A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 118 - 7/23/2003

This week in News.bytes:
Firefighters battle wildfire blaze
- Photo album: "Wildfire"
- Related: Fire Management
- Wildfires:
   - Northeastern California
   - Fort Ord
- Wild horse and burro adoption: Thousand Oaks
- Bookstore Feature: "Canned Gorilla"
- West Mojave Plan draws heat
- More land use planning:
   - South Yuba River
   - Multi-Species plan
   - Fort Irwin
- National/Department of Interior news:
   - Wilderness controversy
   - Retooling land appraisals
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - Comments sought: Proposed geothermal operations
   - Horsemen drop suit over horse removal
- Upcoming Congressional Hearings relevant to BLM California
- Selected Upcoming Events, including:
   - National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
   - Draft West Mojave Plan public meetings
   - South Yuba River planning meeting

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

PHOTO ALBUM - "Wildfire"
Photo Album: Firefighters against a backdrop of flamesThe Department of the Interior - including BLM - the USDA Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters are working cooperatively on The National Fire Plan. The Plan is a cooperative, long-term effort of the federal government and state partners to manage impacts of wildland fire on our nation's communities. This particular collection of wildfire photos includes the blazes themselves, firefighters attacking them, and some "aftermath" photos.


"Fire management - Bakersfield Field Office" (BLM California Web site)
The main mission of the Fire Program of the Bakersfield Field Office is to protect life, property and natural resources (in that order) from wildland fire. Our office has primary responsibility for protecting 1.5 million acres of land from wildfire. This includes 250,000 acres of State and privately owned land, as well as public lands managed by the BLM.

"Fire Management - Alturas Field Office" (BLM California Web site)
"This organization is dedicated and prepared to educate the public and other agencies, promoting the acceptance of fire as a necessary and desirable ecosystem process and to respect and prepare for fire's dangerous aspects. Additionally, our fire management organization is dedicated and prepared to respond aggressively to unwanted and unplanned wildland fires, and to protect life, property and resources from degradation."

"National Interagency Fire Center" (NIFC Web site)
National Interagency Fire Center is a partnership among federal agencies including BLM, and the National Association of State Foresters. Has links to:
- Current wildland fires nationally, including California public lands. (Updated at least daily during fire season. July 23 update shows four active large fires in California.)
FireWise: Homeowners can learn about building defensible space in the wildland/urban interface;
- National wildland fire outlook; and more.

WILDFIRE: Northeastern California, Fort Ord

BLM California firefighters also joined federal, state, and local fire crews in fighting other recent fires of various sizes, across the state.

"Smoke fire grows to 6,500 acres" (BLM California news release, 07/23/2003)
The Smoke Fire, a lightning-caused blaze burning in high desert rangeland northeast of Susanville, has now burned more than 6,500 acres of brush, grass and juniper. Nearly 500 personnel are assigned to the fire, which is burning in the BLM's Twin Peaks Wilderness Study Area along the California-Nevada state line, about 32 air miles northeast of Susanville.

"Lightning causes fires on BLM managed lands in northeast California" (BLM California news release, 07/21/2003)
Dry thunderstorms touched off more than a dozen fires Sunday evening, on public lands managed by the BLM in northeast California.

"Ford Ord fire fully contained" (Monterey County Herald, 07/19/2003)
"The fire burned about 200 acres of Presidio of Monterey land and about 600 acres of Bureau of Land Management property."

"Blaze heats Fort Ord" (The Californian, 07/18/2003)
A dangerous complication with a brush fire at former Fort Ord military base: unexploded ordnance. A spokesperson "said a lot of old shells were exploding and likened the sound to rapid gunfire."

"Army plans controlled burn on Fort Ord" (Monterey County Herald, 07/17/2003)
"The Army is planning the first controlled burn on Fort Ord in five years for sometime before the end of the clear vegetation to make it safer for the Army to clear unexploded ordnance. Thursday's brush fire on Fort Ord was not an Army operation." The land will eventually be transferred to BLM management.


A wild horse at an adoption"Wild Horses and Burros Seek New Homes at Thousand Oaks" (BLM California news release, 07/11/2003)
Wild mustangs and burros are living symbols of America's Wild West, and on July 26-27 approximately 80 wild mustangs and 20 wild burros will be offered to qualified adopters at the Conejo Creek Equestrian Park in Thousand Oaks through the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program.

"Soft toy stuffed gorilla contained inside the can. Just open and see." From the "Vanishing Species" series. (Editor's note: there are no known gorillas on land managed by BLM California.)


