A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 111 - 6/4/2003

This week in News.bytes:

- Photo Album - "Equestrian Trails"
- National Trails Day - and more trails
- Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week: Something a little different
- Imperial Sand Dunes - controversy
- Desert tortoise decline
- Off-road recreation

- Wildfire season
- Marijuana raids
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - Preserving wilderness at Tejon Ranch
   - Department of Interior fills volunteer plan post
- Upcoming Congressional Hearings relevant to BLM California
- Selected Upcoming Events, including:

   - Northeast California Advisory Council
   - Folsom wild horse and burro adoption
   - Monument meeting

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

PHOTO ALBUM - "Equestrian Trails"
Riding horse through rugged areaWestern settlers explored much of America on horseback. Today, many of our public lands can still be explored on the back of a horse for a unique natural adventure. For detailed, up-to-date information on a particular area or trail, please contact the appropriate BLM field office.

Related: "Needles - National Trails Day hike" (BLM California news release)
The BLM Needles Field Office offers a ranger-led hike Saturday, June 7 at 7:00 a.m., to celebrate National Trails Day. Organized by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day festivities occur on the first Saturday in June throughout the United States - to promote public awareness and appreciation for America's trails, while encouraging cooperative efforts among different trail users.

Related: "Trails - BLM California"
BLM California trails graphicNational Trails Day is June 7, 2003. Visit Web pages for many trails on public lands managed by BLM California - with uses including hiking and backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking and off-highway designated areas.

Wildlife Trivia Question mark of the weekWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Something a little different
Unscramble these words to identify the six different modes of life for mammals. These are not "easy" answers - the first one is done for you as an example:
(1)  L I S T T N A A O - Answer: SALTATION (mammals that leap or jump)
(2)  I A L A E R
(3)  B A R R A E L O
(4)  C Q A I T A U
(5)  O R R L C A U I S
(6)  F L I S O O S A R
(See other answers near the end of this issue of News.bytes)

From an alert reader, regarding "The Age of Mammals?" answer that stated "Cenozoic era (1.6 to 65 million years ago):"
"Strange answer to trivia question: We are still in the Cenozoic. The figure 1.6 Ma is sometimes used as the end of the Tertiary period and start of the Pleistocene, although the number depends on whether you're calibrating the start of the Pleistocene based on tectonic events, climate, or faunal change."
To see last week's News.bytes, with the original question:


"Groups to challenge dunes management plan" (Imperial Valley Press, 05/30/2003)
"Off-road access groups and environmentalists studied the Imperial Sand Dunes management plan for the past week and agreed they will be challenging it. Environmentalists say the plan is so damaging to species they may not even wait for a 30-day protest period to elapse before filing a lawsuit. Off-road groups say parts of the plan that limit access are not based on science."

"Our Opinion: Ramping up" (Imperial Valley Press, 05/28/2003)
EDITORIAL: "Neither the environmental nor the off-road community is overjoyed with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Recreation Area Management Plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area released last week, which means it probably is a good compromise. We in Imperial County should be happy because the final version of the plan allows more visitors to the dunes, meaning more money for our local economy..."

"Weighing impact of dunes management plan" (Imperial Valley Press, 05/23/2003)
(Story included in last week's News.bytes - link changed soon after News.bytes was sent out.) Newspaper Editor's Note states: "This is the first in a two-part series on the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan and reaction to it. Part one addresses concerns from the local business community. Part two will address concerns from the environmental and off-highway vehicle communities."


"Shell Game" (East Bay Express, 05/28/2003)
desert tortoise"Ravens? Yahoos? Disease? After shelling out $100 million, you'd think we'd know what is wiping out the California desert tortoise." Off-roaders say shutting off areas of desert to vehicles will not help endangered species - a respiratory virus is mostly to blame for tortoise's decline. Head of a "turtle rescue" group lay blame largely on unthinking or well-meaning turtle owners - who release them back into the wild and spread the virus - especially after turtle "fads" wind down.

