A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 485 - 6/17/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Renewable energy
- Wildfires and prevention
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Resource Advisory Councils and Committees
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
"Construction begins on world's largest solar power facility" (U.S. Department of the Interior press release, 6/17/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today joined local officials and representatives from Solar Trust America at a ceremony launching the start of construction on what will be the world’s largest solar power facility. Located on public lands in eastern Riverside County, the Blythe Solar Power Project will generate 1,000 megawatts.The project will be built in two phases or 500 megawatts each. Each 500 MW phase of the project will provide 1,000 construction jobs per year, up to 3,000 supply chain and related jobs, and 220 permanent jobs.
"S.B. County solar project gets go-ahead"(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/10/11)
"Federal land officials late Friday lifted a stop work order at a solar energy project in northeast San Bernardino County after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that the project would not jeopardize the survival of the desert tortoise species. The action lets the $2.1 billion BrightSource Energy Co. project go forward but could also kill or injure more than 1,000 tortoises at the site near the Nevada border. The reptiles are listed as threatened with extinction."
RELATED: "BLM lifts suspension of activities order for Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System" (BLM news, 6/10/11)
The Bureau of Land Management has issued a notice today allowing construction to resume on parts of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. An immediate temporary suspension of activities decision was issued April 15 and has now been lifted since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new Biological Opinion concluding the project will not jeopardize the threatened desert tortoise.
RELATED: "Spot The Tortoise?" (Forbes, 6/8/11)
"Last October BrightSource Energy began construction on the first large-scale solar thermal power plant to be built in the U.S. in two decades. After an arduous three-year environmental review, a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee and more than a half-billion dollars in investment from the likes of Google, Morgan Stanley and NRG Energy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared at a sunny groundbreaking ceremony ... in the Mojave Desert." But more desert tortoises than expected were found on the site. "Wildlife has emerged as the wild card in plans to build more than a dozen multibillion-dollar solar projects in the desert Southwest."
RELATED: "Feds find BrightSource solar project will not jeopardize desert tortoise" (Forbes, 6/14/11)
"Department of Energy offers $2 billion in conditional loan guarantee commitments for two California concentrating solar power plants" (Department of Energy press release, 6/14/11)
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of conditional commitments to provide loan guarantees to support two concentrating solar power projects - the Mojave Solar Project in San Bernardino County, California, and the Genesis Solar Project, located on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Riverside County, California.
"Latest wind farm proposal angers Benton residents" (Mammoth Times, 6/15/11)
"...especially nearby property owners. The proposed project is still at the preliminary stage, with only a few test towers planned -- if the test towers are approved by the Bureau of Land Management. But with the potential for many more of the 200-foot-tall wind towers, some residents are none too pleased with the whole idea." Some said wind energy is "not compatible" with wildlife, especially birds. The BLM held a meeting June 6 on the "energy right of way" application for the project.
"Windsor now sending its wastewater to the Geysers" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/10/11)
A new pipeline will send about 200 million gallons of wastewater annually from Windsor, Calif. to the Geysers geothermal field -- saving the town money, preventing or delaying the removal of 2,200 trees, and helping to generate electricity. "At the geothermal field, wastewater is injected deep into the ground to generate steam that in turn runs electricity-producing turbines."
RELATED: "Geothermal power" (BLM California)
The Geysers field in Lake and Sonoma Counties produces 46 percent of the total royalties from federal geothermal leases in California, with Coso Hot Springs in Inyo County at 34 percent, and East Mesa in Imperial County at 17 percent. Other fields in production include Heber in Imperial County, Mammoth Lakes in Mono County, and Wendel-Amedee in Lassen County.
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"More blazes are expected this season" (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/16/11)
"The San Fernando Valley, and all of Southern California, could see more outbreaks of flames than usual on hillsides this summer, though few are expected to turn into massive infernos, fire officials said Thursday as they issued their annual predictions on the upcoming fire season."
"Officials predict 'normal' wildfire season for Southern California" (Los Angeles Times, 6/17/11)
"Citing bountiful winter rains, fire officials Thursday forecast a 'normal' wildfire season but cautioned that Southern California's green hillsides could turn combustible in time for late summer's fire-inducing Santa Ana winds."
"Damp Calif winter leads to more grass fires"(Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 6/16/11)
"Winter and springtime rains across California have led to a bumper crop of grasses and plants that feed wildfires, though fire chiefs are expecting a normal fire season overall, officials said Thursday. Already this year, nearly 400 more fires have broken out on land managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection than occurred by the same date last year...."
