A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 524 - 3/30/12
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Wild horses and burros
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Renewable energy
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
This issue of BLM California News.bytes is online at:
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Halter Trained Horses to be offered for Public Adoption" (BLM California, 3/20/12)
This weekend: Halter-trained geldings and fillies will be among 18 wild horses and burros offered by the BLM for public adoption Saturday, March 31, during the Back Country Horsemen of California State Rendezvous at the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff. Wranglers from the BLM's wild horse and burro corrals near Susanville have been gentling nine animals for adoption. "They are all at different stages, but all will accept a halter and can be led," said corral manager Doug Satica. The gentled horses range in age from about a year to 3 years old.
RELATED: "Back Country Horsemen of California Rendezvous in Tehama County" (Red Bluff Daily News, 3/30/12)
The Backcountry Horseman of California Rendezvous runs through Sunday. The event offers classes with veterinarians on "just about everything you can cover on equine health" -- plus a workshop on breeding for horses and mules, classes on pasture management and paddock management, an obstacle challenge clinic, packing demonstrations, and more. UC Davis will give "demonstrations involving large animal rescue including how to prepare them for use with a helicopter." The event is"fun for the kids," but there are some "serious" presentations "such as safety around horses and mules for kids and what to do if their parents are hurt in back country."
Teen's spring assignment: Gentling wild mustangs” (Napa Valley Register, 3/27/12)
"It was not easy to tell that such placid horses, eager to be stroked on the cheek by a stranger, began life as the wildest of creatures, born on the remote hills of Lassen County ..... Years of Newcomb's training have led the animals first to respond to commands and trust humans, then to carry a rider long distances. Later this week, the 18-year-old Coombsville resident will begin the process of 'gentling' two more mustangs -- the first step on a road she hopes will lead to victory at an Oregon competition this summer, and to the changing of minds long afterward."
"Burro buddies (photos)" (Yuma Sun, 3/24/12)
Two photos – both of burros -- from the Bureau of Land Management (Arizona) annual Wild Horse and Burro adoption event held last weekend at the Yuma County Fairgrounds.
"BLM seeks bids for new type of contracts for wild horse and burro management"(BLM national office, 3/28/12)
The BLM, in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, is soliciting bids for several contracts that will help manage wild horses and burros located across the western United States. The contracts are for a new bait trapping method that is intended to relieve areas of excess wild horses and burros where helicopter drive trapping is not an effective method. The bids are the first of their kind, in that they involve six zones across the West, with a potential for multiple contractors simultaneously bait trapping animals over an extended period of time.
"BLM invites the public to tour wild horse long-term holding pastures in Kansas"(BLM, 3/30/12)
The BLM is hosting in June an all-day public tour of two wild horse long-term holding pastures in El Dorado, Kansas, located about 30 miles east of Wichita. The free tour, which will take place on Saturday, June 9, 2012, will give the public an opportunity to observe wild horses roaming in a pastoral setting across thousands of acres.
"Investigators in Oregon helping solve mass burro killing in Arizona" (AZFamily.com, 3/28/12)
"A reward has more than doubled for information leading to whoever shot and killed five wild burros" in Arizona. A crime lab in Oregon is now helping the BLM solve the crime .... The lab is a one-of-a-kind used strictly to solve animal crimes and investigators are now waiting for the results."
RELATED: "Reward increases to $7,000 for information on wild burro shooting" (BLM Arizona, 3/19/12)
The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Defense Council, a Tucson-based organization and a local sportsman have donated an additional $4,500 to the reward being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting five wild burros located on BLM public lands.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Volunteers help restore riparian area in San Diego County" (News.byes Extra)
Volunteers joined the BLM and other groups early this month, to begin restoring a riparian area in eastern San Diego County. They planted more than 250 coast live oak and Engelmann oak acorns in Sycamore Canyon, as well as coast live oak seedlings and willow cuttings. The project was a joint effort of the BLM Palm Springs-South Coast San Diego Project Office in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, Earth Discovery Institute, Fish and Wildlife Service Sweetwater Refuge, El Capitan High School students belonging to a Jane Goodall "Roots and Shoots" group, and other members of the public.
