A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 136 -- 12/4/03:
Tim GarrodCrowd watches off-highway vehicles, Imperial Sand DunesJim Eicher paddling inflatable kayak on Cosumnes RiverPhoto Quiz: Where is this? Bookstore Feature: Finding Gold in the Desert

- Imperial Sand Dunes: 150,000+ visitors last weekend?
- Not for Educators Only:
    - Wildlife Trivia of the Week
    - Photo quiz: "Where is this?"
- Profile: Jim Eicher
- Meet your Advisory Council members: Tim Garrod
- Bookstore Features: "Finding Gold in the Desert"
- Wildfires: Worse to come?
- Healthy Forest Act: Aimed at wildfires
- Energy: Rights of way
- Roads issue (R.S. 2477)
- Mining: Court ruling on rules; Cemex
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - BLM job opening: Central California public affairs specialist
   - Special adoption: Mustang weanlings
   - Land use planning, and more

IMPERIAL SAND DUNES: 150,000+ visitor weekend?

Crowd watches off-highway vehicles, Imperial Sand Dunes"Officials look to next holiday in dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/2/2003)
"With the Thanksgiving holiday complete, [BLM] officials are looking to the next big holiday weekend — New Year's Eve. While not as big a draw as Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve weekend still can attract more than 50,000 dunes-goers." Officials to meet to predict needed level of law enforcement.

"Crowded dunes under better control than in past, ranger says" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/1/2003)
"Between issuing citations for open containers, and watching for vehicles without "whips" (flags attached to off-highway vehicles), the rangers and their support from other agencies stop to check stranded motorists and help get injured riders to hospitals."

"Not all fun and games" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/29/2003)
"Unruly off-roaders clashed with paintball gun-wielding [BLM] rangers Friday night, putting on a show for thousands of spectators near the sand drags area of the [Glamis/Imperial Sand] dunes." To disperse the crowd after some people started throwing beer cans at officers, "the rangers fired pellets filled with a chili powder-type substance from paintball guns" which sting and cause the eyes to water.

"All's quiet on the sandy front; BORSTAR helping patrol Imperial dunes over weekend" (Yuma Sun, 11/28/2003)
The long weekend in the dunes started quietly: "Thanksgiving Day at the Imperial Sand Dunes was relatively incident free for law enforcement agencies charged with protecting duners, but officials said the worse may be yet to come."

"Dunes group to lawless few: 'Leave or behave' " (Imperial Valley Press, 11/20/2003)
"The American Sand Association wants to take back the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation area from the lawless few who have portrayed off-road enthusiasts negatively. The association, which leads an effort called Partners for Dunes Safety, has had enough of those who have not only affected the image of dunes-goers but have taken some of the fun from families and others who come to the area to enjoy the outdoors." (BLM manages the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.)

"Off-roaders spend millions locally" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/28/2003)
"Each year at least 1 million people make a pilgrimage to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area to enjoy an area deemed by federal authorities as the best off-roading site in the Southwest. The economic boon these dunes-goers — whether off- roaders or hikers — provide to the county is unquestionable, Imperial Valley officials say, particularly as the tourism trade in the area grows."

"Image of dunes accident victim haunts sheriff's sergeant on patrol" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/25/2003)
Imperial County Sheriff's Sergeant remembers: "A man driving his all-terrain vehicle while under the influence of alcohol flew over the crest of a sand dune and came crashing down on a woman, a teacher, on the other side. She died....he still carries that and other images with him, images he cannot forget, images of events he never wants to see repeated. They are images that drive him to try to keep all those in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and other areas of the county as safe as possible. That is no easy task..."

"Boy, 11, killed in off-road accident" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/1/2003)
"The boy's death came in a weekend in which six people had to be air-lifted from off-roading areas around Imperial County and as [local hospital] saw a record number of patients in its emergency room."

"Draggin' in the dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/29/2003)
Related: "At the end of the sand drags -- an informal race as the sun begins to set in the North Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis -- who won isn't important." Interviews with audience at the Dunes.

"BLM told Assault report needs more work" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/2/2003)
"The Imperial County District Attorney's Office informed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in El Centro that a report returned to the federal agency last week needed further investigative work."

"Public comment sought on supplemental dunes rule" (BLM California news release, 11/26/2003)
The BLM is proposing a supplementary rule clarifying that special recreation permit fees that went into effect October 1, 2003, must be paid immediately upon arrival by visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. Comments on the proposal, which does not affect the amount of the fees (set earlier at $25 per week and $90 for a season pass), will be accepted if provided to BLM in person, by mail, or by electronic mail by December 22, 2003.


Wildlife Trivia Question mark of the WeekWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK
What kind of animal is the "ensatina?"
(1) A type of armadillo - so named because the ridges around its back look a little like a concertina (a type of accordion);
(2) A small rodent, named for the stripes on its upper legs (a corruption of the Spanish word for the military rank of "ensign");
(3) A large bug common in the southwest, that makes loud "music" by rubbing its back legs together;
(4) An salamander found in much of California (from Latin ensatus, meaning "sword-shaped") whose tail can break off if a predator catches it; or
(5) A tiny frog, named by the person who discovered it - a former band member at Encina High School in Sacramento.
(See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.)

