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News.bytes Extra, issue 476

Bright Star celebration!

On a Saturday in mid March, 40 people assembled off of Piute Mountain Road in northeastern Kern County to celebrate a 434-acre addition to the Bright Star Wilderness.  The addition was donated to wilderness by the National Audubon Society, who bought several private in-holdings and edge-holdings from willing sellers in the area.  (See News.bytes Extra, issue 471) (text continues below)

worker installs sign announcing Audubon Bright Star Wilderness Addition

removing outdated private property signs
Volunteers removed private property signs and installed a new “Audubon Bright Star Wilderness Addition” sign.  Old vehicle tracks were obliterated or put to good use as foot trails.  A Student Conservation crew re-routed the old private fence line that had blocked public access to create a new parking pullout for the public with pedestrian-equestrian gates.
working on fencehikers on a hillside
posing for a group photo

The new addition permanently protects a previously unincorporated portion of Kelso Creek, a perennial steam with an extensive riparian area.  It also provides the public with easy, street vehicle access to the wilderness area.

Ceremonies commenced with a description by Reed Tollefson of the Kern River Preserve of the process that Audubon followed to acquire the parcels and make them ready for donation.  Two of the willing sellers, Ben Rudnick and Richard Rudnick (coincidentally a California Desert District Advisory Council member), spoke of their delight in seeing the land permanently protected and conserved for posterity.

two men in westernwear speak to a third man

Greg Thomsen, National Landscape Conservation System lead from the California Desert District, thanked Audubon and acknowledged the BLM staffers involved with making the donation happen, principally Scott Eubanks, Al Stein, Chris Roholt, Mark Conley and Lauren Pidot.  Hector Villalobos, manager of the BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office presented Reed with a plaque of appreciation from BLM for all his hard work and perseverance.

one person presents an award plaque to another

A cake in the shape of the new Audubon addition to the Bright Star Wilderness was rolled out to much applause and laughter.  The day concluded with a leisurely, family friendly hike down to the banks of Kelso Creek, brimming with water.
people gather around a large cake
hikers on a dusty trail through scrub brush

- Marty Dickes, wilderness coordinator, BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, April 2011

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 476
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Last updated: 04-12-2011