A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 542 - 8/3/12 - Visit us on Facebook -- follow us on Twitter - Share us with friends and colleagues!
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Mining claim fees coming due
- 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
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
This edition of News.bytes is online at:
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Twentynine Palms: Marine expansion advances to off-roaders' dismay" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/1/12)
"Off-road enthusiasts said they are neither surprised nor happy about an environmental report that recommends handing a popular off-road area over to the U.S. Marine Corps for expanded training maneuvers. The Marine Corps’ Twentynine Palms training center expansion would shut off or curtail access to a majority of the Johnson Valley, one of Southern California’s most used off-road vehicle recreation areas."
RELATED: "Proposed 29 Palms Training Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Project" (U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, 7/27/12)
The Final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed base expansion has been posted online. Comments will be accepted until August 27. (Note: last week's News.bytes erroneously listed this date as Aug. 17.)
RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office)
"West Mojave Route Network Project" (BLM California)
The WEMO Task Group - a sub-unit of the BLM California Desert Advisory Council WEMO Subgroup - will accept data from the public on all travel management areas at a meeting Saturday, Aug. 4 in Lucerne Valley.
"BLM Northwestern California RAC tours, makes recommendations" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council developed recommendations on a variety of topics when they met for a field tour and business session last week. A highlight of the meeting was a tour of a recently acquired public land parcel within the Cedars of Sonoma, a geologically unique area home to eight plant species found nowhere else in the world. The BLM Ukiah Field Office manages public lands at the core of the Cedars with the focus on species protection and scientific research.
"Performance car rally set for South Cow Mountain" (Ukiah Daily Journal, 8/2/12)
"Performance rallying is a cross between the vehicle-pounding toughness of off-roading and the finesse driving skills needed for a road race such as Sonoma Raceway. From noon to early evening on Saturday, August 4, rally teams will be driving full-out in a race against the clock across the tight and twisty dirt forest roads of South Cow Mountain between Ukiah and Lakeport."
RELATED: "South Cow Mountain OHV Area to be temporarily closed during rally event" (BLM, 8/1/12)
The BLM will close the South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area to general recreation use and through traffic from Friday, August 3 through Saturday, August 4, to provide for public safety during the Mendocino Rally car race.
NorCal Rally has been granted an exclusive use permit to utilize Mendo-Lake Road through the OHV Area for this "stage rally" event.
"Construction project to begin on Little Darby Nature Trail near Willits" (BLM, 8/2/12)
Construction of a new footbridge, trail improvement work and replacement of a storm-damaged culvert will get underway Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Little Darby Nature Trail near Willits, and the area will be closed until project completion targeted for Aug. 31. The temporary closure is needed for public safety because heavy equipment will be used.
"Little South Fork Elk River Trail closed during improvement project" (BLM, 8/2/12)
The Little South Fork Elk River Trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve will be closed from Aug. 3 through Aug. 24, while a restoration project is underway. The closed area is about three miles from the Elk River Trailhead parking area. The first three miles of the Elk River Trail will remain open during the project.
"Cadiz water plan clears hurdle" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/1/12)
"Cadiz Inc.’s controversial plan to pump more than 16 billion gallons of groundwater per year from the Mojave Desert and deliver it to California cities moved ahead with approval of an environmental review, despite public outcry. The board of Santa Margarita Water District in Mission Viejo, the lead agency on the project, on Tuesday, July 31, certified the final environmental impact report on and a purchase agreement that outlines financial terms. The Orange County district is one of six water agencies that have agreed to buy the water."
RELATED: "Santa Margarita Water District defends, approves Cadiz plans for Mojave groundwater pumping" (KPCC Southern California Public Radio, 8/1/12)
The board of the Santa Margarita Water District voted 5 to 0 to certify an environmental impact report for the Cadiz water project, and to "commit the district to a purchase plan for the water supplies, and set new rules for monitoring groundwater impacts from the project."
RELATED: "Locals wade into Cadiz water fray" (Hi-Desert Star, 7/28/12)
"There is not much middle ground over a proposal to extract millions of acre feet of underground water from the desert about 40 miles northeast of Twentynine Palms for sale to Orange County residents. More than 50 people gathered at Copper Mountain College for a public hearing Wednesday evening on the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project."
