A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 503 - 10/20/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Renewable energy
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
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"Final environmental study available for proposed Tule Wind Energy and East County Substation projects" (BLM news, 10/14/11)
Tule Wind, LLC applied to the BLM for a right-of-way to construct the Tule Wind generation power plant facility approximately 60 miles east of San Diego, on lands administered by the BLM, the California State Lands Commission, the Campo, Ewiiaapaayp, Manzanita Indian Reservations, and on privately owned property under the jurisdiction of San Diego County. San Diego Gas and Electric Company applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands for a portion of the proposed ECO Substation project near Jacumba.
"Solar plant may tower over desert" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/15/11)
"A new solar energy project ... near Blythe would place hundreds of thousands of reflective mirrors on a desert mesa along with three mammoth towers that would stand more than twice as high as the region's tallest building. BrightSource Energy of Oakland filed an application Friday with the California Energy Commission for the 750-megawatt Rio Mesa solar project, about 8 miles south of Interstate 10 ... The 7,000-acre project site includes both private and public land."
"Supervisors approve solar farm environmental study" (San Bernardino County Sun, 10/18/11)
"Desert Stateline plans to build the 300-megawatt Stateline Solar Farm on federal land two miles southwest of the Nevada line in the northeastern portion of the county ... The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will serve as the lead agency for the environmental review process because the project is planned on federal land. According to Desert Stateline, the solar farm will create 400 jobs during construction and 12 permanent jobs."
"Unlike Solyndra, other California solar projects appear on track" (Los Angeles
"As Republican lawmakers pound the Obama administration for pouring a half-billion dollars into now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, a much bigger federal government bet on green energy looks to be quietly paying off for California. Six large solar power plants to help the state meet its ambitious clean electricity goals are proceeding on schedule, according to their developers. Like Solyndra, these projects carry federal loan guarantees -- $7 billion worth in total -- which are considered key to attracting private investment in alternative energy."
"Blythe solar project part of deal" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/18/11)
"Solar Millennium, the German parent company of Solar Trust of America, has a tentative agreement to sell all of its American solar projects -- including a stalled Blythe project -- to solarhybrid, another German solar developer that specializes in photovoltaic projects ... The sale also means a likely switch from solar thermal to PV for Solar Trust's 250-megawatt Palen project, located, like Blythe, on public land in the Riverside East solar zone between Joshua Tree National Park and Blythe. The project awaits final approval from the Bureau of Land Management."
“Are transmission lines holding America back?” (Washington Post. 10/11/11)
"There are currently 275,000 megawatts worth of proposed wind-power projects in the United States. For context, the capacity of the entire U.S. coal fleet, providing half of the country's electricity, is 315,000 megawatts. Now, turbines aren't a perfect substitute, because the wind isn't always blowing, but that's a huge amount of wind potential. So what's holding those projects back? There just aren't enough wires to connect them all."
"Supervisor Jacobs seeks shut-down of Sunday Powerlink flights due to residents' complaints" (East County Magazine, 10/19/11)
"Residents along the construction route for SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink Project have lodged noise complaints with the County. Now Supervisor Dianne Jacob has asked that the County revoke a waiver given that authorized SDG&E to fly on Sundays and a holiday weekend. The Bureau of Land Management also granted permission for the extended hours on federal BLM lands."
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Free! ATV safety certification training continues at Imperial Sand Dunes" (News.bytes Extra)
The BLM's El Centro Field Office announces the continuation of the popular ATV training course for young riders. The first classes are scheduled in the dunes over the Halloween weekend, Oct. 29 and 30. Since the program began in 2009, 664 young riders have received this important and required training.
"Halloween weekend launches Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Season" (BLM news, 10/19/11)
"We look forward to the thousands of visitors having a fun safe season," says BLM El Centro Field Manager Margaret Goodro. As part of the safety effort, the El Centro Field Office will add a new twist to its continuing education and outreach program by distributing thousands of brightly colored Frisbees sporting safety messages, reminding visitors of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, encouraging visitors to wear seat belts/harnesses, and to slow down to 15 mph within 50 feet of camps or people.
"Alabama Hills group staying on top of bill" (Inyo Register, 10/18/11)
The Alabama Hills west of Lone Pine could be federally designated a Natural Scenic Area if the U.S. Senate approves legislation this year. The bill first has to pass through a subcommittee before reaching the floor ... Last year, the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group completed an extensive process of collecting input from different user groups who enjoy the Hills, as well as Inyo County residents and business owners, local leaders and state and federal legislators. That process resulted in a plan to have the Hills designated as a National Scenic Area, which would open up streams of state and federal funding to help manage the popular recreational destination."
