A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 194 - 2/9/05

John Erquiaga Dwarf Soaproot Alex Neibergs Glamis/Imperial Sand Dunes, busy at night Glamis dunes,  temporarilly empty save for tire tracks

- Headlines and highlights: fire prevention updates, BLM jobs, new grazing fees, more
- Land use planning: West Mojave Plan, Redding-area parcel, Eastern Sierra land consolidation
- Recreation and issues: cross-country skiing, hang gliding and bighorn sheep, desert wildflowers now
- Off-highway vehicle areas: photos, info, plant monitoring
- Meet your advisory council members: John Erquiaga
- Wild horses and burro adoption program, including:
      - Profile: Alex Neibergs
      - Valentine's adoption
      - National controversy
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia: "Bushy" alias...
      - "Great Backyard Bird Count"
      - Special Status plant of the week
- Our readers write: thanks both ways
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Scarlett nomination, budget, renewable energy
- Selected upcoming events


"Snapshots - California" (BLM California website)
Successful BLM Projects supporting the National Fire Plan - California-related features.
PDF file, 475 kilobytes:

"Snapshots" (BLM national website)
National updates - California features (above) were taken from this.
PDF file, 1.5 megabytes:

"Help restore native plants at old Fort Ord" (Salinas Californian, 2/7/2005)
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: "Participants will be serenaded by William Faulkner and his Jalisco harp as they plant native plants on land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management."

Related: "Watershed Institute" (California State University Monterey Bay website)
Click their "upcoming events" link, to see more information about the Fort Ord native plant restoration.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include supervisory resource management specialist, contact representative, firefighting and fire education positions.

"Commentary: Logging push a dilemma for Schwarzenegger" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 02/06/2005)
Columnist writes about Headwaters Forest Reserve, and push for more area logging, by the company that sold the land to the federal and state governments.

"BLM and Forest Service announce 2005 federal grazing fee" (BLM California news release, 02/07/2005)
The Federal grazing fee for Western public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service will be $1.79 per animal unit month (AUM) in 2005, up from $1.43 in 2004, as of March 1. The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986.

"New wilderness bill gathers momentum" (Eureka Times-Standard, 2/9/2005)
"Refined and reintroduced, proponents believe the latest incarnation of a bill that would dub 300,000 acres in Northern California wilderness has a good shot of passing congressional muster this session. But some motorized vehicle access advocates want field hearings on the new version of the bill, saying concerns remain about potential road closures.",1413,127%257E2896%257E2701162,00.html

Related: "Thompson gains help protecting lake land" (Napa News, 02/06/2005)
The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act was defeated twice, but sponsors say it now has bipartisan support. "If it passes, approximately 5,800 acres of land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management -- including one of the world's largest groves of Sargent cypress trees -- would be upgraded to a 'wilderness' area, permanently restricting new mining, oil and gas drilling and construction of new roads. People who have permits to graze cattle, or who hunt, fish or hike on the land would be unaffected, but mountain bikes and mechanized vehicles would be prohibited."


"BLM Reports excellent ski conditions on Bizz Johnson Trail" (BLM California news release, 2/4/2005)
Cross country skiers are finding excellent conditions on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, which is covered by a "once in a decade" snow pack. Continuing cold temperatures have maintained a firm snow pack, "making for easy kick and glide skiing." A skier-packed ski track extends at least three miles into the Susan River Canyon from Susanville, and firm pack extends beyond the track.

"BLM seeking Pit River campground hosts" (BLM California news release, 2/4/2005)
Camp hosts provide information to campers and day use visitors, and perform limited maintenance including weeding, light repairs, litter cleanup and keeping toilets sanitized. Hosts also maintain bulletin boards, keep records of visitor use and report disturbances or vandalism to the BLM. Hosts must provide their own self-contained camper or camp trailer. The BLM provides a free camping space and a generator. Hosts serve 10 to 30 hours a week as volunteers, and receive a stipend to help cover expenses.

"BLM implements Monument Plan decision prohibiting hang gliding to protect bighorn sheep" (BLM California news release, 02/03/2005)
Effective February 3, 2005, the BLM will implement the plan decision in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Management Plan prohibiting hang gliding activities on public lands within the Monument to protect the endangered Bighorn Sheep.

Related: "Gliding banned from lookout" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/8/2005)
"Hang glider pilots are no longer welcome at Vista Point, a scenic,mountain perch along Highway 74....That's because the bright, soaring gliders are thought to scare endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep that roam on the mountains below. But pilots, many of whom just learned of the ban, are already rallying to reverse the Bureau of Land Management's closure. They also want a new landing strip in Palm Desert in the same neighborhood as a refuge for the skittish sheep."

Related: "Hang-gliding ban goes into effect" (Riverside Press Enterprise, 2/9/2005)
"The ban was established in a plan approved a year ago by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with support from a local advisory committee, but it was not enforced until Thursday. Some area hang gliders are now lobbying to have the ban lifted, arguing that their hobby does not harm the animals."
(Requires free registration.)