RELATED: "O.C. water board approves Cadiz's desert-pumping plans" (Los Angeles Times, 8/1/12)
"But the water district's authority to certify the project's environmental review has been challenged in lawsuits and the proposal faces a number of other hurdles, including possible scrutiny by the federal government ... The proposal is the latest attempt by British entrepreneur Keith Brackpool, the head of Cadiz, to make money off the desert aquifer beneath his company's holdings. Opponents ... have warned that the pumping could harm the nearby Mojave National Preserve."
"Tales from Town: Museum visitors tell tales of Cambrian in 1870s, 1940s" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 8/2/12)
"The public is invited to view the story of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse starting 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17" at the Cambria Historical Museum ... the display will include many photos of the edifice and its staff over the years, and present-day volunteers on task ... the museum and gardens have become a major destination to many out-of-town and out-of-state visitors, including special tour groups by the busload."
RELATED: "The Cambria Historical Museum" (Cambria Historical Society)
RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
"Rain in the desert: monsoons, flash flooding, and wildflowers" (KCET, 7/30/12)
This year's Southern California's "monsoon" season has the potential for more rain "than any system to hit the desert since Hurricane Isis in 1998 ... there are two things that bear keeping in mind about monsoons like this: 1 - 1998's Hurricane Isis was followed by a really good spring for bloom, so start thinking about March wildflower excursions to the desert, and 2 - Until then, watch out for flash floods. Wait for another week to go hiking in California slot canyons, and if you're driving along and come upon a flood of water crossing the road in a low spot, do not try to drive through the flash flood ... People die when they try driving through flash floods."
"Authorities nab 2, seize 1,200 marijuana plants" (Sonora Union Democrat, 7/31/12)
"Two men thought to be in the country illegally were arrested Friday morning after authorities raided an illicit marijuana growing site on public land south of Groveland ... the arrests stem from an investigation into a suspected illegal marijuana grow site on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management."
RELATED: "Marijuana season keeping TCSD busy" (Porterville Recorder, 8/3/12)
Marijuana eradication operations "between July 22 and July 31 on public and private lands throughout the foothill and valley areas of Tulare County ... resulted in the seizure of more than 25,000 marijuana plants and numerous firearms."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
|MINING CLAIM FEES
"Mining Claims/Sites Filing Instructions for 2013; Due on or before September 1, 2012" (BLM)
The Bureau of Land Management is issuing this rule to amend regulations on locating, recording, and maintaining mining claims or sites. In this rule, the BLM amends its regulations to respond to a recent law that changes the way the maintenance fee is calculated for unpatented placer mining claims. Because September 1, 2012 falls on a Saturday, and Monday, September 3rd is a holiday, we will accept your yearly filings through Tuesday, September 4, 2012 as timely filed.
"BLM issues interim final rule regarding placer mining claim maintenance fees" (BLM, 7/27/12)
The Bureau of Land Management has issued a rule that changes the way maintenance fees for placer mining claims are assessed. The rule implements the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (the FY 2012 Act) which requires the BLM to collect maintenance fees for placer mining claims based on the total acreage contained in the claim, rather than by the claim.
"Administration of mining claims and sites" (Federal Register Notice, 7/27/12)
Related Federal Register Notice.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Survivor: Coachella Valley teaches kids about nature" (News.bytes Extra)
This summer the Friends of the Desert Mountains, the Desert Recreation District and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument have teamed-up to offer "Survivor: Coachella Valley" to kids in surrounding communities, as a way for them to learn about nature and beat the heat.
"Amphibian Quest featured in next King Range summer hike" (BLM, 8/1/12)
A free, guided discovery hike to learn about amphibian habitat near the abandoned Queen Peak Mine will be offered Saturday, August 18. Hike leader David LaFever, a U. S. Bureau of Land Management forest ecologist at the King Range National Conservation Area, will lead the outing by exploring two different amphibian habitats, Bear Creek and the pond at the Queen Peak Mine.
"Commercial rafting gets mostly a thumbs up" (Calaveras Enterprise, 8/3/12)
"Few concerns were raised" at a public meeting Tuesday in Amador County, regarding a "three-year pilot study of commercial recreation on the Mokelumne River. The program would include opportunities for commercial rafting, kayaking lessons and guided fishing excursions. If there are no major public objections to the study, it will likely begin early next year, allowing a limited number of commercial rafting trips and kayaking classes to take place on the river every other weekend."
