A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 281 - 5/16/07

A western pond turtle perches on a branch in a pond Free brochure: Sacramento River Rail Trail A scene at Lacks Creek Employee Profile: Todd Morrow A BLM wrangler gathers wild horses

- Free offer: Sacramento River Rail Trail brochure
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
- History, isolation: Old Spanish Trail and Highway 127
- Wild horse and burro adoption events
- Wildfire danger heats up
- Volunteers: Two Californians win national awards, more
- Alternative energy and public lands
- Headlines and highlights: Lacks Creek, Furnace Creek, Clear Creek, advisory council, open house, more
- Employee Profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: 1872 mining law

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Free brochure: Sacramento River Rail TrailFREE OFFER: Sacramento River Rail Trail
While supplies last: Take a leisurely stroll down the wide and level trail or paddle your canoe across the glassy surface of the Keswick Reservoir as you enjoy the views of Shasta Dam and Mount Shasta. The wide gravel trail is 8.4 miles long and has little grade. There is a short paved section, and a three-mile extension is being built. This brochure has photos and a map of the trail.


A western pond turtle perches on a branch in a pond
Thumbnail from a photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One animal you may see in areas along the Sacramento River (see above) is the Western pond turtle. Where in California are western pond turtles NOT found?
(a.) The desert
(b.) Underground
(c.) North of San Luis Obispo County
(d.) Above 6,000 feet elevation
(e.) Under water
(f.) Below sea level
(g.) In ponds
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


"Backroads of Southern California loaded with inspiration" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 5/11/07)
"The isolation is almost unimaginable. In every direction, as far as the eye can scan, the desert landscape extends into the horizon. Sand dunes, mountain ranges and the blistering heat of the sun surround Highway 127 as it stretches through the Mojave Desert and in the distance, appears to melt directly into the mountains. The slight whisper of the wind is often the only sound that can be heard...." Much of the land along Highway 127 is managed by BLM California.


"Amargosa River Natural Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office)
"The area has a harsh climate, unobstructed views of desert mountains, and few human settlements. The narrow Amargosa Canyon is known for its dense greenery and the shallow Amargosa River, complete with 'hanging gardens' and a small waterfall. The river flows year-long, dropping south from Nevada, and finally flowing into Death Valley National Park....There is wilderness here: vehicles of any kind are not allowed. There are no developed campgrounds or facilities here on public land." Part of the area borders Highway 127, and The Old Spanish Trail Highway passes through it. If visiting, be sure to read the desert safety cautions.

"Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office)
The off-road vehicle riding area is on another part of BLM-managed lands along Highway 127, about 30 miles north of Baker.

Old Spanish Trail scene: View of the first major crossing of the Rio Chama that the mule trains would make after leaving Abiquiu, New Mexico, the beginning of the trail route."14th Annual Old Spanish Trail Conference and Symposium" (Old Spanish Trail Association)
This event, June 7-10 in Barstow, California, will include an update on the BLM and National Park Service "public scoping meetings and comprehensive management plan process." Follow the links for more information on the history of the trail, maps, and exploring the trail today.
(Thumbnail photo at left: a view of the first major crossing of the Rio Chama that the mule trains would make after leaving Abiquiu, New Mexico -- the beginning of the trail route.)

"Old Spanish National Historic Trail Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement" (BLM New Mexico)
"Designated as part of the National Trails System in 2002, the trail route crosses six western states—New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California—and links some of the West's oldest communities from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles, California." Includes links to more information and maps of various sections of the trail.

A BLM wrangler gathers wild horsesWILD HORSE AND BURRO ADOPTION EVENTS

"Horses, burros up for adoption at ‘Meet the Mustangs Day’" (BLM California news release, 4/16/07)
Residents of the Napa Valley and surrounding areas have the opportunity to adopt a wild horse or burro and enjoy a day of family fun, when the Bureau of Land Management and Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association host “Meet the Mustangs Day,” this Saturday, May 19.

"Wild horses, burros available for adoption in King City" (BLM California news release, 5/10/07)
Young and healthy wild horses and burros, direct from public ranges, will be looking for new homes when the Bureau of Land Management offers them for public adoption June 9 at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City. The BLM will offer 30 horses ranging in age from under 1 to about 5 years old along with 10 burros.

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule - 2007"(BLM California website)

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM national website)
Note the adoption this weekend -- May 19-20 -- in Acton, California.


