A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 525 - 4/6/12
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
- Renewable energy
- 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
This issue of News.bytes is online at:
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"An insider's guide to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (Palm Springs Life, April 2012)
"Scientists say many of us can no longer see the flash of a bighorn sheep's rump, hear the peep of a towhee, or count the receding ridges of the Santa Rosas" -- because technology has us glued to "tiny screens" that "have stolen our senses." This monument just outside Palm Springs is "the perfect place to reclaim them .... Monument Manager Jim Foote suggests you leave behind your camera and turn off digital devices. He used to take a lot of large-format landscape photographs, he says, but his enjoyment tripled when he stopped looking through a frame." With 21 photos.
RELATED: "Weed warriors help keep national monument looking good" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 4/4/12)
"At least twice a month," a group of "Weed Warriors" volunteers find a spot within the ... Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument where weeds need pulling .... Sometimes, only two people show up .... Other times, hikers passing by will stop and see what the Weed Warriors are doing, then roll up their sleeves to help .... Weed Warriors meets at least twice a month and is open to anyone who wants to spend a Saturday morning pulling weeds while taking in some of the valley's most spectacular views. Let the weeds continue to grow, and they will choke and kill the native plants...."
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs South Coast Field Office)
Providing a picturesque backdrop to local communities, the National Monument adds to the Coachella Valley's lure as a popular resort and retirement community. It is also a desirable backcountry destination that can be accessed via trails from both the valley floor and the alpine village of Idyllwild.
"Volunteers clean up at Steele Peak SKR Reserve" (News.bytes Extra)
Twenty three volunteers, including students from the College of the Desert and Perris High School, helped BLM staff with a cleanup in the Steele Peak SKR Reserve, an area set aside for the protection and management of the federally endangered Stephen's kangaroo rat. The workers filled an entire 40-yard dumpster full of trash on a recent Saturday.
"It's that kind of river" (Mammoth Times, 3/30/12)
"The river is gone. A few hours ago, it was here and now it is not .... Death Valley's Amargosa River knows nothing, and everything, about being a river .... It comes and it goes."
RELATED: "Amargosa River Natural Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office)
The narrow Amargosa Canyon is known for its dense greenery and the shallow Amargosa River, complete with "hanging gardens" and a small waterfall. The river flows year-long, dropping south from Nevada, and finally flowing into Death Valley National Park.
"BLM continues Climber's Coffees" (News.bytes Extra)
As part of a continuing effort to get information out to climbers, the BLM hosted an interagency coffee with the Inyo National Forest at the local Buttermilks Bouldering spot. This is an effort to spread the word on camping ethics and Leave No Trace principles. Two more Climber's Coffees are scheduled for this winter season.
"Trashing the outdoors is always out of season" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/2/12)
"At a campsite last week, I saw a campfire ring where a picnic table had been uprooted, turned on its side and set in the pit, and then partially burned as if it were firewood .... Some people simply don't seem to know any better. Maybe the problem is the lack of outdoor education in public schools, or parents who don't train their kids. Yet I've seen others who know better, and they go ahead and abuse a public place anyway."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...hike, bike, horseback or just gaze at the wildlife or stars in the Panoche Hills. These beautiful green hills provide wildflower enthusiasts with brilliant blooms in the spring and stargazers with unencumbered views of the night sky.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
western snowy plover
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
The western snowy plover is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Which of these human activities endangers their recovery?
(a.) Basket weavers over-collect beach grass, used for plover nests.
(b.) Large fishing boats over-harvest sardines, a favorite plover food.
(c.) People or vehicles frighten them away from their nests using up their energy reserves.
(d.) Commercial hunters reduce populations, in their quest for the plover's renowned soft feathers.
(e.) Loud clothing frightens plovers away from their breeding territory – but a public-education program is operating across the eastern United States, urging out-of-state tourists to "SSR - Show Some Restraint" in apparel choices for California vacations.
Answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.
"Environmentalists feeling burned by rush to build solar projects" (Los Angeles Times, 4/6/12)
"Local activists accuse the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society and other venerable environmental groups of acquiescing to the industrialization of the desert because they believe large-scale solar power is essential to slowing climate change."
"Collapse of German solar companies threaten California's big solar projects" (Forbes, 4/3/12)
The bankruptcy of Solar Trust this week "put into jeopardy photovoltaic power plant projects utilities were counting on," including "what would have been the world's largest solar station, the Blythe Solar Power Project." The bankruptcy filing indicates the company "has liabilities of $20 million and missed a $1 million rent payment on April 1" to the BLM "for the 7,025-acre Blythe site." The company changed technologies in the face of "plunging prices for photovoltaic modules" and decided to "turn down [a government] $2.1 billion loan guarantee so it could switch to solar panels."
