A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 189 - 1/4/05

Todd Swickard Cushenberry milk-vetch Laurie Morrow Tailed frog BLM firefighters - now hiring

- Desert lawsuit update
- Desert recreation in winter
- Fighting fire dangers
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question
      - Special status plant of the week
      - Our readers write: gulled?
      - Archaeology controversy
- Meet your advisory council members: Todd Swickard
- Profile: Laurie Morrow
- Headline and highlights, including: Veteran ranger retiring, BLM jobs, pipeline rupture, Chalk Bluffs closure update, volunteers vs. reeds, more
- Selected upcoming events: many!


Federal Court issues injunction prohibiting OHV travel in desert washes" (BLM California news release, 1/4/2005)
Federal Court in San Francisco has issued an injunction prohibiting off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in wash zones within 571,000 acres of public lands in the Northern and Eastern Colorado Desert region of the California Desert to protect the threatened desert tortoise. The areas affected are public lands administered by the BLM within designated desert wildlife management areas (DWMAs) in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.


"Trip of the week: Rainbow Basin Natural Area boasts multicolored rocks, fossils" (Las Vegas Review Journal, 01/02/2005)
"Rainbow Basin Natural Area near Barstow, Calif., offers opportunities for cool-season camping, picnicking, hiking, scenic touring and other activities. Administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Rainbow Basin includes unique rock formations, scenic canyons and extensive fossil beds, protected under its designation as an area of critical environmental concern."

Related:"Rainbow Basin Natural Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office website)
Related: Many visitors come to see multi-colored rock formations and walk the scenic canyons. A variety of desert wildlife is found here, including the desert tortoise. Vehicle trespass is a major concern, so all routes not signed as "open" are closed to vehicles.

"Rainy weather continues" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/30/2004)
"Anthony Chavez, rangeland management specialist at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Barstow field office, recommends that people avoid going to the desert for hiking or other activities when rain or snow is forecast. He said sometimes people have been planning an excursion to a desert area for months...and don't want to call it off at the last minute because of bad weather....'They take a chance of damaging their vehicle, possibly hurting themselves, possibly dying....It's not worth the risk. You can always defer that to another time.'"

Related:"Desert survival tips" (BLM California Barstow Field Office website)
Many people each year have mishaps in the Mojave Desert which could have been avoided or made less serious with some preplanning. Here is a list of preparations to be made before your trip to the desert, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become stranded.

"Up in arms over signs" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/27/2004)
"BLM has removed well over 100 unauthorized signs with the message '24 hour surveillance' from public lands in the Barstow area during the past 18 to 24 months....BLM isn't doing any surveillance, and doesn't want visitors to public lands to get the impression they're not supposed to be there."


"BLM Preparing to Hire Summer Firefighters" (BLM California news release, 12/21/2004)
The BLM is now accepting applications for seasonal and career firefighting and fuels management positions. Applications must be received over the Internet by Friday, Jan. 14. Available positions and instructions for filing electronic applications can be found at Only electronically filed applications will be accepted.

"Fires will ignite good goals" (Redding Record Searchlight, 12/29/2004)
"Tehama landowners back effort to ease blaze risk, improve plant life....Beginning next month, state and federal agencies are teaming up to conduct prescribed burns on as many as 5,000 acres to reduce heavy fuels and, hopefully, lessen the danger of a real wildfire....According to the Bureau of Land Management, one of the agencies coordinating the burns, a helicopter will be used to light the fires while crews on the ground monitor the flames."
(Free registration required.),2232,REDD_17533_3434039,00.html


At what time do Tailed frogs breed?
Take your best guess in our online interactive quiz:

Where are Common kingsnakes found in California? If you missed last week's online quiz, it's not too late to guess - or apply your profound knowledge of wildlife trivia:

Cushenberry milk-vetchSPECIAL STATUS PLANT OF THE WEEK: Cushenberry milk-vetch
A many-branched perennial covered in silvery hairs. This plant is only known to occur on the northeastern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains near Cushenbury Canyon. It is found along rocky washes and gentle slopes. Its habitat is associated with carbonate soils in pinyon juniper woodlands.


"A forty year search for Early Man, part 1" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/28/2004)
From "Backward Glance by Steve Smith" - "There is quite a bit of controversy about the tools at the Calico Early Man site. When some of the tools were first dated they came back to being around 50,000 years old. The commonly held belief at the time was that man first came to North America around 15,000 years ago based on a spear point found in Clovis, New Mexico. You can see where this may have raised a few eyebrows in the archaeological community."

"A forty year search for Early Man, part 2" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 01/04/2005)
"Last week I talked about the early days of the Calico Early Man Site and some of the controversy over the finds at the site. This week a little more about it's history and future."

Related: "Calico Early Man Site" (BLM California website)
Archaeologists have classified this site as a possible stone tool workshop, quarry, and camp site. Perhaps early nomadic hunters and gatherers stopped in this area to fashion the tools they used to survive. This was the only New World archaeology project undertaken by the renowned archaeologist-paleontologist, Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey - well known for their Early Man discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in east Africa. Guided tours are available. (User fee.)


"Catching up: both comments this week relate to News.bytes issue 187, sent out Dec. 15.
1 - "Keep up the good job. I love the weekly newsletter, especially the trivia questions! I can't believe more people voted for the ham sandwich rather than the seagull in last week's trivia (issue 187)!!
I'd love to see articles/tidbits/stories on BLM's history as well as history of regulations that govern BLM lands (e.g. Wilderness Act, Horses and Burros Act...)"
- P.M. (Internet name)

Response: Thank you for your comments, and suggestions. We are always looking for ways to improve News.bytes, to make it even more relevant and interesting to our readers - or potential readers. One hurdle is finding experts in each subject area, who also have time to produce non-technical but still accurate material of interest. However, we are working on it!

