A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 546 - 8/30/12 - Visit us on Facebook -- follow us on Twitter - Share us with friends and colleagues!
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Renewable energy
- Wildfires and prevention
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- 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:
"BLM initiates environmental review of transmission for solar project in the California desert" (BLM, 8/29/12)
Rio Mesa Solar Holdings, LLC requested a right-of-way authorization to develop, construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 10-mile generation-interconnection transmission line for the Rio Mesa Solar Project in Riverside County, plus a three-mile service power line, and three miles of access roads on BLM-managed land. Through an application with the California Energy Commission, the applicant proposes to construct its solar-generation facility on nearby private lands. BLM, as the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act, will prepare an environmental impact statement.
RELATED: "BLM sets scoping meetings for Rio Mesa Solar Project transmission" (BLM, 8/30/12)
The meetings are part of a 30-day public-scoping period ending Sept. 28, 2012. During the scoping period, BLM will solicit scoping comments on Rio Mesa Solar Holdings, LLC's request for a right-of-way authorization to develop, construct, operate, maintain, and decommission the 10-mile gen-tie line, a three-mile service power line, and three miles of access roads on BLM-managed land.
"Solar power: Blythe-area project faces price challenge" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/24/12)
"Opposition from the military and questions about the price of electricity produced are the latest challenges facing BrightSource Energy Inc., a company that has six commercial solar energy developments planned or under construction in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. A state analysis found that electricity from BrightSource's Rio Mesa solar farm, planned on 6.3 square miles west of Blythe, would be expensive and 'highly uncompetitive'." The Department of Defense says a solar project called Siberia, just north of the Twentynine Palms training center "would compromise Marine training operations."
RELATED: "BrightSource confirms it's redesigning Palen Solar Project" (KCET, 8/28/12)
BrightSource bought the 5,200-acre Palen Solar Power Project from ailing firm Solar Millennium this summer. BrightSource's CEO "confirmed that his company would be changing the Palen plant from parabolic solar trough technology to his company's signature power tower design. But the plant's approval by the California Energy Commission was based on Solar Millennium's trough plans. How will the agency address the significantly different environmental impacts of a new power tower design?"
"Mercury News interview: John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy" (San Jose Mercury News, 8/24/12)
"BrightSource Energy builds massive solar thermal power projects in desert locations. Unlike the photovoltaic solar panels that are common on the roofs of homes and commercial buildings, solar thermal technology concentrates the sun's rays to boil water and generate steam ... This newspaper recently talked with BrightSource CEO John Woolard at his Oakland office; the interview has been edited for length and clarity."
"BLM Approves San Diego backcountry transmission link" (KCET, 8/29/12)
"The Interior Department gave the go-ahead on Tuesday to a section of power line in eastern San Diego County that, though only .8 miles long, is a vital part of a burgeoning and controversial network of renewable energy facilities in the San Diego backcountry, Imperial County, and Northern Mexico. The decision grants a right of way for a 14-mile 138-kilovolt transmission line, part of the San Diego Gas & Electric "ECO Substation" project, to cross four-fifths of a mile of BLM-administered public land near Jacumba."
RELATED: "Secretary of Interior Signs Record of Decision for East San Diego County Substation Project" (BLM, 8/28/12)
SDG&E will construct and operate the ECO Substation Project on public and private lands. This ROD authorizes a right-of-way to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 0.8-mile segment of the East County (ECO) Substation Project's 138 kilovolt transmission line on public lands. The entire 138kV line would transmit electricity from the proposed SDG&E ECO Substation to the proposed SDG&E rebuilt Boulevard Substation. The project site is located in southeastern San Diego County approximately 70 miles east of downtown San Diego.
"Greens, Wind Industry Want To Craft New Eagle Rules" (KCET, 8/24/12)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "has been working to rewrite the rules under which it protects the nation's iconic golden and bald eagles, long an obstacle to wind turbine development. That process has been going through the usual environmental review process: the most recent public comment period ended last month. This week, a group of mainstream environmental organizations and wind industry groups released a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, calling for a 'stakeholder process' to be implemented that would give special weight to the comments of industry and large green groups as eagle protection rules are rewritten."
