A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 540 - 7/19/12 - Visit us on Facebook -- follow us on Twitter - Share us with friends and colleagues!
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Traditional energy
- California water issues
- Grazing and drought
- 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:
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Share the Experience Photo Contest"
"We're seeking amazing photos from amateur photographers that highlight the best of America's federal lands, national parks and historical sites in these categories:
Adventure and Outdoor Recreation - Historical & Cultural - Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes - Friends, Family & Fun(ny) on Federal Lands - Wildlife." (This is the official federal recreation lands 2012 photo contest.)
"Astronomy hike to King Peak" (BLM, 7/12/12)
This weekend, Saturday July 21: A free guided hike in the King Range National Conservation Area, with information focused on astronomy. The outing is part of a summer hikes series offered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association.
"Salmon season now open" (Appeal Democrat, 7/17/12)
"Hundreds -- if not thousands -- of fishermen clogged favored fishing holes along the Feather River on Monday for opening day of recreational salmon season on California rivers. Using hired guides, driving their own boats or standing on shorelines in waders or flip-flops and shorts, they spun lines and sank lures in hopes of snagging their two-fish limit. Many were hungry to take part in what officials are saying is the first normal fall run of Chinook salmon since a drastic decline in population five years ago."
RELATED: "Salmon season opens with a flotilla -- and a 16-pounder" (Modesto Bee, 7/17/12)
"Sharon Olson had Lady Luck on her side Monday as she snagged probably the first salmon of the season at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers."
RELATED: "River Recreation" (BLM California)
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...Visit Cache Creek, and bring a copy of this bird list. Cache Creek is managed in a walk-in primitive fashion to minimize impacts to wildlife, cultural and wildland values. A herd of tule elk inhabits the area and the endangered bald eagle is common during winter. Please do not disturb nesting birds by approaching them closely. The area is open to hunting under state laws, however partial seasonal closures to visitors may be enacted to protect certain wildlife species. River rafting is a popular use of the river depending upon water releases from Clear Lake and Indian Valley Reservoir.
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"BLM Mother Lode Office announces fire restrictions" (BLM, 7/18/12)
The BLM has implemented fire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands within the Mother Lode Field Office boundary. This includes BLM-managed public lands in Nevada, Yuba, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Sacramento, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Sutter and Mariposa counties, a total of about 230,000 acres. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.
"BLM announces fire restrictions for lands managed by Bakersfield Field Office" (BLM, 7/13/12)
The BLM has implemented fire restrictions on public lands managed by the Bakersfield Field Office in Eastern Kern County, including recreational areas at Lake Isabella and Walker Pass. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice. The restrictions are needed due to dry fuels and high fire danger throughout central California.
"Forest officials: Mill Fire fully contained Wednesday night" (Lake County News, 7/18/12)
"After a week and a half of scorching rugged terrain in the Mendocino National Forest, the Mill Fire was fully contained on Wednesday evening …. The most recent maps of the incident showed that its westernmost edge had pushed to within about a half-mile of the Lake County line. Full containment came as the fire held at 29,502 acres …. As of Wednesday morning the fire has cost an estimated $13.9 million to fight, burned five outbuildings and caused four injuries, fire officials reported."
RELATED: "Firefighting vets back from first wildfire" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM California’s all-veteran Folsom Lake Hand Crew has just completed its first assignment -- at the Mill Fire on the Mendocino National Forest.
"Sand Canyon fire 70 percent contained" (Bakersfield Californian, 7/18/12)
"A wildfire in Sand Canyon that menaced a cluster of homes Tuesday was 70 percent contained Wednesday night with full containment expected Thursday. The fire burned 1,428 acres and had the potential to explode to 6,000 to 8,000 acres before firefighters curtailed its progression, according to the Kern County Fire Department."
