A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 206 - 11/15/05

   Mary Gordon California newt Profile: Birgit Hoover

- Spotlight on partners: Bighorn Sheep Institute
- Headlines and highlights: Advisory council wonders, BLM California jobs, more
- Wild horse and burros
- Meet your advisory council members: Mary Gorden
- Profile: Birgit Hoover
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week: Newt diet
      - Special Status plant of the week
      - Environmental education online: Fire's role in ecosystems
- Selling public lands to balance the budget?
- Illegal drugs damaging public lands
- Land use plans: Weeds and wildfire; Hollister, Cronan Ranch, Modoc-Washoe
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Road disputes, meth hurting the environment; sacred Indian sites

SPOTLIGHT on PARTNERS: Bighorn Institute

releasing a ram(An occasional feature of News.bytes) Of all the more than 300 threatened or endangered species in California, none have captured the public's imagination more than the majestic Peninsular bighorn sheep. And of the more than 200 partnerships between BLM and private organizations in California, none have stronger bonds than the ties between BLM and the Bighorn Institute, based in Palm Desert.

RELATED: "Bighorn Institute"
The Bighorn Institute is dedicated to research, care for the animals, and captive breeding, having released over 100 animals captive bred or rehabilitated sheep into the Mountains since 1985.


colorful mushrooms along the trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve"Advisory Council members discover the wonders of Headwaters Forest Reserve" (News.bytes Extra, issue 206)
Members of the BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council explored the wonders of a wild redwood forest recently, when they hiked the new Elk River Trail at the north end of the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Eureka. The 11-mile (round trip) trail is now open to the public. The lower three miles are open to mountain bikes; the upper portion is open to hikers.

"Council votes to annex parcel" (Los Angeles Daily News, 11/10/05)
"The City Council has approved a zoning change and annexation of Soledad Canyon land where Mexico-based Cemex plans to mine 56.1 million tons of sand and gravel, a project Santa Clarita continues to battle on several fronts....The city's plan to annex 1,885 acres, about 1,000 of which it owns, is part of a strategy to limit mining on the property, where the federal Bureau of Land Management owns the mining rights."

"BLM Receives Notice of Lessee's Intent to Drill in Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM California news release, 11/10/05)
The BLM has received a formal Notice of Staking from an oil and gas operator with a valid existing oil and gas lease on 153 acres of public lands on the southern end of the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County. When the Carrizo Plain became a National Monument in January 2001 by Presidential Proclamation under the 1906 Antiquities Act, it was withdrawn from new oil and gas leasing, but the Proclamation specifically allowed for exercise of valid existing rights, including drilling under existing oil and gas leases.

RELATED: "Oil drilling planned for Carrizo Monument" (Bakersfield Californian, 11/11/05)
"Carrizo Plain National Monument protects the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel and the giant kangaroo rat. It also allows more than a dozen oil and gas leases to survive."
(Free registration required.)

RELATED: "Landowner exploring Carrizo Plain for oil" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 11/15/05)
"Richard D. Sawyer of Malibu has informed the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the monument, that he intends to drill an exploratory well on a 153-acre lease in Wells Canyon along the monument’s southern boundary north of New Cuyama. Depending on what the exploratory drilling reveals, Sawyer could decide to develop a total of seven leases he holds covering 3,500 acres, or 1.4 percent of the monument."

"Bill would add land to reservation" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/15/05)
"Legislation that would add nearly 1,000 acres of federal land to the Pechanga Indian reservation will go before the House today. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, would transfer 991 acres owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management to the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians near Temecula.... Another 20-acre parcel, described as having culturally significant Indian burial sites, is about 20 miles north of the reservation. The tribe has no plans to develop the land and wants to keep it as open space, [Tribal chairman Mark] Macarro testified last year before a congressional committee."
(Free registration required.)

RELATED: "Testimony of Chad Calvert, Deputy Assistant Secretary Land and Minerals Management...H.R. 4908, The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians Land Transfer Act" (BLM national news, 9/21/04)
The Department of the Interior and BLM supported the bill in testimony last year, suggesting certain "technical and clarifying amendments."