RELATED: "BLM to Study Impacts of Permitting Commercial Rafting on Upper Moke" (TSPN Amador County, 8/2/12)
About 85 people attended a meeting as the BLM "began to take input on a three-year study of impacts on Amador County and Calaveras County from potential permitting of commercial rafting operations on the Upper Mokelumne River."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...Bike the Devil’s Garden Route, a very versatile bike route for the beginner and advanced rider. It is made up of 3 miles of gravel and 2.3 miles of flat dirt roads. For the advanced, this offers steep grades and graveled roads. For the beginner, the dirt trails of the flats go through juniper woodlands. Also enjoy the views on the way to and from this bike route.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
A notable characteristic of the pygmy rabbit is that:
(a.) It is the only North American species in this family to dig its own burrows.
(b.) It has the highest ratio of body length to distance hopped, of any rabbit in the Americas.
(c.) It is the only rabbit species to be found on all continents except Antarctica.
(d.) It is the only North American species to eat mainly the leaves of low-growing coyote brush.
(e.) It is the fiercest fighting rabbit, able to take down most moose that invade its territory – at least the smaller moose. It does not fare as well against larger moose.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - at the end of this News.bytes.
"Climate change threatens California power supply: report" (Reuters, 7/31/12)
Higher temperatures "will impede the state's ability to generate and transmit power while demand for air conditioning rises ... The warmer climate will decrease hydropower generation in the summer months when it is needed most ... higher temperatures alone will require the state to increase its electricity generating capacity 38 percent over current levels by 2100. The report notes that renewable energy facilities, like wind and solar, are less threatened by climate change conditions, use less water, and produce none of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that come from natural gas-fired plants."
"Sunrise Powerlink transmission line inauguration" (Community Spectrum, 8/1/12)
Video: Governor Brown joined state and local dignitaries in eastern San Diego County "to officially inaugurate the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line." BLM California State Director Jim Kenna spoke of the power line's contribution to the reliability of power and the move to clean energy. Imperial County leaders spoke proudly of their county's contribution to renewable energy.
"Enviros split on Interior solar plan" (KCET, 8/1/12)
Columnist: "The mammoth Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar development on public lands in six southwestern states was released July 24, and environmentalist response has been, like the PEIS's proposed Solar Energy Zones, all over the map. That's no surprise: the environmental community has been split for a number of years on the utility-scale desert solar issue, with some arguing that the climate crisis requires we sacrifice some intact deserts, and others saying that there are better options that don't harm wildlife and wildlands."
“Eagle Mountain mine 'green' power project stymied” (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/26/12)
"Developer Steve Lowe wants to turn the long-idle Eagle Mountain iron mine ... into a massive, pumped storage plant that would help integrate wind and solar power into the grid ... Excess power from solar or wind plants would be used to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher one, and held there until the electricity was needed. Then the water could be released and run back down to the lower reservoir, powering the turbine to create electricity." Mine owner Kaiser Ventures has "spent more than 20 years trying to turn it into one of the world's largest landfills," and a spokesman "says the firm has no intention of selling."
"California regulators take heat over fracking" (Los Angeles Times, 7/26/12)
A series of seven meetings ended with "California oil regulators ... pledging to use thousands of public comments to guide their efforts to write rules for the controversial method of oil extraction. But environmentalists, community activists and residents argued for a moratorium ... during the rule-making process ... Officials said the state's drinking water was already protected by 'robust construction standards' for oil wells but acknowledged the need for more information about fracking in California."
RELATED: "'Fracking' poses threat to groundwater quality" (Santa Ynez Valley News, 8/2/12)
"The California Department of Conservation is seeking comments on new regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of oil and gas wells ... you can get involved now ... It is not true that fracking has never been linked to water well contamination ... any resulting groundwater contamination problems may not be curable." -"'Community Matters' explores local topics of public interest. Retired businessman Bob Field is president of his neighborhood’s mutual water company."
"Long-term monitoring plan approved for Ruby Pipeline Project" (BLM Nevada, 7/31/12)
This 678-mile natural gas pipeline crosses 368 miles of federal land from Wyoming to near Malin, Oregon. It went into service on July 28, 2011. Construction restoration, stabilization, and final clean-up are not expected to be completed until later in 2012. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the BLM will continue to closely monitor and evaluate restoration progress along the entire pipeline right-of-way for several years. The pipeline was proposed to supply natural gas to California.
"Over drilling rights, a cozy relationship between public and private interests" (New York
Documents "show how the Western Energy Alliance, a oil and gas industry trade association, has sought to influence federal policy related to drilling on federal lands in the West. The group’s lobbying campaign worked closely with the Bureau of Land Management, the federal government agency at the center of the battle, as it attempted to protect the public lands while still extracting revenue from them."