"Vegetation fire scorches 400 acres in Lassen County" (Redding Record Searchlight, 7/18/12)
"The Spanish Fire started near Spanish Ranch and is burning grass, brush and juniper around 50 miles north of Susanville .... 300 people, nine engines, several dozers, four tankers and five helicopters are battling the blaze, which spread at a moderate pace through the day." It has burned both private land and BLM-managed land.
"Firefighters get handle on Oregon, Washington blazes" (Capital Ag Press, 7/16/12)
"Several major wildfires" in Oregon were "winding down on Monday as firefighters ... increasingly contained them. The largest wildfire in Oregon, the Long Draw, was fully contained on Sunday at about 580,000 acres near Basque, Ore., according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center."
"'We're going to be living with this for months if not years'" (Associated Press at KVAL, Eugene, Oregon, 7/16/12)
"Good weekend weather helped firefighters get the upper hand on large wildfires in southeastern Oregon, and crews were able to contain the state's largest wildfire in more than a century." The Long Draw Fire"charred more than 900 square miles, a larger swath of Oregon than any fire since the 1800s. Another blaze south of Burns was 70 percent contained, and a handful of evacuated residents were allowed to return and assess the damage to their property."
"Crews contain wildfires in Southeast Oregon" (LaGrande Observer, 7/16/12)
"The fires in Southeast Oregon have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing land and the Bureau of Land Management is reporting that it may take up to two years for the land to recover."
"'Tornado' of fire had Colorado firefighters fleeing Waldo Canyon" (Canon City, Colorado Daily Record, 7/15/12)
"Once on the ridgetop, the fire exploded into the city, creating a seldom-seen tornado of flames that destroyed 346 homes, killed a couple in their 70s, forced thousands to flee for safety and left firefighters to take courageous stands to save hundreds of houses. If a lesson is to be learned from Waldo Canyon, it is this: Nature holds the power. And at times, man has no choice but to get out of the way." Said Todd Richardson of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, "The fact is, we can build all the stuff we want, but Mother Nature is stronger than anything." The 2012 wildfire season "is already the most destructive in state history."
"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
In California, the number of homes and businesses are growing in the Wildland Urban Interface -- and fire is an increasing threat. Reduce your home's fire danger and prevent wildfires from spreading by taking responsibility today.
"Fire Information" (National Interagency Fire Center)
The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, "is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC, including the BLM.
"California incidents" (InciWeb)
Current and recent wildfires (and prescribed fires).
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Wild horses and burros auctioned and adopted in North Highlands" (Sacramento Bee, 7/15/12)
"They came for different reasons but the people who showed up at the Sacramento Horsemen's Association corrals Saturday looking to adopt a wild horse or burro agreed on one thing -- there is an element about horses that casts a spell of tranquility and happiness on those around them. Ranging from black to tan to gray, 14 wild horses and five burros trotted in pens at the North Highlands facility for the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program, which featured a silent auction in the morning and an open adoption in the afternoon."
RELATED: "BLM wild mustang auction" (Sacramento Bee, 715/12)
Ten photos from the story above.
"BLM to move small band of horses to water source in Surprise Valley" (BLM, 7/13/12)
The BLM Surprise Field Office is planning to relocate about 12 wild horses to a nearby water source within their herd management area. The horses are staying close to a water source that has dried up due to drought conditions in the Fox Hog Herd Management Area and their condition is deteriorating.
"BLM completes wild-horse roundup in Nevada" (AP in Reno Gazette-Journal, 7/14/12)
"The Bureau of Land Management said 647 'excess' mustangs were removed from the range in Humboldt and Pershing counties during the gather that ended in early July. The BLM said the roundup was needed because of a lack of forage and water on the range because of the drought and the poor condition of horses."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
Belding's ground squirrel
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
The Belding’s ground squirrel...
(a.) ...spends most of its time hibernating.
(b.) ...eats half of its weight in acorns every day.
(c.) ...spends most of its time on its back legs.
(d.) ...stores up to 25 pounds of nuts and seeds in its burrow.
(e.) ...is just glad it's not a Balding ground squirrel, and doesn't have to deal with those toupees and full-body comb-overs.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.