Related: "Solar Trust of America bankruptcy casts shadow on Blythe project" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 4/2/12)
"The company's two main assets listed in the filing are the Blythe project and the 500-megawatt Palen solar project, which has awaited final approval from the federal Bureau of Land Management since June .... Blythe City Manager David Lane said residents in the 20,800-population town eight miles east of the project site are taking the bankruptcy in stride. 'When you consider the amount of investment in the project and what it's got going for it, someone is going to build it,' he said."
"Calico Solar permitting bill advances (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 4/1/12)
"A bill to allow the Calico Solar project to receive state approval to change the type of solar panels it will use is moving closer to passing the state Legislature in Sacramento .... Because it is an urgency measure, it would take effect immediately if passed by both houses and signed by the governor .... Environmental groups filed suit in federal court this week, aiming to derail the project." Also, two wind energy developers sued Southern California Edison over alleged "exaggerated estimates of ... potential wind strength ... and allegedly false data" on land they bought to install wind turbines.
"In California's `last frontier,' an unsure future" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 4/2/12)
"To keep its people, Imperial Valley knows it must broaden its economy." Renewable energy could be a bright spot -- but though 300 workers are building a new solar plant, it will only employ five once it starts running. "(Solar plants) eat up a lot of our land, they don't create a lot of new jobs, and they also don't pay a lot of property taxes," says the county's deputy chief executive officer for natural resources development. He is "more enthusiastic about the handful of geothermal plants already built or on the drawing board, saying they generate taxes and good-paying jobs."
RELATED: "Geothermal energy" (BLM California)
In regard to geothermal energy, California is "hot." This energy source, which literally means the "earth's heat," is found throughout California on public lands. The Geysers field in Lake and Sonoma Counties produces 46 percent of the total royalties from federal geothermal leases in California.
RELATED: "Geothermal Energy in California" (California Energy Commission)
"Because of its location on the Pacific's 'ring of fire' and because of tectonic plate conjunctions, California contains the largest amount of geothermal generating capacity in the United States .... The largest concentration of geothermal plants is located north of San Francisco in the Geysers Geothermal Resource Area in Napa and Sonoma Counties. This location has been producing electricity since the 1960s. It uses dry steam; one of only two places in the world for this resource...."
"IID approves agreements with San Diego, CSolar" (Imperial Valley Press, 4/3/12)
The Imperial Irrigation District voted to approve a memorandum of understanding to work with San Diego Gas & Electric "on solar projects that want to connect directly to the Sunrise Powerlink, bypassing IID's transmission system." The dissenting voter warned, "This is just the beginning of developers moving to bypass the local utility district and not having to pay to use and upgrade the local lines." The board also discussed geothermal development near the Salton Sea.
"Advanced power-grid research finds low-cost, low-carbon future in Western U.S." (Science Daily, 4/3/12)
The least expensive way for the Western U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers."
"Sunrise Powerlink builders yield to birds and toads" (North County Times, 3/31/12)
"With such a high-profile project, permitting agencies such as the California Public Utilities Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management have imposed numerous requirements to prevent SDG&E from scarring the deserts and mountains. Lee said the utility tried for 100 percent compliance. But the utility has had some infractions, particularly with golden eagle nesting areas."
"Wind tax credits fail to win renewal in senate" (East County Magazine, 4/1/12)
"The U.S. Senate has voted to kill S. 2204, which failed to receive the 60 votes needed. The measure would have funded wind industry tax credits by eliminating tax credits for oil companies. Many wind energy proposals in the pipeline may have the plug pulled by energy companies that say those projects would not be viable without federal money .... Opponents of proposed wind farms in Ocotillo and McCain Valley have called for support instead for a massive shift to rooftop and parking lot solar on areas already built...."
"Federal government to issue 'take' permits for eagle kills by wind energy companies" (East County Magazine, 4/1/12)
"Concerns are growing" over bird deaths from wind turbines. "Now, as the number of wind energy projects grows, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to issue 'take' permits that will make it legal for wind energy companies to kill eagles with no consequences. The move comes as San Diego County Supervisors are poised to consider a wind energy project for East County as well as a proposed wind ordinance that would make it easier for industrial-scale wind projects to be built here."
