A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue date: 3/12/2003

This week in News.bytes:

- Geothermal Energy:
     - Photo Album
     - BLM California Issue Update
- Department of Interior officials on local, national, BLM issues:
     - Dog-sheep controversy
     - Wetlands
     - Budget: Interior Secretary before Congress
- Not For Educators Only:
     - Plant of the Week: Slender Orcutt grass
     - Bookstore Feature: "The Californian Wildlife Region"
     - Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week: Some like it hot (reptiles, that is)
- Land use planning: issues, controversies, including:
     - Imperial Sand Dunes
     - Western Mojave land rules
     - City may buy land, to cut size of gravel mine
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
     - Team seals off hazardous mines
     - OHV grant workshop: BLM Palm Springs office
     - Tecate Peak: BLM and Mexico cooperate
     - Report: Restoration and heavy-equipment jobs
     - Salt cedar removal: two reasons
     - Senators blast right of way rule
- Selected Upcoming Events, including:
     - California Desert District Advisory Council
     - Alabama Hills Climbing Event
     - OHV grant workshop, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office


- "Geothermal Energy"
Photo album: Geothermal siteGeothermal energy is the natural heat of the earth, which can be a renewable resource if properly developed and carefully managed. It has potential economic significance where the heat is concentrated into restricted volumes similar to the concentration of oil into a petroleum reservoir. The geothermal resource (heat plus water) is a relatively clean energy source, which is extracted in a manner similar to oil and gas development.

"Geothermal Energy" (BLM California Issue Update)
(Note: BLM California Issue Updates are hosted on the Department of Interior's secure Web server - see note under "Selected Upcoming Events" below.)
California's public lands have extensive geothermal resources, which supply enough energy to meet the needs of nearly 750,000 people. This represents over 81 percent of all geothermal production from federal leases in the western United States.


"Finding a compromise to save bighorn sheep" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 03/08/2003)
The second in command of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Steve Griles, visited the Coachella Valley ... to discuss issues arising from ... designation of peninsular bighorn sheep as an endangered species." Important issues: "Roadblocks to development in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, limited access to trails in areas used by the sheep, and recovery of the sheep." Urging collaboration among all sides, he said, "The key is to strike a balance between public access to the mountains and the right to develop private property with protection of the sheep."

Related: "Department of Interior official comments on valley trail debate" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 03/08/2003)
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steve Griles toured on horseback through rugged mountains near Palm Springs. "But for Griles, the craggy canyons of the Southern California desert mountains might not have been the trickiest ride of the day ...[he]... also negotiated some rough political terrain -- the debate over how to balance human access to the local wilderness without jeopardizing the health of the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep." Besides a day on the trails with a local equestrian group, he met "city officials from Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, officials at the private, non-profit sheep recovery center the Bighorn Institute, as well as field-personnel from the [BLM] and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."

Related: "Palm Desert Trail Proposal Approved" (BLM California news release, 3/11/02)
The BLM approved a trail proposal from the City of Palm Desert to build one mile of new trail on BLM-administered lands, part of a larger trail project on adjacent city lands. The city also proposes to close city lands south of the visitor center for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument to dog use and establish a trail network at Homme-Adams and Cahuilla Hills city parks, which would be open to dogs.

"There's more than one way to protect wetlands" (New York Times, 3/12/2003)
Op-Ed piece by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman: "If government is to meet its goal of wetlands conservation, it must reach beyond traditional regulations. By leveraging public dollars to expand volunteer partnerships, we can address the needs of wetlands and meet or exceed the goals we have set for ourselves."
(Note: New York Times requires *free* registration to view articles.)
OR read it on the Department of Interior Web site:

"Statement of Gale A. Norton, Secretary of the Interior before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development" (Department of Interior news release, 03/06/2003)
Testimony on the Department of Interior's Fiscal Year 2004 budget request - featuring examples of projects and other items of agencies including the BLM, that rely on budget appropriations.


PLANT OF THE WEEK - Slender Orcutt grass PLANT OF THE WEEK - Slender Orcutt grass
Annual grass of erect slender stems 2 to 4 inches tall. Spikelets flowered with long sheathing bracts, toothed at apex, with larger bracts and parted into 5 equal awn-tipped teeth. Spikes are glandular and sticky at flowering time.

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "The Californian Wildlife Region" BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "The Californian Wildlife Region"
From the book's description: "Complete Guidebook to California Wildlife: Purposely written in non-technical language ... includes interesting details of an animal's behavior or a plant's use -- but it is equally useful for a college biology course."

Wildlife Trivia Question Mark of the Week
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the most heat-tolerant reptile in North America?"
(Answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes)

LAND USE PLANNING: Issues, controversies continue

"Officials reaffirm support for habitat plan" (Victorville Daily Press, 3/12/2003)
"San Bernardino County officials reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to the West Mojave Habitat Conservation Plan on Tuesday, despite Kern County's withdrawal from its sponsorship of the plan's environmental impact report." The BLM-led plan aims to protect habitat of endangered species such as desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel, while streamlining permit applications for developers.,98158,

Related: "Land rules almost done: Project addresses off-road vehicles, habitats" (Los Angeles Daily News, 03/08/2003)
Environmental management rules for 9.3 million acres of the Western Mojave Desert -- 10 years in the making -- are closer to completion. BLM California's draft environmental impact statement is due mid-May, with final plan set for February 2004. "The plan, being developed by a group of 28 federal and state agencies and county and city governments, would cover plants and animals considered threatened or in danger of extinction, such as the Mojave ground squirrel and the desert tortoise.",1413,200%257E20943%257E1230604,00.html

Related: "West Mojave Route Designation Process Established" (BLM California news release, 3/4/2003)
The BLM will soon be proposing route designations for the nine-million acre West Mojave planning area and will include opportunities for public review and comment before final decisions are made.

