A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue date: 3/11/04
Desert District Advisory Council member William PreschThe Alabama HillsProfile: Marty DickesCommon gray foxWhere is This?
- Not for Educators Only:
      - Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week: Foxy
      - Where is this?
- Photo Album: "Alabama Hills"
- Meet your Advisory Council members: William Presch
- ...or become one: Vacancies on BLM advisory councils
- Profile: Marty Dickes
- DARPA robot race nears
- Off-highway vehicles
- Bookstore Feature: "Desert Survival"
- Energy: Medicine Lake geothermal
- Fire: Wildfire prevention, and fire as a tool
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
    - Milk-vetch survey
    - Horseshoe Ranch boundary
    - Archaeology class
    - Current job openings - BLM California
    - Harper Dry Lake
    - Unexploded ordnance to remain at Camp Ibis
    - Trash battle in the desert
    - Historic de Anza Trail
- National and/or Department of Interior items
- Selected Upcoming Events

Common gray foxWildlife Trivia Question markWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Foxy
Common gray foxes are one of the most common mammals in California, but since these animals are active at night it can be very hard to spot one. One of the places you may want to look is:
(a) Down - in the water - they sometimes like to swim in lakes, or slow-moving rivers and streams.
(b) Under the hoods of automobiles that have just been run - for the heat of the engine.
(c) Up - they can sometimes be found lounging in trees.
(d) Behind - rocks, that is - they like to blend into gray fields of boulders.
(e) In flocks of sheep, where they like to pretend they are wolves.
(See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes - Photo credit: Alden M. Johnson, California Academy of Sciences)

Where is This?WHERE IS THIS? Interactive photo quiz
1. Palen/McCoy Wilderness Area
2. Orocopia Mountains Wilderness Area
3. Mecca Hills Wilderness Area
Take your best guess and check your answer against other readers, in our interactive photo quiz:

Distinctive rock formations in the Alabama HillsPhoto Album: Alabama Hills
The outstanding features and environment of the Alabama Hills has attracted movie makers, commercial companies and tourists from all over the world - along with hikers, rock climbers and sightseers.

Related: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM California Web site)
On May 24, 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. More on the film history, geology and recreation in the area - and a reminder to be careful if touring the area.

Desert District Advisory Council member William Presch is a professor of zoology at California State University, Fullerton and director of the California Desert Studies Consortium. He represents the public-at-large on the council. Read more in our weekly News.bytes feature:


"BLM has openings on Central California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM California news release, 03/05/2004)
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations for membership on the Central California Resource Advisory Council (RAC), a citizen panel that provides advice to the agency's managers. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, April 19.

"BLM has openings on Northeast California citizen advisory council" (BLM California news release, 03/05/2004)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations for membership on the Northeast California Resource Advisory Council, a citizen panel that advises on public lands and natural resource issues. The Northeast Council, which works closely with BLM managers in Alturas, Cedarville and Susanville, has five openings.

"BLM has openings on Northwest California citizen advisory council" (BLM California news release, 03/05/2004)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations for membership on the Northwest California Resource Advisory Council, a citizen panel that advises on public lands and natural resource issues. The Northwest Council, which works closely with BLM managers in Arcata, Redding and Ukiah, has four openings.

Marty DickesPROFILE: Marty Dickes
Marty began working as a freelance transcriber for a film production company in San Francisco while studying for a graduate degree in film. Eventually, she became a production assistant and an associate producer working on a National Geographic special on the Desert Protection Act. Learn how she became a BLM employee at the Ridgecrest Field Office, in this week's edition of News.bytes.


"Pentagon's robot race stalls in gate" (Los Angeles Times, 03/11/2004)
"[A]fter three days of trial runs, only four vehicles have been able to complete the...qualification course, which includes hairpin curves, 10-foot cattle gates and a minivan blocking the course. They have to do it twice to get into the race. Competitors and Pentagon officials are wondering whether any vehicle will survive. The Pentagon is considering loosening qualification requirements and perhaps shortening the race....",1,2565808.story

"Four robots qualify for military-sponsored race across Mojave Desert" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 03/11/2004)
"Twenty teams seeking a bid in a $1 million race of self-navigating robots across the Mojave Desert rushed to fix mechanical and software problems as they awaited the final trials."

"Few survive unmanned race trials" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 03/09/2004)
Includes several photos of competitors.

"Robot Race is giant step for unmanned kind" (Washington Post, 03/10/2004)
"The winner of the race, if there is one, will collect a $1 million prize courtesy of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is likening the event to a 1927 competition in which aviation enthusiasts were dared to design a plane capable of making a transatlantic flight, for a $25,000 prize. A guy named Lindbergh won that one." Includes link to video, "Challenge in the Desert" that requires free subscription and Flash plug-in.