"Church group improves trails at Ma-Le'l Dunes Cooperative Management Area" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from all over Humboldt and Del Norte counties came to Ma-Le'l Dunes Cooperative Management Area near Eureka to help out the BLM Arcata Field Office with several trail-related projects. They enthusiastically completed several important projects in less than a day. Expected to arrive with about 30 youth members and a few adults, they came in force with around 90 members....
RELATED: "Ma-le'l Dunes Cooperative Management Area" (BLM Arcata Field Office)
"Arcata Field Office continues efforts against invasive beach grass" (News.bytes Extra)
Using methods ranging from fire to energetic teams of school children, the BLM's Arcata Field Office is continuing efforts to control invasive European beach grass in the sand dunes at the Mike Thompson South Spit Wildlife Area south of Eureka. Early this month, employees completed a five-acre prescribed burn, the final step on a beach grass removal site. Piles of grass that had been pulled earlier were all burned in one day, following clearance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the North Coast Air Quality Management District, and notification of cooperators and the public.
"Will outdoor fun dry up in parched California?" (Los Angeles Times, 3/25/12)
"For hikers, campers, birders and other outdoors enthusiasts, the effects of low rainfall, despite recent showers, and skimpy snowpacks may linger into summer and even autumn. Looking ahead, here's what California's dry weather may mean for some popular pursuits," including waterferfall viewing, whitewater rafting, bird-watching, spring skiing and other outdoor activities. But "summer activities may get an early start all over the state."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...visit the Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area for an exciting and remote OHV experience. The area is bordered by steep volcanic hills and the slow running Amargosa River. The vegetation includes early spring displays of wildflower blooms.
"A dry season is expected for wildflowers in Southern California" (Los Angeles Times, 3/23/12)
So far this spring, "wildflowers in local deserts and mountains are in short supply. Even the rainstorm that swept through Southern California last weekend won't be able to rescue what flower watchers say is turning out to be a disappointing year .... But the dismal wildflower forecast doesn't mean there won't be anything to see. Flowers and shrubs are in bloom, just not in that drive-by-fields-of-color kind of way. This season requires folks to leave their cars and spend time looking around on foot to appreciate what's blooming."
"Plants - Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
March 27 - We did receive some rain over the last week, however due to low rainfall this year, we are not expecting a nice bloom this year. There are no fields of wildflowers at the Monument; there are a few wildflowers but they are very sparse so far.
"Wildflower update - March 2012" (BLM Bishop Field Office)
March 27 - In the southern part of the Owens Valley several plants have begun to bloom but no great swathes of color to report as of now. Around the Bishop area the vegetation is still pretty brown. Small amounts of green are beginning to show but nothing much yet. Overall, due to the dry winter wildflower displays might not be that great but if you're in the right place at the right time you should still be able to find good, localized displays.
"2012 Wildflower Hotline reports" (Theodore Payne Foundation)
Last updated today.
"Desert Wildflowers Southern California" (DesertUSA.com)
Wildflower reports, from readers.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
western banded gecko
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
To fend off attackers, a western banded gecko will:
(a.) Spray a foul-smelling secretion, much like a skunk.
(b.) Play dead.
(c.) Dig amazingly quickly into the sand.
(d.) Disorient an attacker with hypersonic squeals.
(e.) Drop its tail, which keeps wiggling to distract an attacker.
(f.) Enroll in a self-defense class for a nominal cost, at its local community college.