"California Fire Alliance Has New Process for Aiding Communities" (BLM California news release, 11/10/05)
The California Fire Alliance has a new process for adding and removing communities from the "Communities At-Risk" (CAR) list. The CAR program was developed to assist communities in protecting people and their property from potentially catastrophic wildfires.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include several firefighting-related jobs.


A young adoption visitor approaches a horse that has been gentled for the past tow hours"Horses and Burros Find New Homes in Gilroy Adoption Event" (News.bytes Extra)
A spirited bidding war for burros was a highlight of the BLM's wild horse and burro adoption event last weekend in Gilroy. With only four burros available, competition was keen among hopeful adopters who participated in an hour-long silent auction and a final round of oral bidding. When the bidding ended, a burro brought a $925 bid, the highest offered for any animal in the event. Learn more and see photos from the event:

RELATED: Wild horse adoption comes to Gilroy" (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 11/13/05)
"Nearby, a stately creme-colored or 'cremello' show horse is attracting a small crowd of admirers. Sarah Okumura has owned the once-wild pale palomino whom she calls 'Sunkawakan' -- a Lakota name that means 'spirit dog'-- for six years now. Sunka and his owner/rider have won or placed in dozens of contests, and most recently participated at the Santa Cruz County Fair. The horse's pale blue eyes fix on a tie-dyed pre-schooler running up to pet him. He bows his head down, so the child can reach." ( The event is over, but you can read about some participants in last week's adoption event.)

RELATED: "Wild Horse and Burro adoption offers many special rewards" (BLM California news release, 11/9/05)
On Saturday, November 19 the BLM is extending operation of its regional wild horse and burro corral facility near Ridgecrest for a very special 1-day event to provide the public an opportunity to learn about and adopt a wild mustang and burro.

"Bush signs horse slaughter ban into law" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 11/13/05)
"Advocates say measure will save wild herds, but industry predicts release of sick animals." The law is part of "an agriculture spending bill that includes an eight-month ban on federal funding for U.S. meat inspectors to monitor horse slaughter. The measure essentially prohibits the killing of horses at the nation's three slaughterhouses, which export the meat to Europe and Asia."

Mary GordenMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Mary Gorden... chairperson of BLM's Central California Resource Advisory Council. Among other experience, she initiated and organized the Southern Sierra Archaeological Society's site monitoring program for the Bureau of Land Management.

Birgit HooverPROFILE: Birgit Hoover
Birgit Hoover (pronounced Beer-git) is actually a native of Germany, from a city called Fulda which is about an hour north of Frankfurt. When you speak with her you can hear the gentle and softened rhythms of her homeland in her voice. She now works in BLM's Barstow Field Office.


California newtWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What do California newts eat?
a. They are mostly vegetarian -- and eat flowers and fruit for their high sugar content
b. They are egg eaters -- and specialize in piercing the shell of bird eggs with a nearly microscopic egg tooth on their upper jaw
c. They eat bugs -- and because they are not picky will eat both the crunchy and the slimy kinds
d. They are carnivorous -- and chase small rodents down into their burrows to capture them
e. Fig Newtons
(See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.)

Deciduous shrub less than 6.4 feet tall. Stems erect, with dense branches, and with-out hairs. Leaves sessile (attached directly to stem), narrow, generally smooth, and 1/16 - 1 3/4 inches long. Flower head funnel-shaped. Bracts surrounding the base of the flower are in 4 series. Bracts are narrow, thick, rounded on back, have little bumbs, very small hairs, and pointy tips. Blooms August-November.

"eFieldTrips -- Fire's role in ecosystems: A hot topic!"

BLM's E-fieldtrip "Fire's Role in Ecosystems: A Hot Topic!" is up and running. This is an opportunity for students to learn about fire and to interact with BLM fire experts. This web-based program for elementary and middle school students features three segments:
    - A "virtual visit" focusing on the role of wildland fire in ecosystems;
    - An "Ask the Experts" session in which BLM fire specialists answer student questions online; and
    - A student journal, which allows educators to assess student learning.


"Pombo hopes to help mining" (Sacramento Bee, 11/10/05)
"Mining companies could buy up lots of California public land under a controversial bid by Tracy Republican Richard Pombo. The federal land would be priced starting at $1,000 an acre, led by Sierra Nevada foothills and Southern California desert....The idea faces intense opposition and has revived a debate....But Pombo calls it a sensible fiscal step, and through his powerful committee position he has folded it into a budget bill....'I think it's the right policy,' Pombo said."

"Push to sell federal land panned" (North County Times, 11/12/05)
"In late September, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., introduced legislation that would auction off 15 percent of the government's 654 million acres, much of it in national forests and wildlife refuges, to the highest bidders. His bill, HR 3855, would exclude national parks. Will Adams, Tancredo's press secretary, said the congressman has been promised a hearing sometime this fall in the House Resources Committee by its chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton....A dozen other Congress members have signed on to the bill....'We don't have a date or anything like that, but we do have a commitment,' Adams said.

"Pombo: Bring back prospectors" (Stockton Record, 11/11/05)
"Should it clear Congress, the measure could result in the sale of land within national forests, such as Tahoe and Eldorado. The proposal is embedded within the House's version of the federal budget, which had originally been scheduled for a vote Thursday but was delayed until next week. [A] House Resources Committee spokesman...said the whole point was to allow existing mining operations to remain viable by expanding into some of the millions of federally owned acres in the West, such as national forests and land owned by the Bureau of Land Management."

"House could alter 19th century mining law" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 11/9/05)
"As many as 20 million acres of public land could be sold under an obscure but sweeping change in mining law tucked into a budget bill up for a vote in the House. A provision in the bill would overturn a congressional ban on letting mineral companies and individuals buy public lands, including some in national forests and parks, at cheap prices if they contain mineral deposits."


"Drug traffickers find county fertile ground" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/15/05)
"Law enforcement officials said yesterday that San Diego County is ranked fourth in the state for the amount of pot plants seized on public lands, surpassing longtime pot-growing leaders Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties....Finding and removing marijuana plantations involves several agencies, including law enforcement, the National Guard, the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Officials reap illegal pot crops in Valley counties" (Fresno Bee, 11/11/05)
"Officials with the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program announced Thursday that they set another record for the number of pot plants eradicated in the state, and two Central Valley counties — Tulare and Fresno — finished third and fourth in the state for the amount of plants found in their areas....the pot problem is taking away from resources that could fight other crime problems such as gangs, and most of the marijuana is planted on federal land, with county law enforcement being tapped to clean it up....Tulare County seeks to create a multiagency task force" with agencies including BLM.
(Free registration required.)

RELATED: "County needs help fighting pot" (Visalia Times-Delta, 11/15/05)
Editorial: "Tulare County has a dilemma. The area has become one of the most popular places in the world for illegally growing marijuana, especially the more remote areas of the Sierra Nevada. The county can do its duty and exterminate the marijuana farms and try to catch the growers at a cost of millions of dollars in law enforcement material and personnel. Or it can devote the cost of that campaign toward fighting crime on the Valley floor against farmers and ranchers, which also costs the county millions of dollars."

"A fine meth" (Grist magazine, 11/10/05)
"Much has been made of the effects of methamphetamine on users, from crumbling teeth to erratic behavior to heart inflammation to death. It's a painful story that the media has been only too eager to tell, as an estimated 346,000 people in the United States have become part of the meth-addiction 'epidemic,' with a million more using the drug casually....But journalists and politicians have paid less attention to another damaging effect of the nation's latest fixation: what meth is doing to the environment."


