A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 160 - 6/10/04

- Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week: Salamander forth
- Our readers write
- Wild horses and burros:
      - See them at Cal Expo
      - Adopt them in Thousand Oaks
- Photo Album: Cache Creek
- Profile: Gary Cotterell
- Meet your Advisory Council members: Don E. Robinson
- More on advisory councils and volunteers

- Off-road at Imperial Sand Dunes: milk-vetch decision
- Other off-road recreation:
      - Off-road competitors challenge Cougar Buttes
      - BLM will lead guided desert four wheel drive tour
- Other outdoor recreation:
      - Discovery season opens at national monument
      - Happy trails: "Heaven-on-earth for hikers"
      - "Turn off the TV and go outside"
      - Stan Bales receives national BLM 'Legends' Award
- Bookstore Feature: "Desert Survival"
- Wildfire:
      - Training gets intense
      - New fire restrictions
      - Homeowners underinsured for wildfire risk?
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
      - Calpine says conditions favor geothermal site
      - Current job openings - BLM California
      - BLM seeks comments on gun range lease renewal
      - Lesicka wins 2004 Branding Iron Award
      - Clean-up scheduled for closed shooting area
- National and/or Department of Interior items, including:
      - Secretary Norton honored for conservation and outdoor recreation efforts
      - Department of the Interior grants to help bird migration
      - Does natural gas boom = more West Nile virus?

Del Norte salamander on a leafHow are Del Norte salamanders different from most other salamander species?
(a) They aren't considered edible by snakes;
(b) They don't usually make their homes in wet areas;
(c) They eat only the leaves of eucalyptus trees;
(d) They attack animals several times their weight and size;
(e) They like to pose for the camera;
(f) They turn a bright orange when frustrated or angry.
(Photo credit: Jens V. Vindum)
----> (See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.<----

Clarification/correction to last week's Wildlife Trivia Question:
We took extra effort to make sure the Wildlife Trivia of the Week in last week's issue 159 did not turn into a "trick" question. Apparently, we did not quite succeed. To quote one of our BLM employees who responded to the News.bytes email box:
"Hi, just wanted to clarify the 'two herds' that the tule elk stay in, mentioned in News Bytes. Technically the females which are of reproductive age (cows) stay in one herd with their young of the year (calves) which could be either male or female. The other group is made up of the older bulls which hang together in 'bachelor' groups."

"To the BLM staff that compiles the information for the CA Newsbytes and formats it for the internet: 'thanks' for the informative visits."
John S.

Scenic view among the hills surrounding Cache CreekPHOTO ALBUM: Cache Creek
This secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral is a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM-managed lands and 4,700 acres of State and County lands. Showcasing the area is about 35 miles of the main fork of Cache Creek. Elevation in the natural area ranges from 600 feet, to 3200 feet atop Brushy Sky High.

Riders leading their horses at Cache CreekRelated: "Cache Creek Natural Area" (BLM California Web site)
This is a "primitive area," closed to motorized vehicles. There are no developed campgrounds or facilities. Non-hunting (target) shooting is not allowed. The area is managed to improve habitat for wildlife and rare plants, to protect cultural resource values, and to offer primitive recreation opportunities, including wildlife viewing, river running, hiking, equestrian use, hunting and fishing.

Gary CotterelPROFILE: Gary Cotterell
Gary maintains the BLM's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office computer systems, and helps those who have difficulties now and then with the technology. About two years, ago he also took on the duties of office Webmaster. Learn more in our weekly News.bytes Profile:

Don Robinson is in his first year as a Central California Resource Advisory Council member representing energy and mineral development interests. Learn more in our weekly News.bytes feature.


"Clean-up scheduled for closed shooting area" (BLM California news release, 06/09/2004)
The BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office and the Cleveland National Forest are sponsoring a clean-up June 12, 2004 for the High Point shooting area which was recently closed due to unsafe shooting activity. Sites along the High Point Road have been used over the years for target shooting and are littered with bullet casings, paper targets, broken bottles, cans, and numerous other household items used as targets.

