A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 480 - 5/13/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- America's Great Outdoors
- Volunteers America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Our readers write
- Renewable energy
- Current legislation affecting the BLM
- Wild horses and burros
- Funny.bytes recap
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- Department of the Interior items
This issue of News.bytes isonline at:
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Panoche Valley a rare treasure for California" (Hollister Free Lance, 5/8/11)
Outdoors columnist: "Just before the road climbs into the Griswold Hills, we parked at a Bureau of Land Management Access Point and set out on foot ... entered the hills beyond ... no trails, so we traced the recesses as our whims dictated, passing a rich variety of wildflowers ... that I don't see close to home. Unable to resist the views waiting above, I climbed to the top of an adjacent hill. Since returning from Panoche Valley, I have been unable to forget it. It has left me strangely and pleasantly confounded."
RELATED: "Panoche Hills and Tumey Hills" (BLM Hollister Field Office)
These steep, grassy hills are home to endangered species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, the giant kangaroo rat, and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. Hilltops over 2,500 feet high offer scenic vistas of the lush San Joaquin Valley and spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains. Star-gazers are drawn to this area because of the wide-open spaces and unencumbered views of the night skies.
"Friends of the Dunes receives grants to help teach children" (Eureka Times-Standard, 5/12/11)
"In partnership with the Mattole Restoration Council, the Lost Coast Interpretive Association and Bureau of Land management, Friends of the Dunes will develop and provide coastal education programs and field trips suited for 2,000 K-8 students" in areas of Humboldt County.
"Birding, tidepool walks will kick off King Range summer hike series"(BLM news, 4/15/11)
On May 21, hikers can learn about the fascinating life within the North Coast’s tidepools when BLM Interpretive Specialist Rachel Sowards-Thompson leads a walk.
"Getting people active and outdoors a key goal for the nation" (Wichita Falls, Texas Times Record News, 5/12/11)
Columnist: "There can be little doubt now ... that our children spend too much time inside watching electronic screens ... Many problems are now identified with this, not the least of which are childhood obesity, diabetes and other health related issues. Perhaps just as important though is the loss of connection many of our children and young adults now have with the outdoors and nature. This lost connection comes at a high price..." The goal of America's Great Outdoors Initiative is "to work with the American people in developing a conservation and recreation agenda that makes sense for the 21st century."
|VOLUNTEERS IN AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Volunteers help maintain section of Pacific Crest Trail" (News.bytes Extra)
About a dozen people from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Pacific Crest Trail Association, and volunteers from the Desert Trails Coalition and Snow Creek Residents participated in maintenance on about a one-mile section of the Pacific Crest trail to mark Earth Day.
"Volunteers reclaim trail, help protect bighorn sheep"(News.bytes Extra)
During another Earth Day event, the northern intersection of the Old Art Smith trail and some associated shortcut trails were reclaimed to look like the natural surrounding terrain. About nine volunteers from the Desert Trails Coalition, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management teamed up to reclaim this old trail, as part of the effort to protect endangered Peninsular Ranges bighorn sheep and their habitat within the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
RELATED: "Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
Includes links to information on trails in the Monument.
"Rotary teams with BLM to complete public lands project" (News.bytes Extra)
Community members teamed with employees from the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office to complete a public lands project. Clear skies, mild weather and a light breeze greeted members of the Sunrise Rotary Club as they set to work improving a BLM interpretive kiosk display. The kiosk contains maps and information on natural history and appropriate recreation use of the area, north of Bishop.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
cute? maybe not so much
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
The largest short-tailed weasels weigh only six ounces. And they…
(a) …hunt in packs to bring down larger prey.
(b) …act as cute and cuddly as they look.
(c) …prey on animals larger than themselves.
(d) …build clusters of dens together, for mutual protection.
(e) …went all Paparazzi Goes the Weasel on the guy who took this picture.
------> See answer -- and more information on wildlife -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
OUR READERS WRITE:
"Wow, I can't believe you highlighted the photo below of two people riding on a quad. CORVA has already notified the author of that story about the use of that photo and offered future photos for stories. I hope you can highlight that illegal act in next week's issue."
- Jim Colln, VP-Administration, California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA)
Editor: Thanks for pointing that out! No excuse for letting that slip by. BLM personnel go out of their way to spread the word about off-highway vehicle safety. For example, our El Centro Field Office has conducted four safety classes over the past two months. for young riders and California residents. And as to the issue with the photo:
"Double riding on ATVs in California illegal!" (News.bytes Extra)
California Vehicle Code prohibits double riding on all-terrain vehicles on public lands, unless the ATV is designed to carry a passenger. ATVs are rider active, designed for a single rider who uses the entire seat while riding. A rider will use the entire seat area to negotiate turns and facilitate movement while going up or down hills. A passenger restricts the rider’s movement, interfering with the balance and handling of the vehicle.