"Calico Solar Project Application Slammed By Railroad" (KCET, 7/17/12)
"K Road Solar's hopes of getting a routine approval to completely redesign the gargantuan Calico Solar Project were dimmed this week, as a powerful corporate neighbor objected in no uncertain terms. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, whose transcontinental rail line would be flanked by the Calico project," submitted comments to the California Energy Commission that "slam K Road for providing seriously incomplete information about the proposed redesign, and call on the CEC to send K Road back to the drawing board."
“Colusa's Walker Ridge turbine project not spinning yet” (Colusa Sun Herald, 7/17/12)
"Windmill-like turbines will not be spinning along Walker Ridge in western Colusa County for at least a couple more years. AltaGas "hopes to be operational in 2015." A manager for the AltaGas said, "We are in the (US Bureau of Land Management) review process, and after that we have the public consultation." He " described that BLM process as very, very thorough."
"Dogs search for ancient remains on wind farm project site near Ocotillo" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/17/12)
Three tribes hired forensic dogs to seek out "the scent of cremated ancient Native Americans ..... the latest effort to preserve sensitive areas throughout the construction of the Ocotillo Wind Express facility. The project’s developers, Pattern Energy, agreed Tuesday afternoon to hold off construction near three of the project’s towers after a number of additional potential cremation sites were discovered, said a spokesman with one of the area tribes. "
"First solar-geo plant blooms in Nevada's high desert (engadget, 7/13/12)
"With a steady supply of sunshine and more than 100 acres of land at its disposal," Enel Green Power "installed a cluster of 89,000 solar panels," at its geothermal plant, creating the "first hybrid solar-geothermal plant of its kind in the world .... For an industry still struggling to secure a foothold against cheaper, conventional sources of energy, such as natural gas, proponents say the creation of out-of-the-box projects such as the Stillwater hybrid plant are crucial in moving renewable energy development forward."
"Wind energy tax credits shot down" (East County Magazine, 7/14/12)
"Efforts by the wind industry to amend the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act (S. 2237) have failed. The industry had sought to insert language to extend until 2014 the wind production tax credits set to expire at year’s end."
"Readout of Secretary Salazar’s visit to Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory site" (Department of the Interior, 7/13/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus in Golden, Colorado where he toured the 327-acre campus’ state-of-the-art facilities and met with scientists regarding ongoing research on the development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy.
"States, oil producers see regulatory problems on the horizon" (Oil & Gas Journal, 7/16/12)
"Excessive and poorly conceived federal regulations threaten to stifle an onshore US oil and gas renaissance that is being made possible by hydraulic fracturing and other new technologies, state officials and producers told the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. States are better qualified and have worked with producers and other stakeholders to develop rules that are effective and economic, they said at field hearings July 13 in Edmond, Okla., and July 14 in Fargo, ND."
|CALIFORNIA WATER ISSUES
"Firm is spearheading opposition to Mojave Desert groundwater pumping" (Los Angeles Times, 7/13/12)
"The company that wants to pump large amounts of Mojave Desert groundwater and sell it for a profit to Southern California suburbs has run into opposition from ... an international corporation that runs industrial salt operations next door to the proposed project. Texas-based Tetra Technologies Inc., an oil and gas services enterprise, has come out swinging at Cadiz Inc.'s pumping plans, filing two lawsuits, mounting a public relations campaign and dismissing the water project's environmental review as a sham designed to escape serious scrutiny."
RELATED: Cadiz water project progresses" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/18/12)
"A final environmental report has been issued for a long-running and controversial project that proposes pumping water from an ancient Mojave Desert aquifer and exporting it to cities in California .... The Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project would provide a new water source for about 400,000 people by extracting the groundwater in an open valley between the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park in eastern San Bernardino County. A public hearing on the environmental impact report is set for Wednesday, July 25, in Orange County and via video conferencing in Joshua Tree."