See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
"NextEra Genesis solar project's off-limits zone reduced" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/24/12)
"The discovery of tribal artifacts -- mostly stone tools and flints -- at NextEra Energy's Genesis solar project east of the Coachella Valley will keep 161 acres of the 4,640-acre site off limits to construction for now." The BLM "previously had stopped work on more than 200 acres of the 250-megawatt solar thermal project, where tribal artifacts were first found last November, to allow for further evaluation. After several weeks of inch-by-inch sifting through the soil ... the agency issued a notice ... allowing NextEra to restart work on 77 acres of that land."
"Kit foxes to be vaccinated at NextEra Genesis solar project site" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/24/12)
"Between October and December, seven kit foxes were felled" by canine distemper, "triggering emergency efforts to tag, vaccinate and track about 39 kit foxes around the Genesis project, as well as the NextEra-GE Desert Sunlight solar project near Desert Center."
"Sierra Club, NRDC Sue Feds To Stop Big California Solar Power Project"(Forbes, 3/27/12)
"Three national environmental groups" have sued the BLM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior "in a second bid to stop construction of a giant solar power plant in the California desert that they say would harm the imperiled desert tortoise, the golden eagle and other protected wildlife ... the latest twist in a seven-year saga over the 663.5-megawatt Calico solar station to be built on 7.2-square miles of government-owned land .... So far the multibillion-dollar project has changed hands three times, switched technologies and won and lost a contract to sell electricity."
"Ocotillo Express project expected to blow in millions of dollars locally" (Imperial Valley Press, 3/29/12)
"The Ocotillo Express LLC Wind Energy Project, a 112-wind-turbine project set to be built east of Ocotillo, will bring about $442 million in revenue to the county over the life of the project, an independent report notes .... The Imperial County Planning Commission approved Ocotillo Express on Wednesday and construction starts in May, mostly on public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Unlike solar energy production, wind energy is fully subject to property taxes, according to the economic impact analysis...."
RELATED: "Planners approve Ocotillo Wind, ignore serious health and safety issues, environmental impacts, community and tribal concerns" (East County Magazine, 3/30/12)
The Imperial Valley Planning Commission "wooed by the applicant's estimate that $150 million in tax revenues will flow into county coffers over the project's 30-year-life, along with a projected 350 construction jobs and at most 20 permanent jobs, opted to ignore the very grave concerns voiced by tribal leaders, environmentalists, health workers and many residents." Pattern Energy said "it had reduced the number of turbines from 193 to 155 and finally, 112."
"New wind tower guidelines aim to lower bird deaths" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/23/12)
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the guidelines, which take effect immediately, provide a scientific basis for developers and government regulators to identify sites with low risk to wildlife while allowing for more wind energy projects on private and public lands. But a bird advocacy group that lobbied for mandatory standards said the new, voluntary guidelines will do little to protect hundreds of thousands of birds killed each year by wind turbines."
"Energy News" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 3/23/12)
"Despite the state's reputation as a clean energy leader and aggressive development of solar projects in the Mojave Desert, California ranks about average when it comes to the number of green jobs...." Also: a bill in the California Assembly could "allow solar projects that have been challenged in court, but had their cases dismissed by the state Supreme Court to still apply for approval from the California Energy Commission to convert proposed projects to solar photovoltaic panels."
"Judge grants request to move sun tax lawsuit to Riverside" (KESQ-TV Palm Springs, 3/28/12)
"The suit, filed by the Independent Energy Producers Association and the Large-scale Solar Association, alleges that a per-acre fee imposed on solar electricity providers is an illegal 'sun tax'."
"Our View: Solar energy stumbles mask success" (Merced Sun-Star, 3/28/12)
Editorial: "Some companies will fall by the wayside because they were too slow to adapt to rapid technological advances or because their business model was wrong or because they were mismanaged. For renewable energy to continue to grow, state and local governments will need to work to ease regulatory burdens and resolve tensions over energy projects conflicting with habitat and agriculture .... Kern County is a model for the nation on how to do it right."