"State of California Off Highway Vehicle Laws" (BLM El Centro Field Office)
This is only a partial list of regulations pertaining to OHV's. For a complete listing, see Division 16.5 of the California Vehicle Code.
ALSO AT THE DUNES:
"Paramedic on board at Imperial Sand Dunes" (News.bytes Extra)
The Imperial Sand Dunes announces the addition of a full-time paramedic to the dunes’ Emergency Medical Service staff. Brian Puckett made the move to the dunes from the Bakersfield Field Office, where he was a fire captain. In the last ten years at the dunes, medical responses have decreased by 50 percent, due to an increase in safety education and enforcement. Still, there were 346 medical calls in the dunes this past season.
"BLM releases final environmental study for Palen Solar Project in Riverside County" (BLM news, 5/13/11)
The Bureau of Land Management today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Palen Solar Power Plant project in Riverside County. Palen Solar I, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Solar Millennium, Inc., has requested a right-of-way authorization to construct and operate the proposed project on approximately 5,200 acres of public lands 10 miles east of Desert Center. The project would connect to the planned Red Bluff substation, which would connect the project to the Southern California Edison regional transmission grid.
"Shedding light on economic impact of solar plant" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 5/12/11)
"First Solar's Desert Sunlight project, to be located just east of the valley near Desert Center, could pump an estimated 440 construction jobs and $336 million into Riverside County's economy, figures from the the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership show. But how many of those jobs and dollars will flow directly into the valley's economy remains uncertain..."
RELATED: "Renewable energy priority projects" (BLM-California)
BLM-California is working to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio through the development of wind, solar, geothermal, and transmission siting on BLM-managed public lands within the state. Many of these developments are reviewed and approved jointly with the State of California through a unique partnership among BLM, the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission. Includes link to information on the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Project.
"Federal loans for energy projects drying up" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 5/12/11)
"The Department of Energy announced earlier this week that it will only be considering loans for renewable energy projects that have the strongest chance of beginning construction before the Sept. 30 deadline this year and have already finished their loan applications." Also, workers at a "future 250 megawatt solar facility near Harper Dry Lake in Hinkley learned about protecting desert tortoises and other wildlife during a presentation" -- a spokesman said that plant will be built on privately-owned land, not BLM-managed lands.
"Solar threat" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/6/11)
Editorial: "The discovery of far more desert tortoises than expected near a planned solar power plant in the Mojave Desert should prompt federal officials to rethink the project. And the incident should spur federal officials to require independent environmental studies before bulldozers roll on future solar projects. Last week, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management assessment found the $2.1 billion BrightSource Energy Co. project near Primm, Nev., would disturb up to 3,000 tortoises and kill as many as 700 young ones. That far exceeds an estimate of 32 of the threatened species at the site..."
"Renewable energy development on public lands highlighted in interagency report to Congress" (Department of the Interior news release, 5/6/11)
"To increase our energy security and to help reduce costs for American consumers, we must continue our balanced and comprehensive approach to energy development on public lands and waters," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "The New Energy Frontier report describes the milestone progress we are making in harnessing America’s solar, wind, and geothermal potential, while also supporting safer and more environmentally responsible conventional energy development."
|CURRENT LEGISLATION AFFECTING THE BLM
"Bill to protect desert backed by once-fierce foes" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1/11)
"In 1994, a rookie lawmaker named Dianne Feinstein pushed through the largest national parks and wilderness bill ever - by a single vote on the last day before Republicans took control of Congress - protecting 8.5 million acres of the California desert against the wishes of many who lived there. With Republicans again in control of the House, Feinstein's former foes now count on her to protect their off-road vehicle playgrounds and block efforts to build giant solar plants in the desert."
"Herger reintroduces wildfire bill" (Redding Record Searchlight, 5/8/11)
"U.S. Rep. Wally Herger has reintroduced a controversial clearing and logging plan designed to reduce fire dangers around rural communities. This time, the Chico Republican aims to have his Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act gain national traction. Under the plan, local governments could declare a fire-risk emergency on nearby federal forest land. The move would put them on a fast track to clearing and logging projects while bypassing lawsuits from environmental groups."
