A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 504 - 10/28/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- America's Great Outdoors
- Wild horses and burros
- Renewable energy
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Pending legislation potentially affecting the BLM
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
This issue is online at:
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...view fall foliage colors along the Bizz Johnson Trail in northeastern California, along the Susan River. The main trail head is at the old Railroad Depot in Susanville, about 90 miles north of Reno and about 90 miles east of Red Bluff. As the changing foliage of cottonwoods turn the river bottoms golden yellow, willows along the river take on various tones of red and golden yellow, and oaks scattered through the landscape add accents of bright orange.
RELATED: "Cool and color..." (Modoc Record, week of Oct. 27)
"The colors have faded in some parts of Modoc County, but there are still plenty of changes and great areas to look into. This shot is of the South Fork of the Pit River going into Jess Valley. It's always a pretty place."
"Fall color hotspots 2011" (BLM Bishop Field Office)
Fall colors in the Eastern Sierra on a recent weekend.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Volunteers clean up trash to mark National Public Lands Day" (News.bytes Extra)
A dozen members of the Over the Hill Track Club, together with the BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office, celebrated National Public Lands Day on Oct. 8 by cleaning up "Shooters Canyon" in the Rademacher Hills on the south side of Ridgecrest. The area is popular among locals for hiking, jogging, horseback riding, and mountain biking on an 8.5-mile network of trails through the scenic mountainous desert terrain. Not so scenic, however, was the nearly 3,000 pounds of debris....
"National Public Lands Day – Long Canyon Cleanup" (News.bytes Extra)
In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Palm Springs-South Coast BLM Field Office, in cooperation with the Community and Cultural Affairs Commission Trails Committee, the City of Desert Hot Springs, and Desert Valley Disposal, hosted a volunteer cleanup this past Saturday, Oct. 22 along Long Canyon Road near Desert Hot Springs. Long Canyon is adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, and as such, is a gateway to the park.
"BLM urges safety in the sand dunes" (Yuma Sun, 10/26/11)
After a summer away from the Imperial Sand Dunes, "hundreds of thousands of duners" are expected in coming months. Halloween is the "traditional start of the dune season." BLM's 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 ... Neil Hamada, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area manager, also encourages visitors to be especially cautious, of both the crowds and the constantly changing terrain. 'Visitors should take care to scout areas for drop-offs that may not have been there last season....'"
"BLM announces public meeting on Imperial Sand Dunes recreation fees" (BLM news, 10/25/11)
Comments on Imperial Sand Dunes' recreation fees are invited at a public meeting in El Centro on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 9 a.m. The forum will be a regularly scheduled meeting of Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Desert Advisory Council Sub Group. Comments from the meeting will assist the advisory council in responding to BLM management requests for recommendations on the fee program in effect at the sand dunes and other recreation areas in the California Desert. Specifically, recommendations are sought for what's working and what needs improvement regarding BLM's user-fee policies.
"Interior Department proposes more recreation use for San Joaquin River" (Central Valley Business Times, 10/25/11)
"A call to make the San Joaquin River more of a recreational river than merely a conduit for irrigation water is expected to be included in a new Department of the Interior report" on "what Interior thinks are some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world." A second California proposal "is for more recreation along the Los Angeles River …the designations came only after what it calls 'close engagement with Gov. Jerry Brown and the state of California, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders'."
RELATED: "Salazar highlights two proposed projects in California to promote outdoor recreation, conservation" (Department of the Interior news, 10/24/11)
Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of California that will be included in the final report including the San Joaquin River and the Los Angeles River Trail and San Gabriel River Trail improvements.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"High Rock Complex wild horse roundup" (News.bytes Extra)
A BLM-California operation to return wild horse populations to sustainable levels is underway on northwest Nevada public land managed by the Surprise Field Office in Cedarville. The High Rock Complex wild horse roundup is focused on five herd management areas and is designed to achieve an appropriate management level of 258-451 wild horses.
RELATED: "High Rock Wild Horse Roundup operations continue into second week" (BLM news, 10/27/11)
As of Wednesday, Oct. 26, crews had removed 573 wild horses from three of the five herd management areas in the High Rock Complex in Washoe and Humboldt counties, Nevada. Additionally, 37 wild horses were returned to the Bitner and Nut Mountain HMAs to ensure that populations remain at appropriate management levels. The mares were treated with a contraceptive drug, effective for about two years, in an effort to slow on-the-range population growth of the wild herds. Some stallions were also released.