"Fate unclear for California inmate firefighting crews" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/15/11)
"State officials in California are concerned that a move to save money and reduce the state's prison population will have major consequences during firefighting season, jeopardizing a program that puts 4,300 state prison inmates on the front lines of wildland blazes each year. The inmate crews provide a vital work force in a state where wildfires burn hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres in a typical year...."r of seasonal firefighters employed by the state.
"A test for the fire fighters among us" (Buffalo, Wyoming Bulletin, 6/8/11)
"Kim Slanga loads a backpack with rocks. It's not what she typically carries, but it's the easiest way to get her pack to weigh 45 pounds" for a three-mile hike in less than 45 minutes." U.S. Forest Service District Fire Management Officer Curtis Rasmuson said "the pack test is a physical fitness test that has to be done by all USFS and Bureau of Land Management line fire fighters before they receive their certification. 'Walking a mile in 15 minutes really isn't that big of a deal,' said Rasmuson. 'It's a moderate pace, but you add the 45 pounds, and it becomes more difficult.'
"Wildfire evacuations grow near Arizona city" (MSNBC, 6/17/11)
"Another afternoon flare-up of the fire outside Sierra Vista, Ariz., was expected" today, "a day after 1,700 homes were evacuated and new areas were torched by the growing wildfire ... in southern Arizona's Coronado National Forest" that "has destroyed or damaged at least 40 houses and 10 other structures over 18,000 acres. The number of firefighters deployed has grown to nearly 800, and soldiers from a nearby Army base were being trained to battle the fire should it enter the base."
"Prescribed fire to benefit species, reduce wildfire hazard"(News.bytes Extra)
BLM and CALFire firefighters recently completed prescribed fire to improve habitat for Stephens' kangaroo rat, as well reduce hazardous fire fuels. The June 8, 2011 prescribed fire took place on 130 acres south of Lake Mathews.
"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center, NIFC)
Current wildfire information, updated Monday - Friday during wildfire season.
"InciWeb" (Incident Information System)
An "interagency all-risk incident information management system."
"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
Protect your home. Create 100 feet of defensible space. In California, the number of homes and businesses is growing in the Wildland Urban Interface -- and fire is an increasing threat. Reduce your home's fire danger by taking responsibility today.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Nine hundred students participating in World Oceans Day at South Spit" (Eureka Times-Standard, 6/9/11)
To mark World Oceans Day, "about 900 elementary school students" planned to "form a giant salmon design ... to publicize the need to prevent ocean pollution … after the children remove litter and pull out non-native grasses on the sand dunes … Friends of the Dunes, a local nonprofit dedicated to conserving the natural diversity of coastal environments ... organized the Humboldt County event." BLM was a partner in the event.
RELATED: "Ocean Day Youth Blog"
Aerial photo of the giant salmon and similar projects around the state, on this "teacher coordinator moderated pilot project to activate and facilitate conversation, creativity, and community for the students participating in the Ocean Day events and festivities."
"BLM takes part in Mule Days" (News.byes Extra)
Bureau of Land Management personnel and volunteers from around California participated in the annual Mule Days celebration this year in Bishop. Among them: Ranger Reid Hopkins from BLM's Bakersfield Field Office and the 1 Spade Youth Packers. Hopkins, a BLM Bakersfield Field Office employee, has used horses and mules -- including some gathered from BLM land -- for more than three decades, to help youth headed for trouble turn their lives around.
"Horsemen keep trail safe" (Merced Sun-Star, 6/14/11)
Columnist, on wilderness trails: "This week I want to applaud one of the volunteer organizations that does a lot of this work ... the Backcountry Horsemen of California. Locally, the Mid Valley Unit has assisted the Forest Service by maintaining and improving trails ... in the Stanislaus National Forest, the Emigrant Wilderness, and the Bureau of Land Management's Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The BCHC's primary objective is 'to improve and promote the use, care and development of California backcountry trails, campsites, streams and meadows; to advocate good trail manners'."
RELATED: "Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern" (BLM Mother Lode Field Office)
The Red Hills is a region of 7,100 acres of public land located just south of the historic town of Chinese Camp in Tuolumne County. The Red Hills are noticeably different from the surrounding countryside. Included among the buckbrush and gray pine is a rich diversity of annual wildflowers that put on a showy display every spring. The endangered bald eagle is a winter resident of the area.
