A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 259 - 11/28/06

A view in Surprise Canyon Early Government Land Office surveyors Belding's Ground Squirrels Cover story:

- 60 years of BLM, part 3
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Weed of the week
- Surprise Canyon dispute
- Powerlines and public lands
- Recreation on public lands
- Headlines and highlights: Burro capture, Carrizo Plain, oil gas lease, jobs, much more

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

"Beyond the Brochure" graphicEarly Government Land Office surveyorsBLM celebrates 60 years
Part 3: "Managing the settlement"

November, 2006 marked the Bureau of Land Management's 60th anniversary as a multiple-use, land management agency. Created by Congress in 1946, BLM's roots go back to 1812 with establishment of the General Land Office -- and even further back to the creation of the United States. Join us for this third in a series of video slide shows revealing BLM's history.

Video - broadband:
Video - dial-up:

Belding's Ground SquirrelsThumbnail from a photo by Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

How many food-storage areas do Belding's Ground Squirrels keep in their burrows?
(a.) two -- a main storage area and a backup area
(b.) 20-25 small "larders" -- scattered throughout their burrows, so invaders can't find them all
(c.) they don't keep food in their burrows, so as not to attract other animals - they store it in the holes of nearby trees
(d.) No food storage areas -- these squirrels do not store food
(e.) Four -- one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one in each arm of the recliner in front of the TV
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


A view in Surprise Canyon"Will Surprise Canyon remain off limits to off-road drivers?" (Los Angeles Times, 11/28/06)
"Thick willow groves have erased nearly all traces of the washed-out road that once pointed extreme sportsmen to the ruins of a onetime silver boom town. Bighorn sheep appear with greater frequency, conservationists note, and the endangered Inyo California towhee has returned. But the battle for Surprise Canyon, home of the longest year-round stream in the Panamint Range, has revved up a notch: More than 100 four-wheel-drive aficionados determined to see their prized run reopened have filed a lawsuit in federal court that is being closely watched throughout the West."
(Free registration required.),1,2840038.story

"A classic clash over canyon" (San Bernardino County Sun, 12/3/06)
"Closed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to off-highway vehicles in 2001 as part of a legal settlement with environmentalists, the canyon is the subject of a new suit by recreational off-roaders and people who have bought property in the ghost town and now want road access to their land....With bighorn sheep, the Panamint alligator lizard and endangered birds thriving on the perennial water and the oasis of vegetation, allowing vehicles back in the canyon would damage a rare and fragile ecosystem, environmentalists argue."

"Surprise Canyon Closure and EIS Information" (BLM California, Ridgecrest Field Office)
Includes links to Federal Register Notice of May 30, 2002, several photos referenced in the Federal Register Notice, a map for the area and more information.


"Permits on 2 power plants in Mexico OK" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/1/06)
"A federal judge in San Diego ruled yesterday against environmental groups that have waged a four-year legal battle against two power plants in Mexico built to supply electricity to Southern California. Judge Irma Gonzalez concluded that the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management and units of InterGen and San Diego's Sempra Energy took adequate environmental measures to justify the Department of Energy's presidential permits allowing construction of separate cross-border transmission lines to send electricity from Mexico into the United States. "

RELATED: "County accepts Mexicali ruling" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/3/06)
"The decision ruled against an environmental group that was in a four-year legal battle over two power plants built in Mexicali. [The judge] ruled that the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management and power companies InterGen and Sempra Energy took adequate environmental measures to justify DOE’s presidential permits allowing construction of separate cross-border transmission lines to send electricity from Mexico into the U.S."

"Powerlink blues hit Santa Ysabel Valley" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/3/06)
"When plans for the Sunrise Powerlink route were first announced early this year....the Santa Ysabel Valley, known to many as one of the most beautiful areas of the county, would have been spared. Travelers along the highway would have never known that enough electricity to power hundreds of thousands of homes was flowing nearby. But San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s controversial $1.3 billion project has been challenged all along its proposed 150-mile route. The result: The Santa Ysabel Valley may soon feature 155-foot-tall steel towers as part of its picturesque landscape."

RELATED: "Agencies make power-line report available" (North County Times, 12/4/06)
"An 800-page report that describes the proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line in detail and lists all public comments made about the project in is now available online and at several San Diego County public libraries....The report, a compilation of project facts and concerns raised by government agencies, businesses and individuals, was prepared for the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."


Cover story: "The good trail" (North Coast Journal, 11/30/06)
A long and personal article: " Isn't it somewhat crass to feel entitled to a specialty trail, a new gash through the public's wild garden, just because we want it?" But: "Even hikers -- the arch-enemy, at one time, in the fast-paced history of mountain biking -- shouldn't have complaints about the new King Range trail. It's multi-use. But they probably won't want to hike on it anyway -- other trails closed to bikes already can take them up to King Peak or down to Black Sands Beach or to any number of equally satisfying locales.

RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area, The Lost Coast" (BLM California, Arcata Field Office)
Links to more information about this spectacular, remote area.

