A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 562 - 1/10/13 - 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
- BLM on Facebook
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Traditional energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Marijuana on public lands
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National, other state and Department of the Interior items
- More wildlife stories from your public lands (and elsewhere)
This issue of BLM California News.bytes is online at:
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Activists push Seaside to start marketing Fort Ord National Monument to tourists"(Monterey County Weekly, 1/10/13)
"The most likely access point from the city of Seaside to ... Fort Ord National Monument is a dead-end road. There's no visitor center, no parking, no bathrooms -- not even any signs, at least not yet. The monument on the former Army base is less than a year old, and its development depends on a munitions clean-up effort that, two decades in, still has years to go. But some activists say the city's crazy to not be marketing the heck out of what could be a tourist draw on par with Pinnacles National Monument ... The monument covers more than half of Fort Ord's 28,000 acres, but only 7,200 are currently open to the public. The rest need to be cleared of munitions before they can be transferred to the BLM."
RELATED: "Fort Ord National Monument wins environmental award" (Salinas Californian, 1/9/13)
"The natural beauty and dedicated volunteers at the Fort Ord National Monument were recognized this week by The Wilderness Society, which presented the 15,000-acre nature preserve with a CAPE award for excellence in the conservation of public land. The Comparative Analysis of Particular Excellence (CAPE) awards are presented each year to the 10 best-managed landscapes under the care of the Bureau of Land Management ... Last year between 3,000 and 4,000 people volunteered at Fort Ord."
RELATED: "Fort Ord National Monument" (BLM Hollister Field Office)
"Dunes fans invited to cleanup" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/26/12)
"United Desert Gateway invites desert enthusiasts to the 16th annual Sand Dunes Cleanup on Jan. 19. The annual cleanup is an important date on any duner's calendar and is vital to the sustainability of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (Glamis and Buttercup). This event not only helps keep the dunes clean and open for all to enjoy, but is fun for the entire family. "
RELATED: "Families spend New Year's Eve weekend riding dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/30/12)
"For some families the New Year is just not the same without sand dunes and an all-terrain vehicle revved up and ready to go. Feeling those sentiments exactly, Yorba Linda resident Phillip Franco and his family decided to celebrate the New Year the same way they have been for years, at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in eastern Imperial County. 'It's always fun out here and it's a good time to hang out with family and just enjoy each other's company and have a good time riding,' Franco said ...
Other riders are making new traditions for the New Year as they experienced their first time at the dunes."
RELATED: "117,730 people flock to local sand dunes during holiday weekend" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/2/13)
"A total of 117,730 visitors flocked to the cold and partially rainy dunes this week."
RELATED: "ATV safety course encourages state riding requirements" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/1/13)
"For 14-year-old Austin Clews of Northern California, participating in all-terrain vehicle safety classes was something he didn't expect during his time in the dunes this holiday weekend, but it was something he felt he had to do ... In a group effort by the local office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and American Desert Foundation, children and parents alike learned about new and old regulations to live by. Outside of Dune's Diner near the south side of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, instructor Kevin Fantom held the free sessions for a packed class."
"BLM's Leisyka Parrot wins national award for interpretation" (BLM, 1/8/13)
Leisyka Parrott, an interpretive specialist at the Bureau of Land Management's Arcata Field Office, has received a national award for excellence in her work educating youth about the public lands. Parrott was one of three BLM employees recognized in the agency's 2012 “Excellence in Interpretation or Education” awards which recognize outstanding work enhancing public understanding about public lands and their natural and cultural resource values.
"Dog hikes 2013" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
Sat., Jan. 12: Bring your well-behaved best friend and join a BLM Park Ranger for a moderate hike to view the Indian Pass Arches. The hike is free, but participation is by reservation. 10 dogs, or 20 hikers is the limit. No more than one dog per handler, please. Children under the age of 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
"BLM offers guided bald eagle hikes" (BLM, 1/7/13)
There are still openings for host free guided hikes to look for wintering bald eagles in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County. The hikes are sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management on Saturdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 and Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Those interested in participating should reserve space for a specific date by calling the BLM Ukiah Field Office. The hikes are limited to 25 participants each and fill quickly.