"Imperial Sand Dunes season wraps up" (News.bytes Extra)
Another season has wrapped up at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. More than one million riders visited the area, although this is down by 10% from the previous year. Emergency medical calls were down by 20%.
"America's Great Outdoors: DC students celebrate Let's Move Outside! anniversary on South Lawn" (Department of the Interior press release, 6/13/11)
Seventy-five local high school students were invited to play on the White House South Lawn, as part of the First Lady's Summer South Lawn Series and in celebration of the Let's Move Outside! one year anniversary. Students engaged in healthy, outdoor recreation, including a rock climbing wall, camping demonstration, kayak clinic, mountain biking, frisbee, and a fly fishing station.
"America's Great Outdoors: Administration announces federal council dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation" (Department of the Interior press release, 6/13/11)
A new federal interagency council will coordinate and promote outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands in partnership with federal, state, and tribal agencies. A memorandum was announced at a White House event with the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, and other wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation organizations.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK:
Ride your off highway vehicle at the Fort Sage Special Recreation Management Area located in the high desert region of northeastern California. Ninety miles of routes within the recreation area are designated for motorcycle, ATV and 4wd use depending on the width of the trail. The routes traverse a wide variety of terrain including flat, sandy, high desert sagebrush country and rocky, steep canyons and gulches.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
Which one of the following is true?
(a.) The least tern is said to spiral.
(b.) The lesser goldfinch is said to shine.
(c.) The greater flamingo is said to pinken.
(d.) The great horned owl is said to honk.
(e.) The least chipmunk is said to chip.
(f.) The greater golfer snake is said to putt.
(g.) The lesser gofer snake is said to resent the hierarchical power structure which relegates him to the bottom of the pecking order and stymies his attempts to excel in his field.
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"BLM seeking public comments on environmental analysis for wild horse roundup" (BLM news, 6/15/11)
The Bureau of Land Management's Surprise Field Office is seeking public comments on an environmental assessment addressing wild horse population management, including a proposed roundup and removal of an overpopulation of wild horses, from five herd management areas collectively referenced as the High Rock Complex in far western Nevada.
"Slideshow: Adopt-A-Horse or Burro" (San Bernardino County Sun)
Photos during preparations for last weekend's wild horse and burro adoption event in Redlands, California.
"BLM at the Sacramento Horse Expo 2011"(News.bytes Extra)
BLM staff and volunteers gave attendees at the Horse Expo in Sacramento June 10-12 an opportunity to learn about the BLM Wild Horse and Bureau Program. Due to the Equine Herpes Virus outbreak in California, BLM did not bring horses to the event, but instead staffed an information booth.
"Are the wild horses of the American west native?" (New Scientist, 6/17/11)
A court suit claims "wild horses of the American west should be considered a native species as fully deserving of protection as elk or antelope, even though they are the descendants of domestic livestock introduced by European settlers … both fossils and ancient cave paintings suggest that modern horses look rather different from their Pleistocene ancestors … And, like all domesticated animals, their brains are smaller" -- but "their brains have shrunk less" than other feral animals such as pigs. "Yet according to some researchers, whether or not the horses are native ought to be irrelevant to their treatment by the BLM," which should be based on analysis of problems and benefits.
|RESOURCE ADVISORY COUNCILS AND COMMITTEES
"BLM special recreation permit subgroup members selected, first meeting set for Moreno Valley" (BLM news, 6/15/11)
Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, input from the subgroup will be presented directly to the California Desert Advisory Council for its deliberation and consideration. The DAC, in turn, in its advisory capacity, develops recommendations for the Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District manager concerning use, classification, retention, disposal, or other aspects of public land planning and management in the public interest.
"BLM seeks members for Northwest California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news, 6/10/11)
There are four vacancies for three-year terms. The nomination deadline has been extended to July 8. The RAC works closely with BLM managers in Arcata, Redding and Ukiah, providing guidance on the full range of the BLM's responsibilities on public lands in northwest California.
"BLM seeks members for Northeast California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news, 6/10/11)
There are five vacancies for three-year terms. The nomination deadline has been extended to July 8. The RAC works closely with BLM managers in Alturas, Susanville and Cedarville, providing guidance on the full range of the BLM's responsibilities for nearly three million acres of public land in northeast California and far northwest Nevada.
"BLM extends nomination period for Central California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news, 6/9/11)
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public nominations for three open positions on its Central California District Resource Advisory Council, which advises the BLM on public land issues. The BLM has extended the nomination period to July 8. The Central California RAC advises BLM officials for the Hollister, Mother Lode, Bakersfield and Bishop field offices.
"Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee to meet in Cedarville" (BLM news, 6/9/11)
The Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee meets Wednesday and Thursday, June 29 and 30, for a field tour and meeting. Agenda items include sage grouse conservation, status of Ruby Pipeline construction, status of BLM grazing permit renewals, guidelines on grazing permittee use of grazing fee credit and wild horse and burro management.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Native plants seed harvest under way" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/16/1)
"Botanists are combing Southern California hillsides and deserts in a nationwide scramble to gather and stockpile enough native plant seeds to restore public lands destroyed by wildfires and replace endangered species' habitat lost to commercial solar development ... The BLM buys an average of 2.2 million pounds of seed per year but often has to rely on non-native species because there isn't enough from endemic plants. Native species are preferred because they are better adapted to control soil erosion and provide food and shelter for wildlife."
"BLM Oil and Gas Lease Auction Tops $475,000" (BLM news, 6/10/11)
Five oil and gas lease parcels in Kern County were auctioned for a total of $478,851, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management's Bakersfield Field Office.
"Re-discovering the Old Spanish Trail " (News.bytes Extra)
Scholars, historians, representatives from government agencies including the BLM, Hispanic and Native American groups, mule packers, costumed re-enactors and Old Spanish Trail Association members all convened from June 2-5 in Pomona for OSTA's annual conference. The OSTA's mission is to promote public awareness and the multicultural heritage of the trail by encouraging research, publication and partnering with governments and private organizations. This year's gathering focused on the California portions of the trail.
"China Lake initiates EIS/LEIS process" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 6/10/11)
"The Department of the Navy, with the cooperation of the Bureau of Land Management, will be conducting public scoping meetings for the proposed Congressional renewal of a public land withdrawal for land comprising the ranges and connecting routes of the station for a period of 25 years."
RELATED: "Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake land withdrawal" (U.S. Navy)
The proposed action includes:
1. Renew (by act of Congress) the 1994 withdrawal of lands at NAWS China Lake to accommodate continued Navy use for research, development, acquisition, test, and evaluation and operational training activities.
2. Revise and implement the Comprehensive Land Use Management Plan.
3. Maintain Navy readiness by accommodating current and evolving state-of-the-art RDAT&E and training activities in test arenas and target areas.
"BLM Ukiah Field Office issues interim final supplementary rules" (BLM news, 6/14/11)
The Bureau of Land Management's Ukiah Lode Field Office is requesting public comments on proposed new rules affecting 270,000 surface acres of public lands in nine northern California counties. The Ukiah Field Office's best-known management areas include the Berryessa, Cache Creek, Cedar Roughs, Cow Mountain, Geysers, Indian Valley, Knoxville and Stornetta areas and scattered tracts.
"Proposed bill would open more lands for off-roading, mining" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/12/11)
"A bill proposed by a California congressman would allow nearly three million acres of land -- currently designated as being unsuitable for wilderness -- within the state to be opened for multiple uses, such as off-roading and mining. The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 -- H.R. 1581 ... seeks to put control of lands designated as being unsuitable for wilderness ... back in the hands of local agencies, such as the local offices of the Bureau of Land Management, according to a statement...."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
|SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details -- and more events -- online at:
June 25 - Carrizo National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Carrissa Elementary School
|NATIONAL BLM AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Salazar takes next steps in push for bipartisan wilderness agenda" (Department of the Interior press release, 6/10/11)
As a follow-up to the memo issued last week and as part of his push to build a bipartisan wilderness agenda that can be enacted in the 112th Congress, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today asked Members of Congress for their ideas of “crown jewel” areas of public lands that have strong local support for permanent protection as Wilderness under the Wilderness Act.
Congressional testimony (BLM national website)
Includes statements for the record to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Energy
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, on Senate Bill 383, the Critical Minerals and Materials Promotion Act of 2011 and Senate Bill 383, the Critical Minerals and Materials Promotion Act of 2011.
"Administration raises questions about lake expansion" (Sacramento Bee, 6/14/11)
Merced Irrigation District proposal to expand Lake McClure: Marcilynn Burke, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management, "warned that the proposal would be an 'unprecedented' watering down of the wild-and-scenic protection currently covering the Merced River" and urged further study before Congress proceeds." She said, "'(It) would result in a wild river segment becoming more like a lake than a river'. But the bill ... enjoys the support of four other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers from both parties, as well as local cities and farm groups...."
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