"W. Mojave recreation plan draws hot debate" (San Bernardino County Sun, 07/16/2003)
"Environmentalists, off-roaders square off" at "the first of seven public meetings on a draft environmental impact report on the 9.3-million- acre West Mojave Plan the nation's largest habitat conservation proposal....Environmentalists say the western Mojave Desert's most pristine areas should be fenced off from vehicles and livestock, but outdoor enthusiasts argue the vast region should be open to all.",1413,208%257E12588%257E1516320,00.html

"Giving species some space" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 07/22/2003)
"West Mojave Plan: The BLM maps a blueprint to keep future needs from overwhelming the desert......The industries that helped settle the High Desert -- cattle ranching and mining -- and today's mushrooming suburbs of homes and strip malls are now both facing the prospect of limitations. They'll all have to tread lightly on land set aside for the tortoises, sunflowers, horned lizards, hawks, owls and squirrels that were there long before them."

"Morgan: City will not endorse West Mojave Plan" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 07/21/2003)
"Ridgecrest City Councilman Steven Morgan told attendees at a public hearing held by Bureau of Land Management officials Thursday, 'The City of Ridgecrest will not endorse the West Mojave Plan....The city is not convinced that the issues surrounding protecting endangered species has been addressed, and that includes the "human species,"' Morgan said."


"How to balance S. Yuba uses?" (The Union, 07/17/2003)
"How do you set a management plan for landowners, kayakers, swimmers, nudists, hikers, mountain bikers, sunbathers, gold dredgers, beer drinkers and litter bugs along a 39-mile stretch of scenic river? A group of government officials is about to find out. The first of what will be dozens of public meetings to form the South Yuba River Comprehensive Management Plan is scheduled for... July 29." BLM, U.S. Forest Service, state and county agencies are working on the plan.

Related: "South Yuba River planning meeting" (BLM California news release, 07/17/2003)
All persons interested in the South Yuba River are invited to a public meeting on Tuesday, July 29, 2003, from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm in Grass Valley to begin the writing of a management plan for publicly-owned lands along the 39-mile stretch of the South Yuba from Spaulding Reservoir to Lake Englebright. The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Nevada County Planning Department will sponsor the meeting.

BLM California rivers graphicRelated: "South Yuba River" (BLM California Web site)
"The South Yuba River is a combination of history, scenic beauty, and whitewater excitement." The BLM is among federal, state and county agencies managing portions of the river for the public.

"BLM seeks representatives to serve on Imperial Sand Dunes Technical Review Team" (BLM California news release, 07/23/2003)
The Team provides input to the El Centro Field Office on prioritizing the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) Recreation Management Plan implementation schedule and the use of fees collected at the ISDRA. The categories of interests the TRT appointees will represent are California and Arizona off-highway vehicle (OHV) interests, Imperial and Yuma counties, and economic interests. (Note: application is expected to be online Thursday, July 24.)

"Ft. Irwin proposal close to complete" (San Bernardino County Sun, 07/21/2003)
"After 15 years of extensive study, the planning phase for expansion of the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin is entering its final stages. Officials of the Army, the [BLM]....and other agencies are now studying a supplemental environmental impact statement on the expansion plans. The proposal attempts to strike a balance between the needs of military training at the fort and protecting endangered species, spokesmen for the military and U.S. Department of Interior said.",1413,208%257E12588%257E1525085,00.html

"Three suits aim to undo habitat plan" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 07/22/2003)
"Calling a massive wildlife conservation plan unfair and backed by bad science, property owners, developers and farmers have filed at least three lawsuits to stop the county from implementing it. While not unexpected, the legal challenges threaten to upend four years of costly planning that ended with the Board of Supervisors voting last month to obtain 153,000 acres during the next 25 years to protect 146 species of plants and animals." Plan is part of the Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan, in which BLM works with many others.


"Preserving wilderness" (PBS, 07/17/2003)
"A battle over federal wilderness designations in Utah ended when the state convinced the federal government to drop certain land restrictions....[environmental group spokesperson] says the settlement will impact not only the disputed land in Utah, but hundreds of thousands of acres from Alaska to California." Features interviews with several interested parties.

"Babbitt faults Norton policies" (Sacramento Bee, 07/22/2003)
"For the first time since leaving office, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is gingerly criticizing his successor, Gale Norton, for limiting protections on millions of acres of public lands across the West. In an interview...Babbitt faulted Norton for halting studies of potential wilderness on lands administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management, a decision that could affect the Headwaters Forest and several other BLM properties in California."

