A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 107 - 5/7/03

This week in News.bytes:

- Energy issues:
   - Geothermal
   - Power lines: Rights of way
- Photo Album: Volunteers
- Volunteer Program
- Not for Educators Only:
   - Wildlife Trivia of the Week: Moving
   - Bookstore Feature: "Geology Underfoot in Death Valley & Owens Valley
- Land management plans:
   - Coachella Valley
   - Horseshoe Ranch
- Archaeology issues on public lands:
   - Vandalism, debate
   - Tribe seeks remains
   - Trash = treasure
- Off-road recreation issues
- Other recreation on public lands
- Wild horses coming:
   - Norco
   - Yreka
- Wilderness debate
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - Water supply contaminated by old mines
   - Firefighter grants
- Selected Upcoming Events


"Site License Issued for Calif. Geothermal Development at Telephone Flat" (BLM California news release, 05/05/2003)
The Department of the Interior issued a site license authorizing the operation of a 48-megawatt geothermal power plant in the Telephone Flat area, near Medicine Lake in Siskiyou County. Issued under provisions of the federal Geothermal Steam Act, it authorizes company to build the power plant on federally-managed public land, with several mitigation measures.

"Ruling deals blow to power plants in Mexico" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 05/06/2003)
Federal judge rules in lawsuit that U.S. government agencies did not properly evaluate environmental impacts of power plants in Mexico that were expected to send electricity to California this summer. BLM California involved through right-of-way permits for power lines to cross public lands.

Related: "San Diego judge finds permits for U.S.-Mexico power lines were improper" (Associated Press, in Sacramento Bee, 05/05/2003)

PHOTO ALBUM - "Volunteers"
Volunteers install  interpretive signs at BLM Califoria's King Range National Conservation AreaDid you know ... California's federally owned public lands are owned by every American, giving each of us a shared interest in their care and in their future? Nearly 15 million acres- are managed by the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in California. You can make a difference! Young adults, single people, seniors, and families are invited to become BLM volunteers. Working alone or with a group, BLM volunteers enjoy work that matches their interests and schedules. Some BLM volunteers enjoy work that matches their interests and schedules. Some volunteers serve part-time and others enjoy seasonal or fill-time position. The important thing to remember is that even a few hours a month can make a big difference!

Related: "Volunteer Program" (BLM California Web pages)
(BLM California Web pages) With links to more information on BLM California's volunteer program, names of volunteer coordinators, a volunteer application form ... and more.


Desert kangaroo rat - Photo credit: Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences Wildlife Trivia Question Mark of the Week"Saltation" is a mode of life that rabbits and kangaroo rats are often well-adapted to. What is this way of life that they often share?
(See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.)

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Geology Underfoot in Death Valley & Owens Valley"
BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Geology Underfoot in Death Valley & Owens Valley" "Eastern California boasts the greatest dryland relief in the contiguous United States - between Mt. Whitney and Death Valley - and that relief exposes spectacular geology. These 30 driving and walking tours each weave the tale of a geological feature or relationship in this land of extremes. Some sketches ponder questions that puzzle geologists. Others spotlight the earth-sculpturing role of volcanoes and earthquakes. Still others focus on less obvious but equally powerful processes."


"BLM releases new proposal for Horseshoe Ranch area management" (BLM California news release, 05/05/2003)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management has released a new proposal for management of the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County, setting the area boundary to conform to the boundary line established in a 1989 Habitat Management Plan.

"Habitat-conservation blueprint draws barbs" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 05/06/2003)
"The county's unprecedented plan to protect 146 plants and animals across 2,000 square miles of western Riverside County was peppered with criticism Monday during the launch of public hearings for the $2 billion endeavor." BLM is one of many agencies and local governments involved in area habitat plans.

Related: "Multi-species plan: deep, wide" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 05/04/2003)
Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan aims to protect species while speeding up environmental permits for development that can take years, "[W]hat if a county -- one nearly the size of Massachusetts -- bought and preserved all the land it needed to satisfy environmental interests for the next 75 years? It could quickly and more efficiently build the highways and homes needed to accommodate a massive population influx. It could protect imperiled plants and animals, and save pristine landscapes.

Related: "COACHELLA VALLEY PLANS" (BLM California issue update)
To provide information on the status of the Coachella Valley amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan as well as the inter-agency Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (CVMSHCP).


"'Digital vandalism' imperils ancient artwork" (Associated Press, in Los Angeles Times, 05/04/2003)
"Most of the ancient artwork carved and painted into the rock walls and boulders of America's West survived for thousands of years in quiet obscurity. But technology has changed that." With exact Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates posted on the Web, some ask if Indian artwork can survive plundering, vandalism or just too much visitation.