"Willits' Little Darby gets a facelift" (Willits News, 1/2/13)
"Little Darby, a tract of federal land a few miles east of Willits, looks revitalized this year after trail work and other improvements to the land. Little Darby's parking lot no longer looks like a gateway to a garbage strewn abyss. Crews from the California Conservation Corps carved a new access trail to the Little Darby picnic area and made repairs to hiking trails. 'We would like to do a ribbon-cutting in the spring,' said Interpretive Specialist Leisyka Parrott, Bureau of Land Management, the agency which manages Little Darby. A new trail now cuts from the parking lot down to the creek, across a new bridge, and climbs a stretch of new graveled trail to bypass the old trail."
"Desert cleanup"(News.bytes Extra)
Volunteers recently teamed up with staff from the Bureau of Land Management's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office to identify trash sites near the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. No hazardous substances were found -- but the site did produce an abandoned Volkswagen bus, the remains of a fiberglass truck topper, bed springs, metal housings for overhead lights, and a myriad of metal, plastic, glass and wood debris.
"Volunteer slots open at Piedras Blancas Light Station" (The Cambrian, 1/3/13)
"Piedras Blancas Light Station is looking for volunteers to help with public tours of the light station. Opportunities include tour guide, assistant and gift shop sales positions ... training will begin in March."
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...As recently as 20,000 years ago, lava from the local volcanic eruptions poured into the Owens River channel. Erosional forces formed the polished and sculptured volcanic rock features that now can be seen at Fossil Falls, 45 minutes north of Ridgecrest. The red cinder cone visible to the north is the result of the violent ejection of trapped gases and molten material into the air from vent in the earth's crust. Cooling quickly when exposed to the air, the molten material formed a porous rock known as scoria, which built up around the original vent forming a cone-shaped hill. Late fall, winter and early spring are the best times to visit.
BLM ON FACEBOOK...
...see winning photos from the first annual Veterans Day Essay and Photo Contest, Christmas and New Year photos from the Imperial Sand Dunes, a poster for the Jan. 12 dog hike to Indian Pass arches, a photo of Leisyka Parrot working with students (items above), and more:
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
Sculpin are unusual fish in that they have:
(a.) few or no scales.
(b.) especially sensitive eyes, to see in abandoned mine pits and underwater caves.
(c.) toxic spikes that they shoot at predators.
(d.) rudimentary lungs, rather than gills.
(e.) fur instead of scales.
(f.) suitable habitat only in online comics, such as Reticulate World.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.
| RENEWABLE ENERGY
"Regional proposal aims to balance land use" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/23/12)
"Hundreds of thousands of acres in east Riverside County and around the Salton Sea could be targeted for renewable energy development -- wind, solar and geothermal -- under a comprehensive plan aimed at balancing the spread of clean energy projects with environmental conservation across the Southern California deserts. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is a federal, state and local initiative working to provide uniform guidelines for siting and permitting renewable energy projects, and protecting conservation areas, across six counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino."
RELATED: "Paving a fast lane for desert solar" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/1/13)
"Hundreds of square miles of Southern California desert, both public and privately owned, could be targeted for renewable energy development under a comprehensive plan balancing state clean-power mandates with efforts to conserve wild habitat."
RELATED: "Desert Energy Plan ignores major EPA renewables tool" (KCET, 12/26/12)
"A preliminary guide to the content of the mammoth Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), includes thousands of pages of description of what we'll see in the DRECP when it's finally published. But one thing it seems not to include is any mention of the EPA's RePowering America's Lands initiative, a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project that has already identified millions of acres of contaminated lands suitable for renewable energy development, including sites in the California desert."
"Comment period extended for the Casa Diablo IV environmental document" (BLM, 1/7/13)
The BLM Bishop Field Office and cooperating agencies, the Inyo National Forest and the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, have extended the public comment period on the Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project Public Draft Joint Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report. Comments on the draft document will now be accepted through Jan. 30.
"Stateline Solar Farm Project (CACA 48669) " (BLM California)
The BLM will hold public meetings Jan. 9 and 10. A public comment period of 90 days ends Feb. 21. During the comment period, the BLM will solicit public comments on planning issues, concerns, potential impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures that should be considered in the analysis of the proposed action.