"Administration asks court to throw out wilderness ruling" (Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle, 07/21/2003)
"The Bush administration has asked the Supreme Court to prevent environmental groups from suing to force the government to protect the wilderness potential of parts of Utah's backcountry. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other environmental groups sued the government in 1999, arguing the Bureau of Land Management had failed to meet a congressional mandate to preserve the pristine qualities of areas being considered for wilderness designation."

"Leavitt-Norton rural roads deal clears the House" (Salt Lake City Tribune, 07/18/2003)
"In a legislative battle that had more switchbacks than the bumpy dirt roads that were its focus, the U.S. House upheld, but limited, a new process used by the Interior Department that will allow Utah counties to obtain ownership of disputed travel routes across public lands."

"Interior launches retooling of land appraisal process" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/21/2003)
"Interior Department has taken the first steps to reorganize hundreds of its land evaluators, a move to reform the scandal-marred appraisal process." Task force members include Jim Abbott, BLM California associate state director.


"Comments sought: Proposed geothermal operations" (Mammoth Times, 07/17/2003)
"The [BLM] and the Forest Service are seeking comments on plans submitted by Mammoth Pacific, LP, to conduct geothermal resource operations on federal geothermal leases within the Inyo National Forest near the Town of Mammoth Lakes. A public field trip to the proposed project locations will be conducted on Saturday...."

"BLM seeks voluntary off-road rules for Sand Mountain" (Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle)
The BLM will ask off-roaders to comply with voluntary restrictions at Sand Mountain - a Nevada spot popular with many northern Californians - to avoid closures to protect a rare blue butterfly. Conservationists wanted a ban. A wildlife official hopes "people are going to do the right thing."

"Horsemen drop suit over horse removal" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 07/19/2003)
"Horsemen suing the state over the removal of wild Anza-Borrego Desert State Park have dropped their lawsuit, saying they will continue the fight politically. The horses, descended from animals that escaped or were set free in the 1930s or '40s, were captured and sent to sanctuaries last March. State officials said the herd faced starvation in the canyon....The [BLM] has assumed responsibility for the herd after determining that when it transferred federal land to the state in 2000, it did not have the authority to transfer responsibility for the horses along with it."

"Developer says he’s scrapping Joshua Hills plan" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 07/23/2003)
Opponents said huge development between Coachella Valley Preserve (jointly managed by BLM and partners) and Joshua Tree National Park would have threatened wildlife and sand dunes on the Preserve. Residents feared congestion, traffic and commercialization, and county refused to amend proposed land use plan to fit a project of its size and density.

Related: "Coachella Valley Preserve - Watchable Wildlife site" (BLM California Web page)

Related: "Center for Natural Lands Management - Coachella Valley Preserve"
Information on research projects and volunteer opportunities on the Preserve.

"Forces may say `no' to proposal; Plan may end geothermal projects on military bases" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7/23/2003)
Proposed legislation to give the BLM control of some geothermal power projects on military reservations is intended to promote geothermal energy. It could have the opposite effect, opponents said. Bill could affect "the only geothermal power plant on a military the China Lake Naval Air Station in California." BLM works cooperatively with the Navy on leases for those geothermal plants.


  • July 24 - Hearing HR 1005, PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) by House Resources. Witness is Chris Kearney, Deputy A/S Policy/International Affairs, DOI.
  • July 24, Hearing on National Park Service Competitive Sourcing by Senate Energy Subcommittee on National Parks. Witness is National Park Service.
  • July 24, Hearing on Salt Cedar/Tamarisk and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act by House Resources Subcommittee on Forests & Forest Health. Witness is Dr. Jim Tate, Science Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton
  • July 29, Hearing on National Park Service Recreation Fee by Senate Energy Subcommittee on Natural Parks. Witness to be announced.
  • July 30 (Tentative), Markup of HR 762, Reasonable Right-of-Way Fees Act by Senate Energy.
  • August 25 (Tentative), Field Hearing in Bend, OR on Healthy Forests by House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. Witness is BLM Director Kathleen Clarke.
  • August 28 (Tentative), Field Hearing in Lake Arrowhead, CA on Healthy Forests by House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. Witness is BLM Director Kathleen Clarke.

(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.)

07/23/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting
Yucca Valley

07/24/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting

07/30/2003 - Draft West Mojave Plan public meeting

07/29/2003 - South Yuba River planning meeting
Grass Valley

08/02/2003 - Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Palm Desert

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
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