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A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 168 - 8/4/04

Profile: Gerald Fongwilderness overlook


"Critical sand dune habitat designated for Peirson's Milk-vetch" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release, 08/04/2004)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publish[ed] a final rule in the Federal Register on August 4, 2004, identifying 21,863 acres of land in the Algodones Dunes as critical habitat for Peirson's milk-vetch (Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii). A final economic analysis of costs associated with conservation activities for the plant will be available on the Internet at ."

"Peirson's milk-vetch - Documents" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site)

"Federal Register notice: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii (Peirson's milk-vetch)"
Text version:
PDF version (Adobe Acrobat Reader required):

"U.S. move fuels fears over dune plant" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 08/04/2004)
"A cut in proposed land threatens the Peirson's milk-vetch, environmentalists say....At the California desert's most popular off-roading area...[the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] reduced by 60 percent the amount of land considered critical for the survival of a threatened plant....dropped most off-roading areas from its final habitat designation, thus removing these areas from potential closures due to habitat impact. Instead, the agency placed most of the habitat in a wilderness area of the 160,000-acre Imperial Sand Dunes that already bans motorized vehicles."

OUR READERS WRITE: "Why so positive?"
"Why are all the comments that you print so positive? Does anyone ever have anything bad to say about News.bytes or the BLM? You should use this section as more of a forum to answer questions the public has, and disseminate the information (the answers) to the readers of News.bytes. Thanks,"
      - C. B., Somis, California

Response: We checked and discovered that we have not had any negative feedback on News.bytes....OK, just kidding!
Most negative feedback on News.bytes has focused on specific items -- layout, design, story selection, technical points, ease of reading. For example, in last week's News.bytes, we responded to an inquiry about the increasing number of online newspapers that require readers to register in order to view articles.
With respect to your inquiry of "does anyone ever have anything bad to say" about BLM from our readers: yes, but not often through News.bytes. If we receive reader comments (negative or positive) on program policy or actions because of a news story or some other reason, we forward the information to the appropriate manager for program or decision making use. News.bytes does not offer a "letter to the editor" forum for discussion and opinion concerning BLM policy and actions because of few staff and resources. We do believe the editor of the news medium that originally published the story would be highly pleased to hear from readers - in the form of a "letter to the editor" for example. Of course, some news stories in News.bytes offer statements and content negative to BLM management of public lands and resources. News.bytes does not directly respond to these stories, but on some occasions it provides - directly below a news story - a brief BLM issue paper that offers factual or policy information of potential interest to the reader.

Tracks entering a wildernessPHOTO ALBUM: Wilderness
A wilderness area is a natural place where human influence is essentially unnoticeable, whether mountain or desert or seashore. These areas provide outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, and may contain ecological geological, or other features of scientific, scenic, or historic value. The BLM manages 75 congressionally designated wilderness areas in California encompassing 3.6 million acres.

Wilderness overlookRelated: "Wilderness" (BLM California Web site)
Wilderness areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management are remote and undeveloped. They offer visitors a place to truly "get away from it all:" away from crowds of people, away from modern conveniences like running water, electric power - away even from developed roads. These wilderness areas are preserved under federal law, because they offer special ecology, scenery, geology, history or other values.

Profile: Gerald Fong with laptopPROFILE: Gerald Fong
"I love technology and teaching," says Gerald Fong, IT Specialist with BLM's California State Office. Read more in this week's News.bytes Profile:

Ken McGarva is a lifelong rancher near the small community of Likely, in Modoc County.  He is a charter member of the Advisory Council and continues to be a strong advocate for the concerns of local communities and the ranching industry. His family operation grazes cattle on BLM-managed public lands and Modoc National Forest grazing allotments.


scene in Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument"On the horns of a dilemma" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 08/01/2004)
"When Congress established the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument almost four years ago, politicians, environmental groups and developers cheered it as a way to protect the scenic ranges that frame the southern and western edges of the Coachella Valley. But the Palm Springs City Council's recent approval of a golf course, hotel, more than 100 homes and about 400 timeshare condominiums on private property within the monument has some people asking whether the designation really means anything."