"Secretary Salazar visits North Dakota's oil boom; Unveils initiatives to accelerate drilling permits and leases on federal lands" (Department of the Interior, 4/3/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week unveiled new initiatives to expedite safe and responsible development of domestic energy resources on U.S. public lands and Indian trust lands in the Dakotas, Montana and states across the country. As part of the BLM's ongoing efforts to ensure efficient processing of oil and gas permit applications, the agency will implement new automated tracking systems that could reduce the review period for drilling permits by two-thirds and expedite the sale and processing of federal oil and gas leases.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Through wind and rain..." (News.bytes Extra)
Neither howling wind nor driving rain could keep the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program from offering animals for adoption in Red Bluff on Saturday, March 31. The program brought 18 animals to the Tehama County Fairgrounds, and despite stormy weather, adopters provided new homes for five mustangs and a burro.
"Sunol trainer has 90 days to tame wild horse" (Inside Bay Area, 4/5/12)
"Syringa was named after the state flower of Idaho." The mustang from the BLM "is training every day with Justin Mott, 22, who hopes she will be adopted in May at the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Norco, near Riverside .... Syringa, Mott said, has proved responsive to Mott's training as long as he remains patient with her. 'I consider every horse trainable but not always necessarily within a certain deadline,' he said. With 15 photos.
"Land managers try new method to capture mustangs" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 3/31/12)
The BLM "for the first time is resorting to the widespread use of 'bait trapping,' which involves setting up panels and using food, water and salt to lure mustangs into a trap .... 'The BLM is committed to continuously improving its management of wild horses and burros,' Joan Guilfoyle, BLM wild horse and burro division chief, said in a statement. 'Deploying this new method of bait trapping enhances our ability to gather animals more effectively in certain areas of the West, while minimizing the impact to the animals.' But the agency also still plans to conduct helicopter roundups, she added."
"BLM Initiates Public Scoping on Proposed Wild Horse Ecosanctuary" (BLM Wyoming, 4/3/12)
The BLM is launching a 30-day public scoping period for a proposed wild horse ecosanctuary approximately 30 miles west of Laramie, Wyo. The 4,000-acre, family-owned Deerwood Ranch has applied to provide long-term, humane care for up to 400 excess wild horses gathered from Western public rangelands. The ecosanctuary would be publicly accessible and provide ecotourism opportunities. In addition, the partnership agreement would contain a fundraising component that would defray costs for operating the sanctuary and save taxpayer dollars.
"I-Team: Horse Sanctuary Faces Lengthy Delays" (KLAS-TV Las Vegas, 4/4/12)
"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid heard from Nevada business leaders today …. One topic discussed was eco-tourism. Nevada is filled with natural landmarks and parks, but one tourism destination facing years of federal delays before it ever opens up," an "eco-sanctuary for Nevada's wild mustangs" proposed by Madeline Pickens.
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"CAL FIRE gears up early for fire season" (Salinas Californian, 4/2/12)
"A meager rainy season is driving a forecast that puts the risk of wildfire above normal in the region covering Monterey and San Benito counties. In fact, CalFire is mobilizing staff and equipment two weeks early to prepare for any potential crises .... Meanwhile, in the local two-county area, the outlook for 'wildfire potential'' through July 1 is 'increasing to above normal' according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which includes the BLM.
"BLM plans pile burning in Yankee Hill area" (BLM California, 4/2/12)
BLM and Cal Fire crews planned to start burning brush piles on 60 acres in the Yankee Hill area in Tuolumne County this week and through the spring as weather conditions allow. The piles were created last year and this spring by the Highway 108 Fire Safe Council as part of a fuels reduction project. Residents of the Columbia area are asked to drive with extra caution since there will be fuels crews working along Yankee Hill Road.
"Is your home at risk of fire?" (South Pasadena Patch, 3/31/12)
"South Pasadena had a critically low level of water for more than five hours during the last windstorm. 'If there had been a fire in the middle of a windstorm, it would have spread literally like a wild fire,' said Council member Richard Schneider. '... we could have lost homes. We could have lost hillsides.' Because of this, Schneider is working with California Fire Safe Council to create a Firesafe Council."
"Fuel to the fire" (Sparks, NV Daily Tribune, 4/2/12)
"A dry winter, massive growth of cheat grass throughout northern Nevada and an anticipated above-average lightning season mean this coming fire season could be one of the worst in years. 'There have already been fires we normally wouldn't expect to see,' said [a meteorologist and fire weather forecaster with the National Weather Service in Reno.]. 'All it takes is one good lightning outbreak and we could have massive fires. We would be off to the races as far as catching wildfires'."