"Dunes report held up for biological opinion" (Imperial Valley Press, 3/11/2003)
BLM's management plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is awaiting a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That opinion will be taken into account in BLM's final decisions, spokesperson says: "We have a multi-use mandate. We manage for resources and recreation. If the biological opinion shows the current conditions are not harming species, we have the option of opening environmental closures." Off-road and environmental groups comment on the process.

"Coastal Monument planning criteria available for public review" (BLM California news release, 3/12/2003)
The proposed planning criteria describe the standards, rules and other factors that BLM proposes using to develop the monument management plan. These criteria ensure that decision-making is tailored to the planning issues that have been identified.

"City may buy land near site; Plan is an effort to cut size of proposed gravel mine" (Los Angeles Daily News, 03/08/2003)
"The City Council is weighing whether to buy 475 acres of vacant land adjacent to the area where Cemex, Inc. plans to build a massive sand and gravel mine. The purchase of the hilly, barren land in Soledad Canyon could give the city added leverage in its effort to reduce the size and scope of the 56.1-million-ton sand and gravel quarry, said Jeff Lambert, planning director.",1413,200%257E20949%257E1230675,00.html


"Team seals off hazardous mines" (Los Angeles Times, 03/10/2003)
One legacy of the Gold Rush: "Faced with about 47,000 old shafts, state agency plugs as many as it can" as it teams up with BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the state Lands Commission. Story follows group as it plugs one shaft on BLM-managed land near Ridgecrest, from which a 14-year-old Fresno boy was rescued just last month. Two problems: lack of funds, and higher priority given to clean up toxic mercury leaking from old mines.

"BLM plans off-highway vehicle grant meeting in Arcata" (BLM California news release, 3/12/2003)
The BLM wants to hear about issues, concerns and project ideas for grant funding that would be used at Samoa Dunes Recreation Area and Thatcher Ridge Wilderness Study Area (WSA).

"BLM Palm Springs office schedules OHV grant workshop" (BLM California news release, 03/07/2003)
The BLM has scheduled a workshop to gather public comments on Off–Highway Vehicle (OHV) grants proposals being submitted to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off–Highway Motor Vehicle Division.

"Salt cedar removal project continues west of Calexico" (Imperial Valley Press, 03/06/2003)
BLM and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection are removing the salt cedars for two reasons: "the trees suck up some 500 gallons of water a day, draining the water orders of nearby farmers; and the tree line and a nearby grove of tamarisk trees, removed last month by the BLM and the U.S. Border Patrol, create a haven for illegal immigrants." The refuse reportedly may be shipped north to be burned for energy.

"Tecate Peak land in Mexico protected" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 03/10/2003)
The Mexico-U.S. border runs through Tecate Peak and its "acres of undisturbed wildlife and sacred Kumeyaay Indian grounds." Land on the U.S. side is managed by state and federal agencies, but are privately owned on the Mexican side. To preserve most of the 3,900-foot mountain, BLM California received a cross-border conservation easement on part of the private lands in Mexico. BLM already manages about 25 percent of the area, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. "Until the agreement was signed last week, no restrictions barred houses, roads and other development on the Mexican side of the mountain."

"Report looks at heavy equipment and restoration" (Eureka Times-Standard, 03/07/2003)
Labor group reports more than 100 heavy equipment operators worked in Humboldt County during the peak of summer season last year. Among the employers was BLM California's Arcata Field Office - where about $2 million has been spent on road decommissioning and other projects in the Headwaters Forest Reserve. National Park service and lumber companies facing new guidelines are also employers.,1413,127%257E2896%257E1227686,00.html

"Bush plan leaves forest care to timber companies" (Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle, 03/07/2003)
"The Bush administration is confident it has found a novel, inexpensive way to clear overgrown forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires. Critics say it's a blatant giveaway to timber companies .... 'Stewardship contracting' ... allows the U.S. Forest Service and [BLM] to issue 10-year contracts to private contractors for clearance work with no limits on the size of trees to be cut or the number of acres cleared."

"Senators blast right of way rule" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 03/10/2003)
California's two senators demand the Department of Interior suspend its disclaimer of interest rule", saying it allows state and local governments and private groups to claim the right to have roads across federal lands. "This regulation would allow road construction in protected areas, where only ... tire tracks, cow paths and wash bottoms currently exist," their joint release said.
(Note: the URLs at this media source end in a comma, which is removed by some email clients. You may need to cut and paste this URL into your browser's "Address" or "Location" bar.),4175,

"Wild horses and burros available in Lakeport" (BLM California news release, 2/27/03)
BLM will bring 80 horses and 20 burros to adoption event that runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23. Anyone interested can preview the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds Friday, March 21, about 2 p.m.

ANSWER to WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "What is the most heat-tolerant reptile in North America?"
Desert iguana - photo credit: California Academy of SciencesDesert iguanas are the most heat tolerant reptiles in North America. In California, they occur in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. These lizards can remain active in temperatures up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit!!
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.)

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.)

03/18/2003 - OHV grant workshop, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
North Palm Springs

03/26/2003 - Arcata off-highway vehicle grant meeting

03/27/2003 - California Desert District Advisory Council

03/29/2003 - Alabama Hills Climbing Event
Alabama Hills, west of Lone Pine, CA

04/01/2003 - Wild horse gather 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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