"Palm Hills project is challenged" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 08/04/2004)
" A controversial development that would build a hotel, golf course, 135 homes and several hundred timeshares in the Santa Rosa foothills south of Palm Springs is the target of a voter referendum that backers say they will file with the city clerk this week." U.S. Representative "who introduced legislation to create the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument four years ago, has said Palm Hills is much larger than the type of development she envisioned when she included private property rights in the monument bill." Developer "said Palm Hills' opponents have been misrepresenting the 1,200-acre project" and that it is environmentally sensitive.

"Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California Web site)

"Clark Herbarium Digital Field Guide" (City of Riverside Web site)
A Web site developed by graduate students at the University of Redlands features the "San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains region as a living geographic landscape using data from specimen collections curated at the Riverside Municipal Museum, Clark Herbarium. A searchable collections database forms the basis for an interactive digital field guide of the region's ecology." The site is a working prototype and still under development. (Click on "plant search" to start.)


"Recreation trail about to become a reality" (Sacramento Bee, 07/29/2004)
Group is close to purchasing "the last sliver of land to complete a seamless eight-mile span along the [South Fork of the American River] for cyclers, hikers and horseback riders....The ultimate steward of the recreation site will be the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which will schedule public meetings on how to specifically use the land....a haven for bird-watchers, with woodlands, river canyons and rolling foothills...." Mentions other possible - and current - uses.

"Ban could affect hunting seasons" (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 08/04/2004)
"Southern California hunters are again facing bans [on national forest land] as the deer, dove and quail hunting seasons begin....The dove season opens Sept. 1, and the quail season opens Oct.16. Most dove hunters will go to Bureau of Land Management Land, which is not part of the national forests.",1413,205%257E29579%257E2312340,00.html

"Bizz Johnson Trail shuttle service" (BLM California news release, 07/29/2004)
Bizz Johnson Trail bus shuttle for hikers, runners and mountain bikers is set for Saturday, Aug. 7, in Susanville - and is planned for Saturday, Sept. 4, Sunday, Oct. 3 (during the Rails to Trails Festival) and Saturday, Oct. 23 for the annual Fall Colors Ride.

"Budget farce" (San Bernardino County Sun, 8/2/2004)
Editorial: (The second item at this link is titled "Target practice; Long-time range under unjust fire" and concerns a shooting range on BLM-managed land) "...[N]ow that the range's 20-year lease is up, the Bureau of Land Management must decide whether to renew the lease or not, or renew it but add in new restrictions and requirements. Worst-case scenario would be to close the range and force it to relocate.",1413,208%257E12587%257E2310160,00.html

"Road to sorrow" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 06/27/2004)
"Dubbed by locals as the 'Pines to Palms Highway,' it has claimed 20 lives and injured more than 300 people in the last five years, according to statistics from the California Highway Patrol. Nearly 45 percent of those killed ran off the road." This section of Highway 74 was also designated as the "Palms to Pines Scenic Byway Tour" - one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the state. "Safety tips" are included with the article. (Note: this is an older article, but did not appear in previous editions of News.bytes.)
(Registration required)

Related: "Watchable Wildlife site: Palms to Pines Scenic Byway tour" (BLM California Web site)
Great views - but stop at a lookout to enjoy them! Drivers can pull off the winding and often steep road at a number of pulloffs or lookout points, each with habitat ranging from forested mountainsides with pine, oak and fir, to a reservoir, to arid brush- and cactus-covered stretches -- not to mention sweeping views of mountains and valleys.

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "America's Best Bass Fishing"BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "America's Best Bass Fishing"
The 50 Best Places to Catch Bass. Largemouth, smallmouth or stripers -- bass of all varieties are the number one sport fish across the country. In this book you'll find where and how to catch them all.


"Deputies descend on pot garden in Devil's Canyon" (Visalia Times-Delta, 08/04/2004)
"More than $18 million worth of pot was taken out of Devil's Canyon near Three Rivers on Tuesday as sheriff's deputies were dropped by helicopter into a large marijuana garden growing on federal [BLM-managed] land."