RELATED: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM Bishop Field Office)
"Natural life of the Lost Coast: The San Andreas Fault - Lost in the King Range"(Redwood Times, 10/19/11)
"The San Andreas Fault is one of the world's best-known faults, and it passes right through our own backyard" but researchers don't know what route it takes north of Shelter Cove. "Until more evidence is uncovered, the San Andreas remains lost along California's Lost Coast." (Article by BLM geologist Sam Flanagan.)
RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area/The Lost Coast" (BLM Arcata Field Office)
The King Range NCA covers 68,000 acres and extends along 35 miles of coastline between the mouth of the Mattole River and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Here the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 and U.S. 101 inland. The remote region is known as California's Lost Coast, and is only accessed by a few back roads.
"America's Great Outdoors: Secretary Salazar announces National Park fee free days for 2012" (Department of the Interior news, 10/17/11)
To encourage Americans to explore America's natural beauty, rich history and culture, the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 days in 2012. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service will waive their entrance and standard amenity fees January 14 to 16, June 9, September 29, and November 10 to 12.
"America's Great Outdoors: Interior releases draft study of California's San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains" (Department of the Interior news, 10/17/11)
The Congressionally-authorized study is to determine whether all or part of the study area in California is significant, suitable, and feasible for designation as a unit of the national park system. The study area covers approximately 700,000 acres of land in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, including urban communities, local and regional parks and open space, and 415,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest. The NPS will host a series of public meetings throughout the study area in October and November, 2011 in order to present the draft study report, answer questions, and accept comments.
"America's Great Outdoors Progress Report shows conservation, recreation gains and economic benefits" (Department of the Interior news, 10/12/11)
The Obama Administration detailed how the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, reconnecting Americans to the natural world, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...visit the sand dunes at Samoa Dunes Recreation Area. As a visitor to this 300-acre park you may take advantage of a wide variety of recreational activities, including hiking, surfing, fishing, sightseeing, beachcombing, OHV use, picnicking, and birdwatching.
"Watchable Wildlife site: Samoa Dunes Recreation Area" (BLM California)
Look out beyond the ocean waves for brown pelicans and Brandt's cormorants. Northern harriers can often be seen as they glide in and out of willow thickets in the small freshwater wetlands. The willow thickets are home to song sparrows and savanna sparrows. The wetlands attract great blue herons and ducks. More birds can be seen, according to season.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
As I was leaving Insect Flats,
I met a menagerie with seven bats,
Three bitterns, one slider,
Two coachwhips and a grebe.
Coachwhips, slider, bitterns, grebe, bats --
How many were birds going towards Insect Flats?
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"BLM to return some gathered horses to the range tomorrow" (BLM news, 10/19/11)
The first phase of the High Rock Complex Wild Horse Roundup is complete and a small group of horses were scheduled to be reintroduced to their home range today, Oct. 20. These animals are the first to be sent back to help ensure a healthy population in the Bitner Herd Management Area, part of the Bureau of Land Management's High Rock Complex.
RELATED: Photos and video from the roundup on BLM California's Facebook page:
RELATED: "High Rock Complex wild horse roundup" (BLM California)
More information on the roundup.
"From wild to mild, the taming of wild mustangs" (KTVO, Kirksville, Mo., 10/18/11)
Two natives of Seymour, Iowa signed up for this year's Extreme Mustang Makeover, "a competition for those who love horses and crave the challenge of training the really wild ones that roam freely in government owned land in California, Wyoming and Nevada." Said Abby Brown of her mustang, "I couldn't touch him for the first week, but once I came up to an obstacle or anything, she's pretty willing. You just have to show her first and then she'll go over it. And if you give her a day or so to think over it, she'll be perfect with it the next day."
RELATED: "Mustang Makeover" (My Fox 8, Greensborough, North Carolina)
Video (2:22) of trainers preparing for the Mustang Makeover competition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee this weekend, Oct. 21-23.
RELATED: "Teen training wild mustang for competition in Tennessee" (Marietta, Georgia Daily Journal, 10/12/11)
RELATED: "Extreme Mustang Makeover"
"Bethany Lake might only get to keep her wild mustang, Little Bit of Pizzazz, for 90 days. But the Pope High School sophomore said the horse has already delivered an experience of a lifetime. Bethany, 16, is training the mustang in Canton for the Extreme Mustang Makeover program and plans to show off the yearling at a 20-student competition Oct. 21 to 23 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She is training Pizzazz ... as part of the Mustang Heritage Foundation's Youth Employment Program."
Other scheduled competitions.