"Drillers in Utah have a friend in a U.S. land agency" (New York Times, 7/27/12)
"The Bureau of Land Management, part of the Interior Department, is the nation’s biggest landlord, controlling 248 million acres, including nearly half the land in Utah. Charged with protecting public lands while exploiting their resources -- for mining, drilling, timbering, ranching -- [the BLM] has been at the center of a fierce battle in recent years as companies have sought to lease federal property and get drilling permits."
"Fracking lifts lowly bean's poor farmers" (New York Times in San Francisco Chronicle, 7/28/12)
Guar, "a modest bean so hard that it can crack teeth ... is now widely used to thicken ice cream and keep pastries crisp" -- and is also able to "stiffen water so much that a mixture is able to carry sand sideways into wells drilled by horizontal fracturing, also known as fracking." Supplies depend on a monsoon season in India -- which produces "about 85 percent of the world's guar ... Now, an international effort is under way to ensure that guar supplies come closer to meeting the soaring demand, and hundreds of thousands of small farmers here have been recruited in the effort."
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Wild horses moved from dried-up water source " (Klamath Falls Herald and News, 8/2/12)
"The water was gone, dried up in summer’s heat, yet the wild horses stayed at Summit Springs in the Fox Hog Herd Management Area. Bureau of Land Management officials at the Surprise Field Office overseeing the herd were paying close attention to the Summit Springs location and the drought there..."
"Use caution when traveling on Highway 95" (BLM Arizona, 7/31/12)
The BLM Yuma Field Office continues to ask the public to use caution when traveling on Highway 95, especially between Mile Posts 45 and 65. "Recently, there has been several traffic accidents associated with wild burros along Highway 95 and five burros were killed in one accident this morning," said BLM Yuma Field Manager John MacDonald. "We are very concerned about the safety of the traveling public and also the burros that roam in the area. Please be extra careful when you drive through that stretch of the road after dark."
"U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard member from Kelso to ride at fair" (Daily News, Longview, WA, 7/27/12)
"Bryanna Kessler found a way to merge her two loves -- horses and the military -- and Cowlitz County fairgoers this year are getting to see the union of those interests." The 2006 Kelso High School graduate rode at the Thunder Mountain Rodeo and again in the Cowlitz County Fair parade as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. "Kessler is one of only two women ever to have served in the unit, which performs precision drill movements while presenting the flags of both the United States and the Marines ... The equine members of the color guard are palomino wild mustangs captured and placed for adoption by U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Viewpoints: Luck, $13 million helped save towns from Robbers fire" (Sacramento Bee, 7/31/12)
"We were very lucky. A change in wind direction could have caused the town of Foresthill or the city of Colfax to be evacuated from the path of the Robbers fire in Placer County, with who knows what kind of damage. As it turned out, the winds and the weather cooperated ... We owe a debt of gratitude to the firefighters from all over California ... The other debt we owe is the $13 million price tag for just the cost of fighting the fire -- paying for the crews, food, equipment, planes and helicopters."
"North Fire fully contained Monday evening" (Lake County News, 7/30/12)
"A fire burning near Cow Mountain in Mendocino County has been fully contained ... after having burned a total of 385 acres. No structures were damaged, but one injury was reported ... The effort to get the fire under control involved many local and state agencies ... Also on Monday, the Bureau of Land Management reopened the Cow Mountain Recreation Area to the public ... Potential witnesses or anyone with information is asked to call Cal Fire investigators at the agency’s Arson Hotline, 800-468-4408."
"Crews get upper hand on Grapevine Fire" (Bakersfield Californian, 7/30/12)
The Grapevine Fire burned 350 acres over the weekend in southern Kern County near Interstate 5, but was "100 percent contained Monday morning." Firefighters including the BLM "used two helicopters, a fixed-wing plane and three bulldozers to help battle the blaze near the Lebec area ... No buildings burned, and no injuries were reported."
"ODA warns of noxious weed rebirth after range fires" (Oregon Department of Agriculture, 7/31/12)
"Wildfires this month have already devastated more than 800,000 acres of rangeland in southeastern Oregon. Ranchers and land managers don’t want to get burned a second time by invasive noxious weeds that may sneak in as part of restoration efforts in the area ... From the private landowner who plants from a 20-pound bag of seed to federal agencies responsible for thousands of acres that purchase seed by the ton, using clean, weed-free seed is critical to repairing the land."