2 - (Regarding wildlife trivia question) "I challenge you to find the word Seagull in any birding field guide or ornithology book, with the possible exception of the book saying that there is no bird called a Seagull.
Good birding,"
S.S. (Who among other things, maintains the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society website)

Response: There are indeed a number of "gulls" listed in our online wildlife database - such as California gull, Herring gull, and even Bonaparte's gull - but no "seagull." You can chalk this one up to non-biologists editing the trivia question.

Todd Swickard represents Federal Grazing interests on BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council. Read more:

Laurie MorrowPROFILE: Laurie Morrow
Twenty years ago, Laurie left her career in the financial world to move to the Eastern Sierra. Before joining the BLM, she worked with the Inyo National Forest - creating their website by learning HTML code on her own, and writing the entire site using Notepad. Read more in this week's News.bytes Profile:


"Live free and die" (New York Times, 1/4/2005)
Op Ed piece: "The overpopulation of wild horses is a serious problem in the West, with herds growing exponentially until they eat themselves out of luck. The land can't support an infinite number of wild horses - which, by the way, are inbred feral descendants of imported domestic horses, hardly more native to the prairie than the cattle their ancestors were trained to herd."
(Free registration required)

"Helping hands: Barstow in the Rose Parade" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/28/2004)
The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard stationed in Barstow - the only mounted color guard in the U.S. Marine Corps - was preparing to march in the Rose Parade, with palomino mustangs adopted through BLM. Includes story and short interview.

"Desert comes alive" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/31/2004)
"The history, culture and resources of Death Valley will come to life next month at the Death Valley is Alive traveling exhibition, which opens at the Riverside Municipal Museum Jan. 15....A free family day to open the exhibit begins at 11 a.m. Jan. 15. Visitors can enjoy hands-on activities, talks by naturalists, and a visit by Sherman and Leroy, burro mascots for the Bureau of Land Management."


"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)

"Ranger's legacy is adventure" (Sacramento Bee, 12/27/2004)
BLM law enforcement veteran is retiring: "He has patrolled public lands from the seat of an airboat and the saddle of a mule. He has been paid to fish in the Gulf of Mexico and ride across Nevada dressed as an emigrant mule skinner. He made his first arrest in a pair of gym shorts."

"Gas pipeline rupture triggers massive desert cleanup" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/23/2004)
"...[G]as streamed for 12 hours through a nickel-sized hole from a high-pressure pipeline four feet below the ground. It sprayed a three-acre area, tainting at least 7,500 tons of soil that are being removed by cleanup crews. So far, none of the lumbering reptiles has been found near the site, said John Key, a hazardous materials specialist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management who has been on site since the leak."
(Free registration required.)

"BLM cites park worker" (Inyo Register, 12/27/2004)
"An employee...admitted that he had poured a mixture of paint and water, several times over a period of three days, into a drain at the Tecopa Hot Springs Park that runs directly into nearby Grimshaw Lake, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern." The concessionaire for the park said the employee was reprimanded and "the company is taking steps to educate its employees about proper treatment of the sensitive local environment."

"BLM to Hold Planning Meeting (public lands in Amador County)" (BLM California news release, 12/29/2004)
The Folsom Field Office of the BLM is asking the public to help identify issues and concerns regarding future management of about 9,000 acres of public lands in Amador County at a public meeting on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at the Jackson Civic Center.

"BLM rescinds voluntary seasonal closure for Chalk Bluff" (BLM California news release, 12/21/2004)
The voluntary seasonal closure of public lands in the western part of Chalk Bluff north of Bishop will be lifted on January 1, 2005, according to the BLM's Bishop Field Office.

"BLM advisory council to meet in Cedarville" (BLM California news release, 01/03/2005)
Members of BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council will meet Thursday and Friday, Jan. 13 and 14, at the BLM's Surprise Field Office. The meeting is open to the public.

"Volunteers clear giant reeds from spring" (Needles Desert Star, 12/22/2004)
"Volunteers joined forces last week with federal employees to clear giant reeds from a rare water source in the Mojave desert that features a no-fee campground. The springs support plants and animals that cannot be seen anywhere else, and the viewing opportunities are expected to attract people to the campground, according to...a rangeland management specialist with the Bureau of Land Management."

(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.)

01/07/2005 - Desert Advisory Committee meeting - Day 1 of 2

01/08/2005 - Desert Advisory Committee meeting - Day 2 of 2

01/08/2005 - Riparian Restoration Workday - Cosumnes River Preserve

01/10/2005 - There's a Monument in Your Backyard
Palm Desert

01/12/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting

01/13/2005 - Northeast Resource Advisory Council Meeting

01/15/2005 - Bald Eagle Hike

01/16/2005 - Bighorn Sheep & the American West
Palm Desert

01/19/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting
San Andreas

01/19/2005 - Ecology of the Palm Oasis
Thousand Palms

01/19/2005 - Piedras Blancas Light Station Tour
San Simeon

01/22/2005 - Out of the Frying Pan & into the Freezer
Palm Desert

01/22/2005 - Bald Eagle Hike

01/22/2005 - Piedras Blancas Light Station Tour
San Simeon

01/24/2005 - Desert Wildflowers
North Palm Springs

01/22/2005 - Habitat Restoration, Cosumnes River Preserve

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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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