Related: "Bighorn sheep rebound from brink of extinction" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/9/2005)
"Approximately 100 of the bighorn live in mountains around the Coachella Valley - up from about three dozen nine years ago. Local bighorn supporters who helped raise and spend millions of dollars on captive breeding and release programs and sheep preservation say the trend validates their effort. Hikers and other trail users have already cited the trend as evidence they can coexist with sheep without further access restrictions to local mountains. People who monitor and count bighorn say despite inching from the precipice of extinction the sheep population is still fragile."

"Wildflower season 2005" (BLM Needles Field Office website)
"Some years are better than others, but this year is rare indeed with the wettest year that anyone can remember in recent history followed by unseasonably warm weather for January. The season is in full swing at the lower elevations." See recent photos of desert wildflowers on public lands managed by BLM California's Needles Field Office.

For more wildflower-related information and events, see "selected upcoming events" below - and watch for a feature in next week's News.bytes.


"Agency backs land switch" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 02/03/2005)
"The California Department of Fish and Game now supports the Bureau of Land Management's plan to swap so-called Area 51 in exchange for private land in Trinity County. The blessing comes with the caveat that the BLM do what it can to ensure a housing development doesn't harm fish in Salt Creek. Fish and Game had previously opposed the swap, warning that development would dump sediment into the creek, where trout and salmon have been spotted."
(Requires free registration),2232,REDD_17533_3519505,00.html

Related: "'Area 51' trek puts focus on BLM deals" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 02/02/2005)
"...Area 51 [is] a 215-acre slice of nature off the end of Victoria Drive, west of Redding. The bureau is considering trading the land to a Humboldt County developer in exchange for 566 acres in the Grass Valley Creek watershed in eastern Trinity County. Officials say that private land needs protection to avoid further erosion into the Trinity River. But Area 51 neighbors fear development that would bulldoze an informal network of trails and push sediment into the creek. For all the attention it's getting, Area 51 is a tiny piece of a bigger puzzle that the BLM has been trying to assemble for more than a decade. The agency's 250,000 acres in five Northern California counties are scattered far and wide, often forming a checkerboard of public and private land."
(Requires free registration),2232,REDD_17533_3516446,00.html

Related: "Are land swaps the best deal for the taxpayers?" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/6/2005)
Editorial: "To the Bureau of Land Management, the swap fits into a long-running plan to rid itself of scattered parcels while consolidating in areas of special public value. To most of Area 51's neighbors, the land is valuable open space and vibrant wildlife habitat -- except for a few who see the scrubland as a fire hazard abutting their back yards. To bicyclists and hikers, the area is a fun-filled maze of trails that forms a critical part of the network linking Redding with Whiskeytown National Recreation Area."
(Requires free registration),2232,REDD_18098_3526352,00.html

"Desert plan to be bared" (San Bernardino County Sun, 02/01/2005)
"[M]id-March or later...a heavily revised West Mojave Plan is due to be approved and implemented for the protection of the endangered desert tortoise, the Mohave ground squirrel and 57 other sensitive animals and plants. At the same time, the plan is intended to streamline procedures for development.",1413,208%257E12588%257E2686977,00.html

"Feds to look at land consolidation issues" (Mammmoth Time, 02/02/2005)
"An interagency group of federal land administrators will make it a priority this year to look seriously at ways to consolidate federal lands around the Eastern Sierra, and to trade private land in-holdings surrounding communities for lands closer to local communities." BLM's Bishop Field Office manager says "consolidation preserves both the open space and the habitat for plants and animals, and makes development projects easier to service."


night activity at the Imperial Sand DunesPHOTO ALBUM: Glamis Dunes
The dune system - also known as Imperial Sand Dunes - is divided into 3 areas. The northern most area is known as Mammoth Wash. South of Mammoth Wash is the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness established by the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. This area is closed to motorized use and access is by hiking and horseback.

dunes empty save for tire tracks, at the Imperial Sand DunesRelated: "Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office website)
More information on the area, managed by BLM's El Centro Field Office. The largest and most heavily used area begins at Highway 78 and continues south just past Interstate 8. The expansive dune formations offer picturesque scenery, opportunities for solitude, a chance to view rare plants and animals, and a playground for OHVs.

Related: "Monitoring of Special Status plants in the Algodones Dunes, Imperial County, California: 1977, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002" (BLM California website)
In 1998 the BLM initiated a monitoring study of six rare plants of the Algodones Dunes. The study was designed to allow comparisons of plant abundance between 1998 and subsequent years to data collected in 1977 as part of an earlier study contracted by BLM. Monitoring for all six of the plants was conducted in spring and summer 1998, spring 1999, and spring 2000, and the results of this monitoring were reported in a separate report.
PDF file, 2.75 megabytes:

Related: "Algodones Dunes monitoring report, 2001" (BLM California website)

"Off-highway vehicle riding" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office website)
Includes scheduled OHV events for 2005, on public lands managed by the Barstow Field Office.

