A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 536 - 6/22/12 - Visit us on Facebook -- follow us on Twitter - Share us with friends and colleagues!
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Wildfires and prevention
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Kenna's Corner: NLCS
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Traditional energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
- More wildlife stories
This issue of BLM California News.bytes is online at:
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Fire officials stress caution for July Fourth holiday" (BLM, 6/12/12)
"After our abnormally dry winter, conditions are drying out quickly," said Eric Ewing, a manager at the Susanville Interagency Fire Center. "We have a tall crop of grass in many areas, and that can feed a wildfire. People need to be extremely careful when camping, driving in the back country and cutting firewood." It is illegal to possess or use fireworks, including those sold at fireworks stands, in national forests, national parks and on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
"BLM announces fire restrictions for lands managed by Arcata Field Office" (BLM, 6/21/12)
Effective July 1, the BLM is implementing fire restrictions for lands managed by the Arcata Field Office in Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and Mendocino counties. Field Office Manager Lynda Roush said the restrictions are needed because of dry fuels and increasing fire danger in the North Coast region. Wildfires under these conditions can pose threats to public land visitors, natural resources and adjacent private lands and communities.
"Risky business; the 2012 fire season is off to a bad start" (Mammoth Times, 6/22/12)
The Eastern Sierra "is almost 50 percent drier than average for this time of year." A bark beetle infestation has left many trees "red and dry as an old bone." An "unprecedented invasion" of cheat grass covers "vast areas that firefighters once thought immune to fires. A century of misguided federal fire suppression policy has left the Eastern Sierra full of historic levels of fuels." The Mammoth Lakes Fire Marshall said that "it's not just a local problem." He points to "the series of massive fires in the Reno area, to a giant fire still burning in New Mexico, to another in Colorado. No one has ever seen fires like these, he said, not in these places at this time of year, not this big." He urges home and business owners to create "defensible space."
"From The Chief's Corner: Creating defensible space - wildfire season!" (East County Magazine, 6/13/12)
"Wildfires are among the nation's growing natural hazards. Though wildfires are natural and often beneficial in less populated areas, more and more homes and lives are being threatened. Many states are implementing and enforcing regulations for reducing wildfire fuel sources. Be sure to check with your state or county for regulations related to your property. These are just a few guidelines for creating a defensible space to help reduce the spread of wildfires."
"Living with fire in Sonoma County" (Fire Safe Sonoma)
An online brochure, with text and illustrations, and checklists. Though especially for Sonoma County residents -- including fire-wise plants for the area -- it includes more information about defensible space. (PDF file):
"Find a local council" (California Fire Safe Councils)
"Wildfire season erupts across Valley" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/18/12)
Photos from recent, relatively small wildfires.
"Wildfires burn across western U.S." (Associated Press at Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/19/12)
Several dozen photos, and some information from recent wildfires.
"Fire Restrictions in Western Nevada Start June 18" (BLM Nevada, 6/18/12)
Vegetation in western Nevada and eastern California is significantly drier for this time of year. A large crop of grass and brush is evident at lower elevations and trees and other forest vegetation at higher elevations are quickly drying out. The public is encouraged to safely enjoy the public lands, bearing in mind that human-caused fires annually threaten human life, private property and public land resources every summer.
"Would-be firefighters gather for a week of wildfire readiness training" (Magic Valley, Idaho, Times-News, 6/17/12)
"Recruits were face down in the dirt, covered in fabric fire shelter. Fire instructor JR Sullivan grabbed the shelter and shook it while screaming, 'Hear a freight train comin'!' Fire creates its own weather system, winds can reach up to 60 mph as the oxygen races to feed flames, and Sullivan wanted the would-be firefighters to be ready." The 49 "wildland rookie firefighters," mainly from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service" were training for wildfire season. Many photos.
"Veterans Train To Become Firefighters" (KDRV Oregon, 6/19/12)
On Tuesday, 10 military veterans in training to be firefighters, "left the classroom, and took to the streets .... For their first field exercise, the recruits carried a 45-pound vest while walking 3 miles in less than 45 minutes. All 10 are working to become firefighters for the Bureau of Land Management." They are among two veteran crews established this year in Oregon.
