A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 294 - 8/15/07

Pockets the furry burro visits nursing center residents Oceanside view of Piedras Blancas Lightstation and the large rocks from which it gets its name California ground squirrel - thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, Caliornia Academy of Sciences Carrizo Plain National Monument tour group Employee Profile: Bethney Lefebvre

- $20 million geothermal lease sale
- Wild horses and burros:
      - Burro ambassador visits patients
      - Burros rounded up for adoption
      - Mustang Makeover competition
      - Adopting a wild horse or burro
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Piedras Blancas Lightstation: Sea kayaking, wildlife, history, preservation bill
- Carrizo Plain National Monument: Tour, planning
- Headlines and highlights: OHV grant applications, aspen ecology, much more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Secretary profile, new BLM appointments, environmental reviews

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"BLM geothermal lease auction signals new trend in renewable energy" (BLM California news release, 8/14/07)
A competitive auction of lease parcels for geothermal energy resources on federal public lands in Nevada and California held in Reno today brought nearly $20 million in bids, including the highest per-acre bid in history.  The results of the Bureau of Land Management’s second competitive sale of geothermal leases signal significant expansion of this renewable, low-emission source of energy.

"Big prices for rights to tap heat" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/15/07)
"The federal government sold geothermal leases on public land in Nevada and California on Tuesday for $20 million including the highest per-acre bid in history. At an auction in Reno, the Bureau of Land Management took bids on 49 parcels of land....Binkley Geo Resources of Santa Monica, Calif., submitted the highest bid in history for a BLM geothermal lease for 2,700 acres in the Geysers geothermal field of California. The company will pay $14,000 per acre for 470 acres or $8 million."

"Fact sheet - geothermal lease sale" (BLM California, 8/14/07)
Information on California public lands with geothermal leases -- the California bids included the highest per-acre bid ever recorded by BLM nationwide for a geothermal lease parcel.



Pockets the furry burro visits nursing center residents"Burro ambassador visits patients" (News.bytes Extra)
"Pockets" the burro was adopted by BLM horse and burro program volunteers in Southern California. At six months old, Pockets visited elderly and disabled residents at the Kern Valley Health District's Skilled Nursing Center in Mt. Mesa. "it was really neat to see the faces of these people light up when they saw him!" said adopter Nadia Lane. (Includes several photos.)

"Trainer has 100 days to tame, teach wild horse for national competition" (Hi-Desert Star, 8/14/07)
"Man and mustang share a meeting of the minds when Joe Misner and Pockets train together in Johnson Valley....That’s good, because the two are participants in Mustang Makeover, a national competition created by the Mustang Heritage Foundation in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management....The two will compete Sept. 22 in Ft. Worth for more than $25,000 in prize money."

"BLM nabs eight burros at Beatty High School" (Pahrump, NV Valley Times, 8/10/07)
"Principal Nancy Hein said 13 burros have been frequenting the school grounds lately, requiring school custodians to shovel up the manure on the football field in the morning." Eight burros rounded up by the BLM "have already been transferred to the adoption center in Ridgecrest, Calif."

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule - 2007"(BLM California website)
The next BLM California adoption will take place September.

Wild Horses and Burros are also available from one (or both) of our California Wild Horse and Burro facilities:

The Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro facility is located along U. S. Highway 395, about 21 miles northeast of Susanville, California.

The Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse & Burro facility is located four miles east of Ridgecrest CA. Adoptions are by appointment only, call (760) 384-5765 or 1-800-951-8720 for details. The facility is available for individual and group tours and has a nice little dirt perimeter road allowing the motorist a quality view of the animals.

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM national website)


California ground squirrel - thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, Caliornia Academy of Sciences
Thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

When threatened, the California ground squirrel:
(a.) Will run into the nearest tree, trying to get onto the smallest branch that will support its weight.
(b.) Will freeze in fright, trying to stand still and avoid attention, rather than run away.
(c.) Will run into the entrance of their own burrow, rather than the nearest one.
(d.) Will gather in a pack, to try and repel the intruder.
(e.) Will turn large and green, with bulging muscles and glowing eyes, and counterattack on instinct.
------> See answer -- and some VERY recent news stories -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


Oceanside view of Piedras Blancas Lightstation and the large rocks from which it gets its name"In history's wake" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 8/13/07)
An ocean kayaking guide leads a reporter a photographer "on a six-day, 98-mile kayak trip down the coast of San Luis Obispo County....Aside from a curious sea lion that followed us during much of the third mile, we saw little marine life over the first nine miles of our foggy first leg. That all changed when we reached Piedras Blancas, a large, guano-covered monolith marking the halfway point of the first day. As we paddled around the aptly named 'White Point,' taking pictures of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, we stumbled upon what Beau described best as a 'water wonderland for wildlife'." Includes a slideshow of photos from the trip.

"Different stories, but no rhubarb -- yet -- over rhubarb"(San Luis Obispo Tribune, 7/25/07)
A little bit of history: "Another “Mystery of The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse” may be solved. We have received a message which is so well-written, I will let it speak for itself...."

"H.R.276" (Library of Congress)
A bill being considered in Congress to "designate the Piedras Blancas Light Station and the surrounding public land as an Outstanding Natural Area to be administered as a part of the National Landscape Conservation System, and for other purposes." Includes links to four different versions of the bill, history of the bill's progress, plus other related information.

"Statement of Jim Hughes, Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management...H.R. 276, Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area Act" (Department of the Interior website, 5/3/07)
Acting Director Hughes testified earlier this year in support of the bill: "H.R. 276 recognizes both the historical significance of the Piedras Blancas Light Station and the community support for its preservation."

Historic photo of Piedras Blancas Lightstation"Piedras Blancas Lightstation" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
"Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. In the early 1870's, this location was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Sur. The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse was completed in 1875."


Carrizo Plain National Monument tour group"Carrizo Monument tour furthers planning efforts" (News.bytes Extra)
Carrizo Plain National Monument managers, Monument Advisory Council members and members of the public received an on-the-ground view of the resource issues to be addressed in the Resource Management Plan being developed for the national monument. About 30 people participated in the August 11 tour that included presentations by the Carrizo's managing partners.

A view toward Soda Lake in Carrizo Plain National MonumentRELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.


"Public invited to review BLM's OHV grant applications" (BLM California news release, 8/14/07)
The BLM is inviting public comments on its draft grant applications being proposed to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR).  The draft BLM applications encompass approximately 90 projects, ranging from facility developments to restoration work proposed throughout BLM’s 16 field offices in the state.

"Experts to discuss aspen ecology in public workshop, tour" (BLM California news release, 8/14/07)
The shimmering golden beauty of aspen trees is one of the signature sights of autumn in the forests and high deserts of northeast California and northwest Nevada.  But these stands are more than just pretty scenery -- they provide important habitat and plant diversity in arid landscapes. Aspen experts from California and Utah will be discussing the unique attributes and importance of these groves in a free public workshop and field tour to be held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 10 and 11, in Alturas and Cedarville.

"Modoc-Washoe Steering Committee meets August 23" (BLM California news release,8/13/07)
Members of the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee will discuss a wide range of natural resource conservation topics, when they meet. The meeting, open to the public, could be continued on Friday, Aug. 24, if additional time is needed.

"John Reginato knew a truth: The outdoors can heal souls" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/12/07)
Outdoor writer's tribute to John Reginato, a long-time member of BLM California's advisory councils, and an avid supporter of recreation on the public lands.

RELATED: "Community leaders bid farewell to John Reginato" (News.bytes Extra, issue 240, 7/17/06)
Shasta County community leaders gathered last summer to offer best wishes, before Reginato moved to Washington state to be closer to a son.

"Gov't spotted owl plan fails peer review" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14/07)
"Under a contract with the administration, the Society for Conservation Biology and the American Ornithologists' Union said the government did not consider all the best available science, a requirement of the Endangered Species Act, before making room for more logging in old-growth forests....The spotted owl was declared a threatened species in 1990 due primarily to heavy logging in the forests where it nests and feeds. Lawsuits from conservation groups led to a reduction of more than 80 percent in logging on federal lands in Washington, Oregon and Northern California."

"Four arrests made during interagency drug bust" (Siskiyou Daily News, 8/14/07)
"A major marijuana bust was made by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s office and other state and federal agencies" including the BLM. Some of the marijuana fields extended across the California-Oregon state line.

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

Employee Profile: Bethney LefebvreEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Bethney LeFebvre
Besides working with the public at BLM's Ukiah Field Office and spending time with her husband and young daughter, Bethney is an accomplished student of capoeira, a Brazilian fight-dance and martial art created by enslaved Africans during the 16th century. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

August 18 - Guided hike: Coastal prairie ecology
Mattole Beach, King Range National Conservation Area

August 18-19 and other dates - Guided hike
Headwaters Forest Reserve

August 21 - Dumont Dunes Technical Review Team meeting

August 23 - Rock and sand lease sale
El Centro


"Kempthorne puts new face on Interior Department" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/9/07)
"Democrats and Republicans alike praise him for pumping more money into national parks, repairing the department's relationships with Congress, and moving beyond the scandals that damaged the agency in recent years. Kempthorne even pleased skeptical environmentalists last December by proposing to list the polar bear as threatened because of thinning sea ice caused by global warming. At the same time, he has continued Bush's controversial policies that favor oil and gas development on public lands..."

"BLM announces new procedures that will improve efficiency of environmental reviews" (BLM national news release, 8/14/07)
To enhance efficiency in implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Bureau of Land Management published today in the Federal Register a set of revisions to the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Manual, which guides the BLM’s implementation of NEPA.

"BLM announces appointments to three key leadership positions" (BLM national news release, 8/9/07)
The Bureau of Land Management announced the appointment of three career professionals to key leadership positions in the agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters office. Edwin L. Roberson will be the new Assistant Director for Renewable Resources and Planning; Michael D. (Mike) Nedd, is now Assistant Director for Minerals, Realty, and Resource Protection; and Celia Boddington, who headed the Bureau’s Washington, D.C., Public Affairs Office for more than a decade, becomes Assistant Director for Communications.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Will run into the entrance of their own burrow, rather than the nearest one.

SOURCE: "California Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus beecheyi" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Burrows are often occupied by multiple ground squirrels, but each individual has its own entrance. Even when threatened, California ground squirrels will run to their own entrance rather than use the closest one."

HOWEVER, a study reported this week states that "California ground squirrels have learned to intimidate rattlesnakes by heating their tails and shaking them aggressively." See the stories below:

a California ground squirrel faces off against a rattlesnake"Squirrels put the heat on snakes, study finds" (Sacramento Bee, 8/14/07)
"When it comes to looking like the biggest, meanest squirrel mom around, California ground squirrels have a special weapon in their arsenal: hot tails. Squirrels heat their tails an extra 3 degrees when trying to chase off rattlesnakes, which perceive infrared, UC Davis researchers have discovered. Indicating they can tell one snake species from another, the squirrels don't apply the same heat for gopher snakes, which don't have thermal sensors."
(May require free registration.)


"Squirrels outwit rattlesnakes in infrared" (Discovery News, 8/13/07)
"Like Wile E. Coyote's hapless quest to catch the Roadrunner, rattlesnakes have attempted to catch California ground squirrels for well over a million years, and now scientists know one reason why the squirrels usually win. Their tails freak out the snakes, researchers report in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

"Squirrel has hot tail to tell snakes" (Scientific American, 8/14/07)
"Infrared video showed that California ground squirrels' tails warmed by several degrees...when threatened by northern Pacific rattlesnakes, which detect the infrared glow from small mammals using so-called pit organs in their noses. But no heating occurred while the rodents defended against gopher snakes, which lack such heat seekers...."

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Bureau of Land Management
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