Photo Quiz: Where is this?1. Ibex Wilderness Area
2. Ishi Wilderness Area
3. Santa Lucia Wilderness Area
Take your best guess, and check your answer in our online interactive Photo Quiz:

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Finding Gold in the Desert
Book Cover: "Finding Gold in the DesertFrom the book description: "Complete Guide on How to Find Gold in the Desert....Almost everyone at least dreams about finding gold. This book tells you how you can make that dream a reality, without a great investment in time or money. Newly revised edition included plans to build a drywasher."

Northeast California Advisory Council member Tim Garrod represents the public-at-large and is a charter member and two-time chairperson of the advisory council. He is the owner/operator of the Garrod Farms and has lived in Lassen County for more than 27 years. Read more about Tim at:

Jim Eicher paddling inflatable kayak on Cosumnes RiverPROFILE: Jim Eicher
Jim Eicher will tell you he is a River Rat. He was a river ranger and outdoor recreation planner for 20 years before opting to take on the duties as the associate field office manager in Folsom. Coming from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he longed to come west and work in the forests, mountains and on the rivers...Read more about Jim in this week's News.bytes Profile.

WILDFIRES: Worse to come?

"Dead trees still pose major threat; Forest officials fear much worse blaze could erupt" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/29/2003)
"As bad as the October wildfires were, foresters fear a worse sequel. Millions of dead trees amid vast stretches of parched chaparral were spared by the Cedar, Paradise and Otay fires, leaving a tinderbox that could ignite with the next spell of dry and windy weather." Private and public lands affected include BLM-managed areas.

"Defenseless; The fire-blackened hillsides are dangerously vulnerable to heavy rain" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/04/2003)
"Depending on Mother Nature, the October fires may take more victims: the Inland region's pristine drinking water and endangered species that depend on its sparkling quality."

"Flood-prone areas detailed" (San Bernardino County Sun, 12/04/2003),1413,208%257E12588%257E1807933,00.html

"Rebuilding up in air" (San Bernardino County Sun, 12/04/2003)
"San Bernardino County wants you to rebuild the house you lost to the October fires. That does not mean it will happen." "After fires, county works to modernize mountain codes, highways, utilities.",1413,208%257E12588%257E1807452,00.html

"On fires, conquer a jungle of jurisdictions" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/26/2003)
Columnist: Preventing more huge wildfires in southern California means navigating "a civic jungle of overlapping jurisdictions....among city, county, state and federal authorities..." including BLM.

"Fire policy must be based upon sound science" (North County Times, 11/24/2003)
EDITORIAL: "Almost certainly, more controlled burning of chaparral will become a part of San Diego County's wildfire safety policy."

HEALTHY FOREST ACT: Fighting future wildfires

Bush signs bill allowing more cutting in forests to curb wildfire threat" (Associated Press in North County Times, 12/03/2003)
"More timber and brush can be cut and cleared with less environmental scrutiny under a "Healthy Forests" law President Bush signed Wednesday. He said it will help protect communities from devastating wildfires."

"'We'll help protect our forests'" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/04/2003)

"Officials welcome 'Healthy Forest Act'" (Victorville Daily Press, 11/30/2003),39257,

"President Bush Signs Healthy Forest Restoration Act into Law" (White House news release, 12/03/2003)

"Fact Sheet: Implementation of the Healthy Forests Initiative" (Department of Interior news release, 12/03/2003)

ENERGY: Electricity sent from Mexico to California

"Locals: Don't add to air pollution" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/21/2003)
"The U.S. Department of Energy and the BLM] came to El Centro and Calexico on Thursday to gather comments for a court-mandated environmental probe of two newly constructed power plants in Mexicali that feed power to California."

"Talks focus on emissions from Mexican power plants" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/22/2003)
"Imperial County leaders and others this week urged the U.S. government to set a bold precedent that will prevent Mexican power plants from harming the air and water quality and public health of U.S. border communities."

"Our Opinion: A DOE and pony show?" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/25/2003)
EDITORIAL: "The U.S. Department of Energy seemed to make all the right moves Thursday went it staged public comment sessions in Calexico and El Centro regarding a full environmental review of the effects of two U.S.-built power plants south of the border, a mere stone's throw from Imperial County. Let's hope this isn't just some dog and pony show..." (BLM involved through rights-of-way permits for power lines, across public lands.)


