A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 521 - 3/9/12
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Renewable energy
- Traditional energy
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
This issue of News.bytes is online at:
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Plonkers Trials Club at Cougar Buttes"(News.bytes Extra)
"Caught between a rock and hard place," has a different meaning for participants of the observed motorcycle trials sponsored by the Plonkers Trials Club. On Sunday March 4, approximately thirty participants used their skills to navigate, balance, and maintain control of their bikes through numerous technical challenges at Cougar Buttes. The objective of a trials event is not speed, but technique and maintaining complete control of your bike through a technical designed course.
"Preparations help visitors enjoy MLK weekend at Dumont Dunes" (News.bytes Extra)
Visitors flocked to Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, riding modified golf carts, quads, motorcycles, sand rails, and other vehicles in the sand. Many stopped by the Visitor Center for information about Dumont and other areas nearby, and for other recreation information. Emergency personnel and facilities stood ready to help in case of emergency, and BLM law enforcement rangers patrolled to keep the area safe and watch for any emergencies...
"California Coastal National Monument participates in 'Whale of a Day'"(News.bytes Extra)
For the second year in a row, it was a picture perfect day for the "Whale of a Day" festival held last weekend on southern California's Palos Verdes Peninsula. The California Coastal National Monument participated in this 28th annual day-long event with a booth with CCNM kid-oriented activities. The booth also provided the opportunity for parents and other adults to obtain information about the California Coastal National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management.
RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California)
"Many organizations offer outings in the Redding area" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/3/12)
"Get out and hike! This winter's extended drought pattern in Northern California is providing daily reasons to go outdoors in the sun. Many groups can offer meet-ups you might enjoy." And bike riders can "follow the course of the Keswick Reservoir and old rail line along a stretch of the Sacramento River Rail trail that connects Redding to the Shasta Dam .... You can get lots of good information and maps of Shasta County trails as well as Tehama County's Bend National Scenic Recreation area at the Bureau of Land Management's Redding Field office."
"Few wildflowers for yearly festival in Palm Desert" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/4/12)
"Wildflowers or no wildflowers, that didn't stop people from heading up to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument on Saturday to participate in the annual Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival. More than 1,500 visitors made their way to the monument's visitor center ... by car, motorcycle or free shuttle to check out the festivities."
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
"America's Great Outdoors: Secretary Salazar designates thirteen new National Historic Landmarks" (Department of the Interior, 3/6/12)
The 13 new National Historic Landmarks in nine different states include a site associated with the famed Apache scouts, the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, and an early 18th-century parish church. In California, the Carrizo Plain Archeological District "represents a unique concentration of pre-contact sites, art, and artifacts, the outstanding significance of which has been recognized for almost a century by anthropologists, archeologists, artists, and novelists."
RELATED: "Heritage sites and Painted Rock - Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
The Carrizo Plain National Monument contains hundreds of significant cultural sites, from prehistoric Native American campsites that are as much as 10,000 years old to 19th-century homesteads, some farmed and ranched into recent times. An important element of the new new Carrizo Plain Archaeological District National Historic Landmark, the pictograph site at Painted Rock, is managed by the BLM for public visitation.
RELATED: BLM Bakersfield Field Office
"NPF announces 'Share the Experience' photo contest winners" (National Park Foundation, March 2012)
"This annual contest encourages amateur photographers to explore the nation's federal lands and share their experiences by capturing and submitting their favorite shots. The winning picture will be featured on the 2013 Federal Recreational Lands Pass. This year, Glen Maki of Wofford Heights, Calif. received the grand prize for his photo of an outdoor enthusiast kayaking through the raging white water of the mighty Kern River in California's Sequoia National Forest."
RELATED: "A boating trail guide to the Upper and Lower Kern River" (California Department of Boating and Waterways)
"The Kern River is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada, and in terms of whitewater, it is perhaps the most variable," with "technical difficulty comparable to any river in the West, with runs ranging from Class II to Class V and V+." This page links to a map of the Upper and Lower Kern River and a PDF booklet prepared jointly by the BLM, California Department of Boating and Waterways, and the U.S. Forest Service.