RELATED: "The Fire Safe Council"
The BLM is a partner in this organization.
RELATED: "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
"You're No Dummy! El Centro takes ATV safety on the road" (News.bytes Extra)
With the southern tip of the dunes in sight from Yuma, and with either Buttercup or Dunebuggy Flats only a short drive away, it's only natural that many of the residents of this southwestern Arizona city would recreate at the Imperial Sand Dunes. With that in mind, park rangers from the BLM El Centro Field Office participated in the city's Second Annual Child Safety Fair, to promote the message of ATV safety.
"Seeking national monument status for Fort Ord, Salinas man meets Obama" (Salinas Californian, 4/6/12)
"If you are looking for a testimonial on the efficacy of a grass-roots movement and a major letter-writing campaign, talk to Gary Courtright. The Salinas resident and a group of like-minded individuals have banded together to seek a national monument designation for the Fort Ord Public Lands. The proposal encompasses the 15,000 acres of federal land now administered by the Bureau of Land Management; the area would be called Fort Ord Soldiers' National Monument."
Grant writing workshop" (News.bytes Extra)
A variety of BLM partners on California's Mendocino Coast learned the nuts and bolts of grant writing in a workshop coordinated by the BLM March 27-29 in Point Arena. The session including broad topics including project planning, partner relationship building, funding resources and grassroots resources.
"BLM Desert Advisory Council to meet in Ridgecrest" (BLM California, 4/3/12)
The next field trip and meeting of the BLM's California Desert Advisory Council will be held April 20-21. The council will participate in a field tour of nearby BLM-managed public lands on Friday, April 20 and meet in formal session on Saturday, April 21 in Ridgecrest.
"Thousands sign anti-mine petition online" (Santa Clarita Signal, 4/6/12)
"Close to 100 people every day, on average, are signing an online petition to stop Cemex mining in Soledad Canyon" and support Senate Bill 759: "if Cemex abandons the Soledad Canyon mine, it will be compensated through the sale of three specific tracts of land north of Victorville and just west of Interstate 15 ... managed by the Bureau of Land Management and deemed 'surplus land' already identified as disposable.
"Derail this gravy train" (Washington Post, 4/4/12)
Editorial: "With so many genuine issues to address, you wouldn't have thought that Washington would also be trying to figure out a new way to get tourists from Southern California to the Las Vegas strip .... The Federal Railroad Administration is considering lending $4.9 billion to a company called Desert Xpress, for the purpose of building a high-speed rail line to Las Vegas from Victorville, Calif." Desert Xpress "has already secured approvals from the Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service, among other federal and state agencies. It is pursuing about $1.6 billion in private financing. All that's left is the Federal Railroad Administration's okay on the loan."
"Budget shortfall could close Picacho recreation area" (Yuma Sun, 3/30/12)
Southern California's Picacho State Recreation Area will close "indefinitely" as of July 1, because of budget cuts. "It currently provides the only shore access for day use and camping in the area," and attracts visitors from southern California and the Yuma area. "In the 2009-2010 season there were 142,000 day use visitors, 20,000 campers, and 1,500 boat launches." Much of the park is on BLM-managed land.
"Valley Voice: Why the top of the Bump and Grind remains closed" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 4/2/12)
OpEd from Kimberly Nicol, manager of California Department of Fish and Game Region 6: "The California Department of Fish and Game is the state agency responsible for protecting and preserving the state's wildlife resources and the habitat on which they depend. This is our objective for the approximately 60 remaining Peninsular bighorn sheep on the Magnesia Spring Ecological Reserve …. We understand the passionate opinions of those who disagree. But, at the end of the day, we're talking about one half-mile of trail that is necessary to keep closed to protect an endangered species."
"Suction dredging rules spur suit; group tries to halt implementation of new regulations" (Redding Record Searchlight, 4/3/12)
"A coalition of commercial fishing groups, environmentalists and the Karuk Indian tribe are suing the state in an effort to prevent it from enacting new regulations on using suction dredging to mine for gold," saying that "suction dredging harms the environment, especially fish in the streams where it occurs." The president of the Shasta Miners and Prospectors said that "the environmental effects of suction dredging are being overstated." BLM will not issue recreational use permits for suction dredging until the State of California moratorium on permits is lifted.