"Debate over fire retardant toxicity rages in West" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 6/21/12)
"Forest Service officials insist firefighting won't be hindered by new rules meant to prevent millions of gallons of retardant dropped onto scorched landscapes each year from poisoning streams and killing fish and plants." The rules arise from a lawsuit.
"Fire threat up as vintage air arsenal shrinks" (New York Times, 6/21/12)
"As federal authorities confront the destructive start of what threatens to be one of the fiercest wildfire seasons in memory, they are relying on a fleet of ancient planes converted from other purposes to do the dangerous, often deadly, work of skimming the smoldering treetops to bomb fires with water and flame retardant."
"UCR ecologist predicts small wildfires this summer" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/20/12)
"Inland valleys will suffer few large brush fires this summer, predicts a UC Riverside ecologist." But he says some mountain communities "are ripe for a catastrophic blaze because dense brush has built up after more than 100 years of aggressive firefighting." A Cal Fire chief said "We deploy our resources based on our mission, and that is to contain 95 percent of all wildfires to 10 acres or less ... That reduces the amount of area that burns and reduces the risk to life and property."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...Visit South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area, which has more than 120 miles of vehicle trails within 23,000 acres, and offers challenges to motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, and four-wheel drive enthusiasts alike. Non-motorized recreation is also welcome. There are two developed campgrounds and two OHV staging areas to help make your visit enjoyable.
BLM California's State Director Jim Kenna speaks on the National Landscape Conservation System, in this brief video: "The beauty of the NLCS system is that it allows us to call out very specific values that we owe to the next generation and to be very clear about what those are and then with that clarity, to step it up a notch, to add additional focus and emphasis to those values, and ensure that we are delivering what is expected."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
western snowy plover
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
The western snowy plover...
(a.) ...cannot fly.
(b.) ...nests out in the open.
(c.) ...regurgitates food to feed its chicks.
(d.) ...eats sand with its food, to help digest it.
(e.) ...at first demanded royalty payments to appear in the Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week, but luckily his manager, Stinky Badger (a.k.a. Mydaus Foetidum) convinced him the publicity was more valuable than mere money.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.
"Searing questions on massive solar experiment in Mojave Desert" (Los Angeles Times, 6/20/12)
"As one of the world's largest sun-powered plants takes shape, observers debate the risk to birds, planes and drivers .... When completed, a massive plant now under construction near the California-Nevada border will be the largest of its kind in the world .... The project's whiz-bang technology has confounded government regulators' ability to analyze the facility, in part because nothing of its type and size exists anywhere else in the world."
"Powerlink turned on as legal challenges remain" (Fox 5 San Diego, 6/19/12)
Sunrise Powerlink opponents said "they will continue their legal battle, even as the long-awaited line is already transmitting energy into San Diego." Lawsuits challenging the environmental review before construction "have not been resolved," an opponent said, and "even if the line is operating, green energy projects planned along Powerlink will be contested as well."
RELATED: "Sunrise Powerlink transmitting traditional power from neighboring states" (Imperial Valley Press, 6/19/12)
The Sunrise Powerlink started transporting power to San Diego this week, but not yet the "Imperial County-based renewable energy" it was designed for. "None of the projects that San Diego Gas & Electric has contracts with have finished construction, though a few of the eight are under way," said an SDG&E spokeswoman. The "traditional mix of power" now on the line comes "from a variety of places, like Arizona, but not Mexico. Power from Mexico is on a different pathway."
"Powerlink completion" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/15/12)
Seventeen photos from the construction.
"Another lawsuit filed against Ocotillo Wind Express" (Imperial Valley Press, 6/21/12)
A lawsuit was filed this week "against the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the project's owner, Pattern Energy ... claiming the project lacked the necessary legal requirements when obtaining the federal right-of-way" from the BLM.
"BrightSource Wins Bid for Solar Trust's 500-Megawatt Project" (Bloomberg, 6/21/12)
"BrightSource Energy Inc., the U.S. solar-thermal developer, was the top bidder at an auction today in Delaware to buy an unbuilt California power plant proposed by the bankrupt Solar Trust of America LLC." Palen, in Desert Center, California, "is one of three unfinished projects Solar Trust plans to sell."
"BLM plans oil and gas competitive lease auction" (BLM, 6/20/12)
The Bureau of Land Management will offer eleven parcels encompassing approximately 5,179 acres of public lands in Kings and Kern counties during a competitive oil and gas lease auction on Wednesday, September 12 in Bakersfield.