"Federal bill would let public enjoy our public land" (Redding Record Searchlight, 5/9/11)
OpEd by California Assemblyman Jim Nielsen: "Although millions of acres have been deemed as unsuitable for wilderness, these lands are still subjected to a host of restrictions that prevent the public from enjoying them ... Take the Cache Creek and Yolla Bolly contiguous areas ... more than 34,000 acres of public land that have been cut off from many recreational activities. While I understand the need to protect the beauty of this land, the current restrictions are unfounded, since the Cache Creek and Yolla Bolly contiguous areas have been deemed as unsuitable for wilderness designation by the Bureau of Land Management in California."
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Fans meet and greet mustangs and burros, get handling tips" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management and the Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association gave fellow equestrians tips on adopting and caring for a wild horse or burro during a seminar and handling clinic. And in Manteca, students at the St. Anthony’s School "Farm Day" got a hands-on visit with a wild horse and burro at a booth staffed by BLM personnel and volunteers. The event was part of a series of "Meet and Greet" events.
"Horses, burros available for adoption in Tulare" (BLM news, 5/12/11)
Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5: Residents of the Tulare area will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families, at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. The BLM will offer 30 horses, mostly yearlings, and 10 burros for public adoption. Anyone interested can preview the animals from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 3.
"California wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California website)
This schedule is subject to change. Please check back frequently or call the contact numbers listed. Visit our Litchfield or Ridgecrest Corrals Monday through Friday during business hours. If you wish to adopt during your visit, please schedule an appointment so we may provide you better service.
|FUNNY.BYTES: Rocky, the lonely lighthouse
Rocky has given years of faithful service guiding ships away from the hazardous coast in Central California. Now that modern equipment has replaced tradition, will he be forgotten? This repeat performance marks this week's anniversary of the Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area (so designated by Congress on May 8, 2008). Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: includes a sound track - watch your volume.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Congressional hearing targets oil regulations" (Bakersfield Californian, 5/6/11)
A congressional field hearing in Bakersfield was part of "the heated national debate over how to balance U.S. energy and economic needs with health and environmental protections." Congressmen "heard testimony from industry representatives on the negative impacts of existing and proposed government action regarding oil producers. Five invited speakers targeted endangered species rules, state drilling permit reviews, restrictions on offshore oil production, an Obama administration proposal to slash oil subsidies and, notably, a new federal study of hydraulic fracturing -- the revolutionary and controversial natural gas extraction technique known as 'fracking'."
RELATED: "Oil and gas operations" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
Every day about 800,000 barrels of oil is produced in California -- only Alaska, Texas, and Louisiana produce more. Five of the ten most productive oil fields in the United States are in California. Federal leases in California range in size from one well leases, producing only a barrel or two per day, up to a lease with over 1,000 wells producing nearly 10,000 barrels per day. Approximately 7% of the total wells in California are federal wells.
RELATED: "BLM plans oil and gas competitive lease auction" (BLM news, 5/10/11)
The Bureau of Land Management will auction oil and gas leases on federal land on June 8 in Bakersfield. The competitive lease auction involves five parcels for a total of 1,523.38 acres of public lands in Kern County.
"A new Gold Rush leaves a mark in southwestern states" (KPBS San Diego, 5/10/11)
The Mesquite gold mine is "an enormous pit carved from the ancient rock in California’s Imperial Sand Dunes, 20 miles from the Mexico border ... next to a large landfill, and a military bombing range ... After the gold runs out, the Canadian company that owns Mesquite, New Gold, says it plans to stay at this location and develop other precious resources out in the Imperial Valley: solar and wind energy. But even with that green forecast for the future, today’s mechanized, large-scale mining will leave a toxic legacy--just like dozens of California and Nevada gold mines have done in the last 200 years."
"State Fire Safe Council rep lauds Kern River Valley fuel break work" (Kern Valley Sun, 5/11/11)
"On a visit to the Kern River Valley on May 2, Cathy Brooke, Senior Grant Manager for the California Fire Safe Council, said she was 'delighted' with the collaboration between the Kern River Valley Fire Safe Council, Kern County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management" and "how this collaboration extends from planning and selecting grant projects for fuel breaks and roadside fuel reduction and their implementation."
"Ridgecrest lands on the cover of filming magazine" (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 5/21/11)
"Boasting information from 50 counties in California, the California Film Commission chose a shot from Cuddeback Dry Lake as its featured photo on the cover of its 2011 Film Locations Directory ... delivered to approximately 22,000 directors, producers, and film companies ... 'This location is very unusual and popular for commercial production shoots'," said Amy Lemisch, California Film Commission executive director.
RELATED: "Filming permits" (BLM Ridgecrest Field Office)
The Ridgecrest Field Office area contains many popular film locations on public lands. These areas include the Trona Pinnacles, Cuddeback Dry Lake, Jawbone Canyon, Dove Springs, Spangler Hills, and the Olancha Dunes, to name a few. The BLM and the Ridgecrest Film Commission are able to provide efficient service to the film community through a cooperative agreement.
