A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 236 - 6/20/06

Checkered garter snake Weed of the Week: Rattlebox Greg Wilkerson in two of his guide guises Rinconada Mine area cleanup Dixie LaFountaine of Weaverville shows her gentling approach with a horse at a BLM adoption

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week: How many?
      - Weed of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Abandoned mine hazards, continued
- Planning, public input
- Land use and preservation
- Headlines and highlights: Wild adoption, mine danger, jobs, more
- Employee profile
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: PILT payments to local governments

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


Checkered garter snake

How many eggs are typically found in a checkered garter snake's clutch?
(a) Two to four
(b) Up to 25
(c) Thousands - because hundreds of snakes share nesting areas, and take turns guarding the eggs
(d) One
(e) None - these snakes have live young and do not lay eggs
(f) Depends if the 18-packs are on sale at the "buy one, get one free" price
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

Weed of the Week: RattleboxWEED OF THE WEEK: Rattlebox... especially troublesome along rivers and streams. It is replacing native plants in the riparian areas that provide essential food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife species. It also contains a chemical that is poisonous to both humans and wildlife.


Dixie LaFountaine of Weaverville shows her gentling approach with a horse at a BLM adoption"Wild horse and burro program volunteers keep up the good work" (News.bytes Extra)
Volunteers continue to be an important part of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program in California. From distributing adoption event posters to helping conduct compliance checks with adopters, they augment the BLM workforce, while indulging in their true passion, helping America's wild horses and burros. Recently, volunteers have entered a new arena -- literally.

"Horses, burros available for adoption in Auburn" (BLM California news release, 6/6/06)
This weekend: Young, healthy wild horses and burros from public ranges will be looking for new homes, at a public adoption Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, in Auburn. The BLM will offer 65 horses ranging in age from under 2 to about 5 years old, along with 10 burros.

"Call for Nominations for the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board" (Federal Register Notice, via Government Printing Office)
Call for nominations of three members to the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The Board provides advice concerning management, protection and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on the public lands administered by the Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Agriculture, through the Forest Service.
Text version:
PDF version:

ABANDONED MINE HAZARDS (continued from last week's News.bytes)

Rinconada Mine area cleanup"Rinconada Mine area cleanup" (BLM California, News.bytes Extra)
BLM and the Environmental Protection Agency worked to clean up toxic mercury and other waste from this abandoned mining operation and related mill in San Luis Obispo County. See photos and more information.

RELATED: "Rinconada Mine and Mill Site, San Luis Obispo Co., California" (BLM California website)
More photos, information and a map of this former mercury mine, which produced an estimated 3,000 flasks of mercury from 1872 until about 1961.

"Authorities cut danger from old Keyesville mines" (Kern Valley Sun, 6/14/06)
"The Ridgecrest area is honeycombed with old mines, and most weekends in the summer Search and Rescue is called out because someone falls into one. The BLM says they don't want to see that happening here."

RELATED: "BLM and State warn public about dangerous historic mine sites" (BLM California news release, 6/15/06)
The BLM and the California Department of Conservation are working together to prevent public access to dangerous mine sites in BLM's Keyesville Recreational Area. In May the two agencies installed four gates on mine entrances to prevent public access while still allowing wildlife access. Wildlife, particularly bats, use caves as habitat.


"BLM seeking views" (Mountain Democrat, 6/18/06)
"The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments through June 30 on a proposed plan to build a heavy equipment operations school in the Yuba Goldfields. Operating Engineers No. 3 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee wants to establish a 57-acre campus with two 2,400-square-foot buildings and five portable trailers that would be used as classrooms and for administration."

"BLM District Advisory Council to meet in Ridgecrest" (BLM California news release, 6/20/06)
The BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council has scheduled a 2-day public meeting in Ridgecrest on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24. The council will participate in a field tour of BLM-managed public lands on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and meet in formal session on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

"Public comment periods" (BLM California website)
Includes several requests for public comment with due dates in the next two months.


