A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 530 - 5/11/12
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THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Funny.bytes encore
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Traditional energy
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
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|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"This Wildfire Awareness Week, create defensible space" (News.bytes Extra)
California's Wildfire Awareness Week, May 6-12, offers a perfect opportunity to educate your community about how creating defensible space can help protect them from wildfires. The Fire Alliance's "Take Responsibility" campaign has been helping educate people, and now presents a short video to show how to easily create 100 feet of defensible space around your home. The video can be downloaded to your website, Facebook page, YouTube channel and anywhere else online, so you can share it with your community. DVD copies are available for events or meetings..
"Third Wildfire Safety Expo to be held May 12" (Lake County News, 5/6/12)
This weekend: "With fire season close at hand, county residents can learn how to protect their homes and communities in an annual event set for this coming weekend .... Presented by the Lake County Fire Safe Council, this free community event will provide information to homeowners to help them prepare for a wildfire." BLM is partner in the event.
"Wildfire is coming. Are you ready?"
Learn how to protect your home with 100 feet of defensible space ... fire landscaping .... using equipment in a fire-safe way .... creating a family communication plan ... and more, including video, and a flashback to a 1969 video Public Service Announcement with "Smokey's friend Bullwinkle."
"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
In California, the number of homes and businesses are growing in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) – and fire is an increasing threat. Reduce your home's fire danger and prevent wildfires from spreading by taking responsibility today.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Eight animals seeking homes" (BLM, 5/8/12)
This weekend: The BLM has five horses, two burros and a mule available for adoption Saturday, May 12, at a ranch in Redlands. The horses, burros and mule can be previewed from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 11 at Sundance Ranch. The adoptions will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"AmeriCorps volunteers polish Tribute Trail" (Nevada City Union, 5/8/12)
On a portion of the "eight-mile overall Tribute Trail that snakes out of Nevada City," a team of seven AmeriCorps members "helped BLM widen the path, built stairs, filled in holes and cleared trail of hazards including rocks, both small and large .... Work on the nearly $1 million trail project has been completed by American Rivers, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Sierra Streams Institute and The Sierra Fund," including a pedestrian bridge to "a one-mile loop constructed by BLM on a previously inaccessible parcel."
"Round Valley School Earth Day project" (News.bytes Extra)
The BLM’s Bishop Field Office partnered with the Friends of the Inyo and Round Valley School to host a volunteer project in the Happy Boulders in honor of Earth Day. Approximately 75 middle school students, teachers, parents, volunteers and BLM staff did trail work and pulled invasive plants near the world-renowned climbing area. Students also learned about recreation and cultural and natural resources on the Volcanic Tableland.
"BLM reaches for the stars at Griffith Observatory" (News.bytes Extra)
A "Get to know your wild neighbors" event at Griffith Observatory invited children and their families to get outdoors and celebrate nature -- part of the national launch of the 2012 "Get to Know" contest. The BLM's Barbara Croonquist and BLM volunteer Dee Dechert brought some of the California Desert District's infamous live native reptiles and a cross section of BLM information. But the reptiles were the true stars of the event. In fact, BLM's booth proved to be so popular that Recreation and Parks personnel had to help turn folks away when the event closed....
"Students participate in service learning" (Galt Herald, 5/9/12)
After studying native plants, Galt elementary students had a chance to actually plant them during a field trip to the Cosumnes River Preserve. Led by Preserve Manager Harry McQuillin and Kathy Brown from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "discussed classroom lessons ... then were taught how to plant the deer grass in the pre-dug holes along the main driveway into the preserve. Each student was given his/her own seedling to plant" and "put a stick with their name on it next to the plant. Some students and parents said they were regular visitors to the preserve while others had never been before this day."
RELATED: "Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM Mother Lode Field Office)
"El Centro joins national Take It Outside! Team"(News.bytes Extra)
Joya Szalwinski, Interpretive Park Ranger for the El Centro Field Office, joined BLM's National Take it Outside! Team. The team has the responsibility of providing vision for the national program, the agency's official program to get young people outside and recreating on public lands.
Birding and ecology walk kicks off King Range Summer Hike series" (Redwood Times, 5/8/12)
"Songbirds and ecology will be featured topics in a free, guided outing in the King Range National Conservation Area on Saturday, May 12 .... learn how to identify songbirds that migrate each year from Latin America to the King Range, and their connectivity within the ecosystem. Hikers should bring binoculars, bird identification guides, water and lunch."
"Bizz Johnson Trail bus shuttle service begins June 2" (BLM, 5/10/12)
Hikers, bicyclists and joggers can celebrate National Trails Day with a special Bizz Johnson Trail bike shuttle on Saturday, June 2. The event is the first in a series of bike shuttles to be held on the first and third Saturdays of each month through October.
"Photo contest" (National Park Service)
Enter your photograph before June 30, in the 9th Annual National Natural Landmarks Photo Contest! These sites "exemplify our country's rich and diverse biological and geological heritage" There are 35 in California with a variety of land ownership, including the BLM. "Please visit the NNL Directory to identify which sites are near you and open to public visitation." (Some are on private land.) Read the rules for details:
"Step into America 2012 Video Contest"
Show how our nation’s public lands keep your body and mind healthy! the National Public Lands Day Step into America 2012 video contest deadline is Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 3 p.m. EDT.
"Trail Etiquette" (City of Redding Community Services, at Redding Record Searchlight)
"Nationally, the development of community trails is seen as one avenue to reduce the nation's obesity epidemic, its dependency on oil and its contribution to global warming. Locally, trails are seen as an important part of the community identity .... Local multi-use trails [including the BLM's] provide access to some of the most beautiful open space corridors in the northern region. With so many people using local trails conflicts can occasionally arise between the different types of users."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
Three years ago this week -- on May 8, 2008 - Congress passed legislation designating Piedras Blancas Light Station as one of three U.S. "outstanding natural areas." Tour the light station and surrounding area, and learn of its rich history. A guided 2-hour tour includes the historic lighthouse, surrounding support facilities, wildlife viewing and spectacular scenery along a ½-mile interpretive trail.
|FUNNY.BYTES encore: Rocky, the lonely lighthouse
Rocky has given years of faithful service guiding ships away from the hazardous coast in Central California. Now that modern equipment has replaced tradition, will he be forgotten? Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: you may want to check the volume setting on your computer.
RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. The point is named for a white rock out cropping located just off the end of the point. In the 1866, this location was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Sur.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
How do San Joaquin antelope squirrels catch grasshoppers?
(a.) They wait until a grasshopper gets close to their burrow and then quickly spring out, catching it in their paws.
(b.) One squirrel "herds" it into the path of other squirrels standing nearby.
(c.) They gather leaves from shrubs the grasshopper likes to eat, and place them at the openings to their dens as bait.
(d.) They jump into the shrub the grasshopper is in and leap at the same time as the grasshopper, landing on top of it and killing it.
(e.) An email with the subject "Old friend wants to reconnect," inviting them to "a lunch neither of us will ever forget."
See answer -- and more wildlife stories -- near the end of News.bytes.
"Official flips switch on solar plant near Vegas" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 5/7/12)
"The first commercial solar array approved and built on federal public land began producing electricity Monday from a sun-baked site in the Mojave Desert south of Las Vegas near the Nevada-California state line. Before flipping the switch on the Enbridge Silver State North Solar Project, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hailed it as 'a landmark for America, a landmark for the solar industry and a landmark for how we use public lands. This is the first of these projects to connect to the grid."
RELATED: "Cabinet official praises opening of nation’s first solar field on public land near Primm" (Las Vegas Sun, 5/8/12)
"Salazar took a brief tour among the hundreds of thousands of panels that make up the Silver State North Solar project, which covers nearly 600 acres of federal land near Primm .... Public lands have long been used for power transmission lines and for oil and gas drilling but, prior to 2009, never for renewable energy projects."
"BLM Issues draft Haiwee Geothermal environmental study for public comment"(BLM, 5/4/12)
The BLM has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and draft California Desert Conservation Area plan amendment for the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area, analyzing proposed geothermal exploration and development on public lands managed by the BLM north of Ridgecrest, in the Rose Valley of southwestern Inyo County. Two public meetings will be scheduled. The HGLA consists of approximately 22,805 acres of BLM-administered public lands, including nearly 4,460 acres subject to three pending geothermal lease applications that would be authorized under the proposed action.
"Study says solar energy not oversubsidized" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 5/8/12)
"A study by the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center for Public Policy says that solar energy is subsidized at about the same rate as other energy sources. The industry 'is consistent with the less-than-smooth paths that many American industries have traveled as they entered the mainstream of commerce,' the study said. It added that solar power was in a stage 'where government incentives can be most critical in helping new energy technologies become significant sources of energy production'."
"Green energy won't be soiled" (Forbes, 5/10/12)
The BLM "has identified nearly 23 million acres of public land in six different southwestern states with solar potential" and "has selected more than 20 million acres of public land in 11 western states with wind capabilities." Environmental groups are advocating for solar projects" but many say that "brownfield sites are better .... Questions arise, however, as to just how economically feasible the idea is and just how polluted the potential sites may be. Developers are concerned that they would run into such issues as finding buried hazardous waste that increases the price of cleanup even more" or " fear ... lawsuits that may emanate from how the previous owner maintained the land...."
"Interior sets new drilling rules on public land" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 5/4/12)
"The Obama administration said Friday it will for the first time require companies drilling for oil and natural gas on public and Indian lands to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The proposed 'frackin'" rules also set standards for proper construction of wells and wastewater disposal. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the long-awaited rules will allow continued expansion of drilling while protecting public health and safety."
"New Proposal on Fracking Gives Ground to Industry" (New York Times, 5/4/12)
The "proposed rule governing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands ... will for the first time require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. But in a significant concession to the oil industry, companies will have to reveal the composition of fluids only after they have completed drilling — a sharp change from the government’s original proposal, which would have required disclosure of the chemicals 30 days before a well could be started."
"New federal fracking rules look reasonable; enviros not satisfied" (Forbes, 5/4/12)
The Department of Interior "released its proposed rules governing oil and gas fracking on federal lands. If finalized they would be the first new fracking rules for federal lands since 1988. Drilling has changed a lot since then. The proposed rules seem eminently reasonable even if they would duplicate some practices already required by state laws."
"Brown administration to create regulations for hydraulic fracturing" (Los Angeles Times, 5/5/12)
"Under pressure from state lawmakers and environmentalists, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has agreed to write regulations for one controversial oil extraction method and reexamine rules for another that led to a worker's death last year. The administration is seeking money in the next state budget to regulate the booming oil industry and assuage public concern over hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'."
"All-of-the-above, in action" (The White House Blog, 5/9/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar: "President Obama has made it clear that our country needs an all-of-the-above strategy to develop American energy – energy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and generates new jobs for Americans. On Tuesday, we took another major step forward in President Obama’s commitment to responsibly expand development of America’s abundant natural gas resources by approving the Greater Natural Buttes gas development project in Utah .... Earlier this week, in the sun-drenched southwest corner of Nevada, we 'flipped the switch' on the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands to deliver power to American consumers .... We need to keep this momentum going and help put America in control of its energy future."
"Obama's courtship of natural gas seen in West Wing Meeting" (Bloomberg News at San Francisco Chronicle, 5/9/12)
"While Obama put his initial emphasis as president on boosting solar panels and wind turbines, natural gas is now front and center even as skepticism about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is rising among Obama's environmental allies such as the Sierra Club." Said Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington and a participant in a recent White House meeting, "They're more responsive, and they're listening more closely to our views .... The energy and economic reality is starting to sink in."
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"BLM Director Bob Abbey to retire After 34 Years of public service" (Department of the Interior, 5/10/12)
Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey announced today that he will retire from public service at the end of May to rejoin his family full-time in Mississippi. Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Director Abbey's three-year tenure in leadership of the nation’s largest land management agency marks the culmination of a 34 year career of state and federal service. Following Director Abbey’s retirement on May 31, BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool will serve as Acting Director.
"BLM State Director Jim Kenna receives 'Barstow-style' welcome" (News.bytes Extra)
Jim Kenna will surely count his visit to the Barstow Field Office as a memorable one ... from harrowing tales of employee vehicles breaking down in the desert -- and a visit to the Desert Discovery Center, where he was greeted by partners ranging from the artists of Main Street Murals to representatives of the Wounded Warriors and their service dogs, to local school administrators -- to a a visitor who arrived on an OHV without protective gear.