"Interior allows more time to weigh in on 'fracking' rule" (The Hill, 6/22/12)
"The Interior Department is extending the public comment period on draft rules to regulate oil-and-gas 'fracking' by 60 days after being pressured by energy companies that wanted more time to weigh in. Interior's Bureau of Land Management had initially required comments by July 10 on the regulations."
"Viewpoints: Disputed oil technology is safe – and vital" (Sacramento Bee, 6/16/12)
"Hydraulic fracturing has been used in California for decades, without a single incident of risk or damage to water supplies, the environment or public health. Far from being clandestine, hydraulic fracturing is a transparent and highly regulated activity in California, and is becoming even more so." -Jack Stewart is president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.
"Fracking low risk for causing earthquakes, new report says" (Tulsa World Oklahoma, 6/16/12)
…."but underground injection of fracking waste and other energy technologies present greater seismic risks, a report from the National Research Council says. Oklahoma has seen a series of small but high-profile earthquakes in recent months."
"Los Angeles City Council members push fracking ban" (Los Angeles Times, 6/13/12)
Last week, "three members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a resolution that urges Gov. Jerry Brown and California regulators to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until the state determines that the controversial oil extraction procedure is 'safe for public health, for the Los Angeles water supply and for the environment'."
"Study focuses on 'massive' water use in fracking" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/21/12)
"A new report says public debate over hydraulic fracturing should be broadened to include the amount of water used and disposed of underground as part of the controversial oil field technique also known as 'fracking'."
"Republicans, Democrats at odds on energy issues" (Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/20/12)
"A survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that the polarized positions on energy that have divided Congress and emerged in the presidential campaign also run deep among the public. While majorities in both parties say energy is an important issue, the poll shows that partisan identification is closely tied to people's perceptions of the causes of the country's energy problems and possible solutions."
RELATED: "Energy issues: How the public understands and acts" (The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, June 2012)
"The U.S. public "accepts some responsibility for the country's energy problems, but most place responsibility with the energy industry and want the government involved in finding a solution."
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Wild burro roundup concludes near Palo Verde" (BLM, 6/15/12)
The BLM has completed helicopter operations to gather wild burros from private agricultural lands near Palo Verde. Twelve burros that had wandered out of the Chocolate-Mule Mountains Herd Area were captured, all in good condition. The burros have been crossing Highway 78, endangering themselves and creating a traffic hazard for the public. Landowners report there are up to 50 burros still on private land. The field office will proceed with future actions as needed through water and bait trapping throughout the year.
"BLM rounds up 350 wild burros" (Yuma Sun, 6/17/12)
The BLM "captured 350 wild burros from the Cibola-Trigo Herd Management Area north of Yuma as part of an initiative to maintain a healthy population of wild burros on public lands. The animals will be taken to the BLM Ridgecrest facility in California and be made available for adoption by the public."
"Judge stops copters in horse roundups" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 6/20/12)
A federal judge in Nevada "has temporarily banned" the BLM from "using helicopters to gather many of the hundreds of mustangs targeted in a roundup that's already under way about 150 miles northeast of Reno .... he'll allow the activity to continue in the southern half of the Jackson Mountains because BLM has proven there's an emergency due to drought."
"BLM hauling water for wild horses in Triple B Complex" (BLM Nevada, 6/20/12)
The BLM Wells and Egan Field Offices have started hauling water to wild horses in the Triple B Complex of herd management areas because of severe drought conditions. The BLM is seeking public input in the development of an environmental assessment to analyze a proposed non-helicopter gather and removal of excess wild horses in the Complex by water or bait trapping to relieve pressure on springs or until a helicopter gather can take place.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Northeast California RAC tours newly acquired public lands, reviews project proposals" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council toured newly acquired public lands in far northwestern Nevada, and commented on proposed grazing management and recreation site improvement projects there, when they met June 13 and 14 in Cedarville.
"Perris: City once had the top gold mine in Southern California" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/15/12)
"Four miles of tunnels, right under Highway 74" remain from a mine that once "ran 24 hours a day" and "created a racket that could be heard for miles." The Good Hope gold mine had started with an arrastra, "a circular enclosure, where mules dragged grindstones to pulverize it into pieces small enough for panning" and was mechanized in the late 1800s. "Actual financial results are questionable ... because mines reported to the federal Bureau of Land Management in a less-than-transparent process."
