in California is available on the BLM-California website. There are no recreational OHV opportunities in Coachella Valley given that nearly all BLM managed lands in the valley are small and scattered parcels that lack legal access. In addition, OHV riders easily enter adjacent private lands where riding is not legal. Located east of Coachella Valley, the Meccacopia Special Recreation Management Area provides riding opportunities on designated roads and trails.
"Supes oppose trash service removal in dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/16/08)
"The Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to formally oppose the removal of trash service in the dunes. A letter will be sent to the state director of the Bureau of Land Management requesting trash service in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area be maintained."
RELATED: "Trash collection at Dunes to end Feb. 1" (Imperial Valley Living, 12/16/08)
"In an action that could drastically change off-road activity at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced it will remove trash dumpsters, and not collect trash at the site after Feb. 1 ... That announcement has local civic leaders and elected officials very concerned."
"Council objects to base expansion heading west" (Hi-Desert Star, 12/17/08)
"The Town Council took a stand on the proposed expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Thursday by approving a resolution granting them stakeholder status to the process ... The resolution states that while the Town of Yucca Valley supports MCAGCC’s need to expand its live-fire training facilities, the council opposes expansion into Johnson Valley off-road vehicle recreational areas.
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.
"Inyo Nat’l. Forest proves exception to nationwide decline in visitation" (Inyo Register, 12/15/08)
"The Inyo National Forest is bucking the trend of declining visitation in national forests, with local retailers and government agencies reporting steady increases ... However, Mount Whitney is an 'unusual' destination one of the many 'icons'" such as "the Bristlecone pine forest, some of the oldest living things on the planet, historic Mono Lake and Devil’s Postpile, 'one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt.' These are not to mention the outdoor attractions not on INF land, like Death Valley and the world-class rock climbing found on Bureau of Land Management lands, that bring visitors to the area."
RELATED: "Sierra hikers dispute federal report about declining use of U.S. forests" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 12/15/08)
A report "shows that visits to the country's national forests declined ... about 13 percent" from 2004 to 2007. "Other officials ... have doubts. Counts at California's Tahoe National Forest suggested a drop ... officials said much of that perceived drop was associated with how visits to ski resorts on Forest Service-leased land were tallied. The number of mountain bikers in Tahoe National Forest appears on the rise, and officials suspect overall use might be as well ... Increasingly common fees charged to forest visitors are cited as one reason visits might be declining ... Since 2004, permanent fee programs were put in place across many public lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management."
"BLM schedules public workshop on Keyesville area recreation" (BLM-California news release, 12/15/08))
At the workshop January 28 in Lake Isabella, “We will primarily discuss what recreation opportunities such as hiking and mountain biking members of the public would like to have available in the Keyesville area,” said Peter DeWitt, BLM recreation planner. “We will hold another public workshop in late February or early March to specifically discuss off-highway vehicle recreation issues such as travel management and route designation.”
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
Thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
When do American Martens hibernate?
(a.) as soon as the first snow hits the ground, until spring thaw
(b.) from October through March, regardless of snowfall
(c.) unlike most mammals, they estivate (similar to hibernation) during the summer, when temperatures get too hot for them
(d.) this animal does not hibernate or estivate, but is active all year
(e.) as soon as the first strains of the American Dean Martin's "White Christmas" appear on radio. Old-timers say that the season has been getting earlier every year since they were young'uns.
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
|IN THE CLASSROOM
"Collette Elementary kids shout, 'Smokey Bear rocks!'" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM's California Desert District fire, prevention, and outreach staff members, Sue Rocha, Chuck Robbins, Noel Stephens, and Jo Ann Schiffer-Burdett visited eight classrooms and 148 second graders to talk about Fire Prevention and Education, and to introduce their very special guest, Smokey Bear.
|ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY
"From prototype to powerhouse" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/14/08)
"San Diego Gas & Electric is betting that a startup company with an untested technology to generate solar power can provide it with much of the renewable energy it will need to meet a state mandate by 2010. The plan is at the heart of SDG&E's arguments that the Sunrise Powerlink, a proposed 1,000-megawatt line across the desert and mountains, is needed to bring renewable energy from the Imperial Valley. Meanwhile, the company behind the technology says it might not build its plant if Sunrise isn't approved because it won't have a way to sell its power. Those issues and others will be on the table Thursday, when the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide whether Sunrise gets built and whether it should put any conditions on the line's construction."
"$400 million wind farm proposed for East County" (KFMB-TV San Diego, 12/16/08)
"A Spanish-owned corporation wants to build a new wind farm in the East County with more than 100 wind turbines. Executives rolled into Boulevard recently to pitch their plan, and reaction was not too friendly ... The company wants to build up to 133 wind turbines on federal land in the McCain Valley recreation area just north of Boulevard. There are already 25 wind turbines on Indian land nearby ... The Boulevard wind farm still has to go through environmental review and be approved by the Bureau of Land Management. As for the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote on that this Thursday."