"Tortoise rules affect robot event" (The Press Enterprise, 03/09/2004)
As vehicles take to desert terrain for a military-linked competition, environmentalists try to safeguard tortoises

"A technology race: Unmanned vehicles prepare to travel from Barstow to Primm" (Victorville Daily Press, 03/09/2004)
"[T]he event isn't about the money. 'It's about saving lives'....",10346,

"Our opinion: Robot race proves competition works" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 03/11/2004)


"Volunteers Pitch in to Clean-Up Imperial Sand Dunes" (Yuma Sun, 03/10/2004)
"Areas of the Imperial Sand Dunes in California are cleaner after 300 people scoured through with trash bags...."

"Showdown in the Desert Sandbox" (The Los Angeles Times, 03/09/2004)
"There's already a ballooning crowd of ATVers. Now lawyers and biologists are joining the fray on the Imperial Dunes"

"BLM Desert District Fee Program Enjoying Success" (BLM California news release, 03/10/2004)
Bureau of Land Management officials are finding that recent adjustments and additions to the fee demonstration program in the California Desert District are having success.

"BLM Ridgecrest office schedules workshop to review 2004 OHV grant proposal" (BLM California news release, 03/11/2004)
The BLM'S Ridgecrest Field Office has scheduled a workshop in Ridgecrest on Wednesday, April 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to discuss the off-highway vehicle grant proposal for fiscal year 2005 that will be submitted to the California State Parks, Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division.

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Desert Survival"
Complete How-to-Guide for surviving the harsh desert. The desert is not a gentle environment, and it is imperative for outdoor enthusiasts on foot or in off-road vehicles to know how to survive if stranded or temporarily lost. This book reviews necessary points that a person should know.


"Calpine wins geothermal suit" (Mt. Shasta News, 03/10/2004)
"The Fourmile Hill geothermal project at Medicine Lake has been given the go-ahead by the United States District Court in Sacramento, as [judge rules] for Calpine Corporation in a suit brought by a coalition of groups including the Pit River Tribe, Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands and the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center. Calpine's plans to build two 49 megawatt geothermal electrical generating plants near Medicine Lake have encountered resistance from Native Americans, environmental groups and local residents.

"Geothermal debate boiling" (Mt. Shasta News, 03/09/2004)
"The Medicine Lake geothermal projects have a lengthy history going back to the original 1988 Bureau of Land Management leases."


"Work Underway on Concow Fuel Break" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 03/09/2004)
"Last June, the Yankee Hill Fire Safe Council received a $50,000 Bureau of Land Management Wildfire Prevention Grant from the Sacramento Regional Foundation. Matching local grants boosted the total to about $60,000.",1413,135%257E25088%257E1997793,00.html

Keeping an eye on prescribed burn in the South Spit dunes"South Spit Burned to Recreate Habitat" (Eureka Times-Standard, 03/09/2004)
"A BLM prescribed burn of about 20 acres of South Spit dunes was an effort to recreate habitat for the snowy plover." Invasive grass has reduced the natural hiding places for the bird - which is listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.,1413,127%257E2896%257E1998332,00.html

Related: "South Spit prescribed burn" (BLM California Web site, 3/11/2004)
Photos from the operation.

Related: "South Spit Cooperative Management Area" (BLM California brochure)
The South Spit is a place where visitors can spread out and find a quiet place to slow down for a while. Enjoy one of Northern California's magnificent beaches, just a stone's throw away from the city of Eureka.
PDF file, 346 kilobytes:

"Paradise-area Fires Investigated" (North County Times, 03/09/2004)
"Investigators are looking into whether 20 fires over the past seven years, five of which were set last July, are linked in any way to October's Paradise blaze, the fire's chief investigator said...." The Paradise Fire was one of many wildfires last October fought by firefighters from many agencies, including BLM.


"Largest milk-vetch survey under way in desert" (Imperial Valley Press, 03/09/2004)
"At the heart of the surveys, which will continue until April 30 (when a new team will come in to survey the Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard), is the controversial Peirson's milk-vetch, the small broom-shaped plant that has turned the popular recreation area into an environmental battleground between off-roaders and environmentalists."

"BLM Approves New Horseshoe Ranch Boundary" (BLM California news release, 03/09/2004)
Mike Pool, State Director for the Bureau of Land Management, signed a new plan amendment for management of the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County, setting the area boundary to conform to the boundary line established in a 1989 Habitat Management Plan.

"Archaeology Class Probes Vina Site" (Red Bluff Daily News, 03/09/2004)
"An archaeology class from Shasta College surveyed a location that may have been the home of one of the most notorious Indians hunters of the 1850s and 1860s: Hi Good....Picking where to dig is the responsibility of veteran archaeologist Eric Ritter, who works out of the BLM's Redding office and is teaching the Shasta College class."
Photo 2:
Photo 3:

"Current job openings - BLM California"
BLM California job listings on USAJOBS Web site.

"County trash battle heats up" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 03/05/2004)
"[S]now-covered Mount San Jacinto ...shimmering in the sun nearly 11,000 feet above the shirt-sleeve-warmth of the desert floor, could be the most obvious example of environmental contrasts that make the Coachella Valley unique. That's if there weren't giant mounds of decaying yard waste, refrigerators, automobile parts and construction debris stealing the scene." As private landowners and others including BLM rangers fight trash dumping, California legislators ready a bill that would increase penalties.

"BLM Dedicates Portion of Historic de Anza Trail" (BLM California news release, 03/11/2004)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service dedicated a 38 mile section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Trail located in the Yuha Desert and West Mesa area of Imperial County

"Harper Dry Lake not so dry Anymore" (Victorville Daily Press, 03/05/2004)
No longer dry, Harper Dry Lake attracts migratory birds as they travel along the Pacific Flyway. It is also a point of interest for nature lovers.,11279,

Related: "Birds of the Barstow Resource Area" (BLM California Web site)
Some of the Birds you might see in areas managed by BLM's Barstow Field Office - which includes Harper Dry Lake.

Related: "Harper Dry Lake" (BLM California Web Site)
Harper Dry Lake Marsh, located at the edge of one of the largest dry lakebeds in the Mojave Desert, is an important resting site for thousands of migrating birds. This Watchable Wildlife viewing area is also an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.


"BLM strengthens role of local, state and tribal partners in planning" (BLM national news release, 03/10/2004)
Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke said the agency is moving to strengthen the role of local, state and tribal agencies in developing land use plans for the public lands under the BLM's jurisdiction.

"Interior Department Announces Modernized Procedures Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act" (Department of Interior news release, 03/08/2004)
"We have updated the procedures to reflect our commitment to public participation and cooperative problem-solving," said Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, who chaired the departmental working group assembling the procedures...."We looked across bureaus and found the best practices that reflect our '4 C's' philosophy of conservation through communication, consultation, and cooperation. The manual revisions codify these best practices and communicate them throughout the department...."

"BLM Requests Nominations for the 2004 Fluid Minerals Reclamation and Sustainable Development Awards" (BLM California news release, 03/09/2004)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is requesting nominations for the inaugural 2004 Fluid Minerals Reclamation and Sustainable Minerals Development Awards. The awards program recognizes fluid mineral and geothermal development operations that practice the principles of sustainable development or represent outstanding examples of reclamation or environmental stewardship.

"Testimony of BLM Deputy Directory Jim Hughes on Outfitters Policy Act" (BLM California news release, 03/09/2004)
Testimony of Jim Hughes, Deputy Director Bureau of Land Management United States Department of the Interior before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee Public Lands and Forests S. 1420, Outfitter Policy Act - March 3, 2004. "Outfitters and guides provide key services to visitors on the public lands. Under permits issued by Department agencies, outfitters and guides offer a wide variety of activities for outdoor recreation, such as hunting, river rafting, backcountry horse pack trips, and wilderness adventures."

"Conservationists, ranchers disagree over grazing in the West" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 03/11/2004)
"Conservationists and ranchers are butting heads over a Bush administration plan to ease regulations that dictate how, when and where livestock can graze on public lands in the West." Will they make it " protect drought-stricken public lands in the West from overgrazing [or]...improve the way the grazing program is managed and to help ranchers stay in business"?

"Interior Attorney Pushed Land Deal" (Los Angeles Times, 03/09/2004)
"Last June, at the suggestion of the Interior Department's chief lawyer, William G. Myers III, two congressmen from Northern California introduced a bill that would have given away $1 million worth of public land near this city north of Sacramento to a private firm.",1,4466968.story

(c) "Up - they can sometimes be found lounging in trees." Common gray foxes have the ability to climb trees to look for food, escape from danger, or simply to lounge around on a favorite branch. They can even jump between branches. Learn more about the common gray fox 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.)

03/13/2004 - DARPA Grand Challenge

03/15/2004 - Minerals Conference (three days)

03/20/2004 - Geology & Mining History Field Trip

03/22/2004 - National Scenic and Historic Trail Conference

03/26/2004 - Inyo County Collaborative Planning Team
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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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