"Feds Want More Info On Wildlife Risk From Rio Mesa Solar Project" (KCET, 12/26/12)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has weighed in on the California Energy Commission's assessment of the proposed Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Station. The verdict? FWS says the Commission needs to provide more data on potential risks to wildlife, especially migratory birds, from the proposed 500 megawatt project along the Colorado River south of Blythe."
"It's Official: California Grid Operator Expands Into Nevada" (KCET, 1/3/13)
"The California Independent System Operator (CaISO), a non-profit public benefit organization that managed the electric power transmission grid for most of California, announced today that the Pahrump, Nevada Valley Electric Association has formally joined the CaISO as a participating member … One of the most likely effects of the merger will be to grease the chute for BrightSource's proposed 500-megawatt Hidden Hills solar thermal power plant to sell power to California utilities. Though Hidden Hills is inside California, no transmission exists across the hundreds of miles of National Park and military bases that lie between the project site and California cities."
"Wind Tax Credit Extended" (KCET, 1/2/13)
The American wind power industry got its Christmas wish granted a few days late this week, as Congress agreed Tuesday to extend and modify the federal Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC). Originally set to expire this week, the PTC now offers tax credits to qualifying wind turbine installations that break ground before January 1, 2014. The extension was part of a number of measures included in the so-called 'fiscal cliff' negotiation package passed by a recalcitrant Congress..."
"BLM issues oil and gas best practices for wildlife protection" (BLM, 12/28/12)
As part of ongoing efforts to continue to increase responsible domestic energy production while protecting wildlife near oil, gas, and geothermal facilities on BLM lands, the Bureau of Land Management announced it has expanded best practice standards for the fluid minerals industry.
"California's water supply comes before fracking needs" (San Jose Mercury News, 12/30/12)
Editorial: The "experiences of Pennsylvania, New York and Texas provide a wealth of knowledge about fracking's considerable risks to groundwater and air quality, and we have to learn from them ... Energy producers have known about the Monterey Shale since 1969, but only in the last decade has new technology made it profitable to go after the 15.4 billion barrels of oil. Hence the need for new regulations. The Monterey Shale could produce enough oil to meet the entire nation's energy needs for about three years. There are many benefits to be gleaned and fortunes to be made, but this oil is not our permanent energy salvation, and reaching it is not more important than protecting California's water."
"A drilling dilemma on fracking" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/5/13)
Editorial: "By federal estimate, California may be sitting atop one of the nation's largest oil deposits, buried in rock formations beneath the Central Valley and elsewhere. But tapping this pool will take a largely unregulated and potentially dangerous technique known as fracking ... it's credited with creating jobs, low natural gas prices and even future energy independence. An official policy is overdue, and California should be in no mood to unleash fracking without a public examination of the risks and role of public oversight ... It would be foolish to ignore a promising technology that can access oil reserves once considered unreachable ... But there must be a fair process that recognizes the public's reasonable doubts and the oil industry's responsibilities. So far, this balance is missing.
"EPA fracking study may dodge some tough questions" (AP at San Francisco Chronicle, 1/6/13)
"An ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on natural gas drilling and its potential for groundwater contamination has gotten tentative praise so far from both industry and environmental groups ... The final report won't come out until late 2014. But a 275-page progress report was released in December and, for all its details, shows that the EPA doesn't plan to address one contentious issue -- how often drinking water contamination might occur."
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"BLM offers 15 wild horses and burros for adoption" (BLM, 1/8/13)
On Saturday Jan. 12, 2013, the Sundance Ranch in Redlands will host a BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The adoption fee is $125. The adopter agrees to act as caretaker for one year, during which time the adopted horse or burro remains the property of the Federal Government. After one year of providing proper care, the adopter may apply for and receive ownership title. All animals are healthy and are up to date on vaccinations and deworming. They also have a current Coggins test.
"BLM issues new policy regarding conditions on wild horse and burro sales" (BLM, 1/4/13)
The new policy was prompted by the BLM's overall effort to improve its management and care of wild horses and burros that roam Western public rangelands. "Today's announcement marks another step forward in our agency's steady improvement in ensuring the health and humane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,' said BLM Acting Director Mike Pool. The new policy, which is effective immediately, will remain so until the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program publishes additional guidance on wild horse and burro sales.