Related: "Pot farms thriving in forests" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 08/02/2004)
"In July, agents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties recovered more than 36,000 of the pungent-smelling plants. Statewide, more than 66,000 plants, worth an estimated $264 million, have been seized....[But] marijuana cultivation is a fast-growing, well-organized operation, meaning there are more groves out there....'The big reason is the public land,' said [operations commander for Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, a multi-agency, statewide program.]. 'There are 400,000 acres of public land in this state. A lot of that is very remote.'

"Man suspected in dozens of thefts in four states kills self" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 07/28/2004)
"A man believed to be the Ballarat Bandit, a furtive thief who haunted the California desert and stole cars, guns, food and off-road vehicles in at least three states, shot himself to death as federal rangers closed in on him, authorities said Wednesday. The man...shot himself Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service rangers tried to surround him in a ravine in the northern Mojave Desert about 35 miles north of Baker...."

Related: "Manhunt ended" (Pahrump Valley Times, 07/30/2004)
"Like most law enforcement officials who pursued the man at some point during his four-state crime spree, Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo was sorry to hear that the Warm Springs/Ballarat Bandit had eluded his captors by taking his own life last Sunday."

Related: "Update: Authorities seek help in identifying dead survivalist" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 07/30/2004)
"'The San Bernardino County Coroner submitted his fingerprints to a national database and found no match,' Inyo County Sheriff’s detective. The Panamint Bandit was hiding north of Ridgecrest near the border of BLM lands and Death Valley National Park. Federal agents said the suspect lived illegally on public lands terrorizing campers in California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada."


BLM revises mining claim annual maintenance fees
The Bureau of Land Management has increased fees for mining claims. The 2005 Maintenance Fee has gone up from $100 to $125 due on or before September 1, 2004.

Related: "Reid asks BLM to phase in mining claim fee increase" (Associated Press in San Luis Obispo Tribune, 08/03/2004)
Nevada Senator asks BLM "to stretch a planned 25 percent fee increase over the next five years to soften the blow of higher mining fees. The BLM announced in June that the cost of establishing and maintaining claims to mine federal lands would go up Sept. 1 from $100 to $125. A one-time location fee will increase from $25 to $30 per claim. Because mining companies can hold up to several thousand claims, industry officials said costs could be substantial."

"County sued for vote on Cemex" (Los Angeles Daily News, 08/03/2004)
"Santa Clarita has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County claiming that county officials failed to analyze properly the environmental impacts of the massive sand and gravel mine proposed for Soledad Canyon." (BLM issued the gravel mining permit several years ago.),1413,200%257E20943%257E2312145,00.html

Related: "City sues county over mine" (The Santa Clarita Signal, 08/04/2004)


"Tortoise-eating ravens could be targeted soon" (Los Angeles Daily News, 07/31/2004)
"'The desert tortoise population is declining because of a number of threats. One of those is raven predation," said [a] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist....'We have found 100 to 200 shells underneath raven nests.'" In the late 1980s, BLM planned to shoot 1,500 ravens in tortoise preserves. "The idea triggered a lawsuit by the U.S. Humane Society, worried that ravens that hadn't preyed on tortoises would be killed.",1413,200%257E20954%257E2307237,00.html

"Desert raven control mulled" (San Bernardino County Sun, 07/30/2004)
"Rapacious ravens could be targeted in a plan to control the predatory birds and protect the threatened desert tortoise and other Mojave wildlife.",1413,208%257E12588%257E2303719,00.html

"The Hi-Desert Star's view: Kill the ravens? Nevermore" (Hi-Desert Star, 08/02/2004)
Editorial: "And why are they here in numbers that are devastating to desert tortoises? Why, they followed us! Our refuse, the roadkill we create on our roads, our utility poles - all are lures to the raven species. Now that our actions have brought them here, we think we should kill them?"


"BLM will complete hazard reduction work at North Eagle Lake" (BLM California news release, 7/30/04)
The hazardous fuels reduction project will improve wildfire protection for the Stones-Bengard community at the north shore of Eagle Lake.

"Clarke: Recent rains ease wildfire outlook" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 07/28/2004)
"Recent rains across much of the West have eased the outlook for wildfires this summer, and Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke said yesterday that the nation is prepared for the final months of the season....Fire potential is still significant in California, Washington and along the Sierra range,[BLM Director Kathleen] Clarke said, but 'the Lower 48, I think, is well-prepared for the next month or two.'"

"Sims Fire corralled" (Eureka Times-Standard, 08/03/2004)
"Firefighters were pleasantly surprised as they walked through rural neighborhoods ... finding the homes they considered most at risk from the oncoming Sims Fire well-defended....Residents had cleared vegetation around their homes and had metal or asphalt roofs on their houses. That helped firefighters in their efforts to spare the properties." Firefighters from several agencies including BLM fought the blaze.,1413,127%257E2896%257E2311508,00.html

"Current wildland fire information"
Updated Mondays through Fridays by the National Interagency Fire Center.


"Order Re: Cross-Motions for partial summary judgment: United States District Court for the Northern District of California; American Motorcycle Association
District 37, et. al., Plaintiffs v. Gale Norton, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, et. al., defendants / Center for Biological Diversity et. al., Plaintiffs, v. Bureau of Land Management et. al., Defendants, and Desert Vipers Motorcycle Club, et. al. Defendants/Intervenors
As News.bytes was about to be sent out, we received an electronic copy of this ruling.

"Hope grows for bill to add wilderness" (Sacramento Bee, 08/01/2004)
"Legislation that would turn more than 300,000 acres of federal forestlands into protected wilderness along California's North Coast received a warm reception before a Senate committee last month....But with just a few workweeks remaining in the election-shortened congressional session and politicians maneuvering for every political advantage they can, it's uncertain how much further the legislation will go this year."

Volunteer Opportunity: Habitat Restoration Team (BLM opportunity on Web site)
The Habitat Restoration Team will maintain trails/roads, control erosion, eradicate noxious weeds and perform various other tasks.

Current job openings - BLM California
BLM California job listings on USAJOBS Web site. Included this week: Fire fighting and student trainee in range/forestry.

"BLM Resource Advisory Council will meet in Burney" (BLM California news release, 7/30/04)
Land use planning issues will dominate the agenda of a field tour and meeting, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 19 and 20, in the Burney-Fall River Mills area.

"BLM Resource Advisory Council will meet in Arcata" (BLM California news release, 07/29/2004)
Coastal resource conservation topics will highlight the agenda, when the U. S. Bureau of Land Management's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council holds a field tour and business meeting Thursday and Friday.


"Forest-fee plan stirs up foes" (Los Angeles Times, 08/01/2004)
"Pilot program to charge those who use national parks could be made permanent. Opponents say the money is not used for maintenance....The Park Service and Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management have collected about $1 billion through the pilot program, paying for trail maintenance, replacing fire rings with grills, installing new picnic tables and updating exhibits."
(Registration required),1,3608404,print.story

"Government tightens enforcement of oil lease acreage limits" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 08/03/2004)
"The Bureau of Land Management notified its state offices last week that any company whose holdings exceed the legal limit in a state will not be permitted to acquire new leases in that state until it brings its holding back into compliance."

"Nature Besieged" (New York Times, 08/01/2004)
Editorial: "Apart from the forests, the lands most at risk are controlled by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, whose oversight has been half-hearted at best."
(Registration required)

(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.)

08/12/2004 - Northwest California Resource Advisory Committee

08/14/2004 - BLM Fire Safety Exhibit
Hollister, CA 95023

08/14/2004 - Backyard Stargazing Campground Program
Douglas City

08/17/2004 - Monterey County Fair (BLM exhibits and activities)
Monterey, CA 93940

08/19/2004 - Northeast California Resource Advisory Committee

08/21/2004 - Family Days at Mount San Jacinto

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