RELATED: "Modern-day gold mining" (Los Angeles Times, 4/5/12)
Editorial: "California's new rules on gold dredging won't protect rivers .... Fish and Game officials concede that the new rules will allow 'significant and unavoidable environmental impacts' that are 'not acceptable' but say their authority to do better is limited by law."
"China has concentration of vital minerals needed for U.S. manufacturing" (Detroit News, 4/5/12)
"In recent years, the United States has become dangerously dependent on imports" such as rare earth metals, "needed to keep our economy moving .... Fortunately, a rare earth mine in California is now producing some minerals" and exploring an expansion on BLM-managed lands. "But it alone can't meet the fast-growing demand." American manufacturers are "worried about supply disruptions like the one in 2007 when China halted shipments of rare earth metals to a U.S. petroleum refining company for so long that it led to concerns that the cutoff might cause a nationwide gasoline shortage."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Changes to grazing rules for public lands contemplated" (Missoulian, Montana, 4/1/12)
"Cows chewing grass may look boring, but grazing has become a major driver of America's public lands management." The Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 now in Congress "would double the length of grazing leases on federal land from 10 to 20 years. The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act would "guarantee grazing access as a major component holding its coalition of ranchers, environmentalists and conservation groups together." The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act "made several changes to accommodate grazing leases in proposed wilderness and recreation areas."
"Pine beetles not the only threat to trees" (Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 4/4/12)
"White pines reduce soil erosion by holding down the soil, serve as avalanche control, produce shade that regulates snow melt and downstream flow, and are important seed sources" for wildlife." But the mountain pine beetle is "devastating" pine forests throughout the West." They are also "under attack by a fungal disease called blister rust" and "warming temperatures and a history of fire suppression" are also threats. BLM Wyoming's state forester and climate change coordinator spoke of the threats to the trees, at a meeting of Colorado-Wyoming Society of American Foresters.
"Salazar meets with local business leaders on how to boost travel and tourism in U.S., at Las Vegas and San Diego Town Halls" (Department of the Interior, 4/4/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar met with local business leaders to discuss strategies to boost domestic and international travel and tourism in the United States. The tourism town halls will help inform President Obama's initiative -- launched in January-- to create a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs by becoming even more welcoming to guests from here at home and across the globe. The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increased its share of the international travel market.
"Table Rock tours kick off" (KDRV-TV Medford, Oregon, 4/2/12)
"The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management are offering their annual guided educational walks on the table rocks. The first tour gathered Sunday morning hoping to find an array of wildflowers that are now showing their face, along with a few unique finds."
"Northwest Travel: Oregon Outback" (Bend, Oregon Bulletin, 4/1/12)
"Natural and historic attractions abound" along the Oregon Outback National Scenic Byway in Eastern Oregon. Among them are three sites administered by the BLM, "which oversees most of the Outback's backcountry" -- including the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes, "the largest expanse of shifting inland dunes in the Pacific Northwest," the Lost Forest Research Natural Area, and Fossil Lake dry lake bed.
RELATED: "Christmas Valley" (BLM Oregon/Washington)
"BLM approves Enhanced Geothermal Systems demonstration project"(BLM Oregon, 4/5/12)
The project is to evaluate the potential for producing energy through Enhanced Geothermal Systems technology near Newberry Volcano.
BLM New Mexico:
“N.M. Leads in Balancing Energy and Conservation” (Albuquerque Journal, 3/31/12)
OpEd by Jesse Juen, BLM New Mexico State Director: "New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing state that plays a significant role in contributing to America's domestic energy supply while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Much of the energy development in New Mexico occurs on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management ... Looking ahead, America's public lands will play an increasingly important role in meeting our nation's energy needs -- with conventional oil and gas production as well as expanding wind and solar development."
"BLM Proposes to Sell 480 Acres in Henderson by modified, competitive sealed-bid sale"(BLM Nevada, 4/6/12)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Las Vegas Field Office, is initiating a 45-day public comment period on an environmental analysis of a proposal to sell a 480-acre parcel of public land at a modified competitive, sealed-bid sale at no less than the appraised fair market value of $10,560,000. The parcel is located in the southwestern area of Henderson, Clark County, Nev. The public comment period will close May 21.
"BLM moves to protect fossils in Tule Springs area" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/30/12)
The BLM"announced "that it won't allow the auction of almost 11,000 acres of fossil-rich federal land at the valley's northern edge. Tule Springs and the Upper Las Vegas Wash are dotted with ice age fossils and rare plants. Conservationists hailed the decision as a first step in securing the area until it can be designated as a national monument."