RELATED: "Environmental report released for Cadiz water project" (Needles Desert Star, 7/16/12)
The Santa Margarita Water District scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday, July 25 in Mission Viejo, on the final environmental impact report for the proposed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project and .
"Special report: Water supplies pass tipping point" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/14/12)
First in a series: "Because of a huge snowpack two winters ago, California has plenty of water to last through this summer. But the long-term trend is clear: Across the arid West, people have overtapped the water sources. Over the next few months, reporter Mike Lee will explore the region’s water supplies, prices and consumption in an occasional series of in-depth reports."
"El Niño could bring wetter winter" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/18/12)
"A Pacific-generated weather phenomenon that usually packs cooler, extra-rainy conditions for the Coachella Valley and elsewhere in the Southwest may return this fall and winter," potentially causing "flooding, heavy rains, and mudslides."
"Plan to release more water from Trinity dam; officials hope to avoid fish kill" (Eureka Times-Standard, 7/18/12)
"A plan has been drafted to increase water flow from the Trinity River dam in order to prevent a repeat of the massive fish kill on the Klamath and Trinity rivers that occurred in 2002."
|GRAZING AND DROUGHT
"Ranchers ravaged by fires, drought -- and scarce alfalfa" (Reuters on NBCNews.com, 7/13/12)
"It took less than an hour last month for a Montana wildfire to reduce Scott McRae's ranch to thousands of blackened acres devoid of the grasses that were to sustain hundreds of cattle .... Recent wildfires in states such as Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming have displaced thousands of cows from federal rangelands which may not be fit for grazing for years. Where range has not been destroyed, drought has lessened forage."
"Heat leave ranchers a stark option: Sell" (New York Times, 7/15/12)
"As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dust and dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year. Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses of a drought that now stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 American counties. Irrigation ponds are shriveling to scummy puddles. Their pastures are brown and barren .... prices of hay and other feed are soaring beyond their reach."
"Fact sheet on the BLM’s management of livestock grazing" (BLM, July 2012)
The Bureau of Land Management, which administers about 245 million acres of public lands, manages livestock grazing on 157 million acres of those lands, as guided by Federal law. The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze their livestock, mostly cattle and sheep, at least part of the year on more than 21,000 allotments under BLM management.
"BLM bracing for drought impacts in Nevada" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 7/15/12)
"Federal land managers on the northern Nevada range say they're in a better position than usual to deal with the blazing summer drought conditions thanks to some proactive steps they took back in the dead of winter. Officials for the Bureau of Land Management say it's possible drought conditions could force removal of livestock or temporary closure of grazing allotments in some areas."
"Worst-in-generation drought dims U.S. farm economy hopes" (Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/16/12)
"A worst-in-a-generation drought from Indiana to Arkansas to California is damaging crops and rural economies and threatening to drive food prices to record levels. Agriculture, though a small part of the $15.5 trillion U.S. economy, had been one of the most resilient industries in the past three years as the country struggled to recover from the recession."
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Flying trains, flash floods and wash outs -- It's Glamis!" (News.bytes Extra)
A summer thunderstorm caused flash floods in the El Centro area, damaged Wash Road and swept railcars off the track. Please drive carefully on Wash Road in the area of the Imperial Sand Dunes, respect marked areas and watch for road crews.
RELATED: "Seeley residents accustomed to flooded roads after rainfall" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/18/12)
"On July 13, certain parts of the Valley experienced between 1 inch and 2 inches of rain in about a one-hour time frame, according to Imperial County officials." The water covered many roads in the area.
"Cleanup collects 16,500 pounds of waste" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/12/12)
"More than 80 volunteers" took part in the annual Temescal Valley Great American Cleanup. "Local residents, ranging from children to adults," removed 16,500 pounds of discarded trash and debris from the Lake Mathews region. A number of organizations including the BLM supported the cleanup effort.
