A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 115 - 7/2/2003

This week in News.bytes:

- Land use plans: Recreation, conservation, controversy and lawsuits
- Desert tortoise lawsuit

- Bookstore Feature: "California Indians: A Source Book"
- Photo Album: Reptiles
- Wildfire season and protection
- National issues, including:
   - Grazing testimony
   - Privatizing government jobs
   - R.S. 2477 rights-of-way
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - Desert robot race
   - New BLM ranger "ready to roll"
- Selected Upcoming Events, including:
   - Western States Wild Horse and Burro Expo and Show
   - Draft West Mojave Plan public meetings
   - Northwest California Advisory Council

LAND USE PLANS: Recreation, conservation, controversy and lawsuits

"BLM Approves Western Mojave Desert Routes of Travel Designations" (BLM California news release, 07/01/2003)
BLM California State Director Mike Pool has signed the decision record approving the Western Mojave Desert Off Road Vehicle Routes of Travel Designations, an amendment to the 1980 California Desert Conservation Area plan.

"Trails meeting draws crowd with lots of questions" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 06/27/2003)
"Hikers, bikers and horseback riders crowded into a tense public meeting ... where they peppered planners with questions about the latest vision for Coachella Valley trails. Nearly 80 people -- some wearing bicycle jerseys or hikers' gear -- wanted to know if preservation of habitat for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep would push outdoor enthusiasts from mountain trails."

"Legal battle over dunes far from over" (Yuma Sun, 06/27/2003)
"Despite a federal judge's decision to throw out a lawsuit that would have immediately reopened thousands of acres at the Imperial Sand Dunes, off-roaders still expect to have access to the areas, but in limited numbers."

"Controversy and lizards" (Imperial Valley Press, 07/01/2003)
Following BLM wildlife biologists and interns as they count flat-tailed horned lizards in the June heat of the Imperial County desert - part of a monitoring program. "[The] lizard is at the center of lawsuits by environmental groups who contend the federal government is not doing enough to protect the species." Off-road groups contend "there is no new evidence the flat-tailed horned lizard is threatened or endangered."


"Coalition lays groundwork for legal battle to protect tortoises" (San Bernardino County Sun, 7/1/2003)
"Seeking to open up public lands which have been closed to protect the threatened desert tortoise, San Bernardino County and a coalition of other desert counties are threatening to sue the federal government....The coalition argues the land closures were economically harmful and not based on scientific evidence that the restrictions would help save the desert tortoise, which was listed as threatened in 1990.",1413,208%257E12588%257E1489299,00.html

"S.B. to sue feds over tortoise plan" (Victorville Daily Press, 07/01/2003)
"The QuadState County Government Coalition, which includes ... five other counties in three adjacent Western states, contends the U.S. Department of the Interior and its agencies - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management - have violated aspects of the federal Endangered Species Act by 'arbitrarily' closing land to use.",43536,

"Group argues tortoise policy is not effective" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/2/2003)
"A multi-county government coalition is asking that the Department of the Interior review a 9-year-old plan to save the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise from extinction....the group submitted a notice of intent to file suit against the Department of Interior and its agencies, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The agencies have 60 days to either review the tortoise policy, negotiate with the coalition or prepare for litigation..."

"McQuiston announces support for planned lawsuit against federal agencies" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 7/2/2003)
"When it comes to decisions, the BLM consistently falls back on the recovery plan, despite all the evidence that says that in the last decade and a half, it has been the respiratory disease and raven predation that have been having the greatest effects," ["First District Supervisor Jon] McQuiston said. "Regretfully, after five years, we have no other recourse than to take legal action because these federal agencies continue to develop and implement faulty land management plans based on the un-reviewed recovery plan."

Photo Album: "Reptiles"

reptile photo from our database"An air-breathing cold-blooded egg-laying vertebrate such as the crocodile, tortoise, snake, or lizard, with an outer covering of scales or plates and a bony skeleton."
See more in our online photo database:

Learn more in 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)

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "California Indians: A Source Book"
BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "California Indians: A Source Book"This new, expanded edition is a more comprehensive and thus more useful book than its predecessor, which first appeared in 1951 and was reprinted seven times. The editors have combined the selections, eighteen of which are new, into a general survey of California Indians' native cultures.