"McQuiston reappointed to BLM advisory council" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 06/03/2004)
"There are many challenging and complex issues facing California's desert areas that require proper management that focuses on multiple-use," said [First District Kern County Supervisor Jon] McQuiston, who represents county government on the council.

Related: Jon McQuiston was profiled in News.bytes issue 144:

"Lesicka wins 2004 Branding Iron Award" (Imperial Valley Press, 06/05/2004)
The 100th annual dinner of the Brawley Chamber of Commerce featured award of its "2004 Branding Iron Award for community service" to local builder and "accomplished construction magnate and longtime wildlife and outdoors enthusiast." BLM California directory Mike Pool was among the speakers at the dinner.


"Bad day for dune buggies" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 06/09/2004)
"The decision on Peirson’s milk vetch won’t prevent dune buggy riders from playing in the massive, shifting sand system, but it could complicate efforts by off-highway vehicle trade groups to open more of the dunes in the future. The news buoyed environmentalists who are fighting a plan by the Bureau of Land Management that would lift conservation closures on 49,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes."

"Ruling protects rare desert plant" (Riverside Press Enterprise, 06/04/2004)
"The decision could keep parts of Imperial Sand Dunes closed to off-roaders." Off-road groups had petitioned U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Peirson's milk-vetch from the Endangered Species List, saying it was thriving in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area managed by BLM.

"Feds: Milk-vetch needs protection, will stay on list" (Imperial Valley Press, 06/05/2004)
"The American Sand Association...of off-road recreation enthusiasts, has been pushing a petition to delist the plant since late 2001, citing new studies...that concluded the species was not in decline - and was vehement in its reaction to the ruling....Conservation groups attempted to defend their stance on the access issue, greeting the announcement with praise while trying to deflect criticism that they are trying to close access to the dunes."


"Off-road competitors challenge Cougar Buttes" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 06/05/2004)
Rock climbing with cars? "Rock Crawling has the competitive nature of NASCAR and the adrenaline rush of a bull fight," says president of group coordinating a regional competition. The event takes place on part of BLM-managed Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, managed by BLM's Barstow Field Office.,59181,

Related: "Off-Highway Vehicle Riding" (BLM California Web page)
The event above and other scheduled off-highway vehicle events for the area can be found from a link on Barstow's "Off-Highway Vehicle Riding" Web page (The link opens a PDF file - your Web browser needs Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.)

"BLM will lead guided desert four wheel drive tour" (BLM California news release, 06/03/2004)
A chance to discover the natural beauty and history of the high desert east of Susanville awaits outdoor enthusiasts, when the Bureau of Land Management and a local historian lead a free tour Saturday, June 12.


"Stan Bales receives national BLM 'Legends' Award" (BLM Stan BalesCalifornia news release, 06/10/2004)
Bales - the outdoor recreation planner with the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville - received the honor Wednesday in Washington, D. C. Said BLM California Director Mike Pool, "Over the years thousands of people have benefited from his work, whether they enjoy the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, ride motorcycles in the Fort Sage Mountains, or camp and fish at Eagle Lake."

"Discovery season opens at National Monument" (BLM California news release, 06/08/2004)
The season of discovery begins this month with the Santa Rose and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument staff at a series of educational events and presentations. From an afternoon and evening of fun and learning about 'scary' forest and desert animals, to an exploration of the secret world of desert reptiles, to a talk about one of the desert's zaniest residents - summer time is fun time, a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the National Monument.

Related: "Santa Rose and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California Web page)
This page currently includes "Summer 2004 Events in the Monument" - a link to a PDF file with the dates and more details on each event.

"BLM seeks comments on gun range lease renewal" (BLM California news release, 06/08/2004)
The BLM has prepared an environmental assessment on a proposed 20-year lease renewal for the Inland Fish and Game Association's sport shooting facility in Highland, California.