"Ancient armadillo relative excavated near Safford" (Eastern Arizona Courier, 4/2/12)
"Glyptodonts were larger, more heavily armored relatives of modern armadillos and could grow to the size of a car. Their main feature was their tortoise-like body armor made up of bone segments .... Many of the animals made their way to the Gila Valley, and several of their fossils have been found by Bureau of Land Management geologist Larry Thrasher."
"Colorado farms planning for dry spell losing auction bids for water to fracking projects" (Denver Post, 4/1/12)
"Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers. At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy."
"120-year-old mystery to be solved next week" (Norwood Post, Colorado, 4/3/12)
The Hanging Flume "was built to carry water to hydraulic mining operations" to recover gold from five mining claims in 1883-85. Construction spanned three years with the work of 25 local men. Beyond that, the construction of the flume is a mystery," including "the technology actually used in building the flume .... a rare surviving testimony to the engineering ingenuity associated with ‘gold fever'." Solving the mystery "entails replacing some missing pieces of the flume .... In 2006, the Hanging Flume made the World Monument Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. Since then, the BLM has developed partnerships with at least eight funders and 11 specialists."
"The Owyhee's Wilson Creek area offers a rugged biking adventure" (Bellingham Herald, 3/28/12)
In 2007, the BLM "designated and mapped about 80 miles of trails for mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians." The trails "were not designed specifically for mountain biking. Throw in use of the area by open-range cattle, horses (both wild and domestic), and continuing trail work and the place is constantly evolving. Most trails are marked, but signs are lost, blown over or trampled by cows. Riders will encounter rocks, sand, cliffs, creeks and all kinds of adventurous mountain biking." Said Mike Edwards, president of the Southwest Idaho Mountain Bike Association, "I would like to keep it that way."
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) People or vehicles frighten them away from their nests and use up their energy reserves.
SOURCE: "Western snowy plover" (BLM Arcata Field Office)
While a variety of pressures make survival difficult for these birds, four factors are the most significant on California's North Coast. The human factor: Energy is very important to this small bird. Every time humans, dogs, or other predators cause the birds to take flight or run away, they lose precious energy that is needed to maintain their nests. Just the presence of people and dogs in close proximity can cause adults to temporarily leave nests, which increases the chance of a predator finding the eggs, sand blowing over and covering the nest, or the eggs getting cold.
RELATED: "Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay" (BLM Arcata Field Office)
This area includes western snow plover recovery areas, and seasonal closures of some areas to protect the bird.
More wildlife news from your public lands:
"Wild wolf OR7 back in California" (Sacramento Bee, 4/5/12)
"The wild gray wolf, who has captivated the world with his long-ranging search for a mate, crossed the border from Oregon on Sunday and remained in Siskiyou County as of [Thursday] morning. The wolf is in the same general vicinity where he originally crossed into California on Dec. 28, becoming the first wild wolf in the state in more than 90 years."
"Finding freeways for mountain lions" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/31/12)
The 30 or so cougars in the Santa Ana Mountains "have become increasingly isolated as their historic habitat is chopped up by development." The resulting inbreeding "has caused measurable harm to their genetic health. If some lions follow Temecula and Pechanga creeks to and from the still-wild mountain ranges to the east, the mingling of populations would give the Santa Ana cats a better chance of long-term survival .... The cougars play a vital role in an interconnected ecosystem by keeping populations of their prey in check and healthy."
"Robosquirrels help with study of rattlesnakes" (Gizmag, 4/4/12)
The rattlesnake is the main predator of the California ground squirrel." Adult squirrels meeting rattlesnakes try to "intimidate" them by approaching head-on ... elongating their bodies and flagging (flipping) and heating their tails .... the snakes will rarely attack a squirrel exhibiting such behavior .... rattlesnakes are able to see in the infrared spectrum, so they could conceivably see the heat radiating from the tail. Because real squirrels always do both the flagging and the heating at the same time, however, it was impossible to tell. The robosquirrels, made from mechanized stuffed squirrel carcasses, were designed to answer the question."
"S.F. falcon cam shows baby chicks preflight" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/5/12)
Four peregrine falcon chicks hatched over the weekend on a 5-foot building ledge overlooking San Francisco's Financial District, and they will take flight for the first time in a few weeks, researchers said .... Falcon fans can keep track of the chicks' progress thanks to a webcam installed outside the nesting site in 2005.
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