"Archery club targets equipment" (Red Bluff Daily News, 11/28/06)
"It's a good family sport," said said an archery fan. "It's something anybody can do. You don't have to be the quickest, or the strongest, or the tallest, or whatever." One of "the oldest clubs in the state" uses one range "on 30 acres with 42 targets. Another 130 acres across the highway is also under the care of the group and they hope to develop it into a tougher course in the future. The club has used the land, owned by the Bureau of Land Management, since 1994."

"Going for the Gold -- For modern-day miners, the real riches are in the friends they make" (North County Times, 12/2/06)
"I look at gold mining like fishing...If you caught fish every time you went out, it wouldn't be called fishing. It'd be called catching," says a member of Treasure Seekers of San Diego County. "For many enthusiasts, the mining is second to being outdoors with friends, whether scouring local beaches with metal detectors or making monthly trips to one of the nine claims held by their club" and filed with the BLM.


"BLM plans town meeting on pending wild burro capture" (BLM California news release, 12/4/06)
The Bureau of Land Management's Needles Field Office will hold a Town Hall meeting to present information on the roundup of wild burros in the Clark Mountain herd area scheduled for January 19, 2007. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 13 at the BLM Barstow Field Office in Barstow.

"New hopes for action at Carrizo Plain arise" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 12/3/06)
"A federal official whom environmentalists have considered to be a dogmatic opponent of efforts to reduce cattle grazing at the Carrizo Plain National Monument is being reassigned by his agency. That has led to new hopes that a management plan for the monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County, home to a high concentration of rare and endangered species, can be finished."

"BLM meeting on Todd Valley mercury cleanup" (BLM California news release, 11/28/06)
The Bureau of Land Management will hold a community meeting on December 13 to discuss options to remove mercury from an old hydraulic mine in Placer County. The meeting on cleanup of the Pond mine in Todd Valley will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Foresthill.

"BLM advisory council to meet in Redding" (BLM California news release, 11/28/06)
Items concerning recreation on public lands will highlight the agenda, when the Bureau of Land Management's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council convenes for a meeting and field tour, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 7 and 8, in Redding.

"Backcountry trail builders" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 12/3/06)
"The California Conservation Corps was formed 30 years ago as an outdoor job training and environmental education program for Californians between the ages of 18 and 25....The still-unnamed trail at Santa Margarita Lake is the latest showcase of their skills. In 2003, the federal Bureau of Land Management gave the county 1,280 acres of surplus land in the rugged Las Pilitas Hills above the lake if the county would provide public access to it and install a primitive campground. Armed with a budget of $126,000, county parks planner Jan Di Leo turned to the corps to do the job."

"New date planned for BLM oil and gas lease auction" (BLM California news release, 12/5/06)
A Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction planned for December 13 has been tentatively rescheduled for March 14, 2007. BLM plans to include parcels in areas managed by BLM's Hollister and Ukiah field offices.

"Public invited to BLM's Needles Field Office dedication and open house" (BLM California news release, 11/27/06)
The dedication and open house will take place December 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at 1303 South Highway 95.

"Mustang Project is accepting applications for pilot program" (Red Bluff Daily News, 11/28/06)
"Born of the belief that positive experiences with animals can be life changing, The Mustang Project is open to students 13 years and older....The Project advocates and participates in the adoption of BLM mustangs....All horses are trained using recognized 'non-forceful' gentling methods. BLM mustangs have been trained for all types of work, competition and enjoyment."

"Firefighters work to reduce wildfire threat in Kern River Valley" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 12/1/06)
"When local firefighters are not fighting fires they are busy working to reduce the threat that wildfire can pose to Kern River Valley residences.....This project is one of several in a network of fuel reduction projects the USDA Forest Service is working on in conjunction with the local Kern River Valley Fire Safe Council, the Kern County Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Wood cutting areas closed due to winter conditions" (BLM California news release, 11/28/06)
The Bureau of Land Management's Alturas Field Office has closed public land firewood cutting areas because of muddy conditions.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include Archeologist, various management positions, student trainees and firefighters.

d. No food storage areas -- these squirrels do not store food

SOURCE: "Belding's Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beldingi" (BLM California wildlife database)
Unlike most hibernating mammals, Belding's ground squirrels do not store food in their burrows, so they spend a good majority of their time foraging.

RELATED: "Belding's Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beldingi" (Kay E. Holekamp Lab, Department of Zoology, Michigan State University)
More information, links to abstracts of research, and list of references.

RELATED: "Belding's Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beldingi" (California Department of Fish and Game)
Information and list of references, in this three-page PDF file:

RELATED: "Belding's Ground Squirrels" (Mono Basin Clearinghouse)
"When juveniles first venture above ground they are preyed on by both aerial and terrestrial predators, with only 40-60 % of juveniles surviving until fall. For the next two months, they have to disperse from home, establish a hibernaculum and avoid being eaten, in addition to gaining sufficient body fat to get them through their first hibernation. This is not an easy task...." Includes several photos by a researcher.

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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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