"Coastal preserve adds four rocks to its collection" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 6/19/06)
"Four craggy, notable islets encircling Point Piedras Blancas, north of San Simeon, have officially been added to the California Coastal National Monument’s 'rock collection.' The Hearst Corp. donated the four landmarks to the Bureau of Land Management on May 18, concluding the corporation’s six-year, $95 million land-conservation project. The deal also included a donation of 13 miles of coastal land to San Simeon State Park. Hearst Corp. and land management and other officials gathered Friday to honor the donation of the rocks."

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas coastal outcropping" (BLM California website)
Photos of the rocks involved. (Repeated from News.bytes, issue 234)

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California website)

"A four-year college coming to the Valley?" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 6/14/06)
"BLM Ridgecrest Field Manager Hector Villalobos said land in the Ridgecrest area could be made available under the federal Recreation and Public Purposes Act. He said the act allows the BLM to sell or lease land for public purposes to government agencies or nonprofit organizations."

"Wilderness Land Trust buys King Range beach property" (Eureka Times-Standard, 6/20/06)
"The Wilderness Land Trust announced Monday that it has purchased a 10-acre property on the beach in the King Range National Conservation Area." The group "worked with the heirs of Chester Goss to purchase the property and the family helped to transfer the property to the Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area - The Lost Coast" (BLM California website)
The King Range covers 64,000 acres and extends along 35 miles of coastline between the mouth of the Mattole River and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Here the landscape was too rugged for highway building, forcing State Highway 1 and U.S. 101 inland. The remote region is known as California's Lost Coast, and is only accessed by a few back roads.

"Habitat plan faces two tests" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/20/06)
"Two valley cities holding sway over the fate of one of the nation's most ambitious habitat conservation plans are to confront the issue today. Desert Hot Springs and Indio could vote on whether to join the proposed Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, which would restrict development in environmentally sensitive areas, mostly in the hills around the valley." BLM is one of many partners in the plan.


"Rock slide closes a route to Yosemite, leaves park workers struggling" (Sacramento Bee, 6/18/06)
A "massive rock slide covered state Highway 140, a main route into Yosemite, with 3 million cubic yards of dirt and rocks....Because there are other routes into Yosemite, the still-active rock slide hasn't thinned the throngs of summer visitors who flock to one of the nation's most popular national parks. But the blockage is hurting businesses in and around the park that have been cut off from their employees and supply chain." BLM is among the agencies working on the slide.

RELATED: "Merced River" (BLM California, Folsom Field Office website)
The rockslide is affecting Merced River access by road and by raft. Check here for more information - with a link to updates at the Incident Information System.

"Repair work to close Bizz Johnson Trail bridge for 2 days" (BLM California news release, 6/16/06)
The trail will be closed at Bridge No. 2, about two miles west of Susanville, from today (Tuesday, June 20), through Thursday, June 22.

"BLM offering reward for Headwaters Forest vandalism" (BLM California news release, 6/16/06)
BLM is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for vandalism at the Salmon Pass Trailhead of the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Fortuna. BLM officials said vandals used a vehicle and cable to force open three heavy steel gates and to topple a trail information kiosk. The damage will cost more than $3,000 to repair, making the vandalism a felony under federal law.

"Creekside Terrace trailhead to get help from trail users" (BLM California news release, 6/16/06)
The new Creekside Terrace Trailhead serving the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) Fort Ord Public Lands is getting help from trail users. The Bicycle and Equestrian Trail Assistance Group (BETA) recently announced that it will help maintain and patrol the facilities at the trailhead to help reduce vandalism.