"Snowy plover protection measures now in place in South Spit" (BLM, 5/8/12)
With nesting season for Western snowy plovers now underway, the U. S. Bureau of Land Management is reminding outdoor enthusiasts that protection measures are now in place at the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay. Special rules to protect the nesting shorebirds will be in place until Sept. 15. See the rules:
"BLM seeks public comments on proposal to re-activate the Bishop Mill in Inyo County" (BLM, 5/8/12)
The BLM has received a Plan of Operations on the proposal to reactivate the mill and is taking public comments. In order to be included in the environmental analysis, written comments must be received by June 4. The proposed Plan of Operations, submitted by 0877887 BC Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CMC Metals Ltd. (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), consists of re-activating the existing Bishop Mill as an independent mill processing ores transported from various off-site mining locations. The operator intends to transport up to 75 tons of ore per day to stockpile on-site for processing.
"Nominations for Desert Advisory Council Extended"(BLM, 5/1/12)
The Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District is extending the call for nominations from the public through May 31 for six members of its District Advisory Council to serve three-year terms. Council members provide advice and recommendations to the BLM on the management of public lands in Southern California.
"Casino concerns raise stakes for Napa in Wappo’s restoration quest" (Napa Valley Register, 5/6/12)
The 350-member Mishewal Wappo Tribe "sued the federal government ... to regain federal recognition, which it lost in 1959. Recognition would make it eligible for federal funding for programs, services and lead to greater economic development opportunities." Napa and Sonoma counties "fear that federally recognizing the tribe will allow it to petition the federal government to take land into trust, exempting it from local land-use and zoning laws and allowing it to build a casino." A lawsuit seeking "claims to its historical lands" was amended "to seek federal land" such as land managed by the BLM.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"2012 Congressional testimonies" (BLM)
Congressional testimony includes Timothy R. Spisak, BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Minerals & Realty Management on S. 2374, Helium Stewardship Act of 2012; the Department of the Interior statements for the record on H.R. 1620, Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform Act and H.R. 2176, Clean Energy Promotion Act, and earlier testimony.
"BLM issues updated Guide for Cooperating Agencies" (BLM, 5/9/12)
In keeping with its commitment to working with federal, state, local, and tribal government partners, the Bureau of Land Management has released a newly updated Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners. Through offering cooperating agency status, the BLM invites state, local, and tribal governments, along with other federal agencies, who have jurisdiction or special expertise to share their insights so that we can cooperatively formulate land use planning documents that better reflect the needs and conditions of the American people.
"Bill to shift authority over federal land near border nears U.S. House vote" (Missoulian, Montana 5/6/12)
"The proposed legislation, called the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, or H.R. 1505, would exempt Homeland Security from compliance with 36 federal environmental protection laws in order to expedite border security, including the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act." Proponents say it is critical to U.S. security. Critics say it "would invite Homeland Security to disregard key environmental laws" on "public lands, wilderness areas, national parks and wildlife refuges."
BLM Oregon and Nevada:
"Mission to break land-speed record has a stop in Shelton" (Tacoma-Seatlle News Tribune, 5/6/12)
"Pending approval from the Bureau of Land Management," a team wants to use the North American Eagle "to break the female land-speed record of 512 mph set by Kitty O’Neil in 1976 at Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon." The team then wants to break the land speed record of 763 mph set in the Black Rock Desert, Nev., in 1997. "That record belongs to driver Andy Green, representing the United Kingdom. He became the first driver to break the sound barrier. North American Eagle co-owner Ed Shadle wants to bring the record back to North America .... The goal is to reach 771 mph. Both record-breaking attempts will take place either at Diamond Valley in Nevada or Alvord Desert."
"Utah counties file lawsuits against BLM over RS2477 roads" (Deseret News, 5/4/12)
By this week, "22 of Utah's 29 counties will have filed lawsuits against the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management, seeking title to thousands of miles of contested roads that cross federally managed lands." The RS2477 issue, "under contention in the courts for more than a decade, epitomizes the public lands fight involving environmentalists, counties, industry, ranchers and shared-access advocates."