"Over 106k pot plants seized at Tulare County grow sites" (Visalia Times-Delta, 7/15/12)
Tulare County Sheriff’s Department reported four arrests after "raids on 11 marijuana grow sites in Tulare County that netted 106,529 live plants .... In addition to the marijuana plants, authorities also seized firearms, ammunition, fertilizer, pesticides and rat poison. Animal carcasses were discovered at some of the grow sites, including an endangered ring-tailed cat. There was also evidence of a bear cub having been shot by the growers on U.S. Forest lands." The BLM assisted in the operations.
"Madera County drug agents eradicate thousands of pot plants" (KSEE, 7/18/12)
During "a 24-hour marathon," the Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team eradicated "more than twenty thousand marijuana plants" and also "completed the first ever reclamation operation" at the same time. "Unlike years past, when authorities handled eradication missions and reclamation operations in two stages, Madera County embraced the challenge to do it all at once. Generally, agents eradicate the gardens mid-summer through early fall, and leave the campsites intact for volunteers with BLM to hike in mid-October to remove the debris."
"BLM advisory council meets in Geyserville" (BLM, 7/18/12)
Members of the Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council will discuss a variety of land management issues when they meet July 26 and 27.
"Desert scape: Water woes causing a lonely death for palm oasis" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/14/12)
Corn Spring "is one of the most remote palm oases anywhere in the Southwest desert ... about 100 miles east of Palm Springs," on lands managed by the BLM. It was once "a lush oasis dominated by desert fan palms." But now, "the oasis is dying, one of the few palm oases in our desert that is expiring. This is strange since most palm oases in California, Nevada and Arizona are thriving as never before with dramatic increases in palm numbers compared with a half-century ago. What gives with Corn Spring? Why are the palms dying?"
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include rangeland management specialist and a number of ongoing listings.
|NATIONAL, OTHER STATE AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Fayette County rescue prompts talk of geocaching safety" (Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tennessee, 7/18/12)
"Stomping through the wilderness isn't the only thing geocachers do. In fact, most of their time is spent in public areas, looking for business cards and trinkets hidden in a parking lot or movie theater. The activity captured local attention recently after an announcer for a Memphis public radio station and a young actor ... became lost during a weekend of geocaching in Fayette County. They were found safe Monday after spending two nights lost in a forest."
"Four arrested in northwestern Arizona pot farm operation" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7/16/12)
"A tip from hunters" led law enforcement to "12,556 marijuana plants on Bureau of Land Management land."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) ...spends most of its time hibernating ...from seven to nine months of the year.
SOURCE: "Belding's Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus beldingi" (BLM California wildlife database)
More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):
"Editorial: Wildlands caught in drug war crossfire" (Sacramento Bee, 7/18/12)
"Illicit marijuana farms in remote forestlands throughout California have long been recognized as a threat to public safety," including hikers who run across these. "The threat to the environment and to wildlife from massive and increasingly sophisticated marijuana grows is even greater. Pot farmers use powerful pesticides and herbicides to kill rodents and weeds that reduce their yields. Not just fishers, but porcupine, beavers, dear, bobcats and owls have died after eating poisoned pellets or feeding on animals that have eaten the pellets."
"Grouse's plight indicates broader ecological problem" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 7/18/12)
"The sage grouse, one could say, is the tip of an ecological iceberg. The bird’s plight is a symptom of a larger problem — the disappearance of an iconic Western landscape vital to pronghorn, pygmy rabbits, birds, reptiles and a threatened trout unique to the Great Basin. All depend on sagebrush habitat, a vast stretch of rangeland described by the environmental group WildEarth Guardians as 'our own Serengeti'."
"Flycatcher habitat plan open for comment " (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/13/12)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "is seeking comments on revised protections for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, a migratory songbird that lives in streamside vegetation in San Bernardino and Riverside counties." The Service "also released a draft environmental assessment and an economic analysis that pegs the cost of the proposed designation of protected habitat at $11 million to $19 million over 20 years. Local water agencies have said the designation would threaten water supplies and pending projects."
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News.bytes published by
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