"Groups seek wild roads" (Associated Press in Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 11/24/03)
"San Bernardino County and off-road groups are seeking to use an obscure 1866 federal mining law to take ownership of what potentially could be more than 5,500 miles of wildland roadways in California, according to a study...." But: "The county's intent is to put the federal government on notice that these are valid public rights of way....Its intent is not to lay claim to 2,500 miles of trails and turn those into quote-unquote 'highways.' " Off-roading group "[e]arlier this for access to 140 miles of old roadways in Humboldt County's King Range National Conservation Area, citing a map from the mid-1800s....",1413,203%257E26127%257E1788753,00.html

"Land law sparks concern" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/25/2003)
"More than 5,500 miles of back roads across national parks and other federal lands in California could be in peril if ownership is granted to counties and individuals under an obscure law, an environmental group said."

"Road claims decision not addressed" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 11/24/2003)
"Weeks after the passage of a U.S. Interior Department spending bill, several environmental groups are still up in arms because a provision they’d hoped for wasn’t included...the bill didn’t address a matter they say could lead to more paved roads in the Mojave National Preserve, Death Valley and other national parks.",82487,

MINING: Cemex; Mining rules

"Judge upholds mining regulations" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/20/2003)
"A federal judge has upheld mining rules issued by the Bush administration, but reminded government managers of their responsibility to protect public land from environmental harm."

Related: "Conservationists claim victory despite contrary mining law ruling" (Associated Press, in San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/20/2003)
"Assistant Interior Secretary Rebecca Watson said the conservationists are trying to find a silver lining in a significant legal setback."

"McKeon introduces mining bill" (The Santa Clarita Signal, 11/20/2003)
Congressman from Santa Clarita introduced the “Soledad Canyon Mine Cancellation Act” into the House of Representatives. "The bill, he said, is intended to limit the size and scope of a proposed gravel mine on 460 acres south of state Route 14 in Canyon Country." (BLM issued permit for mining.)


"This land is your land" (Los Angeles Times, 11/27/2003)
COMMENTARY: by Rebecca Watson, assistant secretary of the Interior for land and minerals management. Discusses "a hint of what the BLM calls 'shared community stewardship' -- a citizen-directed conservation road map to the future governance of public lands, unveiled this month in Los Angeles.",1,7006982.story

"Economists challenge Bush Western land policies" (Reuters in Forbes, 12/03/2003)
"A group of economists, including two Nobel Laureates, Wednesday asked the Bush Administration and 11 Western state governors to rethink policies they say threaten the West's environment and hurt the region's economic prosperity."


BLM job open: Public Affairs Specialist for Central California
"Duty location for this position may be in Folsom, Bishop, Bakersfield, or Hollister, California, or location to be determined -- serves under the direction of the California Field Managers in those four locations." Learn more at USA Jobs:
Members of the public:
Federal employee or reinstatement status:

For other jobs now open with BLM California, visit the USA Jobs government Web site:

"Special mustang weanling auction scheduled near Ridgecrest" (BLM California news release, 12/1/2003)
The animals will be offered to qualified adopters during a special 1-day adoption on Saturday, December 13.

"BLM, Park Service, volunteer groups cooperate to adopt burros" (BLM California news release, 12/3/2003)
Wild burros from two national parks in Southern California will be placed in private care thanks to a unique cooperative agreement involving the U. S. Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and three volunteer organizations.

"Natural resources seen as way out of an economic doldrum" (Modoc Record, 12/04/2003)
"Lifting many restrictions and modifying policies and practices on local ...BLM...lands would go a long way towards reviving the depressed local economy in Modoc County that has been effectively throttled in recent decades by politically correct attitudes. This was the message local residents and officials presented to BLM administrators in a workshop held in Alturas on Tuesday."

"BLM District Advisory Council to meet in Barstow" (BLM California news release, 12/2/2003)
New dates for field tour and meeting: Dec. 11-12.

"Lassen County concerned over potential water export" (Lassen County Times, 12/1/2003)
"Just two weeks ago, a public meeting was held in Susanville during which a representative of the [BLM] from Carson City introduced two independent water companies who are developing plans to construct and operate water supply and transmission projects to meet the current and future needs of the Stead and Lemmon Valley areas to the north of Reno."

"BLM Implements Emergency Closure to Protect Threatened Plant in the Clear Creek Management Area" (BLM California news release, 11/26/2003)

"Draft conservation plan approved for release" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/01/2003)
"The architects of a plan to balance economic growth with environmental preservation in the Coachella Valley will deliver their plan for public scrutiny, despite objections from some who wanted more time to debate." BLM is one of many partners in the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, "essentially a map that outlines a 75-year growth and preservation plan for the region."

ANSWER to wildlife trivia question of the weekWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Ensatina - Photo Arie van der Meijden (©2000) - UC Berkeley Digital Library ProjectANSWER: (4) A salamander found in much of California (from Latin ensatus, meaning "sword-shaped") whose tail can break off if a predator catches it.
"The name Ensatina comes from the Latin ensatus , meaning sword-shaped ..."("San Diego Natural History Museum, Learn more about the ensatina in our BLM California online Wildlife Database. (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.)

12/06/2003 - Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Palm Desert
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