"America's wild horse conundrum: By the numbers" (The Week, 10/18/11)
"This year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to round up 6,000 of the wild horses and burros that roam the Western states. It's part of an expensive, ongoing effort to manage the population of these symbols of the American West. But animal rights groups say the federal agency's practice of rounding up the horses by helicopter is cruel and wasteful. Here, a brief guide by the numbers ... Sources: Associated Press, LA Times, NY Times."
"BLM's 'Director's Challenge' initiative will enhance volunteer opportunities on Western rangelands" (BLM national news, 10/19/11)
As part of its ongoing effort to ensure the health of Western public rangelands, the Bureau of Land Management is announcing its "Director's Challenge" initiative to expand volunteer participation in monitoring and sustaining the health of wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs). More specifically, this volunteer program is aimed at engaging members of the public in monitoring, conducting inventories, and restoring natural resources on BLM-managed HMAs throughout the West.
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Luck of the wind keeps Wofford Heights fire in check" (Bakersfield Californian, 10/18/11)
"About 150 firefighters from the Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service" battled a 20-acre fire "with air support by Kern County Fire Department helicopter 407, US Forest Service 522 and CAL FIRE." A Kern County Fire Department spokesman said, "If the wind changed it would have come down to a big enclave of homes." Two residents trying to fight the fire were treated for smoke inhalation, and a firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.
"After leaping out of planes almost 400 times to fight wildfires, Walt Wasser is hanging up his parachute" (Idaho Statesman, 10/15/11)
After "almost four decades working every summer in the wilderness of the western United States," Walt "Wally" Wasser is retiring. "Bureau of Land Management spokesman Don Smurthwaite says Wasser's 395 smoke jumps are the most ever ... Wasser began fighting fires in 1973 in California ... He moved to the Boise NIFC crew in 1987 and worked there until September of this year. Wasser decided to become a wildland firefighter after watching a Walt Disney special on the subject when he was a child in the 1960s."
"BLM to lift campfire restrictions in the California Desert District" (BLM news, 10/19/11)
Effective Oct. 21, the BLM's California Desert District will lift its campfire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands in Southern California within the California Desert Conservation Area. BLM-managed lands in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and western Riverside County that are designated as "State Responsibility Areas" remain under Stage II restrictions. Those areas only permit campfires within approved fire pits and grills in developed recreational sites.
"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.
"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."
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Getting dirty on Wash Road" (News.bytes Extra)
Heavy seasonal wear and tear along the road leading into Wash 1 at the Imperial Sand Dunes required some serious TLC. The solution involved reclaiming tailing piles from the 1960s, saving time and money and with less disturbance to the area. The result will be tested with heavy use, as the 2011-2012 dunes season opened at the beginning of the month.
"CAMP program reports 2011 pot seizures cut in half" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 10/17/11)
"The number of plants seized by the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Production plummeted this year, in part because drug traffickers shifted production from public to private land, where they more easily blend with legal pot operations...." Officials conducted "an intensive three-week federal, state and local offensive on pot production in the Mendocino National Forest" after "complaints that armed pot growers had taken over public lands, making them unsafe for hikers and hunters."
"Redding council grants developer fee holiday, takes forest planning role" (Redding Record Searchlight, 10/18/11)
Off-road restrictions on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest are part of an effort to "protect sensitive areas from tire treads ... Off-roaders have not objected to restrictions keeping them on designated roads. But they have objected to proposals to close roads long open to them while allowing Jeeps, pickups and SUVs." Council members worry this would keep dirt bikers, hunters, fisherman and others from visiting the Redding area. Their vote "means Redding will be able to coordinate planning with other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include fiscal technician and geographic information specialist.
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Statement from Secretary Salazar on the passing of Elouise Cobell" (Department of the Interior news, 10/17/11)
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Elouise Cobell, who dedicated her life to the betterment of Indian people. She sought justice to address historical wrongs that had weighed on our nation's conscience and was a significant force for change."
RELATED: "Elouise Cobell dies at 65; Native American activist" (Los Angeles Times, 10/17/11)
"Growing up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation ... Cobell often heard her parents and neighbors wonder why they weren't being paid for allowing others to use their land." When she became treasurer of the tribe ... she could make neither 'hide nor hair of the trust accounts' ... set up as part of the 1887 Dawes Act. The act tried to erode the tribal system by granting parcels of land to individual Native Americans, but not allowing them to control their new property. Instead, the land was placed in trust with the promise that owners would be paid royalties for oil and gas, grazing or recreational leases."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
Answer: Four. Only the bitterns and the grebe are birds. The coachwhip is a snake, the slider is a turtle, the bats are mammals.
SOURCE: "California wildlife" (BLM California wildlife database)
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