RELATED: "Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
The BLM hosts Kern River launch sites here at the Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area.
"New National Water Trails System to Promote Healthy, Accessible Rivers" (Department of the Interior, 2/29/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled the National Water Trails System, a new network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local economies across America.
"America's Great Outdoors Rivers chat" (Department of Interior on YouTube, 3/5/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, along with Rebecca Wodder, Senior Advisor to Secretary Salazar, hosted a webchat on the Administration's efforts to restore and conserve our nation's rivers as part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. (video 23:40)
"White House Conference Sets Stage for New Era of Conservation" (Department of the Interior, 3/2/12)
Last week's Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy brought together hundreds of boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and other key stakeholders from around the nation to meet with administration officials to discuss issues surrounding conservation in urban cities and rural communities. The conference capped a week of conservation announcements.
"Fort Ord monument backers get Obama's ear" (Monterey County Herald, 3/5/12)
"On the heels of meetings with top-level officials over the past few months, supporters of a national monument at Fort Ord won the big prize Friday: a brief meeting with President Barack Obama. Six locals, led by Henrietta Stern and Gordon Smith, were offered a few moments to make their pitch to the chief executive" last week during the White House Conference on Conservation.
"Sheep Are Back to Work on Fort Ord Public Lands" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 600 ewes and their lambs are back at work on the BLM's Fort Ord Public Lands in Monterey County. The grazing program is part of a cooperative strategy to improve rangeland conditions in this ecologically unique area.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...If you can't plant a tree during this year's Arbor Day, visit the magnificent Giant Sequoias standing in the Case Mountain Grove Unit in Bakersfield. Located on the northwest side of the Case Mountains, this Grove is the second largest grove in area and contains large, flowing springs. Enjoy these giants by hiking, biking, or by horse, but remember to pack ample water and food for your trip!
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
A widespread problem on BLM-managed lands may be contributing to a declining number of porcupines in California:
(a.) Illegal target shooting
(b.) Illegal OHV use
(c.) Illegal marijuana grows
(e.) Illegal Velcro farms, where the porcupines get stuck
See answer -- and more on wildlife -- near the end of this News.bytes.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Eleven mustangs seeking a home" (BLM California, 3/1/12)
This weekend: Eleven wild horses and five burros from public lands of the American West are in need of places they can call home. On Saturday, March 10, the Sundance Ranch in Redlands will host a Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Adoption from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A Friday preview runs 1 to 5 p.m.
"Wild Horses and Burros available for adoption in Red Bluff" (BLM California, 3/9/12)
Young, healthy wild horses from the high deserts of northwest Nevada and burros from southern California deserts will be available for adoption Saturday, March 31, at the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff. The BLM will bring its Adopt a Horse or Burro Program to the fairgrounds as part of the Back Country Horsemen of California State Rendezvous.
"California wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM California)
This schedule is subject to change. Please check back frequently or call the contact numbers listed.
The next adoptions are March 10 in Redlands and March 31 in Red Bluff.
"Saving desert tortoises is a costly hurdle for solar projects" (Los Angeles Times, 3/4/12)
"At the $2.2-billion BrightSource Energy solar farm in the Ivanpah Valley, the tortoise brought construction to a standstill for three months when excavation work found far more animals than biologists expected.
BrightSource has spent $56 million so far to protect and relocate the tortoises, but even at that price, the work has met with unforeseen calamity .... BrightSource's project at Ivanpah is the first large-scale solar plant to enter the desert tortoise regulatory maze. Its experience is a case study for how the booming solar industry must deal with the reptile."
"Solar thermal fights back" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/6/12)
"Large-scale solar thermal projects have had a tough time in the past year, what with the pressure from falling photovoltaic panel prices and permitting challenges related to how much water they use." The Concentrating Solar Power Alliance aims to "make the world a little more welcoming to solar thermal .... While more expensive upfront, the alliance says that solar thermal plants are much more reliable than PV projects and produce power that can be stored to match peak energy demands" and "they can keep operating even when the sun is not shining."