"Nothing to crow about" (Victorville Daily Press, 06/02/2003)
Some species decline as human residents move in - but raven numbers in the high desert may have increased 15-fold, during the past 20 years - helped by human activities and attracted by landfills. Still, they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act signed over 100 years ago. The birds prey on juvenile desert tortoises - an endangered species on BLM-managed lands - but not everyone agrees on how badly ravens affect tortoise populations.,92504,


"Plans to seize land for off-roading on hold" (San Bernardino County Sun, 05/31/2003)
"Plans to seize private property near El Mirage Dry Lake to add to an off-road vehicle area are on hold after a state decision to withhold grant money for the plan. Officials at the state Department of Parks and Recreation decided they didn't want to use state money to pay for the seizures..." Several property owners said they bought the land in the 1970s, made installment payments for 10 years, and think they should make a fair profit. "The BLM wanted to acquire the vacant land in part because it was already being used by off-roaders" and is short on marked borders between public and private lands.,1413,203%257E21481%257E1427761,00.html

"Panel considers ideas to protect butterfly at Sand Mountain" (Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle, 06/01/2003)
This spring, BLM biologist recommended closing 25 percent of Nevada off-road area popular with northern Californians - to protect rare Sand Mountain blue butterfly. "After a subsequent outcry by off-roaders and local business owners, the BLM took the matter to its Resource Advisory Council, which then formed [a] subgroup to represent various sides of the issue." Summer heat reduces current crowds; BLM expects to have policies in place for popular fall season.


"Busy wildfire season predicted" (CNN, 05/31/2003)
"Forecasters say much of the interior West, South and central Alaska, parts of California, the western Great Lakes states, and northern Maine are expected to have an above normal fire season." Hope for less devastation than last year: "The summer of 2002 was one of the costliest wildfire seasons in half a century. Fires claimed the lives of 23 firefighters; destroyed more than 800 homes, scorched about 7 million acres, and cost $1.5 billion."

"Wildfire season begins today -- late rains delayed start this year; State hires 1,500 seasonal firefighters" (San Francisco Chronicle, 06/02/2003)
"Officials are hoping for less trouble this year after a particularly nasty couple of years in the West. So far this year, through May 27, wildfires burned 1,853 acres in California, excluding federal lands, compared with 13, 254 acres for the same period in 2002 and a five-year average of 4,957 acres."

"Firefighting planes grounded due to concerns about safety" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 05/31/2003)
"Safety concerns sparked by two fatal air tanker crashes last year mean the federal government will have fewer of the heavy planes available to fight wildfires this year." Different strategy will focus heavier planes on dumping retardant on small fires before they grow out of control. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service "also have contracted for about 34 smaller, single-engine air tankers....They can't carry as much fire retardant, but are more flexible."

"Stuck car revs up 450-acre brush fire" (Antelope Valley Press, 6/3/2003)
BLM crews help 25 Kern County firefighters keep a brush fire contained to 450 acres, and 200 yards from houses. Blaze started when driver tried to get his car unstuck from soft dirt and it overheated. Resident "said she had seen a nearby mountain burn twice during the 30 years she has lived [there]." Fire inspector urges: clear brush away from your houses.

"Juggling fire risks and species' safety" (Los Angeles Times, 05/31/2003)
"Under a Bush proposal, forest managers would not have to ask wildlife agencies whether a thinning or burn might harm imperiled species." Officials say that could take months off approval time for wildfire-protection projects. Environmentalists say it removes important safeguard on BLM and U.S. Forest Service.,0,2569773.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience


"Officers raid pot gardens" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 05/30/2003)
"Three arrests were made and more than 20,000 marijuana plants were seized Thursday by drug enforcement teams in Shasta and Tehama counties," including almost 16,000 plants on BLM-managed land. Story notes damage that pot growers do to the environment: "they cut down trees. . . . They hurt the ecosystem and the whole forest."