"City's off-roading limits are simple matter of respect" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/4/2005)
Editorial: "Dirt-bikers say they have few places to practice their sport, but that's no reason to trespass. They argue the damage caused by off-roading is exaggerated, but that's easy to say when the land in question belongs to somebody else....It's worth stressing that people remain free to ride on their own property or that of friends who give permission. The Chappie-Shasta park run by the Bureau of Land Management still has a few hundred miles of legal trails just across the Sacramento River."
(Requires free registration),2232,REDD_18098_3522255,00.html

John Erquiaga represents grazing interests with BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council. Read more in this weeks News.bytes issue.


Alex NeibergsPROFILE: Alex Neibergs
Alex Neibergs is the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at the Ridgecrest Field Office. In this position he works closely with the other field offices in the district, and with the Lake Havasu, and Yuma, Arizona field offices addressing management and issues related to wild horses and burros. He continues to be involved with developing and implementing land use plan decisions.

"Wild horse and burro adoption offers great gifts for valentines" (BLM California news release, 1/25/2005)
On Saturday, February 12, BLM will offer wild horses and burros to qualified adopters at its corral facility 4 ½ miles east of Ridgecrest. To make this adoption even more special, BLM will provide free home delivery within 150 miles of the facility . . . Happy Valentines Day!

"Sen. Ensign says sides polarized in Congress on wild horse issues" (Las Vegas Sun, 2/8/2005)
U.S. Senator "says opposing sides on the question of what to do about wild horses are polarized on the issue in Congress, but he expects the new law allowing the sale of horses to survive....He said one side sees the need to get many of the wild horses off the land, while the other side wants the government to take care of the animals at whatever the cost."


Bushy-tailed woodratWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Bushy, alias...
Which is the more popular name for the Bushy-tailed woodrat?

Which statement about the porcupine is false? If you missed last week's online quiz, it's not too late to guess - or apply your profound knowledge of wildlife trivia:

"Count celebrates beauty of backyard birds" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/7/2005)
"It is time to get a jump-start on your bird-watching skills by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Last winter...counters submitted almost 50,000 checklists that added up to more than 4 million birds of 512 species..... the weekend of Feb. 18-21, everyone is encouraged to count the birds in their back yard or any other location and to turn in the results online at GBBC Web site helps everyone prepare for their trip to the back yard, whether they choose to watch birds only around their home or make the effort to see which birds are using public lands."

Dwarf SoaprootSPECIAL STATUS PLANT OF THE WEEK: Dwarf Soaproot
It is found in serpentine outcrops in oak woodlands, chaparral, and valley and foothill grasslands from 800 to 3000 feet (245 to 915 meters) in elevation.

OUR READERS WRITE (and thank you for writing)

"Thank you guys. You're doing a good job. I know it's not easy to shot-gun all the info over such a wide user interest base, but keep it up. Just took a trip down Highway 395 from Reno to Mojave. Guess what...Owens Lake isn't Owens Dry Lake anymore!!! One of the things so exciting about what you're writing about is that it's a living condition. It changes!"
- G.L.


"Secretary Norton praises President's intention to nominate P. Lynn Scarlett as Deputy Secretary" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/8/2005)
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today praised President Bush's intention to nominate P. Lynn Scarlett to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. The announcement is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, once the official nomination is made by the President. Scarlett currently serves as Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management, and Budget at the Department.

"President's FY 2006 Budget request for the Bureau of Land Management proposes $1.75 billion to strengthen management of public lands" (BLM national news release, 02/07/2005)
For BLM's main operating accounts, the budget provides a net increase of $15.9 million.

"FY 2006 Interior budget emphasizes commitments, cooperative efforts, performance and fiscal restraint" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/7/2005)
The Bureau of Land Management is within the Department of the Interior.

"Bush Administration pushes renewable energy development on public lands" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/4/2005)
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced the availability of a new report that highlights the Bush administration's efforts to increase interest in the development and use of renewable energy resources found on America's public lands. The 26-page report shows that lands managed by the Department of the Interior provide 48 percent of the nation's geothermal energy, 17 percent of hydropower and close to 10 percent of the nation's wind energy production. More than 260 million acres of land, primarily in the West, are managed by the Interior Department's 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.)

02/10/2005 - There's a Monument in Your Backyard
Palm Desert

02/12/2005 - Bald Eagle Hike

02/16/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting

02/19/2005 - Bald Eagle Hike

02/19/2005 - Piedras Blancas Light Station Tour
San Simeon

02/24/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting

02/24/2005 - Desert Wildflowers
North Palm Springs

02/26/2005 - Cerro Gordo

02/26/2005 - Riparian Restoration, Cosumnes River Preserve

02/27/2005 - W equals Wildflowers
Palm Desert

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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