"California prepares for harsh realities of changing climate" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/31/12)
Studies release this week "warn that California can expect more scorching heat waves, severe wildfires and strain on the electric grid as the Earth warms and sea levels rise along the state's 1,100-mile long coast."
"U.S. Forest Service rejects firefighting aircraft study" (Los Angeles Times, 7/31/12)
"The U.S. Forest Service is dismissing a study it commissioned that recommends a major overhaul in its approach to fighting wildfires, suggesting swapping out expensive retardant-dropping air tankers in favor of less costly water-scooping planes." The Forest Service chief said numbers used in the study are outdated, retardant and water have different uses, and helicopters are more maneuverable than large airplanes.
RELATED: "U.S. is urged to change its firefighting air fleet" (New York Times, 7/30/12)
"The study also acknowledged uncertainties about the relative value of water, which is cheap and widely available, and retardant. Some of the water will blow off target or evaporate on the way down, and it will not last long on the ground, so dumping it in the path of a fire may not be effective. (Aircraft do not usually put out fires; they slow them down so workers on the ground can extinguish them or establish a firebreak around them.)"
"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).
|NATIONAL, OTHER STATE AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Interior Secretary and U.S. Army Reserve Chief sign agreement to bolster reservist and veteran employment opportunities in America’s Great Outdoors" (Department of the Interior, 8/1/12)
Under the Memorandum of Agreement, the U.S. Army Reserve and the Department of the Interior will seek joint programming opportunities to include U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers, especially employment opportunities, collaborate to provide developmental opportunities to both workforces, engage military families in local conservation projects, and expand recreational opportunities for community-based wounded warriors.
"Pending lawsuits postpone Over The River" (Canon City, Colo. Daily Record, 7/31/12)
Artist Christo announced a postponement of the proposed 'Over The River' project, while three legal cases against the federal and state governments are resolved. "The cases include a regulatory appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals in Washington; a lawsuit filed ... against the Bureau of Land Management; and a lawsuit filed against Colorado State Parks ... The OTR project involves about six miles of fabric panels to be suspended over sections of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.
"BLM completes closure of 148 dangerous abandoned mine sites in Humboldt and Lander Counties" (BLM Nevada, 8/1/12)
Nevada contains thousands of abandoned mine land features from the 1800s and early 1900s that now serve as habitat for bats and other valued wildlife and are hazards for off-highway vehicle riders and other recreationists. Sometimes remnants of former mining operations that can alert hikers and others to the presence of potential hazards -- other times there is just a hole in the ground that can go down for hundreds of feet. Funding for the project was part of $1.5 million received to permanently close dangerous abandoned mines in northern Nevada. Money from the project was spent in local communities.
|SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
More information on the following events at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument can be found at:
August 5 and 19 - "Early bird happy tails adventures hikes" with dogs
August 10 and 24 - Sunrise hikes
August 15 and 29 - Guided hikes in the higher elevations of the monument
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) It is the only North American species in this family to dig its own burrows.
SOURCE: "Pygmy Rabbit - Brachylagus idahoensis" (BLM California wildlife database)
More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):
"Oregon Zoo releases last of its pygmy rabbits" (Associated Press at San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19/12)
"Biologists and volunteers released the last Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits produced in a captive breeding program to 6-acre enclosures of grass and sagebrush in central Washington on Monday, marking the latest step in restoring the endangered species to its native habitat."
"Nevada sage grouse panel tweaks recommendations" (Associated Press at Ventura County Star, 7/31/12)
An advisory committee issued more details on "how Nevada can lessen threats to sage grouse and keep the bird off the endangered species list ... covering everything from how wildfires are managed and burned areas rehabilitated to mining and mineral exploration, ranching, wild horses and predator control. One thing became clear - the endeavor will not be easy or without cost. And it's a challenge resource managers have known for years."
"Finishing touches put on sage grouse recommendations" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/31/12)
"An advisory committee has put the finishing touches on a report to save the threatened sage grouse population while permitting agriculture and mining to expand and use the public lands ... One of the main threats to their survival is range fires destroying their food source."
"BLM representative says preventing sage grouse listing is a priority" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/1/12)
"The possibility that sage grouse could be placed on the Endangered Species List by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raises concerns from many quarters about the potential financial impact it might have. However, a representative of the Bureau of Land Management said at the July 19 meeting of the Lyon County Commission that the BLM is doing everything it can to make sure that doesn’t happen."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
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