"Spotlight: Treasure hunt - Maidu hope relicensing gives repatriation leverage" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 05/04/2003)
"Not many outside the Native American community would have believed that hundreds of boxes of Northeastern Maidu burial remains had been stored for almost 30 years on shelves in a warehouse in West Sacramento." Some 240 boxes of skeletons and fragments were removed from three archaeological sites just before Oroville Dam flooded the sites in 1967. A current BLM field office archaeologist - then a graduate student - led one excavation that catalogued more than 9,000 items including huts and tools.,1413,135%257E25088%257E1368859,00.html

"Excavating historical trash on East Mesa" (Imperial Valley Press, 05/04/2003)
"Broken dishes, rusty cans and pieces of glass became scientific treasure Saturday when archaeology students at Imperial Valley College took part in an excavation at a historic trash dump." BLM El Centro and college archaeologists conduct digs on a dump from about 1915. Besides training, the dig adds to the historical record of the poor, and of women and children: "History records important people - but what about the common people?" The two instructors will speak May 8 at the El Centro library.


"Public meeting on OHV grant proposals scheduled" (BLM California news release, 05/06/2003)
The BLM's El Centro Field Office and Arizona BLM Yuma Field Office have scheduled a public scoping meeting to obtain public comments on the off-highway vehicle (OHV) grants being submitted to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division.

"Butterfly may cut off-road vehicle engines" (Tahoe Daily Tribune, 05/05/2003)
BLM ecologist joins others calling for emergency closure of 1,000 acres of Sand Mountain, an off-road-vehicle recreation area in Nevada but popular with northern Californians. Says closure is needed to protect a rare butterfly and some other species so newly-discovered they have not been named yet. Closure would reduce off-road areas by 25 percent, but leave them open to visitors on foot. BLM's local advisory council creating subgroup for advice, to include "off-road vehicle users, environmentalists, biologists and representatives from [an area] tribe."

Related: "RVs Invade Sacred Sites of American Indians" (Associated Press, in Los Angeles Times, 05/04/2003)
Sand Mountain off-road area.


"Bluffs development plan set to go public" (Bakersfield Californian, 05/06/2003)
"[Bakersfield's] proposed plan to ensure that a system of trails, parks and open space is reserved for recreation along the Kern River bluffs is ready for public review." City mailed information to "hikers, bikers and equestrians who would use the trails and the developers who would be required to make room for them." The City also plans meetings with BLM and other area agencies involved in land use decisions.

"Land buy is a step toward full trail" (Fresno Bee, 05/05/2003)
"Bureau gets missing part in section to link Fresno area, Pacific Crest Trail." Patterson Bend's 1,740 acres includes four miles of riverfront which can now remain in a natural state under BLM management -- and provide "the missing link in a 90-mile trail corridor" to connect Fresno to the high Sierra. No access to area yet, or timetable for building trail.

"Secretary Norton announces $94 Million for state recreation grants from Land and Water Conservation Fund" (Department of Interior news release, 05/01/2003)
Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton announced funding grants of more than $94 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for Fiscal Year 2003. The grants help the 50 states, the territories and the District of Columbia to enhance parks and other recreational opportunities. California is set to receive $8,163,535.


Wild horse"Wild Mustang and Burro adoption returns to Norco" (BLM California news release, 05/05/2003)
"Don't just give her flowers and candy this year for Mother's Day...give her something truly special...a wild Mustang or burro!" BLM offering 80 mustangs and 20 burros to qualified adopters on May 10-11 at Ingalls Park in Norco.

"BLM offers wild horse public adoption in Yreka" (Siskiyou Daily News, 05/02/2003)
A feeling of the old west settles over Yreka's Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, when the BLM offers 60 wild horses and 20 wild burros for public adoption.


"A stealth attack on wilderness" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 05/07/2003)
EDITORIAL: Disagrees with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton's decision to suspend any new reviews of public lands for wilderness designation. See next item for "Equal Time."

"Equal Time: No need for Congress to find more lands that would receive wilderness designation" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 05/07/2003)
Excerpts of letter from six U.S. Senators to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, urging her to suspend any new reviews of public lands for wilderness designation.

"Land deal fought" (Salt Lake City Tribune, 05/06/2003)
Environmental groups file court challenge to a settlement between Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Utah's governor, removing temporary wilderness protections set by previous Secretary - and seen as a national precedent. Among their claims: that the settlement "Defies a federal court order in California that required Interior to protect certain areas until BLM decides whether to treat them as wilderness study areas."