"Sun to come out for renewable project bonds?"(Environmental Finance, 3/29/12)
When Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings marketed bonds to help finance the Topaz Solar Farm, "demand was so strong" that the underwriters offered more. Investors are "getting increasingly comfortable with the technology risks posed by renewable energy projects." An analyst says that "project bonds such as the Topaz deal are likely to represent a relatively small slice of the renewable energy bond market as it grows. 'The main game will be re-financings, once the higher risk part is over'."
"Burning green energy's chances of survival" (Forbes, 3/29/12)
"Litigation is just one of the hurdles that green projects must overcome. Besides surviving the permitting process, renewable energy interests must also find the space on transmission lines, if they can get them built .... Green groups have long battled fossil fuel interests but they are now taking on those who would build wind and solar farms. The Catch 22: Going forth with projects that may result in some environmental degradation and which will require more wires or, to erect blockades that will deter future development."
"A smaller route to success" (New York Times blog, 3/26/12)
"There are at least a dozen major ways to turn sunlight into electricity" -- one is "using a field of mirrors to focus the sun's energy on a 'power tower'" to capture heat and spin a turbine. Two companies plan to build these systems in the Southwest "with hardware that will store the heat for a rainy day or for the period right after sunset when power demand is still high." But "a new player" plans to build such a system "on a smaller, simpler scale, and skip the storage in favor of using using biogas or natural gas to power the system after dark."
"The story of Energy Cache, a drop-dead simple energy idea" (GIigaOM, 3/27/12)
With pumped hydro, water is pumped up a hill when energy is plentiful, and let back down to generate energy when needed. But it is not suited for "quick bursts of power to the grid to help it run more smoothly." A new company plans to build a quicker and simpler system: "a system of buckets on a line that picks up gravel at the bottom of a hill, and moves the gravel to the top of the hill; when the process is reversed -- the gravel moves back down the hill and powers a generator to produce energy."
"In California, fracking foes take aim"(SantaCruz.com, 3/27/12)
A report says "fracking has taken place in at least six California counties: Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Ventura," without ever being "regulated or even monitored .... Hundreds of wells have been fracked throughout the state, some on land where the landowner didn't even know it or didn't authorize it, because while he may own the land, someone else owns the mineral rights to what may be found underground .... The petroleum industry defends chemical hydraulic fracturing as being safe." An environmentalist says, "We can't find what we don't look for."
"Oh, frack! - Why isn't the state regulating fracking? California wants to know." (Sacramento News and Review, 3/29/12)
"Depending on whom you ask, fracking is either the new environmental bogeyman or a blessing for America's energy supply .... Fracking is also a big part of the reason that natural gas in North America is cheap and plentiful .... But worries about fracking have prompted intense scrutiny .... Nine states have recently passed laws requiring companies to disclose when and where they frack, along with information about the chemicals being used in the process."
"An unnatural state" (Memphis, Tennessee Flyer, 3/29/12)
"[T]he waters of Greer's Ferry Lake, and the abundant trout on Little Red River are the basis not only of a tourism industry but ... retirement plans .... But now McPherson's city sits at ground zero in a battle between two economic forces: On one side is a community built on natural beauty. On the other is the natural gas industry, an economic juggernaut that employs thousands and is a source of income to a historically poor region."
"U.S. fossil fuel boom dims glow of clean energy" (Yale University Environment 360, 3/29/12)
"A surge in gas and oil drilling in the U.S. is helping drive the economic recovery and is enhancing energy security." But as seen in Ohio, "cheaper energy prices and the focus on fossil fuels has been bad news for the renewable energy industry .... A national boom in oil and gas production -- spreading across 12 states, from California to Pennsylvania and North Dakota to Texas -- is showing we have much more than we thought."
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Boys ordered to pay $10,000 restitution each for Ray May Fire" (Associated Press at Reno Gazette-Journal, 3/24/12)
"Two 15-year-old boys have been ordered to pay $10,000 each in restitution for sparking a wildfire that burned six square miles south of Gardnerville and cost an estimated $2.8 million to put out .... after the boys failed to properly extinguish a campfire at a makeshift fort." The judge "imposed the statutory maximum a parent can be assessed for the actions of a juvenile" along with probation and 500 hours of community service.