RELATED: "New BLM rules restrict sales of wild horses" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 1/4/13)
“New BLM rules restrict sales of wild horses” (AP in SF Chronicle, 1/4/13)
Sales of wild horses and burros will be restricted under new rules announced Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after an investigation into the sale of more than 1,700 horses to a Colorado livestock hauler who supports the horse meat industry. "It is a response to that inquiry, which is being conducted right now by the Office of the Inspector General of the Interior Department," said Tom Gorey, BLM spokesman for the wild horse program in Washington, D.C. Wild horse advocates said the rules amount to "window dressing..."
"Crowded Range: Wyoming ranch is first to house wild horses for tourism" (Wyo File, 1/8/13)
"On the Deerwood Ranch near Centennial, the horses were restless. They gathered in small bunches and snapped and kicked at unwelcome interlopers. They gave room, as two horses bowed their heads and aggressively invaded the others' space. They reared up, hoofs flailing, manes blowing. When their hooves touched the ground they started the dance again, until one seemed to acquiesce and move away. Moments later a group began to run...."
"Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Ecosanctuary" (BLM Wyoming)
The Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Ecosanctuary is the first Bureau of Land Management sponsored wild horse ecosanctuary in the United States. It is located on a 4,000-acre, family-owned ranch in Wyoming, approximately 30 miles west of Laramie. Public lands are not included in this project.
| MARIJUANA ON PUBLIC LANDS
"Pot farms wreaking havoc on Northern California environment" (Los Angeles Times, 12/23/12)
"State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish. In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants -- mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it."
"Cooperators join BLM to clean up illegal marijuana sites" (News.bytes Extra)
Several cooperators joined BLM's Ukiah Field Office in tearing down and rehabilitating two illegal marijuana cultivation complexes in the heart of the Cache Creek Wilderness. The growers did not care that they were severely damaging the Cache Creek Wilderness. Among other damage, they stole between 60,000 and 100,000 gallons of water each day from the wilderness streams, drying out riparian zones and streams that all kinds of wildlife depend upon.
"New laws of the land for 2013" (San Jose Inside, 1/2/13)
"Champions of the environment may cheer the new Marijuana Grow Crackdown Law. The bill is aimed squarely at those who grow or manufacture illegal drugs on state forested land ... Under AB 2284, law enforcement patrolling unpaved forest roads can stop cars and trucks with visible irrigation supplies to determine whether they were legally purchased ... The law applies to unpaved roads through private timberland of 50,000 acres as well as any roads in the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Forestry and the Department of Parks and Recreation."
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"BLM issues interim final supplementary rules" (BLM, 12/21/12)
The BLM's Carrizo Plain National Monument is requesting public comments on Interim Final Supplementary Rules affecting 206,635 surface acres of public land in eastern San Luis Obispo and western Kern counties. "The rules will ensure long term protection of the significant cultural and biological resources on the Carrizo Plain National Monument," said Johna Hurl, Carrizo Plain National Monument manager. The new rules will implement decisions made by BLM in the 2010 Carrizo Plain National Monument Resource Management Plan.
RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
"Desert Advisory Council to meet in Barstow" (BLM, 1/9/13)
The next field trip and meeting of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) California Desert Advisory Council (DAC) will be held Feb. 8 and 9. Field trip details will be posted on the DAC web page when finalized. Agenda topics for the Saturday meeting will include a focus on renewable energy, including the proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, as well as updates by council members, the BLM California Desert District manager, five field office managers, and council subgroups. Final agenda items will be posted on the DAC web page.
"BLM agents continue to investigate petroglyph crimes" (Sierra Wave, 1/1/13)
"Bureau of Land Management investigators continue to look into the case of the stolen and damaged petroglyphs near Bishop. A month ago, BLM reported that someone had used a power saw, generators and ladders to cut out and take at least four petroglyphs, leaving dozens of others damaged. The news went global." The climbing community and others have contributed to a $2,000 reward for information in the case.