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"BLM to reopen roads, campgrounds closed by Rush Fire" (BLM, 8/30/12)
High desert roads and campgrounds in northeast California and northwest Nevada that were closed to public access during the Rush Fire northeast of Susanville will be reopened to the public Friday, Aug. 31. The fire, started by lightning Aug. 12, was expected to be contained today at 315,577 acres. Fire crews will remain in the fire area over the coming week or more. “It is important that people driving through the area keep a watchful eye for fire crews and equipment, especially in the areas along the Buckhorn Road in the northern part of the fire,” said BLM Eagle Lake Field Manager Ken Collum.
"On-the-job education: College students fighting wildfires choose between returning to class and staying on a little longer" (KIVI-TV Idaho, 8/24/12)
"By ground, by air and by preaching prevention, Idaho fire crews from every agency spent this summer logging dozens of double-digit-hour days – often times in a row – attempting to suppress one of the more active fire seasons in recent memory." Among them was Blas Lord, who "loved her second summer at the BLM so much she decided to extend it ... With her school's blessing and because she saw it as her duty, Lord elected to stay on and help her crew for a little bit longer than she originally planned." The University of Idaho and Boise State University allowed extensions this year for firefighting students.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Steele Peak SKR Reserve cleanup" (News.bytes Extra)
On Saturday, August 25, the BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office in cooperation with Waste Management and members of Calguns.net, a website dedicated to supporting gun owners, hosted a volunteer cleanup at Steele Peak. Illegal dumping and misuse of the area has resulted in an accumulation of garbage including household refuse, broken target boards, spent shotgun shells, and other items littering the ground. More than 60 volunteers helped BLM staff fill an entire 40 yard dumpster full of garbage. BLM law enforcement rangers cleared the area of target shooters to allow for a safe cleanup. In addition, several target shooters that arrived to recreate were inspired by the hard work of the volunteers, and they decided to join in the cleanup efforts.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...Visit the exquisite Painted Gorge where the narrow canyon walls located in the Coyote Mountains, are colored by the weathering of rocks containing copper, sulfur and iron deposits. The upper gorge contains ancient marine coral reefs with fossilized marine life. Primitive camping and staging for day use can be found east of the gorge entrance.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
A striped skunk will issue a warning before its sprays, by…
(a.) …turning away from an attacker and waving its rump in the air.
(b.) …emitting a high-pitched shriek, similar to a bobcat's.
(c.) …emitting a mild version of its pungent spray.
(d.) …chattering its teeth and stomping its front feet.
(e.) …spitting a mildly caustic (and formidably disgusting to most animals) hunk of saliva at its attacker.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"BLM extends deadline for private land wild horse ecosanctuary proposals"(BLM, 8/30/12)
The Bureau of Land Management announced that it is extending its deadline for private land wild horse ecosanctuary proposals from yesterday (August 29) to September 19. The ecosanctuaries, to be publicly accessible with a potential for ecotourism, would help the BLM feed and care for excess wild horses that have been removed from Western public rangelands. Each proposed ecosanctuary must be able to support at least 100 wild horses.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"BLM announces availability of proposed Bakersfield Resource Management Plan" (BLM, 8/28/12)
The Proposed RMP has been prepared to provide broad-scale direction for the management of approximately 404,000 acres of public lands and 1.2 million acres of mineral estate in Central California administered by the Bakersfield Field Office. The Proposed RMP/Final EIS evaluates a range of management options for public lands and federal mineral estate in Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kings, Tulare, Madera, eastern Fresno and western Kern counties. The document is now available for download. The protest period will begin with the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, which is expected on August 31, and will last for 30 days.
"Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake land withdrawal" (NAWS China Lake)
China Lake is one of several lands withdrawn from the BLM for military use under the California Desert Protection Act. Comments on the Draft EIS/LEIS will be accepted during the public review period from August 10, 2012 to November 8, 2012.
The proposed action includes:
1-Renew (by act of Congress) the 1994 withdrawal of lands at NAWS China Lake to accommodate continued Navy use for research, development, acquisition, test, and evaluation (RDAT&E) and operational training activities for an additional 25 years.
2-Revise and implement the Comprehensive Land Use Management Plan (CLUMP).
3-Maintain Navy readiness by accommodating an up to 25 percent increase in RDAT&E and training activities."
"New off-roading law requires seatbelts, helmets" (Hi-Desert Star, 8/28/12)
"Riders of Rhinos and similar recreational vehicles will have to wear helmets and seatbelts next year under a new state law that has the off-roading community buzzing. The law defines and sets safety rules for a new class of vehicles: recreational off-highway vehicles ... The law requires riders to wear seatbelts and helmets -- provisions that anger some in the off-road community ... The law also prevents children and smaller adults from riding in recreational OHVs, because passengers must have both feet flat on the floorboard."