"Powerlink battle lines drawn" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/17/08)
"The future of the Sunrise Powerlink is shaping up as a battle between the president of the California Public Utilities Commission and one of the commissioners, with advice from the governor and leaders of the state Senate. PUC President Michael Peevey is backing San Diego Gas & Electric's arguments that the 1,000-megawatt line is needed to ensure a reliable power supply for San Diego, and that it will foster development of electricity from renewable sources. Commissioner Dian Grueneich is skeptical of the proposal." The CPUC holds a hearing on Sunrise tomorrow. Includes a link to watch or listen to the hearing online.
RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
The CPUC is the California Environmental Quality Act lead agency and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act.
"We must move toward a `green' energy state" (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/12/08)
Op-Ed: "President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders have spoken of developing a new energy economy that promises to create millions of jobs and rely increasingly on renewable, 'green' power. The time to embrace this vision and create the infrastructure to handle the energy solutions of the future is now! ... Citizens in our valleys need to stand up and be counted in favor of the Sunrise Powerlink ... The U.S. Department of Energy has said that Southern California's aging power grid is one of the weakest in the country. We can and must remedy this."
"Controversy over solar power in the Desert" (KCRW radio Santa Monica , 12/3/08)
"Environmentalists are divided over whether this form of energy is really 'green'." Three guests discuss the issue on this radio broadcast. Note: This selection may start with a short video advertisement. Once the hour-long audio program loads, you can skip click on the button after "Shifting" to go directly to the section labeled "Controversy over Solar Power in the Desert."
"Report: Wave energy begins in rough waters" (Eureka Times-Standard, 12/15/08)
"A white paper commissioned by the state says that tapping the ocean for power should be done carefully ... Depending on their size and location, the study reads, commercial and sport fisheries might be impacted, but new projects would yield construction and operations jobs for nearby communities. But projects could also interfere with wave shoaling and beach building by stripping some energy out of waves, and that in turn could affect species from the high tide line out to the continental shelf. The buoys or other structures designed to convert wave power to electricity are also likely to act like artificial reefs where reef-related fish would congregate..."
RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM-California)
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.
"BLM announces availability of oil and gas lease auction environmental assessment" (BLM-California news release, 12/12/08)
The Bureau of Land Management has completed the environmental assessment for the oil and gas lease auction scheduled for March 11, 2009. A 30-day public review and comment period runs from December 12, 2008, to January 12, 2009.
"BLM oil and gas lease auction tops $200,000" (BLM-California news release, 12/12/08)
Ten oil and gas lease parcels in Kern County were auctioned for a total of $256,242.50, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management’s Bakersfield Field Office last week in Bakersfield.
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Concerns raised about Eagle Lake levels" (Lassen County News, 12/16/08)
"Residents living in the Eagle Lake area of Lassen County are starting to become concerned with the dropping water levels of the lake." One resident "said he assumed the control over the water levels at Eagle Lake fell under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Water Resources, the State division of Water Rights or the Bureau of Land Management" and that "that the Bly irrigation tunnel, which was sealed up in 1986, was technically under the jurisdiction of the BLM. The BLM’s Web site said the tunnel, combined with a drought, was almost responsible for the extinction of the lake in the 1930’s."
RELATED: "Eagle Lake" (BLM-California, Eagle Lake Field Office)
Eagle Lake is 5100 feet above sea level in north eastern California about 16 miles north of Susanville in Lassen County. It is the second largest natural freshwater lake wholly in California. Having no natural surface outlet, Eagle Lake is a closed basin lake with its water levels fluctuating with variations of inflow.
"Interior Secretary announces BLM advisory council appointments" (BLM-California news release, 12/12/08)
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has announced appointments to the Bureau of Land Management’s Central California Resource Advisory Council. The council advises the BLM on public land matters.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include law enforcement ranger,
fire lookout, wildland firefighter positions and archeology technician.
MORE NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Interior Secretary formally designates BLM lands as the National System of Public Lands" (BLM national news release, 12/16/08)
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today signed a secretarial order to officially designate the 258 million acres of lands managed for multiple-use by the department’s Bureau of Land Management as the National System of Public Lands. "These lands constitute an invaluable recreational, cultural, economic, and environmental legacy for the nation," Kempthorne said. "And yet, those who own these lands – the American people – remain largely unaware of their critical importance to our quality of life, their value to present and future generations, or even the purpose for which these lands are preserved in public ownership."
"BLM director taps James G. Kenna to head Arizona state office" (BLM national news release, 12/8/08)
Kenna, a career natural resource manager, is currently the BLM’s associate state director for BLM’s Oregon and Washington office. Among Kenna's previous positions was as manager of BLM-California's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office.
"BLM announces new guidance enhancing the protection and recovery of rare species on 258 million acres of federal lands" (BLM national news release, 12/15/08)
After a two-year process, the BLM has completed a revision to its 6840 Manual for Management of Special Status Species, providing further policy and guidance for the conservation of BLM special status species and their habitats. Last updated in 2001, the Manual supports the BLM’s broad conservation authorities and duties pertaining to fish, wildlife and plant conservation pursuant to multiple statutes including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Sikes Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
"BLM accepting nominations for expanded reclamation and sustainable mineral development awards" (BLM national news release, 12/12/08)
These awards recognize solid mineral (non-coal) development operations that embody the principles of sustainable development or represent outstanding examples of reclamation or environmental stewardship.
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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