"Happy trails; Southland is a heaven-on-earth for hikers" (San Bernardino County Sun, 06/03/2004)
"Southern California's vast trail system affords nature lovers endless hiking opportunities to get away from it all or to get away with family or friends." Mentions BLM-managed Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Most useful may be the list of "what to bring" - extremes of weather are just one thing to prepare for. Also information on where to hike and where to find more information.,1413,216%257E24290%257E2189232,00.html

"Summer is here, turn off the T.V. and go outside" (Inyo Register, 06/09/2004)
"BLM chief urges hard-core and weekend warriors alike to enjoy our public lands."

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Desert Survival"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 all the necessary points that a person should know.


BLM firefighters battle flames from a car, during practice with self-contained breathing apparatus"BLM firefighters train to use self-contained breathing apparatus" (BLM California news release, 06/07/2004)
Nearly 30 fire crew members assigned to five BLM engines in northeast California recently practiced using the equipment that is commonly used by firefighters from city departments. With face masks in place and air tanks strapped to their backs, the crews doused flames shooting from the passenger compartment of a car, from the vehicle’s engine compartment and from a nearby trash container.

Related: "BLM firefighters train with self-contained breathing apparatus, burning auto" (News.bytes Extra)
Photos from the recent fire training.

"Wildfires 2004: When technology fails the insured" (MSNBC, 06/09/2004)
"Ninety percent of Californians are probably underinsured...partly because of increased reliance on estimate the replacement value of homes." Huge wildfires in southern California last year were "a wake-up call to homeowners in fire prone areas - and to insurers and state regulators...." Illustrations with story show how to help protect a house - before a wildfire strikes.

"BLM implements wildland fire restrictions on public lands in Kern and Tulare counties" (BLM California news release, 06/08/2004)
Due to extreme dry conditions, the BLM is implementing fire restrictions on all BLM public lands in Kern and Tulare counties, including popular recreation areas in the Kern River Valley and Chimney Peak/Kennedy Meadow.

"BLM implements wildland fire restrictions on public lands in Fresno, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties" (BLM California news release, 06/08/2004)
Includes popular recreation areas such as Carrizo Plain National Monument and the San Joaquin Gorge.

"Fire season to begin one month early" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/9/2004)
"Dry conditions prompt declaration of limits to most federal lands in area....The declaration was made jointly Wednesday by Sequoia National Forest officials and the Bakersfield office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

"New air plans made for fires" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 06/07/2004)
"Like generals who have lost all their heavy bombers, federal forestry officials are enlisting more helicopters - and even crop duster-sized airplanes - to fill the void created by the grounding of the nation's 33 large air tankers....The Bureau of Land Management is basing three additional crop duster-sized single-engine air tankers this season throughout California, including one in San Bernardino."

"Rest of state joins fire season alert" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 06/05/2004)

"Smoke-jumper crews train hard for heavy fire season" (Associated Press in Redding Record Searchlight, 06/09/2004)
"...[A]dded pressures for the coming fire season - a years-long drought, the potential loss of heavy air tankers due to safety concerns, and the mobilization of National Guard troops overseas - make additional resources even more important....That includes the roughly 400 smoke jumpers at nine bases run by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.",2232,REDD_17540_2942808,00.html

"Editorial: Fleet grounding's awful timing only adds to fire risks" (Redding Record Searchlight, 06/08/2004)
Editorial: "The beginning of fire season is hardly the time to be arguing about whether air tankers are safe enough to use to fight wildland blazes. It's a grossly irresponsible time to be devising new guidelines for inspections. It's a disastrous time to be scrounging for backup planes and helicopters. But such rush decisions are forced after the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management decided last month to ground the heavy air tankers that had been the mightiest individual weapons in the federal firefighting arsenal.",2232,REDD_17536_2945739,00.html


"Jackson's Diary: Story of the adoption of a wild horse" (Kern Valley Sun, 6/9/2004)
"Jackson" is the wild horse adopted by a writer for the Kern Valley Sun: "Eleven days after Jackson's arrival, it is hard to believe that last January, he was a wild stallion on the Jackson Mountains range in Nevada. He accepts our touch and our carrots and craves our attention. I can walk around him, lead him, groom him and kiss him on the nose. He has learned so much, seemingly so easily."