"Grant may help preserve allure of Route 66" (BLM, 8/27/12)
Route 66 is America's Mother Road. . . and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration's $152,300 grant recently awarded to the Bureau of Land Management under the National Scenic Byways Program will fund the preparation of a corridor management plan that ultimately may help preserve the history and nostalgia of the 153 miles of historic Route 66 within the BLM California Desert District that extends from Needles to Barstow, California,
RELATED: "Historic Route 66" (BLM Needles Field Office)
"BLM withdraws Clear Creek from mineral entry" (BLM, 8/27/12)
The Bureau of Land Management has withdrawn about 29,000 acres of public land in Central California from mineral entry to minimize human health risks from airborne asbestos fibers associated with mining activities. The withdrawal is in the portion of Clear Creek Management Area designated as the Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in southern San Benito County and western Fresno County.
"'We can't turn a blind eye anymore'; feds, local law enforcement promise 'hot and heavy' season of pot busts" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/26/12)
"The proliferation of large scale, outdoor marijuana grows in Humboldt County has law enforcement agencies sometimes feeling like they're fighting a forest fire with squirt guns. Consequently, agencies are trending toward collaboration as this growing season hits full swing, with federal and local police looking to work together to take out some of the most egregious operations. 'It's one of the most beautiful parts of this country, but it's just being destroyed by marijuana cultivation,' said Randy Wagner, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's special agent in charge of Northern California operations ... Editor's note: This is the first story in a three part series looking at marijuana issues on the North Coast."
"Arrests made in BLM property theft; police asking for help identifying additional suspects" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/30/12)
Police are seeking the public's help in identifying suspects who stole a wildland firefighter's truck from a secured yard behind the BLM's Arcata Field Office. Another person was arrested for being in possession of stolen property from the same theft. Thieves stole two private vehicles, including one of a firefighter deployed in the eastern Sierra, plus a BLM ATV and trailer.
"FORA seeks to cut down trees at Parker Flats" (Monterey County Herald, 8/25/12)
"The Fort Ord Reuse Authority is planning to cut down hundreds of trees to clear munitions in preparation for housing on land that may be restricted from residential use by two official agreements ... The land is commonly called the 'endowment property,' because the proceeds of its purchase will provide operating costs for the planned veterans cemetery immediately to its south. It is also part of the proposed Monterey Downs development, which would include 1,500 residences, 400 hotel rooms, retail areas, an Olympic-sized aquatic and tennis center and a horse-racing track." A 2005 agreement among the county, FORA, the Army, Monterey Peninsula College and the Bureau of Land Management swapped some lands because of concerns over loss of oak woodland."
RELATED: "Public input sought on Fort Ord reports" (Monterey County Herald, 8/24/12)
"The Army wants public comments" on two reports related to the former Fort Ord, one related to a transfer of land to the BLM and one "to document the environmental suitability of parcels of property at the former fort for transfer to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority and the Monterey Bay Education, Science and Technology Center of the University of California, Santa Cruz."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
NATIONAL, OTHER STATE AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Wednesday evening at Burning Man" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/30/12)
68 photos, from the annual event being held this week on BLM Nevada public lands.
RELATED: "Wednesday at Burning Man" (Reno Gazette Journal, 8/29/12)
RELATED: "Glut of Burning Man Tickets Available on Sites" (NBC 7 San Diego, CA, 8/24/12)
"Early reports from the Black Rock Desert, the barren lake bed in Nevada 100 miles northeast of Reno, brought tales of extreme heat and more dusty conditions than participants had seen in years. About that same time, tickets went from being nearly impossible to procure, to being readily available at face value … Burning Man is an event that requires 'radical self-reliance,' and it takes days, weeks, and often, months of planning to head out to the desert for a week of revelry. At this point, people who were, or are, willing to put in what it takes to go to the event have probably already secured tickets."