RELATED: "Mythbusters: Car versus gravity" (News.bytes Extra)
News.bytes Extra from March 2009: There are only a certain number of places that a helicopter can safely drop a car 4,000 feet to the ground -- and capture it on film. Luckily for a TV crew, one of those places is Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed, used by the TV show Mythbusters to test a concept used in a commerical: can a new car outrun gravity?
"California hearing on dredging rules attracts few"(Sacramento Bee, 5/11/11)
"There was controversy but few surprises ... as the California Department of Fish and Game held its final hearing on the contentious issue of suction dredging for gold in the state's rivers and streams ... The department -- under orders from the Legislature and a court ruling -- has drafted an environmental impact report and regulations to control dredging, which sucks up river bottom gravel in an attempt to collect gold. The report will be revised on the basis of months of public input. The department hopes to issue final regulations in November."
"Residents sound off over land acquisition" (El Dorado Hills Telegraph, 5/11/11)
"Public access and a parking lot are the current concerns of those who live near the 700 acres of land near the town of Rescue that was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management. Town meetings, like the one held May 5 at the Cameron Park Community Service District Office, are scheduled for June and July to allow the public to provide input on the use of the Kanaka Valley area."
"BLM focuses on illegal OHV use in Sawtooth Campground" (BLM news, 5/6/11)
The Bureau of Land Management issued a two-year emergency closure to access by off-highway vehicles to the Sawtooth Canyon Campground and surrounding public lands due to increasing non-compliance issues with green sticker vehicles. Some motorists have been using the recently upgraded Sawtooth Campground as an illegal staging area, off-loading and driving their green sticker vehicles directly from the Sawtooth Campground locally or north across private lands to access the Stoddard OHV Area.
"Sawtooth camping area off-limits to OHVs" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 5/9/11)
"Riders will still be able to camp at Sawtooth, but will not be able to unload their vehicles there ... If people want to visit Stoddard Wells or Johnson Valley, they need to keep their OHVs on a street legal vehicle or trailer."
"Goodale and Tuttle Creek campgrounds closed for construction" (BLM news, 5/10/11)
Goodale and Tuttle Creek campgrounds in the southern Owens Valley will be closed until mid-summer, to allow workers to install tables, fire rings, restrooms and other amenities. Campgrounds at Horton Creek and Crowley Lake north of Bishop may be closed at times this summer to allow similar rehabilitation.
"City Council takes up Cemex and Vista Canyon project" (KHTS Radio, 5/6/11)
"The city council legislative committee is recommending the council support Senate Bill S.759, the Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation and Management Act of 2011. This bill is a collaborative effort between the City of Santa Clarita, CEMEX, City of Victorville, County of San Bernardino and Senator Barbara Boxer to resolve the 12-year-old dispute" regarding permits from the BLM to mine sand and gravel.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
|SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details -- and more events -- online at:
May 15 - Native plant identification and uses - Horsetown-Clear Creek Preserve
May 21 - Tidepool walk - King Range National Recreation Area
May 21 - Geology stroll - Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve
|DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Report details Klamath progress" (Capital Press, 5/12/11)
"The panel charged with overseeing restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin reports many measures have been taken to fairly distribute water and save fish." The California Public Utilities Commission has "endorsed removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to help the imperiled salmon" and the Oregon Public Utility Commission has "given its regulatory approval for the project, which could receive an ultimate go-ahead from U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar by March 2012."
"Salazar names Barker, Farm to Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Committee" (Department of the Interior press release, 5/6/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar named Alexander Wade Barker and LindaLee "Cissy" Kuuleinai Farm to serve on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Committee, which monitors and reviews the return of Native American human remains and cultural objects to descendents and tribes.
"Shell to pay $2.2 million settlement to resolve Federal False Claims case"(Department of the Interior press release, 5/10/11)
"Shell Oil Company, Shell Offshore Inc., Shell Frontier Oil & Gas Inc., and Shell Western Exploration and Production have agreed to pay the United States $2.2 million plus interest to resolve claims that the companies violated the False Claims Act by knowingly underpaying royalties owed on natural gas produced from Federal leases...."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c) ...prey on animals larger than themselves.
SOURCE: "Short-tailed weasel - Mustela erminea" (BLM California wildlife database)
Learn more about this answer -- and see a larger photo of the short-tailed weasel.
More wildlife on your public lands:
"In the spotlight: sage grouse" (BLM California homepage)
BLM's sage grouse conservation efforts in California and nationwide are spotlighted this week on our homepage.
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