Follow us for daily updates on the High Rock Complex Wild Horse and Burro Roundup:
"Border Patrol christens horses Bob, Bandit" (Harlingen, Texas, Valley Morning Star, 10/23/11)
"U.S. Border Patrol officials christened two of their newest recruits last week at two elementary schools ... Agents encouraged campuses from Roma to Brownsville to participate in a contest to name six new horses agents will use to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border ... The Rio Grande Valley sector acquired the wild mustangs in July through the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program...."
"Critics say new wild horse panel is pro-livestock" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 10/23/11)
"A panel of experts chosen to spend two years generating the definitive study on wild horse management in the West is kicking up controversy before it even gets out of the chute. Mustang protection advocates contend the committee charged with solving a conundrum that has eluded consensus for decades is stacked with allies of the livestock industry who won't give the horses a fair shake. The panel's 14 members were picked by the National Academy of Sciences, an independent organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on science."
RELATED: "Expert panel probes mustang roundups" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/25/11)
The panel met this week in Reno "to review the federal government's handling of wild horse and burro herds that roam public land in the West. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has come under fire from animal rights advocates for using helicopters to round up the animals and for having more of the animals in captivity than remain in the wild. Critics also have disputed the BLM's herd population estimates used to justify the roundups ... The BLM ... asked the National Academy of Sciences to review the agency's policies and handling of the horses and burros and to make recommendations."
"Feds scale back proposed solar zones" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/27/11)
"The Department of Interior on Thursday announced plans for 17 solar energy development zones in the West that would cover 285,417 acres, more than half of it in eastern Riverside County ... Federal officials took into consideration some 80,000 public comments before selecting the zones, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said ... An earlier proposal included seven additional zones that did not make the latest cut. 'Typically, these zones were dropped out because of a lack of investor interest'” Hayes said. 'A number of them were not well suited in terms of transmission hookups … or there were environmental issues that came to the fore'."
RELATED: "Obama administration announces desert 'solar energy zones'" (Los Angeles Times, 10/28/11)
"The Bureau of Land Management's long-awaited "solar energy zones" are intended to make some of the desert's most sensitive landscapes less desirable for solar prospecting by identifying 'sweet spots' that have already passed environmental requirements and therefore promise expedited permitting, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said ... The 17 solar energy zones in six western states -- including two extensive areas in California -- were identified by their absence of major environmental or cultural conflicts. But nothing prevents a developer from requesting permission to build on federal land outside the preferred areas."
"Does huge wind farm fit near Borrego State Park?" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/23/11)
Ocotillo Express wind farm: "Sometime early next year the federal government will decide whether to allow a massive wind farm to be built just east of Anza-Borrego State Park in Imperial County. The farm and the desert park would share a five-mile border." Opponents "don't want to see gigantic windmills against the backdrop of wide-open Anza-Borrego, the state's largest park. Supporters, on the other hand, say the farm fits the idea of producing more clean energy ... most of the windmills would be on public land maintained by the Bureau of Land Management ... as many as 155 massive wind turbines on almost 13,000 acres..."
RELATED: "Tribes say no to windfarm; say land is sacred" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/23/11)
Ocotilllo Express: "Eight Native American tribes gathered ... for a spiritual ceremony ... to bring awareness about the possible disturbance of artifacts and ceremonial grounds by a proposed windmill project ... 'We are not against renewable energy,' said the chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Anthony Pico, but the tribes are against 'massive projects that destroy' Native American sites."
"BLM clarifies Tule Wind Project public process" (BLM news, 10/25/11)
The Bureau of Land Management is clarifying today that a protest period is not open for the Tule Wind Project. An error in the environmental document for the project incorrectly stated that a protest period would be open before a Record of Decision is announced. The Tule Wind Project does not amend the Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan, and the Plan has already designated the area as suitable for wind development. Therefore, a 30-day protest period and concurrent 30-day Governor's Consistency Review upon release of the Final EIR/EIS is not appropriate.
"Local wind energy proposals withdrawn" (BLM news, 10/25/11)
Two firms investigating potential wind energy in eastern California have withdrawn their requests to install monitoring towers on public lands. The firms proposed to install 200-foot-tall wind monitoring towers for three-year testing periods to collect wind speed and direction data and other weather information. The BLM's Bishop Field Office has approved requests from ENEL (Padoma) and EWind Farms to withdraw their proposed monitoring right-of-way applications for the Adobe Valley and Granite Mountain public land areas.
"Huge solar power plants are blooming in California's southern deserts"(San Jose Mercury News, 10/26/11)
"While the collapse of Fremont solar manufacturer Solyndra has dominated the news in recent weeks because it received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, several other solar companies that received loan guarantees appear to be thriving. The project furthest along is BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System ... on federal land near the California-Nevada border." The project will use "mirrors to concentrate the sun and turn turbines that generate electricity. When complete in 2013, Ivanpah will be the largest solar thermal power plant in the world, generating enough electricity for 140,000 homes."
"Solar project needs more reviews " (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/26/11)
"A solar energy project approved last year on 4,604 acres of public land east of Barstow faces further environmental reviews because the developers have decided to switch the type of technology they will use to convert sunshine to electricity," from "SunCatcher units, which have dish-shaped mirrors that focus heat onto a Sterling engine to generate electricity." K Road Power, which bought the project from Tessera Solar, "is one of three solar developers with projects in Southern California that has announced a switch to photovoltaic technology."
RELATED: "BLM to prepare supplemental environmental study for solar project east of Barstow" (BLM news, 10/25/11)
The BLM will provide a 45-day public comment period upon publication of the Supplemental Draft EIS. K Road is seeking approval to construct and operate an electrical generating facility. Approximately 4,604 acres of BLM-administered public land and 9 acres of privately owned land are needed to develop the project. K Road has submitted an application to amend its ROW grant to change portions of the approved facility from 100 percent SunCatcher technology.
Power-politics-prosperity: Banking on sunbeams (Part five)" (Pahrump Valley Times, 10/26/11)
"Eileen Christensen ... remembers when ... representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told Nye County officials about the area's high potential to be a player in the burgeoning solar energy field … Now ... solar companies are waiting on new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulations as well as to see how California is going to address its renewable energy portfolio standards ... Power purchase agreements and transmission have been two major obstacles to getting solar projects off the ground."
"WVU researchers to study golden eagle population" (WBOY West Virginia, 10/27/11)
"West Virginia University researchers are going where golden eagles fly to study the effects of windmills and solar energy collectors on the birds' habitat" by putting "telemetry devices on the backs of golden eagles in California's deserts ... Researchers hope the results will help sustainable energy development and golden eagles coexist.
The project is funded by a $321,000 grant from the Bureau of Land Management."
"Geothermal energy touted as 'greenest' source" (KGTV San Diego, 10/21/11)
"Solar and wind power may not be the most effective green energies -- that title may go to the Earth's core. The world's largest geothermal well, called Vonderahe-1, sits in Imperial County ... The well goes a mile-and-a-half down into the Earth and pulls up pressurized water that has been heated by the Earth's core. It can reach temperatures up to 500 degrees. The steam from that water is used to propel a turbine, which turns a generator, which then produces electricity ... once the Sunrise Powerlink is up and running, San Diego could benefit from geothermal power."
"Is solar tax proposal from Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit cooked?" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/23/11)
"Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit's plan to impose a fee on the huge solar arrays planned for the desert is turning out to be a tough sell.
Despite four months of private negotiations between the county and solar entrepreneurs, no one has yet come up with a plan that the supervisors will approve and the solar companies will accept."
"Discovery of cultural sites halts construction of access road for Powerlink in Lakeside" (East County Magazine, 10/21/11)
"Construction of an access road needed for completion of the Sunrise Powerlink ... has been halted due to discovery of a 'possible Indian site' found during road-grading activities, a property owner informed ECM yesterday.
The property owner, whose name is being withheld due to a law prohibiting disclosure of the precise location of possible artifacts, said that a Powerlink project representative told her that a possible 'Indian site' had been found while grading a road on an easement across her property."
"County amends variance to stop Sunday helicopter flights on Powerlink for portions of Lakeside and Alpine" (East County Magazine, 10/22/11)
"After receiving 23 complaints about Sunday helicopter operations on Sunrise Powerlink construction, the County has amended its variance. The original variance allowed work Sundays through November, as well as on the Friday after Thanksgiving ...
No restrictions were imposed in areas where residents did not complain."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK: Bats! not just for Halloween.
Mexican long-tongued bats' long tongues help them reach …
(a.) Water deep inside pockets of cacti.
(b.) Worms inside burrows in hard soil.
(c.) Seeds inside prickly fruit.
(d.) Termites in their burrows.
(e.) Nectar in night-blooming plants.
(f.) Those tasty leftover bits you always find at the bottom of bug smoothies.
------> See answer -- and more wildlife information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
|PENDING LEGISLATION POTENTIALLY AFFECTING THE BLM
Legislative Hearing: H.R. 41, Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2011 (Statement of BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, 10/25/11)
"The Omnibus Public Land Management Act (P.L. 111-11) designated the Beauty Mountain Wilderness on 15,600 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Riverside County. This designation constituted the northern half of the Beauty Mountain Wilderness Study Area within Riverside County ... H.R. 41 enlarges the existing Beauty Mountain Wilderness by approximately 14,000 acres."
Link to PDF transcript of testimony at:
RELATED: "Issa wilderness bill gets first hearing" (North County Times, 10/25/11)
Nearly two years after introducing legislation to protect 21,000 acres of chaparral and forest along the San Diego-Riverside county line, Rep. Darrell Issa's wilderness bill got its first committee hearing Tuesday. However, no vote was taken. And the House Natural Resources Committee hasn't set a date for a vote." The legislation "called for adding 13,635 acres to the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and 7,796 acres to the Agua Tibia Wilderness."
"Forest gap would be filled by mine stop"(Santa Clarita Signal, 10/24/11)
"A bill awaiting a Senate committee hearing would not only stop a large-scale mine from being built in northeastern Canyon Country, but would also help provide a “vital link” between two segments of national forest, officials say.
The Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation Management Act of 2011, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would instruct the federal Bureau of Land Management to sell 10,000 acres of its land north of Victorville and use a portion of the proceeds to buy back contracts it granted to a Mexico-based mining company more than 20 years ago."
Legislative Hearing: H.R. 1126, Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2011 (Statement of BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, 10/25/11)Link to PDF transcript of testimony at:
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Public comments on BLM Bakersfield plan" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 100 members of the public attended recent meetings to discuss the future of lands managed by BLM's Bakersfield Field Office. BLM held a series of meetings from Three Rivers to San Luis Obispo to gather comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement that covers lands (excluding Carrizo Plain National Monument) managed by BLM's Bakersfield Field Office, which includes lands in eight counties in central California: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kings, Tulare, Madera, eastern Fresno and western Kern.
RELATED: "BLM seeks comments on 3R sites" (Kaweah Commonwealth, 10/21/11)
"A team of Bureau of Land Management planners from the Bakersfield regional office was in Three Rivers ... to gather input for the agency's new Resource Management Plan ... The more than 60 who turned out for the dinner-hour meeting wanted to hear what might be in store for local recreation areas like Salt Creek/Case Mountain and North Fork...." Bakersfield Field Manager Tim Smith said, "the agency ... wants to provide recreational opportunities on these public lands but must balance this access with protection of sensitive resources."
"BLM announces availability of oil & gas lease auction environmental assessment"(BLM news, 10/25/11)
The Bureau of Land Management has completed the environmental assessment for the oil and gas lease auction scheduled for March 14, 2012. A 30-day public review and comment period runs through Nov. 17. 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 in Kern County.
"BLM El Centro employee nominated for 'California On Location' award" (News.bytes Extra)
Dallas Meeks, an Outdoor Recreation Planner for the BLM's El Centro Field Office was recently nominated for a “California on Location Award” by the Imperial Valley Film Commission. The COLA award recognizes the Federal Public Employee of the Year for their efforts to facilitate filming in California on public lands.