"Wild mustang and burro adoption returns to Thousand Oaks" (BLM California news release, 06/09/2004)
On July 17-18 approximately 80 wild Mustangs and 20 wild burros will be available for adoption at the Conejo Creek Equestrian Park in Thousand Oaks.

Ray Bailey rides his horse, Sir Kai - meet this champion horse at the Western States Hores Expo"Western States Horse Expo"
Come visit the Bureau of Land Management at booths 743 and 842. We'll have an adopted wild horse or burro at booth 842 to meet and pet during the entire Expo. Also on Saturday, June 12 come meet Sir Kai and Robin Hood - 2003 BLM endurance champions.

Related: "Adopted wild horses honored for endurance achievements" (March, 2004)
More information on Sir Kai and Robin Hood, from issue 147 of News.bytes.


"Current job openings - BLM California"
BLM California job listings on USAJOBS Web site. NEW THIS WEEK: Civil Engineer and Contact Representative. More Range Technicians (Fire).

"Conditions favor developing contentious energy site, Calpine says" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 06/04/2004)
"Calpine Corp. says regulatory and energy conditions in California are making it more likely it will seek to develop its controversial Medicine Lake geothermal electrical generation facilities as early as next year....Four environmental coalitions filed a second suit last month, but [company spokesperson says] opponents 'are running out of courts' in which to pursue allegations that the project was improperly approved by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management."


"Secretary Norton announces grants in 16 states, 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries to conserve migratory birds" (BLM California news release, 06/09/2004)
Grants of $3.8 million will be matched by $16 million from partnering organizations. California is included in two grants.

"Secretary Norton honored for conservation partnerships, outdoor recreation contributions" (BLM national news release, 06/09/2004)
(Department of Interior news release) Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has received the American Recreation Coalition's Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award for her leadership on partner-based conservation initiatives and contributions to enhancing outdoor experiences around the nation.

"Amid a natural gas boom, West Nile cases on the rise" (Los Angeles Times, 06/06/2004)
"Scientists initially expected the disease, transmitted by mosquito bites, to stall west of the Mississippi, where sources of standing water are scarce. But ...the disease has thrived as millions of mosquitoes breed in water produced during natural gas production in the Rocky Mountains. Ranchers and environmentalists who worried about toxic water that would kill off vegetation for cattle and wildlife, now worry about health effects." BLM is involved through drilling permits.,1,4480370.story

Related: "Bird's fate tied to future of drilling" (Los Angeles Times, 6/10/2004)
"Sage grouse are dying off in the prairies. But the fight to keep the bird off an EPA watch list centers on methane deposits in that region." Many sage grouse have been dying of West Nile virus, as explained in the story above.,1,5866359.story?coll=la-home-nation

(b) They don't usually make their homes in wet areas (such as near streams or creeks). Del Norte salamanders are commonly found in rocky habitats or under fallen logs. (And snakes do find them edible: snakes are their most common predators.)
Learn more about the Del Norte salamander 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.)

06/11/2004 - Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Preview

06/12/2004 - Wild Horse and Burro Adoption

06/25/2004 - Geology & Mining History Field trip

- If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above links
to visit that Web page, copy and paste the URL into your browser's
"Location" or "Address" bar.
- Some publications remove news stories from the Web soon after publication.
If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.

DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites,
or of products or advertisements on those sites.

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

We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at: OR

To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR
visit our News.bytes subscription page at: