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News.bytes, issue 165 - 7/15/04

- Meet your Advisory Council members: Mary Canada
- Profile: Larry Morgan
- Photo Album: Stoddard Valley
- Our readers write
- Off-road vehicles: Controversy, debate
- Wild horses and burros
- Wildfire
- Headlines and Highlights
- National and/or Department of the Interior items
- Bookstore Feature: "Crab in a can"
- Selected upcoming events


A 30-year resident of the Eastern Sierra with a proven record of civic and environmental activity, Ms. Canada represents regional/national environmental interests on the Central California Resource Advisory Council. She is a member of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust, a group organized to preserve and protect critical open space, and is the Eastern Sierra field representative to the Sierra Business Council.

New BLM Needles Field Office manager Larry MorganPROFILE: Larry Morgan
Larry is the new manager of BLM's Needles Field Office. The tasks he faces include a long list that BLM field offices often deal with - plus the office's upcoming move.
Read more in this week's News.bytes Profile:

Related: "Larry Morgan selected as BLM Needles Field Office Manager" (BLM California news release, 7/15/2004)

Bicyclists follow an off-road vehicle in the Stoddard ValleyPHOTO ALBUM: Stoddard Valley
Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area offers a diverse landscape for off-highway vehicle recreation. The area is characterized by steep rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, and winding sandy washes. Elevations range from 5,000-foot Stoddard Peak, to 2,800 feet at Turtle Valley. Vegetation consists of creosote scrub, some annual grasses and wild flowers and the Joshua tree, symbol of the Mojave Desert.

Another view in the Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle AreaRelated: "Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California Web site)
The riding area is immediately south of Barstow. Most of the area's visitors ride motorcycles or ATVs, or tour the area in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Parts of this area are used extensively for OHV free play, and for competitive racing events by permit. There are many occasions for hiking, rock scrambling, rock hounding, and plant, bird and wildlife watching. There are desert tortoise - a state and federally listed threatened species - within the riding area. NOTE: There are many deep mine shafts in the riding area! Please avoid these areas and camp away from mine shafts!


"I look forward to each issue of News.bytes. It is by far the best source of desert news I know of. Thank you."
      - D.K., Seal Beach


"Use of dunes visitors fees to study flower widely criticized" (The San Diego Union-Tribune, 07/12/2004)
"In the past nine months, every visitor to the popular Imperial Sand Dunes east of El Centro paid 70 cents for a park project they have probably never heard of. It wasn't for new restrooms, improved campgrounds, more park rangers or better trash service. It was to study a purple flower."

"Forest Service off-road rules are a good start" (Pasadena Star-News, 07/08/2004)
Editorial, reprinted from the Denver Post: "The U.S. Forest Service took an important first step on Wednesday in proposing new rules for off-road vehicles....The BLM has barely begun addressing the off-road vehicle issue, although fragile deserts and other low-elevation landscapes are being harmed every bit as badly as higher-elevation woodlands. The BLM must embrace a policy similar to the Forest Service proposal: Motorized vehicles must stay on designated pathways.",1413,206%257E11851%257E2260664,00.html

Related: "Reigning in pesky ORVs" (Denver Post, 07/15/2004)
Columnist: "Recognizing the damage from...'outlaw trails,' the Forest Service proposed a rule July 7 that would ban riding off designated trails, though no extra money has been set aside to enforce closures....It's a late start, but at last one federal agency is trying to do the necessary thing. And step right up, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management; we're all waiting."  Discusses "economic analysis of a BLM decision designating parts of California's Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area as critical habitat for an endangered plant.",1413,36%257E172%257E2272390,00.html

"BLM gives OK for Mojave's NEMO planning area" (Victorville Daily Press, 07/09/2004)
"The NEMO planning area covers 3.3 million acres, 2.7 million of which are BLM lands. It stretches from north/northwest of the Death Valley National Park to Interstate 40 on the south and from the Nevada state line to the western boundary of the Mojave National Preserve. A million acres in NEMO are wilderness and off-limits to activities such as off-roading, but the BLM approved routes in 91 percent of a 1.3-million-acre, non-wilderness area July 2.",6536,

"New ordinance may put brakes on many off-roaders" (Victorville Daily Press, 07/09/2004)
Meanwhile, nearby to BLM-managed lands: "Hesperia residents revved up at City Council meeting over illegal riding...Residents for and against a stronger off-road ordinance showed up in droves for their chance to be heard at Wednesday's City Council meeting. Both sides were revved up over the issue as they raced to the podium to speak about off-roaders riding within city limits.",17190,

"Off-road accidents increase with rise in popularity of four-wheelers" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 07/13/2004)
"A teacher and father of two. A boy who raised a pig for the county fair. A 19-year-old developmentally disabled grandson. These north state residents and seven others had little in common...[b]ut they shared one thing: They were victims of fatal all-terrain vehicle accidents." Says California Highway Patrol officer: "In California, juveniles are prohibited from riding on public lands unless they've taken a safety training course or are under the direct supervision of an adult who has a safety certificate....Persons of all ages are required to wear helmets if they're on public land....",2232,REDD_17533_3032959,00.html


"Wild mustang, burro auction slated for this weekend in Thousand Oaks" (Ventura County Star, 07/12/2004)
"Two Christmases ago, Joanne Schmidt of Calabasas Hills, joked to her husband that she wanted a horse for Christmas....",1375,VCS_167_3029595,00.html

"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. The animals will arrive around noon on Friday, July 16. Potential adopters may view the animals Friday afternoon and Saturday beginning at 7 a.m. BLM staff will approve adoption applications Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

"Media Advisory: BLM wild mustang and burro adoption - July 16-18 - Thousand Oaks" (BLM California news release, 07/14/2004)

Wild horse workshop in California" (BLM national news release, 07/14/2004)
Wild Horse Workshop 2004 will be held in Brentwood, September 20 - 24. Its primary purpose is to provide a well-trained, multi-leveled corps of volunteers or mentors to offer their advice and assistance to new adopters of wild horses and burros. The workshop offers a unique experience for wild horse and burro enthusiasts to work together with the BLM to benefit America’s Living Legends. An adoption event will follow.


"Winds, heat propel Castaic Fire" (Los Angeles Times, 7/15/2004)
"Erratic winds and continuing hot temperatures intensified a wildfire....The blaze, called the Pine fire, had been declared half contained on Wednesday, but expanded from 4,700 acres to 9,000 in less than 12 hours from nightfall.",1,7951837.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Related: "Pine Canyon Fire continues to burn" (The Santa Clarita Signal, 07/15/2004)
"The Pine Canyon wildfire exploded back into Three Points to threaten homes Wednesday, after firefighters had driven the 7,000-acre blaze away from the sparsely inhabited area the previous night." BLM firefighters are among 1,000 from around the state fighting the blaze.

"Consortium smokes out mysteries of fire behavior" (Government Computer News, 07/09/2004)
"Researchers want to improve the forecasts for prescribed burns...fires that an agency has planned to burn for some management objective, such as eradicating an invasive species or improving the health of an ecosystem." Says an associate research professor: "You don’t want the smoke to wind up in a valley, or a hospital, or any place with people who are especially sensitive to smoke." The program "is part of a larger consortium of wildfire and air quality agencies called the California and Nevada Smoke and Air Committee" which includes BLM.

"National fire news: Wildland fire update"
Updated daily, Monday-Friday, with news of wildland fires.


"Wilderness bill will go to key U.S. Senate committee" (Eureka Times-Standard, 07/13/2004)
"A bill that would mark 300,000 acres of public land in Northern California as wilderness will get a hearing before a Senate committee this month....The bill also allows the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to use any means necessary to fight fires in the areas.",1413,127%257E2896%257E2269473,00.html

Volunteer Opportunity - Desert Discovery Center
Volunteer will provide environment-based education (focusing on the Mojave Desert) using activities, games, experiments and stories to the visiting public and school groups K-12 at the Desert Discovery Center (DDC). Will include preparing and refining curriculum; arranging and scheduling programs; developing and presenting special programs, nature walks, and visitor center presentations; may include representing DDC at fairs, and other events, creating exhibits, preparing handouts/brochures, or responding to questions.

Current job openings - BLM California
Listings on USAJOBS Web site include firefighting positions and a student trainee in range/forestry.

"Land purchase will prevent development in wildlife area" (Hi-Desert Star, 07/9/2004)
"A recent partnership among conservation groups has resulted in the purchase and protection of 4,520 acres of desert land between the Coachella Valley Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park. The acreage represents half of a previously proposed Joshua Hills development that would have included 7,000 homes and 12 golf courses, as well as hotels, country clubs, restaurants and retail space...." Local governments also participated.

Related: "Coachella Valley Preserve" (BLM California Web site)
For thousands of years, particles of sand from the San Bernardino Mountains and Indio Hills washed into the Coachella Valley, forming a system of dunes. Today, these dunes are part of the Coachella Valley Preserve System, a 20,000-acre sanctuary that is home to several species of increasingly rare wildlife.

"Rally to air Redding Gun Club's concerns with the BLM" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 07/11/2004)
"Members of the Redding Gun Club are concerned that their rights to BLM land is dwindling, in light of recent developments regarding the Northern California BLM office.",2232,REDD_17547_3020867,00.html

"BLM plans Burro Schmidt cleanup" (Ridgecrest News Review, 07/14/2004)
A cleanup by BLM is part of "an ongoing effort to preserve and one day restore the historic Burro Schmidt Tunnel site. The cabin is where miner William Henry Schmidt lived during the three and a half decades he spent blasting and hand-carving a tunnel through the granite bedrock of a nearby mountain in the El Paso Mountain Range south of present-day Ridgecrest."

"Casino speculation delays Carthenon" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 07/09/2004)
Earlier stories reported that one site proposed for this for this monument to car culture and Route 66 - made out of crushed cars to cars - was on BLM-managed land near Barstow. A proposed casino has owners of sites on private property reconsidering. "Owners think their property might have some use for the casino," says a local booster of the project.,50563,


"Battle brewing over sage grouse protection" (USA Today, 07/12/2004)
"In the heart of the nation's natural gas territory, a bird most Americans have never heard of is threatening a piece of the multibillion-dollar energy industry."

Related: "BLM leads sage grouse conservation in the Eastern Sierra" (BLM California news release, 07/12/2004)
A wealth of data and project experience - some dating back to the 1950s - has made the Bureau of Land Management's Bishop Field Office a leader in efforts to protect Greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat on the western edge of the Great Basin.

"Space Invader" (Los Angeles Times, 07/13/2004)
"'Cheatgrass' messes with the Great Basin's flora -- and throws the food chain out of whack....The weedy plant is changing the Western landscape from sage blue to brown stubble." Snapshot of the damage, at a BLM-managed preserve in Idaho.

Boosktore feature: "Crab in a can"BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Crab in a Can"
Soft stuffed crab contained inside the can.
Just open and see.

(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.)

July 15-17, 2004 - Fire Safety/LNT/Tread Lightly Booth
Salinas Rodeo

07/17/2004 - Volunteer Event - Red Hills

07/22/2004 - Dinosaurs

07/24/2004 - Point Sal Field Trip
Point Sal
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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