Rangeland Advisory Committee seeking new member" (BLM news, 10/27/11)
The Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee, a public rangeland advisory group, is seeking nominations for a member to represent sporting interests on public lands in northwest Nevada. Nominees should be knowledgeable about wildlife habitat management and issues important to hunters, anglers and other sporting interest groups. They should have the ability to attend meetings four times annually in Cedarville, Calif.
"Train to Vegas advances" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 10/25/11)
"DesertXpress has cleared one more hurdle, receiving permission from the federal Surface Transportation Board to build and operate its high-speed train to Las Vegas ... The train would transport passengers from Victorville to Las Vegas ... The STB granted the project an exemption from certain approval requirements ... Private developers of the train are still waiting on word as to whether they'll receive a $4.9 billion federal loan to fund that construction." The route would include some BLM-managed land.
RELATED: "LA-Las Vegas bullet train scores major OK" (Central Valley Business Times, 10/26/11)
"The all-electric trains would run primarily adjacent to Interstate 15, the only freeway between Las Vegas, Nev., and Los Angeles. Initially, top speeds would be 150 miles per hour ... The approval is conditioned on DesertXpress implementing 146 environmental mitigation measures recommended by an Environmental Impact Statement approved by the Federal Railroad Administration with input and expertise provided by the STB."
2 Fires West Of Desert Contained (KESQ Palm Springs, 10/22/11)
A vegetation fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Whitewater Canyon, about 2 miles south of the reserve, according to Cheri Patterson with the Riverside County Fire Department. Full crews from CalFire, Riverside County Fire, and the Bureau of Land Management responded to the scene, fighting from the ground and air. Winds and steep terrain made for tough conditions, as crews tried to fight the flames.
"Joshua Tree National Park's management plan postponed" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/26/11)
"Belt-tightening in Washington, D.C., has postponed a management plan for Joshua Tree National Park. And with the park facing unprecedented visitor numbers ... park advocates say the delay in updating its 15-year-old plan couldn't happen at a worse time ... The proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill at the eastern edge of the park would deposit 20,000 tons a day of Los Angeles' garbage within 2 miles of the park's southern boundary. And the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Energy propose a 200,000-acre Riverside East Solar Energy Zone east of the park...."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include fiscal technician and geographic information systems (GIS) specialist.
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Interior to examine integration of Interior's mining regulation and mine reclamation programs" (Department of the Interior/BLM news, 10/26/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today launched a process to evaluate how to best integrate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement into the Bureau of Land Management to further strengthen the bureaus' mining regulations and abandoned mine land reclamation programs. The initiative will be undertaken with the coordination and input of employees, Members of Congress, and interested parties.
Links to PDF transcripts of testimony are at:
"Arizona officials still ‘in the ring' for uranium mining" (Lake Havasu News-Herald, 10/27/11)
"Bureau of Land Management officials announced Wednesday its Final Environmental Impact Study's preferred plan favors the 20-year closure of one million acres of uranium-rich lands near the Grand Canyon." BLM EIS project manager Chris Horyza "said politics surrounding the study have swayed from initial environmental concerns about water to jobs and economy ... the preferred alternative doesn't ban mining ... But one local government official believes the study is a hoax."
RELATED: "BLM issues
Final Environmental Impact Statement for proposed withdrawal from new mining claims near Grand Canyon" (BLM news, 10/26/11)
The Bureau of Land Management released the Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Final Environmental Impact Statement for public review. The Final EIS analyzes the potential effects of withdrawing federal lands near the Grand Canyon in Arizona from location and entry under the 1872 Mining Law and identifies a preferred alternative that would withdraw about 1 million acres, subject to valid existing rights.
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Nectar in night-blooming plants.
SOURCE: "Mexican long-tongued bat -
Choeronycteris mexicana" (BLM California wildlife database)
The diet of Mexican long-tongued bats consists of nectar, pollen, and insects. Their long tongues give them access to nectar from night-blooming plants.
Related wildlife news from your public lands:
"Fungus causes white-nose syndrome in bats, researchers find" (Los Angeles Times, 10/26/11)
"Researchers say they now have proof that a fungus discovered in 2007 is responsible for white-nose syndrome, the devastating infectious disease that has killed more than 1 million bats in North America. The confirmation is a significant step toward developing strategies to moderate effects of the disease as it continues to move westward along migratory flyways, the researchers reported Wednesday in the online journal Nature."
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