A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 261 - 12/19/06

A desert tortoise in the wild A homesteader's cabin in the Old West tiny flags mark areas where researchers will focus their efforts in the archaeological research at the Stornetta Public Lands A waterfall at Stornetta public lands

- 60 years of BLM history, part 5
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Archaeology on public lands: Stornetta, Black Rock Desert
- Headlines and highlights: Summer firefighting jobs, off-road, mining, more
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Colorado River water

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

PLEASE NOTE: News.bytes will not be issued next week. We will see you again soon after the New Year!

"Beyond the Brochure" graphicA homesteader's cabin in the Old WestBLM celebrates 60 years
Part 5: "The Homestead and Mining Era"

Created by Congress in 1946, BLM's roots go back to 1812 and the General Land Office -- and even further back to the creation of the United States. Join us for this fifth in a series of video slide shows revealing BLM's history. This week: homesteading and mining, and the challenge to land surveyors.
Video - broadband:
Video - dial-up:


A desert tortoise in the wild

What is one of the greatest threats to Desert Tortoises in captivity?
a. malnutrition
b. the tortoises won’t breed in captivity
c. tortoises do not adapt to captivity well
d. upper respiratory infections
e. reruns of "American Idol"
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

RELATED: "Introducing the desert tortoise" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/12/06)
"Although the desert tortoise spends more than 90 percent of its life underground, hidden away from the public eye and desert temperatures, residents of Barstow constantly entangle the tortoise in public debates....everything from an expansion of Fort Irwin to cattle ranching to a proposed composting site near Hinkley....Kristin Berry, a research scientist with the United States Geological Survey, has...studied the desert tortoise since 1971" including their hunt for water and fighting among males.


tiny flags mark areas where researchers will focus their efforts in the archaeological research at the Stornetta Public Lands"Discovering early humans at Stornetta" (News.bytes Extra)
Clues to the first human occupation on California’s Mendocino Coast are being discovered and recorded through the efforts of the Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office, Sonoma State University and other partners. The university is working with the BLM to complete an archaeological inventory on the 1,132-acre Stornetta Public Lands near Point Arena. Artifacts can tell archaeologists when a particular site was used by early people and the kinds of activities that occurred.

A waterfall at Stornetta public landsRELATED: "Stornetta public lands" (BLM California, Ukiah Field Office)
The site includes over 2 miles of coastline, the estuary of the Garcia River and adjacent beach, and a small island accessible during low tide. Under interim management rules, people can use the area for daytime activities, including hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, nature photography, and wildlife watching. Motor vehicles, bicycles, and overnight camping are prohibited, pending a final management plan. Please note the cautions on this page.

"Second-grader discovers bones on ancient horse" (Auburn Journal, 12/17/06)
A boy's past searches "have turned up a $1 bill, a stack of pennies and helped to find a wedding ring in his Auburn family's garden....he was searching a bluff with his parents [near Nevada's Black Rock Desert]...when he wandered a few yards away and found what looked like a bone in the ground. 'I called my mom and a scientist,' [he] said....It was soon determined that what Gavin had found was indeed a rare find....Work on the expedition was under a U.S. Bureau of Land Management permit to survey the area in a search for vertebrate fossils."

RELATED: "Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area" (BLM California Surprise Field Office)
The High Rock Canyon portion of this area is managed by BLM's Surprise Field Office. A link on the page will take you to BLM Nevada's Winnemucca Field Office, which manages Black Rock Desert portion of the area.


"BLM announces openings for summer firefighting jobs" (BLM California news release, 12/15/06)
The BLM is accepting applications for summer seasonal fire fighting jobs on Northern California fire engine crews, the helitack crew and the Diamond Mountain Interagency Hotshots. Also available are positions in the agency's hazardous fuels reduction program which focuses on projects to reduce wildfire danger. To receive early consideration, applications must be filed over the Internet by Jan. 15, 2007.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include firefighting, natural resource specialist, maintenance and several temporary student trainee positions.

"Off-roaders, environmentalists vie for canyon near Death Valley" (Associated Press at Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/18/06)
"Whoever named Surprise Canyon got it right. Mere miles from bone-dry Death Valley, the canyon cradles two unexpected jewels: a gushing mountain stream and what's left of a once-bustling silver mining town. These treasures [are] at the heart of a legal battle between off-road drivers and environmentalists....Five years ago environmentalists successfully sued to get the narrow canyon and its spring-fed waterfalls closed to vehicles, arguing that the federal Bureau of Land Management was not carrying out its duty to protect the land."

"Environmental assessment to renew grazing permits available for public review" (BLM California news release, 12/14/06)
The BLM is proposing to renew 20 ephemeral sheep grazing permits and leases for a period of 10 years under the grazing prescriptions contained in the West Mojave Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and the associated biological opinion. This action affects livestock grazing on eleven allotments within the Ridgecrest Field Office. A 30-day comment period will begin on January 1 and run through January 30, 2007.

"Waiting for the fight to finish" (Santa Clarita Signal, 12/12/06)
"Mining is nothing new in Soledad Canyon. It's been going on for decades upon decades. It's still going on in some spots. That hasn't stopped city officials from unequivocally opposing for years a sand and gravel mine planned on the Santa Clarita's outskirts, at a site home to mining operations since the mid-20th century." BLM issues a permit for the mining in 2000.

"Testing mining's toxic legacy" (Nevada City Union, 12/14/06)
"Local waters are now being tested for the toxic legacy of the area's Gold Rush history. Grass Valley and Nevada City contain many old mining sites, which are frequently associated with high levels of mercury and other poisonous metals....Agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management are working with Friends of Deer Creek on the project, for which Nevada City was awarded a $200,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency."

"Secure Schools, road funding not passed by Congress" (Modoc Record, 12/14/06)
The Secure Rural Schools and Communities Act "was passed to offset the loss of timber receipts from logging's serious decline and near disappearance from much of the northwest. The Forest Receipts Program allocated 25 percent of production receipts from the forests to local counties" for schools and roads, but that funding has dried up. A proposal would raise funds by selling land in 18 counties that had been given to the Oregon and California Railroad "to build a railroad from Portland to California. [The land has] reverted to government ownership and have been managed by the Bureau of Land Management."


"Secretary Kempthorne discusses obligations, opportunities for managing Colorado River" (Department of the Interior news release, 12/15/06)
"Calling it a critical time for the Colorado River Basin States, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today said the region and the nation have a sacred obligation to care for the Colorado River through more effective management actions, as the states continue to benefit from its water and power." The Colorado River supplies water to seven states, including a large amount of California's water supply.

d. upper respiratory infections

SOURCE: "Desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii" (BLM California wildlife database)
In captivity, many tortoises fall victim to an upper respiratory disease.

RELATED: "Desert Tortoise Natural Area" (BLM California website)
Be sure to follow the link to the desert tortoise page, for important information on what to do and what not to do around this threatened species.

RELATED: "Desert tortoise research at WERC" (U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center)
Much information about the desert tortoise, including information from the research scientist cited in the Barstow Desert Dispatch news story above. Check out the link, "Answering questions about desert tortoises" for much more information. Includes photos.

RELATED: "Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee"
Links to information about the desert tortoise preserves, research material, a newsletter ("Tortoise Tracks"), photos, and more.

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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