"BLM seeks public comment on proposed treatments of vegetation on BLM public lands in Western US" (BLM news release, 11/10/05)
The BLM released its extensive environmental analysis of proposed vegetation treatments that will combat the spread of noxious and invasive plants and reduce the amount of highly flammable forest and rangeland fuels, such as stands of pinyon and juniper trees or dead and down woody materials, on BLM-managed public lands. The BLM invites public comment through January 9, 2006, on the proposed methods for treating and managing vegetation. A public meeting is being held in Sacramento on November 29 to provide information for the public and to offer an opportunity for public comment. The meeting is one of ten being held throughout the West to solicit public input.

"BLM to host public meetings for Hollister Draft Resource Management Plan & Draft Environmental Impact Statement" (BLM California news release, 11/14/05)
The draft RMP and draft EIS would affect approximately 274,000 acres of public lands in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties, and portions of Fresno, Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties. Three public meetings will be held, Nov. 29, Dec. 1 and Dec. 7.

"Cronan Ranch planning meeting scheduled" (BLM California news release, 11/9/05)
The BLM's Folsom Field Office will hold a public meeting in Lotus on Friday, November 18 to continue work on a management plan for the recently acquired 1,400-acre Cronan Ranch parcel along the South Fork American River. Everyone interested in using public lands along the South Fork American River is invited to attend. The issues of target shooting and hunting will be discussed. In a previous meeting, planning participants were unable to reach an agreement on these issues.

"Modoc-Washoe Stewardship group meets Dec. 7 in Cedarville" (BLM California news release, 11/14/05)
Topics ranging from weed control to proposals for alternative energy projects will be discussed when the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program Steering Committee meets Wednesday, Dec. 7 in Cedarville. The meeting, open to the public, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Surprising recovery" ("Las Vegas Sun, 11/14/05)
In "a desert oasis called Surprise Canyon.....plants are recovering and last year a rare Inyo California Towhee, which is listed as a threatened species, flew into the canyon....In 2001 the BLM agreed to block vehicle access to the canyon, noting that the canyon did 'not meet the BLM's minimum standards' due to 'soil erosion and streambed alterations caused by motor vehicle use.' The BLM and the National Park Service, which share jurisdiction of the canyon, are performing an environmental study to determine what access should be allowed in the canyon. It could range from leaving the canyon closed to vehicles to opening it up for some off-road use."


"Fights over roads in the West pit neighbors against each other" (Associated Press in North County Times, 11/14/05)
Critics of an "an obscure 1866 law allowing local governments to claim rights of way across federal land" say changes are needed to Revised Statute 2477. "Thousands of tracks and paths crisscross the West, but deciding what is a road has become a tricky proposition....Over the years, population growth, the increasing popularity of off-road vehicle tourism and long-standing distrust among ranchers, environmentalists and the federal government have led to more and more conflicts. Problems have occurred in New Mexico, California, Colorado, Alaska and Nevada" including BLM-managed lands.

"Sacred claims" (High Country News, 11/14/05)
"American Indian tribes face an uphill battle in their effort to protect sacred sites on federal land in the West....Last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R, signed a bill requiring cities and counties to consult with tribes about development plans that might impact sacred sites. And Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., is pushing a bill in Congress that would give Indian tribes some legal leverage to halt developments they feel would desecrate a sacred site. The leaders of the fight to protect tribal sacred sites, though, aren’t holding their breath for the bill’s passage. Last year, it never made it out of committee."

"BLM Sets Meeting to Hear Suggestions for Managing Geothermal Energy" (BLM news release, 11/7/05)
The Bureau of Land Management is holding a public meeting November 17 in Reno, to solicit suggestions on how best to implement the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that relate to geothermal energy on the public lands.

RELATED: "Increasing availability of renewable energy resources" (Department of the Interior website)
Renewable Energy resources (hydropower, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar) are used to generate nearly 9 percent of all electricity in America. Energy experts expect American renewable energy production to increase by 55 percent between 2002 and 2025. The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation make federal lands available for renewable energy development. The Bureau of Indian Affairs works with tribes to develop renewable energy on tribal lands.

What do California newts eat?
c. They eat bugs

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