"Fire Season Heats Up" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 05/09/07)
Extremely dry conditions prompt extra patrols, supply stockpiles, preventive measures. Congress is poised to deliver $500 million in federal funding for wildfire suppression. It remains unclear whether the Los Angeles Fire Department would be able to access the funding, since it would primarily be directed to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to replenish their rapidly depleting firefighting budgets.

"Griffith Fire a sign of season to come" (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/9/07)
"Even as the Griffith Park blaze left hundreds of acres blackened, officials warned Wednesday that the tinder-dry Southland could face more devastation as fire season fully heats up this summer....Congress is poised to deliver $500million in federal funding for wildfire suppression. It remains unclear whether the Los Angeles Fire Department would be able to access the funding, since it would primarily be directed to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to replenish their rapidly depleting firefighting budgets."

"BLM implements Stage I fire restrictions for the California Desert District" (BLM California news release, 5/11/07)
Rising temperatures combined with dry vegetation warrant the issuance of permits for campfires and barbecues throughout the California desert region. The 2007 seasonal fire assessment from the National Interagency Fire Center predicts: earlier than normal start to the southern California fire season; abnormally dry fuels in the southern California due to less than 50% normal rainfall; high probability that fire activity could increase rapidly with any sudden drying and windy events, particularly in grass or brush fuel types; and fuel moistures are already at or near critical levels. Within the last two months, the desert region has already experienced several wild fires caused by dry lightning that burned significant acres.  Human-caused fires are on the rise also along major highways across the California desert.

"Smokejumpers: Challenge of smokejumper work begins above blazes" (Redding Record Searchlight, 5/13/07)
"Smokejumpers say they are just like any other wildland firefighters -- the only difference is how they get to the fire....Fire managers credit them with squelching fires before they have a chance to spread....This year, the California Smokejumper base celebrates its 50th anniversary....The base is one of only nine smokejumper bases -- seven run by the Forest Service and two by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management -- in the country." This story includes more than a dozen related links to multimedia reports, a photo gallery, "audio slideshows" and more stories.

"Kempthorne and Johanns thank international fire partners for aid in 2006" (Department of the Interior/Department of Agriculture news release, 5/9/07)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns... formally thanked the ambassadors of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada for their nations’ assistance last summer, when they dispatched hundreds of their wildland firefighters to help quell forest and rangeland fires in the western United States."


"Two California volunteers recognized with BLM national "Making a Difference" awards" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management's annual "Making a Difference" awards recognize volunteers across the country who help BLM with its multiple-use mission. "This year's award winners help people of all ages connect with and appreciate nature and our cultural heritage" said BLM Acting Director Jim Hughes. "They protect wildlife habitat as well as archaeological and historic sites." Meet the two California-based winners.

"Secretary Kempthorne lauds Bureau of Land Management volunteers at 2007 national awards ceremony" (Department of the Interior news release, 5/11/07)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne has commended recipients of the Bureau of Land Management’s national volunteer awards, saying these committed volunteers are outstanding examples of community partners across the country who help to protect, conserve, and manage the richness of America’s public lands. The annual BLM 'Making a Difference' awards program recognized seven individuals and a volunteer group with the 2007 honors." Includes a link to a PDF file with biographical sketches and photos of all the recipients.

"Volunteers needed for Yuba restoration" (Nevada County Union, 5/14/07)
The South Yuba River Citizens League is looking for volunteers for its Restoration Day. "The work is being done to help stop invasive species, prevent erosion along river trails and remove graffiti from river rocks. Volunteers will work with the California State Park rangers and docents, Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to identify problem areas at Scotch Mans Creek, Hoyt's Crossing and Bridgeport."


"Desert valley could see wind turbines" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/15/07)
"A federal agency is proposing to open up thousands of acres of McCain Valley for wind turbines, a prospect troubling environmentalists who say the pristine desert in San Diego County's backcountry should remain undisturbed. The federal Bureau of Land Management included the proposal in a draft resource management plan covering more than 103,000 acres in eastern San Diego County from Boulevard to Julian. The agency is accepting comments on the draft plan until May 31."

Related: "Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
This page links to PDF files which include the executive summary, chapters and appendices of the "2007 Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement."

"Blow back from neighbors over wind farms" (ABC News, 5/12/07)
"They want to take this national monument and turn it into an industrial park," said a homeowner near the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, who "is leading a campaign to try to defeat construction of 51 more windmills on a plot of private land within the protected Bureau of Land Management site....It's a problem communities are facing across the country -- a choice between renewable energy and natural surroundings."

"Turbines spinning power, problems" (Oakland Tribune, 5/7/07)
"New wind farms could generate up to 7 percent of U.S. electricity in 15 years, but scientists say more attention must be paid to the threat those spinning blades present to birds and bats before the construction boom starts....The study, ordered by Congress, is 'the most complete compilation of environmental impacts, and impacts on humans, positive and negative, from wind energy that's yet been done,' said Paul Risser, chairman of the committee that wrote the report...."

"Environmental impacts of wind-energy projects; Report in brief" (National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council)
"As wind energy development continues to expand, federal, state and local agencies should adopt a consistent approach to evaluating the planning, regulation, and location of wind-energy projects. This National Research Council report proposes a framework that can help in evaluating tradeoffs between the benefits of new wind-energy projects and risks of adverse environmental impacts before projects begin."
PDF file, 345 kilobytes

"Renewable energy reliance should influence power line decision" (North County Times, 5/15/07)
San Diego Gas & Electric Co. proposed the Sunrise Powerlink "across the backcountry of San Diego and Imperial counties...150 miles through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Ramona and Rancho Penasquitos." "Nobody wants anything in their backyard," said the director of an energy think tank. "But there's no such thing as a free lunch. You're not going to keep the lights on and not build some infrastructure at some point somewhere." BLM is involved in rights-of-way permitting for the proposal. "The Department of Energy has scheduled a public meeting in San Diego about the corridor plan from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday."

RELATED: "U.S. Department of Energy public meeting on the Draft Southwest Area
National Corridor Designation"

Information on the meeting tomorrow - Thursday, May 17: location, a map, and a related webcast.

RELATED: "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors and Congestion Study" (U.S. Department of Energy)
Look under "announcements" for links to maps, a public comment form, public meetings, and more related information.


A scene at Lacks Creek Looking out over the trees from part of the Lacks Creek area"BLM's new Lacks Creek property a hidden treasure" (Eureka Times-Standard, 5/11/07)
"A purple carpet of western hound's tongue is unrolled under oaks leafing out in the sun after a long winter. From these oak-rimmed prairies, you can look west over all of the Lacks Creek watershed, 11,000 acres that are remote more because of topography than distance. You can plainly make out where the stream runs into Redwood Creek, which flows into the ocean at Orick....'On a clear day you can see the ocean,' said U.S. Bureau of Land Management forest ecologist Hank Harrison. 'I think the public got a nice piece of land here.'"

RELATED: "Public welcome to share ideas for Lacks Creek management" (BLM California news release, 4/20/07)
The Bureau of Land Management is welcoming public comments and ideas on the best ways to manage the forests and prairies at Lacks Creek, an important part of the Redwood Creek watershed about 30 miles northeast of Arcata. Anyone interested can get answers to questions and provide suggestions at a public meeting set for tonight, May 16, at 6 p.m. at the BLM's Arcata Field Office. (Repeated from an earlier News.bytes.)

"BLM releases proposed plan amendment for Furnace Creek Road" (BLM California news release, 5/ 10/07)
The proposed plan amendment only addresses the 3.75 miles located on BLM-managed public lands in Mono County that leads up to the Inyo National Forest boundary. The amendment includes a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI) and designates the 3.75 miles of Furnace Creek Road on BLM administered lands as approved for vehicular access for casual public use. Publication of the availability initiates the 30-day protest period portion of the land use plan amendment process. Specific protest procedures are outlined in the proposed plan amendment.

"BLM to enforce dry season restrictions in the Clear Creek Management Area" (BLM California news release, 5/10/07)
The Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office will enforce dry season use restrictions effective June 1 on 30,000 acres in the Clear Creek Management Area to protect public health and safety. The temporary restrictions, which run through October 15, are in response to concerns and data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about health risks from exposure to naturally occurring asbestos.

"BLM Northeast California Resource Advisory Council Meets May 31-June 1 in Burney" (BLM California news release, 5/11/07)
Land use planning topics will highlight the agenda, when the Bureau of Land Management’s Northeast California Resource Advisory Council (RAC) convenes for a field tour and meeting.

"Rotary Club Classic Car Show dazzles" (Kern Valley Sun, 5/16/07)
"Not something you would expect to see at a car show, but none the less informing or entertaining were the K9 demonstrations by the BLM Rangers. Both demonstrations by the rangers exhibited the practical use of K9 units in law enforcement and the crucial part their K9 partners play in the drug enforcement....The last part of the demonstration was the most exciting for the crowd and was definitely the highlight of the exhibition. A ranger was dressed in a special padded suit to provide him protection from an attack induced by a staged confrontation between him and the K9's commanding officer."

"Tram hopes for big lift from new ad campaign" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 5/16/07)
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway "serves as a major gateway to The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument....Year-to-date attendance through April was 329,751. That number is 2,724 more visitors than budgeted but 27,183 less visitors than last year at this time."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
"The National Monument's mountains rise abruptly from the desert floor to an elevation of 10,834 feet at the top of Mount San Jacinto....The landscape gives residents and visitors a powerful sense of place for their natural scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and extensive biodiversity and cultural values."

"Sacramento open house to introduce government website for public land data and maps" (BLM California news release, 5/8/07)
The public is invited to an open house, May 22, at the Bureau of Land Management State Office in Sacramento, to introduce GeoCommunicator, a new Web site sponsored by BLM.  The open house will benefit energy, title, utility, survey, education, mining and environmental users on land and mineral use records systems.  Two sessions are scheduled.

"Man dressed as duck, lends a helping hand" (Ukiah Daily Journal, 5/11/07)
"Rich Burns, Ukiah Rotary Club member and Bureau of Land Management employee, actually volunteered to don a duck suit and make an appearance at last year's Rubber Ducky Derby. And he's doing it again at the second annual Derby....Funds raised from the Ducky Derby help support the Ukiah Rotary Clubs community projects. Rotary has contributed financial support and/or volunteer labor" to many area groups and projects. Burns is BLM's Ukiah Field Office manager.

"BLM plans oil and gas operator seminars" (BLM California news release, 5/2/07)
The Bureau of Land Management is planning two annual seminars for all federal oil and gas operators: an all-day seminar May 24, and a half-day seminar on May 22 that will be more oriented towards field personnel.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)

Employee Profile: Todd MorrowEMPLOYEE PROFILE : Todd Morrow...
...completed further studies and started a new career, after 21-plus years in the Air Force. He now works in BLM's California State Office, human resources branch and is involved in employee relations. Read more in this News.bytes employee profile:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

May 19 - Dog Day
Fort Ord

May 19 - Wild horse and burro adoptions
Clovis, Napa

May 19 - Wildflower tours
Pine Hill Preserve, El Dorado County

May 19 - Cache Creek Discovery Day
Cowboy Camp Trailhead, Hwy 16, one mile south of Hwy 20.

May 19 - Guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Preserve


"1872 mining law: Time for an update?" (Christian Science Monitor, 5/16/07)
"Mining in the American West -- the search for gold, silver, copper, uranium, and other "hardrock" minerals -- is as old as those first dusty codgers looking to stake a lucrative claim and strike it rich....Since then, it's grown to a multibillion-dollar industry, much of it owned by foreign investors. The problem, as critics see it, is that this extraction of natural resources is governed mainly by a law signed 135 years ago by President Ulysses S. Grant."

"Mining & Minerals" (BLM California website)
BLM California contracts for more than 2.5 million tons of "solid leasable" materials (such as borax, soda ash, potash, sodium sulfate, and salt) from public lands; and has 150 active mineral sales contracts with over a million tons of aggregate (gravel) for infrastructure and construction. Public lands in California produce 58,000 ounces of gold annually. Follow the links to learn more:

"Mining laws" (BLM national website)
Includes information on This includes the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended; those portions of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended (FLPMA) that affect the General Mining Law; and the Surface Resources Act of 1955. Summary of information, plus link to a brochure "Mining Claims and Sites on Federal Lands."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA ANSWER and related websites
(d.) Above 6,000 feet elevation

SOURCE: "Western pond turtle - Clemmys marmorata" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Western pond turtles occur from the northern tip of California to the southern tip below 6000 feet....These turtles are found in almost any habitat type that provides a permanent source of water. In the Mojave Desert, they are found only along the Mojave River and its tributaries."

"Western pond turtle - Clemmys marmorata" (BLM California Desert District)
Species account written for the West Mojave Plan, including natural history, habitat requirements, threats analysis, extensive list of literature cited, and more.

"Watchable wildlife - western pond turtle" (California Department of Fish and Game)
"As a wildlife viewer, you can help the turtles a number of ways.  First, watch from a distance.  Stay back so you don't scare the turtles from their basking areas.  Do not create a path to the water's edge.  Raccoons, skunks, cats and other predators will use your trail to hunt for nest sites."

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

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