"Learning to stay safe in case of fire" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 3/24/12)
"With fire season fast approaching, local elementary-school students learned about fire safety and what to do in case of fire. Kern County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management firefighters visited local elementary kindergarten through third-grade students and talked about things such as not playing with matches, smoke alarms and how to leave a burning structure." The fire department's training trailer "was filled with fake smoke, the children learned to crawl out to safety."
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Interagency Wilderness Emergency Medicine Class hosted by BLM El Centro Field Office" (News.bytes Extra)
As part of this three-day training, students were put through a grueling 24-hour course that pushed them mentally and physically, responding to simulated emergencies on dry, low scrub desert floor and higher-altitude, snow- and timber-covered mountainous terrain. Classroom preparation for the exercises included updates on new advances in technology and case studies focusing on traumatic injuries and acute medical assessment and care.
"BLM announces weather-related closure of Little South Fork Elk River Trail"(BLM California, 3/27/12)
This trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve has been temporarily closed because wet weather has made it muddy and impassible. The closure will be lifted when conditions improve. The trail closure point is three miles from the Elk River Trailhead parking area -- the first three miles remain open and accessible to those with limited mobility.
"U.S. should remove barriers to mining rare metals" (Great Falls, Montana Tribune, 3/28/12)
A "unique set of rare earth elements ... are critically important" to products from radar, to jet-fighter engines" to "catalytic converters in cars, rechargeable batteries ... and the manufacturing of high-tech products such as computers and cell phones." China holds much of the world's supply. "There are resources throughout the U.S. but all of these potential future mines are years away from production. For several years, the only mine in the U.S. that produced REEs was Molycorp's Mountain Pass Mine in California."
"BLM requests comments on proposed stream improvement project" (BLM California, 3/29/12)
The BLM seeks public comments on a proposal to improve fish habitat and contribute to recovery of coho salmon in Baker Creek, a Mattole River tributary in Humboldt County.
"California creeks, levees may be next battleground for public access" (Sacramento Bee, 3/25/12)
"Public access to coastal beaches has been a high-profile struggle for decades. The same battle on inland waterways, however, has received far less attention. The public has similar legal rights in both situations, but the legal thicket seems to get bigger as the waterway in question gets smaller." One example in the story is a "favorite paddling spot on Cache Creek, in Yolo County's scenic Capay Valley" that was increasingly blocked by "tree limbs, stumps and brush ... over the next few months, the debris pile grew larger and the message became clear: The public wasn't welcome."
RELATED: "Cache Creek Natural Area" (BLM Ukiah Field Office)
This secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral is a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM managed lands and 4,700 acres of State and County lands. The Natural Area is traversed by Cache Creek, with year-round water flow.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Listings include petroleum engineering technician (geothermal) and ongoing listings.
NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
Congressional testimony of Mike Pool, Deputy Director of the BLM, on H.R. 4234, the Grazing Improvement Act. (3/29/12)
Department of the Interior:
"Prestigious panel agrees: Delta is stressed, with no easy fix" (Sacramento Bee, 3/20/12)
"A comprehensive new study on the Delta's environmental problems concludes there is no easy fix, only hard choices, if California wants to restore fish species and still satisfy its water demands. The study by the National Research Council, released Thursday, was conducted at the request of members of Congress and the Obama administration."
"Secretary Salazar reaffirms Interior's commitment to environmental justice" (Department of the Interior, 3/29/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced release of the Department of the Interior's Environmental Justice Strategic Plan 2012-2017. The plan sets forth goals, strategies and measures that will enable the Department's bureaus and offices to work more effectively with disadvantaged communities to reduce environmental and health hazards. It outlines steps that the department will take to help protect communities facing disproportionate health and environmental risks.