"Savoring speed and the Salt Flats" (Salt Lake Tribune, 8/28/12)
Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah: "The bizarre becomes normal this time of year when every wheeled vehicle humans can imagine seems to converge on this 30,000-acre expanse of white salt crust between the Great Salt Lake and the Utah-Nevada border ... I saw a guy in a two-seat roadster drive past with a stuffed bear sitting in the passenger seat. A woman pedaled a bicycle that looked like nothing I had ever seen ... Under colorful tents serving as garages, mechanics poured over vehicles in all shapes and sizes trying to either repair a defect or beg just a little more speed out of them. A film crew from the Speed Channel filmed a guy dressed like Rollie Free, a motorcyclist who was the first to take a two-wheeled vehicle over 150 miles per hour in 1948 ... the rider was on Free's original bike ... The Bureau of Land Management is in charge of the Salt Flats, a place the federal agency calls an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Special Recreation Management Area."
"Historic drought ripples across Southwest" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/25/12)
"More than half of U.S. counties have been designated disaster areas because of dryness during a drought that has taken on historic proportions." Southern California is protected this year by "dams midway down the Colorado River, which store water in lakes Mead and Powell and supply about half of the county's annual demand" - but that could change next year, "if winter doesn't refill reservoirs in the Rockies and Northern California ... Regular rains would be a welcome relief across the Southwest, where 30 million people and four million acres of crops across depend on the heavily engineered Colorado River system to sustain life on lands that otherwise could support just a fraction of the current users."
"Red Rock Canyon Campground reopens August 31" (BLM Nevada, 8/27/12)
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area's developed campground will reopen Friday, Aug. 31 in time for the beginning of the busiest camping season. Cooler temperatures during the fall and winter months make Red Rock a destination for rock climbers and recreationalists from around the world. Beginning in early September, construction of a new and more convenient water supply will result in construction activity and associated noise within the campground, Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. -- when most campers are out exploring. About 25 percent of the individual campsites will be periodically closed due and the entire group site area will be closed in December while underground lines and new water hydrants are installed. Construction is anticipated to finish in December 2012.
"Marijuana raid in Washington County takes down 3,600 plants" (Desert News, Utah, 8/24/12)
Searchers had not looked in the canyon in Dixie National Forest until recently, because there was no water source. But growers had buried and concealed 1 1/2 miles of pipe for water. “There's a real mess up there,” a sheriff said. “With all the fertilizer, they're just dumping it into the water sources and polluting our public lands; they're using pesticides and bug sprays up in there -- it's a lot of damage." Bureau of Land Management officers joined other agencies in destroying the plants.
|SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Aug. 31 - Full moon hike to King Peak
More information on the following events at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument can be found at:
Sept. 8 - Star Party, hosted by Astronomical Society of the Desert
Sept. 12 - Ernie Maxwell hike - free guided hike in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountain ranges
Sept. 14 - "What's up there" - Informative talk on animals of the forest
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) …chattering its teeth and stomping its front feet.
SOURCE: "Striped Skunk - Mephitis mephitis" (BLM California wildlife database)
More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):
"Baby Bobcat "chips" Rescue Story" (InciWeb, 8/26/12)
Usually if you encounter a seemingly lost baby animal in the wild, you should of course leave it alone, expecting the mother to return. But when firefighters mopping up in aftermath of the Chips Fire found a bobcat "the size of a domestic kitten ... it seemed to be confused ... and seemed to have impaired vision, perhaps from the smoke and ash in its eyes." They checked a wide area and could find no sign of the mother.
RELATED: "Bobcat kitten 'Chips' expected to make full recovery at Lake Tahoe center" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 8/30/12)
"The kitten attracted national attention after she was rescued by a Six Rivers National Forest's Mad River Ranger District hand crew working at the Chips Fire near Lake Almanor." Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center Executive Director Cheryl Millham said, "I think so many people are interested in her because she represents hope. In this whole devastating situation of thousands and thousands of acres being burned, there is this tiny survivor. This little bit of life made it out." ... "Mad River hand crew superintendent Tad Hair said he was driving through the middle of a swath of land burnt black by the Chips Fire on his way to camp Saturday when he saw what appeared to be a very small and very dirty ball of fur walking alongside the road."
"Sage grouse plan endorsed by legislative committee" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/24/12)
A Nevada legislative committee" has endorsed a plan to preserve the habitats for the declining sage grouse population, but millions of acres of public lands continue to be open to grazing, mining development and energy projects ... ... The U.S. Department of the Interior has given western states the option of developing a plan to preserve the sage grouse or the federal agencies would make the decisions ... There is a fear the sage grouse might be listed as endangered and result in further restrictions on the public lands," including uses such as mining and grazing.
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News.bytes published by
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