"Mule Ridge Trails road proposal raises ire among bikers, hikers" (Redding Record Searchlight, 1/9/13)
"A proposal to build a road through a popular trail area west of Redding has mountain bikers, hikers and others concerned that the road would ruin their recreation." The proposal is "to build a 3,200-foot-long road from Placer Road, through the Mule Ridge Trails area to [a] property east of the recreation area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include a wide variety of temporary seasonal positions, including park ranger, laborer, archeology aid/technician, wildland firefighter, biological aid/technician, and more.
|NATIONAL, OTHER STATE AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"In Nevada, a Chinese King of the Hill" (Wall Street Journal, 12/28/12)
Liu Han, "a little-known Chinese business mogul, is the primary financier for a $1.3 billion plan to blast the top off a hill called Mount Hope just north of Eureka to remove its lode of metal called molybdenum .... one of the world's biggest undeveloped deposits of the silvery element .... used to harden steel for advanced applications such as piping for nuclear-power plants. The Bureau of Land Management last month authorized the mine to operate, greenlighting a project that promises to make Mr. Liu ... a powerful voice in global moly trade" -- and "illustrates how a budding class of Chinese private investors suddenly has the wherewithal to upend entire sectors."
"Legislation to determine future of Amarillo Helium Plant" (KVII Amarallo, 1/9/13)
The BLM's helium plant in Amarillo "is looking for guidance from Congress to determine how their mission will extend past 2018 ... Current legislation regulating the use of the helium is due to run out at the end of 2014." A 1996 law mandates that the BLM sell off reserves. "If nothing is done some companies have warned of disruptions in industries such as semiconductors and fiber optics." A BLM spokesperson says, "We are definitely not running out of helium. There will be helium available for at least the next fifty to a hundred years. However, we're currently undergoing what's called a short time supply/demand imbalance."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) few or no scales.
SOURCE: "Reticulate Sculpin - Cottus perplexus" (BLM California wildlife database)
More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):
"Truckee's goal? Bear-proof trash" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 1/6/13)
"Truckee is cracking down on people who allow easy access to garbage by bears, dogs, raccoons and other animals and has new rules in effect designed to prevent careless handling of trash and the problems with critters that often come as a result ... with repeat violators facing fines of up to $1,000 ... Easy access to trash has long been identified as a central issue when it comes to mounting problems between people and bears in the Reno-Tahoe area."
"Bird given more habitat protections" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/2/13)
The endangered southwestern willow flycatcher "was given additional habitat protections ... 208,973 acres of habitat considered critical to the bird's survival was designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The acreage is along 1,227 miles of streams and rivers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The habitat designation does not prohibit development, affect land ownership or create a refuge, but it does require federal agencies that fund or permit activities on the land to consult with Fish and Wildlife to ensure critical habitat is not destroyed or adversely modified."
"Frog breeding program continues" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/21/12)
"Another batch of mountain yellow-legged frogs spawned from a rescue in the Idyllwild area six years ago are in forced hibernation at the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, where scientists are hoping for a successful next step in the breeding program to save the amphibians from extinction. It's been a long road for the frogs, whose numbers have dwindled because of predatory trout, a deadly fungus, water pollution and loss of habitat from wildfires and off-road vehicles. There are thought to be only 200 of the frogs in the wild..."
"Whale watch season off to robust start" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/8/13)
Short video of whales near San Diego.
"Wolf OR-7 back in Shasta County" (Redding Record Searchlight, 1/7/13)
"California's lone wolf, OR-7, is back in Shasta County. After months of moving back and forth between Plumas and Tehama counties, the gray wolf has moved back to Shasta County. OR-7 made history in December 2011 when he crossed over the Oregon border into California, becoming the first wolf to live in the state since 1924..."
"Yuma Marines help to relocate rare Sonoran pronghorn herd" (Arizona Daily Star, 1/7/13)
"Marines and civilian employees from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma recently took part in a joint effort with several other state and federal agencies to capture, vaccinate and relocate Sonoran pronghorns to historic ranges in Southwest Arizona ... where biologists hope they will merge with herds already in those areas." The BLM was among agencies taking part.
RELATED: Photo of pronghorn ( BLM New Mexico Facebook page)
Pronghorn on the Otero Mesa in New Mexico.
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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