"New efforts of BLM to guard desert in southern Arizona"(Arizona Republic, 5/8/12)
The BLM "has brought in more than a dozen law-enforcement rangers from other states to beef up patrols at the Sonoran Desert National Monument ... where towering saguaro cactuses, wide-open valleys and flat-topped mountains create one of the most iconic vistas in the Sonoran Desert. The operations also have focused on the Ironwood Forest National Monument .... Because of their remote locations and ample hiding places, the monuments have become superhighways for violent smugglers sneaking drugs and illegal immigrants from the Mexican border into Arizona. The smugglers have cast off acres of trash and created miles of illegal roads by plowing through the desert with disregard for the fragile vegetation...."
"BLM to buy private land in Missouri Breaks" (Associated Press in Great Falls Tribune, 5/5/12)
The BLM "has agreed to purchase a 652-acre piece of property within the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument from a conservation group that acquired the land from private owners. The property is along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce Historic Trail, and near the Judith Landing on the Missouri River. It’s surrounded by state and federal land ... with some river frontage .... The monument follows the only free-flowing part of the Missouri River along the route explored by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They jump into the shrub the grasshopper is in and leap at the same time as the grasshopper, landing on top of it and killing it.
SOURCE: "San Joaquin antelope squirrel - Ammospermophilus nelsoni" (BLM California wildlife database)
San Joaquin antelope squirrels are well-known for their unique method of capturing grasshoppers....
More wildlife news from your public lands:
"Partnering for conservation in the Tulare Basin: The Tulare Basin Working Group" (Visalia Times-Delta, 5/4/12)
"The group met to observe and discuss the waterfowl and migratory bird stewardship, habitat restoration and integrated resources management successes and opportunities" in the Tulare Basin, which "was once the largest expanse of wetlands in California with several lakes .... Those wetlands made this region the single most important wintering area for Pacific flyway waterfowl in California. However, the Tulare Basin has lost a higher percentage of its native land than any other region in California .... The need to strike a balance between nature and society's growth has never been more pressing, nor more complicated and expensive, than it is today."
"Supervisors may hear ordinance to prohibit wolves in county" (Siskiyou Daily News, 5/7/12)
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors agenda worksheet this week included possible consideration of an ordinance, "to prohibit the presents [sic] of wolves in Siskiyou County .... If wolves are found in Siskiyou County, the proposed ordinance says they 'shall be deemed to be trespassing and the Agencies and/or Non Governmental Organizations responsible for the reintroduction of wolves in the United States will be notified to remove said wolf or wolves. Cost of removal to be borne by Agencies or NGO’s. Failure to effect removal of said wolf or wolves will result in the wolf or wolves to be destroyed'."
"Insects ride growing wave of plastic in oceans" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/8/12)
The amount of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has increased by 100 times over the past 40 years and it’s causing potentially significant changes in the marine food web, according to a new study .... a common insect, the sea skater, is increasingly laying eggs on the artificial flotsam .... Approximately 35 percent of fish analyzed in one study had ingested plastic...."
"UCSD creates iPad app for birders" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/8/12)
UC San Diego has developed a "visual encyclopedia" to help birders "identify upwards of 500 species of North American birds" (not yet available at the App Store). "Visipedia is basically an interactive search engine and field guide .... Users upload images of birds, then the app tries to identify them. At least, that's the basic idea. Users have to upload reasonably good photos for the app to work. (You also can take an image with an iPad, though iPads do a lousy job of taking photos of anything located more than a few feet away.) Users are supposed to help things along by labeling parts of the bird's body. The app can ask the user questions to keep things moving."
"Pupfish habitat complete, all that’s needed are the fish" (Inyo Register, 5/4/12)
"Tribal leaders, members and environmental officials were joined by state and local environmental and other government officials gathered Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act portion of the Bishop-Paiute Native Fish Refuge, which is on the Bishop reservation. In an effort to preserve the endangered pupfish, a species that was crucial, as a winter protein source, to Native people’s survival for thousands of years, the project included construction of two habitat ponds for a rare species of native fish as well as a half-mile of interpretive pathways."
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