"BLM defers China Mountain decision for two years" (Elko Daily Free Press, 3/8/12)
BLM Nevada "is deferring a decision on the China Mountain Wind Project that would straddle the Elko County and Idaho border for two years because of impact to the sage grouse. David Overcast, the Tuscarora Field Office manager for the Elko BLM District, told Elko County Commissioners ... the BLM district in Idaho that is leading the project and the Elko BLM District decided to wait on a decision."
"Fracking: Is it safe for Utah?" (Salt Lake Tribune, 3/3/12)
"'Fracking' is fast becoming a bad word to critics of the oil and gas industry .... Hydraulic fracturing -- a pressurized injection of sand, water and chemicals to open new pathways for hydrocarbon pumping -- has gained infamy with allegations of groundwater poisoning in the eastern U.S. In Utah's gas fields, though, it has been the norm for decades," with "most" wells fracked. "Environmentalists have said that could be partly because Utah's wells ... are largely on public lands far from homes and culinary wells .... Still, the West is not immune from the controversy...." A Utah official "has recommended chemical disclosure for each well." A draft BLM proposal would require disclosure on federal lands.
"Is U.S. energy independence finally within reach?" (NPR, 3/7/12)
"Rising gas prices have been the big energy story" recently -- "But many energy experts say that's a sideshow compared with the really big energy event -- the huge boom in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. that could help the nation reach the elusive goal of energy independence .... Small energy companies using such controversial techniques as hydraulic fracturing, along with horizontal drilling, are unlocking vast oil and natural gas deposits trapped in shale in places like Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Texas .... There are skeptics, however...."
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"BLM seeking public comments on fuel treatment proposals" (BLM California, 3/5/12)
The BLM seeks public comments on proposed projects aimed at reducing wildfire risk and improving forest health, being planned for the Redding region over the next five to 10 years, "including building and expanding fuel breaks, thinning brush and small trees by hand and with equipment, burning piles of brush the tree limbs and using prescribed fires to reduce heavy buildups of brush." Proposed sites include the Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area and the Middle Creek area.
"Orland funds weed control program" (Orland Press Register, 2/28/12)
Recalling a 2008 fire in Orland, a city council member urged colleagues to fund removal of invasive, "bamboo-like" arundo plant that "is a threat since it burns extremely hot and covers much of the creek area .... The project is a collaborative effort between the RCD, Glenn County Office of Education, the California Conservation Corps and now the city. Since it is government funded, the youth crews will work on public lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
"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.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"BLM invites public review of OHV grant applications" (BLM California, 3/5/12)
The public is invited to comment on the Bureau of Land Management's 2012 grant applications submitted to the California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. The public review and comment period will run from Tuesday, March, 6 through Monday, April 2. The annual OHV grant applications are a key part of the partnership between BLM and the State of California, which issues grants to a variety of entities to improve or mitigate off-highway vehicle recreation.
"Meetings set on BLM-tribal land swap" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/6/12)
The BLM seeks public input on a proposed land exchange with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians which "would swap 9 square miles in the northern part of the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument for 2.3 square miles belonging to the tribe. Some hikers, bikers and equestrians have protested, fearing the loss of access to popular trails .... Agua Caliente officials said the land would be managed the same way as it would be under BLM control .... Tribal members have said the land contains their ancestors' ancient art and village sites and should have been part of their holdings all along."
"BLM asks for caution when visiting new trails" (Red Bluff Daily News, 3/3/12)
"The Bureau of Land Management is urging people to use caution when visiting new hiking and mountain biking trails in the Mule Ridge area of West Redding, as construction is still underway in some areas. 'The Mule Ridge network is about two thirds complete with about 14 miles of trails open,' said Bill Kuntz, a BLM outdoor recreation planner. 'We still have to finish the trails linking the Swasey and Mule Ridge networks, and we are still working on parking lots and trailheads. We are happy to accommodate access to the completed trails, but we ask that visitors pay attention to signing in areas still being built'."