"16,000-plant Tehama pot garden raided" (Chico Record-Enterprise, 05/30/2003)
"The spot was on Grizzly Creek, about 25 miles west of Red Bluff on Bureau of Land Management-[managed] land near the Mendocino National Forest.",1413,135~25088~1424368,00.html


"Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee to meet" (BLM California news release, 6/3/2003)
The meeting Saturday is open to the public. Agenda will focus on a range of alternatives to be considered in resource management plan for the 204,107-acre monument.

"Students visit wetland-renewal project at dry lake" (San Bernardino County Sun, 6/3/2003)
About 40 middle school students visit Harper Dry Lake Marsh near Hinkley, on the first official field trip since BLM and volunteers started to restore the area.,1413,208%257E12588%257E1433421,00.html

"Denverite to take Interior Dept. post" (Denver Post, 05/30/2003)
"Marti Allbright confirmed Thursday that she is to be the executive director of Take Pride in America," a program aimed at tapping volunteerism to maintain public lands. "The program works with governors and corporate partners to launch volunteer conservation projects. Take Pride is part of President Bush's USA Freedom Corps, dedicated to fostering a culture of service to others.",1413,36%257E53%257E1423626,00.html

"Tejon wants to preserve wilderness lands" (KGET TV, 06/02/2003)
"After taking a lot of flack from environmental groups... Tejon Ranch is working a deal, to preserve more than a third of its land as pristine wilderness area. Some of the area has reportedly been untouched for hundreds of years. Tejon says it wants to make sure it stays that way....says it will likely take from six to nine months to properly evaluate the worth of the land... and to find a suitable buyer... someone like the [BLM] or the Department of Fish and Game.... which would be a suitable steward of the land for years to come."

"Activists blast claim of no habitat money" (San Bernardino County Sun, 05/29/2003)
"Drawing fire from environmental groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will run out of money in July to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. The federal agency claims that a flood of court orders has drained its funds for wildlife protection and that it will be unable to meet orders to declare critical habitat for 32 endangered species, including the arroyo toad, Lane Mountain milk-vetch and Santa Ana sucker in San Bernardino County and eight others in the state.",1413,208%257E12588%257E1423631,00.html

relevant to BLM California

  • June 12, Hearing HR 762, Reasonable Right-of-Way Fees Act of 2003, by Senate Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands & Forests. Forest Service will provide the witness. Ray Brady, BLM Lands & Realty Group Manager, is the technical backup.
  • June 17, Oversight Hearing on Native American Sacred Places by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Chris Kearney, Department of Interior Deputy Acting Secretary, Policy/International Affairs, is the witness.
  • June 19, Oversight Hearing on Grazing by the Senate Energy Subcommittee on Public Land and Forests. Jim Hughes is the witness.
  • June 19, Hearing on Geothermal Energy by the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Minerals. Bob Anderson is the witness.
  • June 26, Hearing on Healthy Forest Initiative by the Senate Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton will be the witness.
  • June 26, Hearing on EPCA/Energy Access by the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Minerals. Witness to be announced.

Wildlife Trivia Question mark of the week

(2) I A L A E R = AERIAL (mammals that fly)
(3) B A R R A E L O = ARBOREAL (mammals that climb)
(4) C Q A I T A U = AQUATIC (mammals that are adapted for living in or near water)
(5) O R R L C A U I S = CURSORIAL (mammals that are highly adapted to running)
(6) F L I S O O S A R = FOSSORIAL (mammals that burrow, dig, or tunnel into the ground) and...

Hoary bat - Photo credit: Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences....speaking of "arboreal" ... the only true flying mammal is the bat. Bats are also the subject of a number of myths: they are not blind, and they do not become entangled in human hair. Visit the BLM California Wildlife Database to learn more about bats that appear on California public lands - this link will take you to a page on the Hoary bat.
(Note: the Wildlife Database is hosted on the Department of Interior's secure Web server - see note under "Selected Upcoming Events" below)

(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.)

06/05/2003 - Northeast California Advisory Council

06/07/2003 - Needles - National Trails Day hike

06/07/2003 - Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Palm Desert

06/14/2003 - Folsom wild horse and burro adoption

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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