"Being clear on horse park" (Monterey County Herald, 6/2012/)
Guest commentary by a member of the Monterey Horse Park board of directors: "A number of people have written letters in opposition to Monterey Downs and the Monterey Horse Park proposed for Ford Ord. I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding .... it is important to note the project does not touch the newly designated national monument lands directly."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include realty specialist.
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Peripheral Canal opponents urge Interior to block project" (Central Valley Business Times, 6/13/12)
"Thirty-eight environmental, fishing, consumer, Native American and other groups are urging the Obama Administration to throttle state plans to build a peripheral canal. In a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the group say the canal, or its alternative, a massive tunnel, would suck out most of the water from the Sacramento River before it enters the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The canal or tunnel would move the water into the state and federal irrigation systems."
"Tsunami of noxious weeds choking BLM land in eastern Oregon" (Portland Oregonian, 6/16/12)
An "invasion of unwanted weeds" may hinder efforts to designate an Oregon wilderness area. "Nationally, weeds probably infest 20 percent of the 245 million acres BLM manages ... up from 14.4 percent a decade ago .... Part of BLM's challenge is that it can use only four herbicides vs. the roughly 20 herbicides that ranchers are allowed to apply on their privately owned land." The limits come from court orders "resulting from lawsuits."
"On the hoodoo trail in remote but beautiful Jarbidge Canyon, Nev." (Los Angeles Times, 6/17/12)
The drive to Jarbidge "would have been shorter if we hadn't stopped so often to take photographs. I had heard that Jarbidge Canyon held bizarre pillars of rock known as hoodoos, and that the 113,167-acre Jarbidge Wilderness was beautiful but that neither the canyon nor the area's 10,000-feet-plus peaks were visible from major highways. You had to be motivated to experience them. With 50 miles of maintained trails for hiking and horseback riding in the wilderness area, dirt roads in nearby Bureau of Land Management lands for mountain biking and two rivers for serious rafting, we were motivated."
"Fight continues to preserve Gold Butte" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/17/12)
"Almost a decade has passed since advocates first floated the idea of turning Gold Butte into a conservation area." A proposal would include "roughly 550 square miles of federal land, from the pine-covered peaks of the Virgin Mountains" to desert at Lake Mead's northeastern boundary. "Within that area lie thousands of cultural sites, including rock art panels crowded with petroglyphs and pictographs left by successive generations of Native Americans."
"Federal wildfire fighters seek health benefits" (Government Executive, 6/18/12)
"The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management employ the largest cadre of seasonal temporary employees in the federal government -- employees who, by statute, are unable to receive health insurance, life insurance or retirement benefits. Because they are temporary, these employees also are not eligible for step increases or competitive standing if were they to apply for career jobs."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) ...nests out in the open.
SOURCE: Western Snowy Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus" (BLM California wildlife database)
More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):
"Habitat set aside for western snowy plover doubles" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/19/12)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday designated 38 square miles along the West Coast as critical habitat for a federally listed beach- and mud-loving bird called the Pacific Coast western snowy plover. The designation more than doubles the amount of habitat set aside for the threatened pocket-size birds in California, Oregon and Washington. It means proposed developments on federal land could come under more scrutiny."
"Understanding the hummingbird" (Cortez Journal, 6/18/12)
As common as they are in Colorado, "researchers still have much to learn" about hummingbirds "and what they need to survive." To learn more, "the Hummingbird Monitoring Network has partnered with public land management agencies and volunteer groups to create monitoring stations across the country to gather more hummingbird data" -- including banding them.
"Forest Service Seeks To Wipe Out Feral Pigs" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/22/12)
"Authorities see the pigs as a threat to fragile ecosystems and public health and safety. Environmentalists worry wild pigs are damaging the county's sensitive habitat, much of it still recovering from the catastrophic wildfires of the past decade .... The government, at a potential cost of several million dollars, wants to kill all the pigs using a variety of methods including trapping, hunting by helicopter and ground hunting with dogs. The report lists several options. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will make a decision later this year."
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News.bytes published by
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