"Napa could anchor six-county national conservation area" (Napa Valley Register, 3/8/12)
"A proposal is gaining steam to designate 330,000 acres of federal land in Napa and five adjacent counties as a national conservation area, with the goal of improving public management and public access. The Berryessa Snow Mountain proposal would be a patchwork of federal lands stretching from Snow Mountain in the Mendocino National Forest to Cold Canyon in northeast Solano County. The territory would include 55,000 acres in northeast Napa County that is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation or the Bureau of Land Management.
"Cadiz considering gas pipeline to move water" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/2/12)
Cadiz Inc. "wants to pump water from the Mojave Desert to supply Southern California cities" and may purchase "idle natural gas pipelines" to move the water. Cadiz owns "45,000 acres" over "ancient aquifers that the company wants to draw from; there are also plans to store surplus Colorado River water there in wet years." Critics "say pumping would cause a drop in the water table that would dry up springs supporting bighorn sheep and other wildlife .... In its draft environmental impact report, Cadiz contends the aquifer is not connected to the springs within the watershed and pumping would have no impact."
"Suction Dredge Permitting Program - Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report" (California Department of Fish and Game)
Updated 3/7/12: "The Department of Fish and Game has completed the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report for its proposed suction dredge permitting program." The BLM will not issue suction dredging permits until the State of California resolves this issue.
"Agencies announce $32.3 million plan to alleviate Cosco Busan spill damage" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/1/12)
In 2007, the Cosco Busan spilled " more than 53,000 gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay. The money for the natural resources restoration comes from settlement with the Hong Kong-based owner and operator of the container ship .... The six agencies that prepared the plan are the California Department of Fish and Game, the State Lands Commission and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
Department of the Interior:
"68th Department of the Interior Convocation Ceremony honors employees, volunteers for distinguished service" (Department of the Interior, 3/7/12)
At the convocation Wednesday, 44 awards were presented to Department of the Interior employees and volunteers selected for their service to the department and to the nation.
"Era: Depression; labor: grueling; legacy: priceless" (Arizona Daily Star, 3/4/12)
"The work: plain, hard toil moving rocks and soil. The wages: 30 bucks a month. The results: a lasting legacy of buildings, roads, recreational sites and vital conservation projects that have enhanced our public lands and stood the test of time for more than 75 years. Such is the uniquely American, true-grit saga of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Its work will be commemorated at three upcoming events in Southern Arizona" including one hosted by the BLM.
BLM New Mexico:
"Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness" (BLM New Mexico)
Site of photo (left) by Raghuveer Makala of Sunnyvale, Calif. -- honorable mention winner in the 'Share the Experience' photo contest (see "America's Great Outdoors" section above).
"BLM Proposes to Sell 120 Acres in Pahrump by Modified Competitive Sale" (BLM Nevada, 3/5/12)
A 45-day public comment period closes April 19. The sale is requested by Nye County for economic
development, so that Spring Mountain Raceway LLC can construct a race track and develop private
businesses and provide infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. This extension of utilities would also provide a public benefit to the undeveloped county fairgrounds site directly across the highway.
"Mining company asks to drill near Mount St. Helens" (Vancouver, Wash. Columbian, 3/3/12)
Proposed drilling plan near Mount St. Helens: "Hundreds of people packed a pair of public meetings ... last month. A third open house is planned for March 13 .... More than 200 formal comments have piled up, according to the Bureau of Land Management .... that level of interest from both supporters and opponents of the idea hasn't surprised the BLM or Gifford Pinchot National Forest officials, who manage the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument."
|SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
March 20 - Story of Headwaters Forest lecture
"Headwaters: The Road to Recovery. " Members of the BLM's natural resources staff will discuss redwood ecology and ongoing restoration efforts in the 7,472-acre reserve near Eureka. BLM Park Ranger Julie Clark will present information on life in the timber town of Falk, remnants of which remain in the reserve.