"State Land and Water Conservation Fund Creates creates or enhances nearly 200 parks across country in 2011, new report shows" (Department of the Interior, 3/30/12)
Revenue from leases for offshore oil and gas development in federal waters helped states build or improve 198 parks across the country in 2011, ranging from establishing a new park on Texas' most pristine river, to protecting and providing public access to prehistoric petroglyphs in Wyoming to building a new wheelchair-accessible playground in Indiana ... including several grants for California sites.
"Volunteers fan out to clean up border trash" (Associated Press at KSAZ-TV Phoenix, 3/25/12)
"Dozens of volunteers fanned out in the southern Arizona desert over the weekend to collect about 5 tons of trash left by illegal immigrants making their way from Mexico" on state, county and private property. "Picture a football-field-length area about 30 feet wide covered with backpacks crushed down two to four backpacks deep, countless numbers of water bottles, cans of food, clothing, blankets and shoes," said one of the 25 volunteers.
"Wildflower Cathedral - There are plenty of places to stretch your legs among the blooming flowers in Southern Oregon" (Eugene, OR Register-Guard, 3/27/12)
"It's easy to overlook Cathedral Hills Park, just four miles off Interstate 5 in Grants Pass. But in April and May, this 400-acre park erupts with tens of thousands of brilliant wildflowers -- a display that rivals the stained glass windows of genuine cathedrals .... pull over for a 4-mile loop hike that showcases the unusual blooms of the Siskiyou Range. If you have more time, you can stop to see two other new nature loop trails near Grants Pass, as well .... If you're not a flower fan, then come here for the forest."
"Piece of the Rocks" (Medford, OR Mail-Tribune, 3/27/12)
"Everything from Indian legends to wildflowers will be discussed by experts when guided spring walks resume Sunday on the Upper and Lower Table rocks. The free weekend hikes, which continue through May, are offered each spring by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy." www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120327/NEWS/203270315/-1/NEWSMAP
"Oregon trails: Salt savor" (KDRV-TV Medford, Oregon, 3/23/12)
One of the biggest challenges early miners and settlers faced was "getting essential supplies over the mountains," including salt. Jim Whittington of the BLM pointed out a local spring that was used for producing salt, "both commercially and by local families. The spring still has some of the wood planking in place used to keep the dirt from settling into the briney water." Nearby stones could be where vats were set to boil water to get the salt.
"Study: Protecting old-growth can stave off global warming" (Medford, OR Mail Tribune, 3/26/12)
"If global warming occurs in the coming years as many scientists predict, the stands of big mature trees on local public forestlands could help save our bacon." That's according to a study of "the Klamath-Siskiyou region in southwest Oregon and northwestern California" that "includes a list of sites on Bureau of Land Management and national forestlands in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California where the scientists believe old trees should be retained because of potential climate change."
"BLM seeks public comment on the preliminary environmental assessment for the Burning Man 5-year permit" (BLM Nevada, 3/16/12)
The BLM is seeking comment on a Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the Burning Man Event Special Recreation Permit for 2012-2016. Comments will be accepted through April 16. The proposal includes increasing participant population from 58,000 to 70,000 during the 5-year period. The festival on the dry lake playa of the Black Rock Desert 10 miles northeast of Gerlach, Nev. has been held since 1990 and has obtained Special Recreation Permits from the BLM since 1992.
BLM New Mexico:
"Helium shortage could impact consumers" (KFDA Amarillo, Texas, 3/27/12)
A helium shortage could jeopardize technology used in "airplanes, MRI equipment, and medical research." A plant in Amarillo extracts helium from wells, enriches it, and sends it on to refineries. "After 2018, we see that the field will be very much depleted," says the BLM's Assistant Field Manager for Helium Operations. Injections may help gather any gas left in the ground, but "federal approval must first be given." Amarillo remains the helium capital of the world -- for now.
RELATED: "Helium" (BLM New Mexico)
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