Kern Valley Hotshots cutting line while protecting a young sequoia tree."Snapshots: Highlighting BLM projects that support the National Fire Plan." (BLM Web site, 6/27/2003)
California wildfire prevention projects, from this national report. Includes: Project that protects Giant Sequoias and neighboring community; grants that support "fuel reduction programs"; public service announcements; fire safety education and more.
PDF file, 1.3 megabytes, 7 pages with color photos:
Snapshots, 6/27/03

"Fire restrictions set on BLM managed public lands" (BLM California news release, 7/1/2003)
Fire season is well underway in Northern California, and the BLM is implementing fire use restrictions on public lands. Fire prevention orders, which limit campfires, firewood cutting and off-road motor vehicle use, are effective July 1.

"Blazes char more than 1,000 acres" (Porterville Recorder, 06/30/2003)
Firefighters from many agencies including BLM were winding down after weekend fires in Central California destroyed some homes and threatened more than 100 others, as temperatures soared to 108.


"Congressional testimony: Oversight of Grazing on Public Lands" (Department of the Interior news release, 06/25/2003)
Testimony of Rebecca Watson, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, United States Department of the Interior before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. "The BLM is committed to working with those who work on the public land as we strive for economically productive and environmentally healthy rangelands. Today the BLM manages grazing on more than 160 million acres of public land in the West. We administer over 18,000 grazing permits and leases..."

"Wilderness protection" (New York Times, 06/28/2003)
Op/Ed from P. Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary; Policy, Management and Budget; U.S. Department of Interior - in response to the newspaper's June 21 editorial, "Gale Norton Rouses Congress."

"Roads to Ruin: How a 137-year-old mining law directs the wilderness debate of Utah and the nation" (Salt Lake City Weekly, 06/26/2003)
Extensive story on local impacts - and national implications - of Revised Statute 2477. R.S. 2477 has sparked bitter disagreements and costly court battles - 137 years after that law was passed, and more than 25 years after it was repealed. The difference between what is a valid road claim under the statute and what is not can mean the difference between what land is open to grazing, extracting resources and paving roads, and what is set aside as wilderness. A recent agreement between the Secretary of the Interior and the State of Utah has sparked new debate.

"Forest Service considers competing more than 10,000 jobs" (Government Executive Magazine, 06/29/2003)
"The Forest Service is weighing plans to let private contractors compete for the jobs of more than 10,000 employees, including those in its wildfire program, to meet White House competitive sourcing goals....Competing the entire fire program could be complicated. ....The plan envisions including employees from [federal agencies including BLM] in the competition, potentially creating a rare joint job competition involving multiple agencies."


"Barstow to be robot race starting point" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 06/30/2003)
"The City of Barstow has recently been selected as a starting point for an autonomous robotic ground vehicle race, where teams of inventors from across the globe will compete for a grand prize of $1 million." The race to Las Vegas is sponsored by the Department of Defense, which said it is working with BLM on three possible routes through the desert.,73941,

"New BLM ranger ready to roll" (Victorville Daily Press, 06/27/2003)
"With his official credential, new badge, top-notch vehicle and tool-laden duty belt, [new BLM ranger sworn in at Barstow Field Office] said he plans to educate people about the responsibilities that come with the sustained multiple-use of public land. 'I'm here to protect the environment from the people and the people from the environment,' he said. 'It's a balancing act that has to take place. The idea is to make the complex simple.'",32802,

"Squaw Leap near Millerton renamed" (Fresno Bee, 06/30/2003)
"Squaw Leap, a name that has long grated on American Indians, has passed into Central California history -- at least, as far as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is concerned." BLM renamed 6,700-acre Squaw Leap Management Area as the San Joaquin River Gorge. "A nearby table mountain will continue to be called Squaw Leap on U.S. Geological Survey maps -- meaning all official maps -- until someone asks USGS's Board of Geographic Names to change it."

"County officials react to PILT payment amounts" (Needles Desert Star, 07/02/2003)
"The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program of the [BLM] pays states a set amount of money to offset their inability to collect property tax revenue for land under federal control within their borders. San Bernardino County uses the majority of the money on public safety services for unincorporated areas along [interstate highways]...for fire protection services...and illegal use of BLM lands within the county." Says a county spokesperson: "If people go out to the land illegally, the county still is responsible for the land and what goes on out there....There is no way for the county to recoup that cost."

(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.)

07/15/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting

07/16/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting
Lone Pine

07/17/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting

07/17/2003 - Northwest California Advisory Council meeting
Mt. Shasta

07/18/2003 - Western States Wild Horse and Burro Expo and Show

07/22/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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