March 24 - Volunteer opportunity - Steele Peak, Stephen's Kangaroo Rat Reserve cleanup - near Perris
Illegal dumping and misuse of the area has resulted in an accumulation of garbage including household refuse, broken target boards, spent shotgun shells, and other items littering the ground. Using a variety of hand tools such as rakes and garbage pickers, volunteers will assist BLM staff in performing a general cleanup of the area. Please RSVP. Details:
April 14 - Alabama Hills Day - Lone Pine
"The purpose of this new annual event is to celebrate this incredibly scenic landscape and educate the public about the wide variety of groups that use and enjoy the Alabamas," said Chris Langley, stewardship group chair. "Bring your family and friends to show your support for the Alabama Hills and enjoy a unique learning experience." Free.
RELATED: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM Bishop Field Office)
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Illegal marijuana grows
SOURCE: "Porcupines an increasingly rare sight in California forests, scientists say" (Sacramento Bee, 3/3/12)
"The porcupine is not among the cuddly critters most forest visitors hope to stumble upon .... Long quills twitching like the headdress on a drum major, it forages leisurely for herbs, seeds and tree bark. When threatened, the prickly species mostly just turns its back and hopes you'll get the point. While nobody was looking, however, it seems the humble porcupine has been quietly fading away."
More wildlife news from your public lands:
"Mining claim markers and wildlife dangers" (BLM California)
Uncapped pipe mining claim markers can be a death trap to birds and other animals. Animals trapped in the metal and plastic pipes cannot climb out due to the smooth walls of the pipe. California state law says opened topped pipes are not legal as claim markers. Information can be found at the California Department of Conservation . We strongly encourage the public and BLM partners to help us prevent future wildlife mortality by filling any open pipe with sand, rocks, or cap it with a large well-fitted rock. Contact your local BLM office for more information.
"Sage grouse snags; BLM, public talk about bird's status" (Elko Daily Free Press, 3/2/12)
"Roughly 70 people" gathered for a forum on sage grouse - especially "efforts to keep the bird off the endangered species list." BLM's Elko district manager said the BLM's policy to avoid the listing "will carry with it some changes, and these are things that may not be comfortable for us." But "the alternative will be worse ... he said in a presentation that showed contrasts between the BLM's temporary conservation policies and a national technical team's recommendations for conserving the sage grouse, as well as the differences if the bird is listed."
"America's Great Outdoors: Salazar Announces Wetlands Acquisitions for Refuge System and Grants for Bird Conservation" (Department of the Interior, 3/7/12)
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved funding that will conserve more than 6,200 acres of habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife on seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, including Grasslands Wildlife Management Area in Merced County, Calif. and Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area in Kern and Tulare counties, Calif.
"USDA and Interior announce wildlife conservation efforts to support local economies and preserve farm and ranch traditions" (Department of the Interior, 3/8/12)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a $33 million partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to use innovative approaches to restore and protect the habitats for wildlife, including seven at-risk species and other vulnerable game species. The species initially selected for this expanded campaign are: greater sage-grouse, New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, lesser prairie-chicken and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
"Lakehead mystery: Rescue group seeks owner of lost Gyrfalcon" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/7/12)
Something about the falcon Jim McClary found perching on his rooftop last week "looked out of place." A volunteer with Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc." told him "it's most likely a Gyrfalcon .... With a government-issued band around its foot, the bird clearly belongs to a falconer." That's what McClary thought when he first saw the bird, and "decided to test his theory with a makeshift falconer's glove -- his leather barbecue mitt. 'It immediately jumped up on my arm'." The raptor expert now housing the bird said that he's "been playing phone tag with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to try to find its owner."
"Bay Delta water diversion plan could harm fish temporarily, state analysis says" ((Sacramento Bee, 3/1/12)
"A controversial project to alter water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could initially harm some smelt and salmon species, but state officials say those fish will benefit in the long run. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan calls for building two giant tunnels, 37 miles long, to divert a portion of the Sacramento River's flow out of the estuary and directly to existing state and federal diversion pumps near Tracy .... Some environmental groups ... said the new analysis is deeply flawed."
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