"The end of wilderness" (New York Times, 05/04/2003)
EDITORIAL: "There was no formal announcement - just a few letters to interested senators from Gale Norton describing a legal settlement she had reached earlier that day with the state of Utah. But a close reading of that deal showed it to be a blockbuster - a fundamental reinterpretation of environmental law, and a reversal of four decades of federal wilderness policy."

"Bah, wilderness! Reopening a frontier to development" (New York Times, 05/04/2003)
Columnist: "More than a century after historians declared an end to the American Frontier, the Interior Department made a somewhat similar announcement last month, with no fanfare....Over the years, the Bureau of Land Management, the nation's biggest landlord, with 262 million acres under its control, has continued to survey its vast holdings, trying to determine whether more land is suitable for wilderness. But the Bush administration says wilderness reviews should have ended 13 years ago, at the close of a study period mandated by Congress. This interpretation is challenged by conservationists who plan to appeal the Bush order in court."


"Scientists: East Napa watershed contaminated" (St. Helena Star, 05/01/2003)
Researchers from BLM and U.S. Geological Survey are finding as much as 500 times the normal rate of mercury in watershed that includes "major portions of Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties" and provides some drinking water to parts of Napa and Solano counties. The watershed is one of two in California rated as "priority" sites for remediation.

Related: "BLM California abandoned mine land (AML) activity" (BLM California Web pages)
About 17,000 abandoned mines dot California and northwestern Nevada, and about 3,000 present hazards. Since mid-2000, the BLM California state office has been identifying mines with environmental or safety hazards, and working on projects oriented toward watersheds.

"New River Center opens May 1, hopes to hi-lite watershed" (Modoc Record, 05/01/2003)
"The River Center's mission is to showcase the natural resources in Modoc County by developing an appreciation for how a watershed affects and benefits the community." BLM California is among several partners developing the center. (Note: this URL links to a story in the middle of a long page of news - this newspaper may keep this story posted to the Web for only a short time.)

"BLM grants help community fire departments" (BLM California news release, 05/06/2003)
Thirty-nine rural California communities are receiving fire assistance grants from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to aid firefighting efforts. California BLM has $347,725 to distribute under the Rural Fire Assistance Program for 2003.

"Activists challenge Interior decision" (San Bernardino County Sun, 05/06/2003)
"An environmental group threatened Tuesday to launch contempt-of-court proceedings against the U.S. Department of Interior, saying the government agency has violated federal court orders to protect the habitat of various endangered species." (Related to stories in News.bytes issue 105).,1413,208%257E12588%257E1373594,00.html

"From D.C. to New Idria" (The Pinnacle, 05/01/2003)
Columnist invited by congressman to tour "remote area of his district" - much of it in BLM's Clear Creek Management Area. "I've never met anyone who came prepared for the experience of seeing this area for the first time," he says. And "[d]espite naturally-occurring asbestos, "the area is a popular destination for motorcyclists and other off-roaders whose love of open space and excitement exceeds their fears of asbestos-borne lung disease." (This story may be posted to Web for only a short time.)

ANSWER TO WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "Saltation is a mode of life that rabbits and kangaroo rats are often well-adapted to. What is this way of life that they often share?"
Answer: "Saltation" is a mode of life that includes jumping and leaping as the main form of locomotion.
Related: Desert kangaroo rats are most active at night - but they can often be seen doing "housekeeping" during the day. They constantly kick sand out of their burrows and make new tunnels while filling in others. Learn more about this species and others on our BLM California Wildlife Database.
(Note: the Wildlife Database is hosted on the Department of Interior's secure Web server - see note under "Selected Upcoming Events" below)
Wildlife Trivia Question Mark of the Week

(Note: the Upcoming Events database is on a secure Web server, and your browser may state "You are about to view pages over a secure connection" and ask you to "Trust a Security Certificate" from the Department of Interior that hosts this site. To view the pages, you must select "Yes" or "OK" for both questions.)

05/07/2003 - NEMO public scoping meeting - Las Vegas
Las Vegas

05/10/2003 - Norco wild hose and burro adoption

05/12/2003 - NEMO public scoping meeting - Tecopa

05/12/2003 - El Centro, CA and Yuma, AZ OHV grant public meeting
El Centro

05/13/2003 - NEMO public scoping meeting - Ridgecrest

05/15/2003 - NEMO public scoping meeting - Independence

05/16/2003 - Siebert Cabin Recreation Area "Take Pride in America" Volunteer Project

05/17/2003 - Yreka wild horse and burro adoption

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