"Snapshots" (BLM Office of Fire and Aviation website)
Successful wildfire preparation. California items include:
   - San Jose-area neighborhood gets a jump on fire season
   - No secret about fire safety
   - The C.O.R.E. of fire safe communities
(PDF file, 2.8 megabytes)

"Run earns $31,000 for firefighter group" (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/18/06)
"A two-day run in early June raised $31,000 for an organization that helps injured firefighters and their families. Crews of hotshot firefighters helped Kenneth Perry finish his 104-mile fundraiser run June 2-3 after he burned out after 57 miles....Perry, a smokejumper for seven years who parachuted into forests to battle fires, now works for the federal Bureau of Land Management directing aerial fire attacks from the Fox Air Attack base in Lancaster. "

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include biological science technician, park manager, budget technician and several firefighting jobs.

"Protection of archaeological resources at issue in 9th Circuit appeal" (Associated Press in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/16/06)
"In a case with ramifications for archaeological treasures across the West, the Justice Department is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling that freed two men convicted of stealing ancient petroglyphs...." A court ruled that two looters stole boulders "with rare etchings of an archer and bighorn sheep but that the government failed to prove two critical elements in the case...."

"Smaller mine planned near Cemex" (Santa Clarita Signal, 6/18/06)
"While the city spends its time and money fighting a proposed mega-mine just east of Santa Clarita, the U.S. Forest Service is reviewing plans for a smaller mine nearby." The owner of mining claims says he is "dismayed" by " the politics that went into a previous City Council vote opposing his proposed mine, which he said is 'being affected by the concerns over Cemex.'" Cemex holds permits from BLM for its proposed gravel mining.

"Meeting with BLM draws widespread criticism" (Eureka Times-Standard, 6/16/06)
Mayor said he and Trinidad city clerk "met with U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials earlier this month, but said nothing of significance occurred. Other council members appeared a little peeved that they had not been informed of the meeting and that they had not been invited to attend." The BLM's Arcata Field Office has been asked to review documents to determine if the city acted properly regarding cell phone towers on Trinidad Head.

Greg Wilkerson in two of his guide guisesEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Greg Wilkerson... a geologist with BLM's Bakersfield Field Office. He also leads class presentations and guided tours on a variety of topics. He often "becomes" someone else -- from a crusty old miner of the 1800's to a light keeper of the early 1900's -- to further engage his audience.  Read more in this News.bytes Profile.

RELATED: "BLM Sponsors 3-day historical field trip of southern Mother Lode Mines" (BLM California news release, 6/19/06)
The Bureau of Land Management, in association with the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History is sponsoring a 3-day geology and mining history field trip of the southern Mother Lode on June 23-25, 2006. This 3-day tour examines the mines, geology and mining history between Maricopa and Jackson. The trip features two underground mine tours, placer mining demonstrations and mining era history.


"State and local governments to receive Payments in Lieu of Taxes this month" (Department of the Interior news release, 6/15/06)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced that more than $232.1 million is being distributed in 2006 to approximately 1,850 local governments with jurisdictions containing tax-exempt federal lands. The funds, which are channeled to localities under the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program, add up to $5.7 million more than the $226.4 million in payments in 2005.

"Restoring sanity to the Interior" (Los Angeles Times, 6/20/06)
Editorial: " In one of his first acts as Interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne took the gratifying step of tossing out a proposal that would have ruined our national parks. Gone is language that would have opened them to mining and grazing as well as increased commercial development, snowmobiling and off-road-vehicle use. Restored is the National Parks Service's commitment to conservation."
(Free registration required.),1,745332.story

(e) None - these snakes have live young and do not lay eggs

RELATED: "Checkered Garter Snake, Thamnophis marcianus" (California Department of Fish and Game, etc.)
Information on this species, from the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System.
PDF file:

RELATED: "Thamnophis marcianus, Marcys checkered garter snake, Checkered gartersnake" (Discover Life)
Arizona-related summary of information, with links to many photos.

- If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above links to visit that Web page, copy and paste the URL into your browser's "Location" or "Address" bar.
- Some publications remove news stories from the Web soon after publication. If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.

DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites, or of products or advertisements on those sites.

News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at:

To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to:
OR visit our News.bytes subscription page at: