A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 298 - 9/12/07

Joy Fatooh, Silver Award winner Tammy Jakl, Gold Ward winner Black bear - Ursus americanus Recent volunteers gather native seeds at the Fort Ord public lands Extreme Mustang Makeover contestants Micah and trainer Kathe Smothers Employee Profile: Greg Comella, BLM California State OFfice

- Not for educators only:
      - National environmental education awards
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Wildlife "Tall Tale Trivia" bonus
- Volunteer now for National Public Lands Day
- Adopt a wild horse or burro
- Energy on public lands
- Recreation on public lands
- Recreation: Off-highway vehicles
- Planning public land uses
- Wildfire
- Headlines and highlights: Celebrating Cedar Hill, approaching Carrizo Plain
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items:

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:



Tammy Jakl, Gold Ward winnerJoy Fatooh, Silver Award winner"Two from BLM California win 2007 national environmental education awards"
Of four national 2007 “Excellence in Interpretation or Environmental Education” Awards granted nationally to BLM employees, two will go to BLM Californians.

Black bear - Ursus americanus
Thumbnail from a photo by Tom Brakefield, California Academy of Sciences

Which of the following do Black Bears eat? (More than one answer is correct -- but which ones?)
(a.) fish
(b.) small mammals
(c.) honey
(d.) bees and bee larvae
(e.) fruits and nuts
(f.) roots and leaves
(g.) bugs
(h.) the soft wood beneath bark that they strip off
(i.) clumps of fur lost by other animals in the forest
(j.) grasses in forest clearings
(k.) algae growing in ponds
(l.) Gummi grubs

------> See answers near the end of this issue of News.bytes -- AND read about this year's sharp increase in "nuisance bears" in California and throughout the West.

The non-existent, and not yet famous, panther vole
The non-existent - and not yet famous - panther vole.
BONUS THIS WEEK: Wildlife "Tall Tale Trivia "
It's likely that few of our readers have heard of the "often-overlooked desert panther vole" that eats rattlesnakes, "storing them in underground chambers for winter-time food." Perhaps you've heard how the kingsnake is like an old-time gunslinger?
PLEASE NOTE that this information is for entertainment purposes only, and in no way is intended to be true:


Recent volunteers gather native seeds at the Fort Ord public lands"National Public Lands Day: Lend a hand for America's public lands" (BLM California)
In California there are 16 events scattered throughout the spring and summer to commemorate National Public Lands Day, the largest hands-on volunteer effort to preserve America’s lands. Join one of the events near you for the 14th annual National Public Lands Day and help us care for your land. Many of these are being held Saturday, Sept. 29 (Barstow's is being held Sept. 22). Follow the links on this page for more details:

News releases on specific events - the following are among those being held Sept. 29:

Fort Ord

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Projects near Bishop


Extreme Mustang Makeover contestants Micah and trainer Kathe Smothers"Mustang undergoes a makeover" (Ventura County Star, 9/8/07)
"Micah stood a few steps away as trainer Kathe Smothers chatted inside a dusty Ojai arena. Several minutes passed before the mustang inched forward, gently nudging his nose into Smothers' back. 'I think it's their heart and their courage,' she said about the wild mustangs that have become her passion. 'I want people to know about these horses. The mustang has gotten a bad rap'." Smothers "was one of 100 trainers chosen this summer to participate in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a nationwide project organized by the Bureau of Land Management and The Mustang Heritage Foundation."
(NOTE: This newspaper website requires free registration, slightly more cumbersome than most. The site will (very quickly) email you a link to your registration form. Note that only the fields with an asterisk, in red, are required.)

"Wild horses and burros on their way to Camp Pendleton" (BLM California news release, 9/7/07)
Don't miss your chance to add a wild horse or burro to your family when the Bureau of Land Management offers animals for public adoption this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15, at the Camp Pendleton Rodeo Grounds in Oceanside. Forty animals will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Anyone interested can preview the mustangs and burros when they arrive at the rodeo grounds on Friday at 2:00 p.m.

Stinger meets potential fans"Mustang ambassador reaches out to a wider audience" (News.bytes Extra)
Concert-goers in Elverta last weekend could see not only country singers and three former American Idol contestants -- they could also visit with Stinger, mustang ambassador for BLM California's wild horse and burro program.

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule - 2007" (BLM California website)
The next BLM California adoption will take place Sept. 15 at Camp Pendleton.

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.

The Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse & Burro facility is located four miles east of Ridgecrest. 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)


"Solar plant planned in California desert" (Reuters, 9/6/07)
"BrightSource Energy Inc, a private solar energy company, said on Thursday it filed for a construction permit from the California Energy Commission to build a 400-megawatt solar power plant in the Mojave Desert....The site is on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the company has applied to the agency for a right-of-way grant. BLM already has received right-of-way requests on more than 300,000 acres of California desert for development of about 34 large solar plants totaling 24,000 MW."

RELATED: "Ivanpah solar electric generating system #07-AFC-05" (California Energy Commission)
"On August 31, 2007, Solar Partners I, LLC, Solar Partners II, LLC, Solar Partners IV, LLC and Solar Partners VIII, LLC (Solar Partners) submitted a single Application for Certification (AFC) to the California Energy Commission to develop three solar thermal power plants and shared facilities in close proximity to the Ivanpah Dry Lake, in San Bernardino County, California on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)." Much more information.

"SDG&E could alter Powerlink plan" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/7/07)
"The visual wallop of SDG&E's proposed Sunrise Powerlink would be most dramatic through the Santa Ysabel Valley, many believe.... The utility company has balked at putting the line underground through the valley because of the cost: It is eight to 10 times more expensive to construct transmission lines below ground. But now SDG&E says it could support the idea of an underground line should the state decide that preserving the beauty is worth hundreds of millions of dollars – millions of dollars that would be paid for by electricity consumers across the state." The BLM is involved in rights-of-way permitting for parts of the planned route.

RELATED: "SDG&E scolded over use of alerts" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/6/07)
"San Diego Gas & Electric issued inappropriate warnings about possible power shortages on Labor Day, the state grid operator said yesterday, and as a result the local utility says it will review its communication practices." The SDG&E president "defended the utility's overall performance during the recent heat wave and denied its announcements had anything to do with winning approval for the Sunrise Powerlink, a controversial, $1.4 billion transmission line that state utility regulators are considering. A round of hearings into Sunrise began Tuesday in San Francisco."



"Abandoned rail line a fine stroll for everyone"(Redding Record Searchlight, 9/9/07)
"The Bizz Johnson Trail is an abandoned railroad line that provides a comfortable way to explore up close and personal a scenic stretch of the Susan River before it empties into Honey Lake. Thanks to legendary outdoorsman John Reginato's idea and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's work, the route that traces the Lassen and Fernley railroad lines was converted into a 30 mile-long trail."

handcar race at an earlier Bizz Johnson Rails to Trails FestivalRELATED: "Rails to Trails Festival"
"Each year in the early Fall, visitors and residents flock to the Susanville Depot, 601 Richmond Rd,  for the Rails to Trails Festival. This is one of those events that will draw families and enthusiasts year after year so be prepared to get "hooked".  Come prepared for weather changes and you will thoroughly enjoy yourselves!" (Sept. 28-30, 2007)

RELATED: "Bizz Johnson Trail" (BLM California, Eagle Lake Field Office)
The Bizz Johnson Trail is in northeastern California, along the Susan River in Lassen County. The main trail head is at the old Railroad Depot in the City of Susanville, about 90 miles north of Reno and about 90 miles east of Red Bluff.

Fall foliage in the Eastern Sierra"Fall color hotspots 2007" (BLM California, Bishop Field Office)
Fall foliage tours in California? It's different from Back East, but one place to see fall color is in the Eastern Sierra. As of yesterday, "the very first hint of color is starting to appear in Aspen groves at the highest of elevations." Several locations are expected to peak from the second week of September to the end of September.


"Sergeant: OHV patrol assigned to protect riders, neighbors, desert" (Hi-Desert Star, 9/7/07)
"Call them dirt bikes, dune buggies, boogie buggies, sand rails or ATVs, they are loved by some and hated by others, but for Michael Schlax, off-road vehicles are part of his job as a sergeant with the county sheriff’s department....Schlax explained Sunfair Lake in Joshua Tree and Giant Rock in Landers have the only designated routes or trails that can legally be used by OHVs in these areas. However, in Johnson Valley is the biggest legal riding area in the nation: the Bureau of Land Management’s Johnson Valley OHV Area."

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Of-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office)
This area is punctuated by steep red rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, dry lake beds and sandy washes. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills to 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake. Vegetation consists of creosote scrub, annual grasses, wild flowers and Joshua Trees.

"Motorcyclists encouraged to Tread Lightly in the outdoors"(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/4/07)
"While most motorcyclists claim the open road as their turf, a growing number are switching to the open off-road. In response, land managers and nonprofit organizations are reminding riders to minimize their impact when in the outdoors."

"Trail markers will help protect Sand Mountain butterfly" (Lahontan Valley News - Nevada, 9/8/07)
County to seek bids for "more than 30 miles of trail markers at the Sand Mountain Recreation Area" to protect habitat of the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly from off-highway vehicle use. The area, managed by BLM Nevada, is visited by many California OHV enthusiasts. "Before the trail markers can be placed, federal law requires a review to inventory all the archaeological and historic resources in the area....The Paiute-Shoshone tribes have been active in the area for recorded history." Said the county manager: "There's only half a dozen companies in the nation that have the capability to meet the specifications," and they hope to receive three bids.


"BLM invites public to discuss future of Clear Creek" (Hollister Freelance, 9/11/07)
"The Bureau of Land Management will solicit public input on how to best manage its Clear Creek Management Area - a public land that the Environmental Protection Agency fears poses health risks due to naturally occurring asbestos."

RELATED: "BLM seeks public input for Clear Creek Management Area Resource Management Plan" (BLM California news release, 9/6/07)
The Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office is requesting public comments for the preparation of the Clear Creek Management Area Resource Management Plan. Public meetings will be held in Central California in late September and early October.

"Our Voice: Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan makes sense" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 9/11/07)
Editorial: "After more than 12 years in the planning stages, the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan is ready to be adopted. Approval means smart development and land conservation can commence without confusion - everyone will be on the same page....Ultimately, the reserve system will amount to a total of 745,000 acres, which includes purchased land and land already owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "Coachella Valley MSHPC" (CVMSHCP.org)
BLM is one of many partners in the MSHCP.


"The West's inevitable fires next time" (Redding Record Searchlight, 9/10/07)
Columnist: "Welcome to the West’s new world of fire. With six out of the last eight years among the worst 10 fire seasons since 1960, it is a world where every year is what we call a 'bad' fire season. Or maybe it’s the 'indefinitely bad' season, as Tom Boatner, the Bureau of Land Management’s chief of fire operations and a 30-year firefighting veteran, puts it. We live in a different world in the American West at the beginning of the 21st century than the cooler, wetter times of years past."

"Free fire safe green waste drops in Truckee area" (Sierra Sun, 9/6/07)
"The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County in cooperation with Cal Fire, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Town of Truckee are providing free community green waste disposal sites in the Truckee area....Various locations and operating hours are available to provide locations convenient to homeowners to allow them to dispose of hazardous fire fuel vegetation cleared from around their homes and evacuation routes. The best time to clear your property is in the spring, but if you still have work to complete, be sure to do the work early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and humidity is higher than later in the day."

"Pine Mountain group works to reduce fire risk" (Willits News, 9/11/07)
"A group of residents formed the Pine Mountain Fire Safe Council in 2004. The council obtained a Bureau of Land Management grant this year to provide a fuel reduction wood chipping program, street signs, mapping and educational materials for the area. The $59,000 grant has strings attached, requiring residents to raise $18,000 in volunteer time, labor and donations to keep the federal money."

"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center)
Updated daily during wildfire season.

"InciWeb - Incident Information System" (Interagency website)
Current information on wildfires and other emergencies, nationwide.


Cutting the cake to celebrate the donation of Cedar Hill to the BLM"Celebrating the donation of Cedar Hill"(News.bytes Extra)
Across the still, blue waters of Mono Lake...where the tufa towers stand sentinel...Cedar Hill lies shrouded in the mist, like some mysterious landscape from Middle Earth. Or so it appeared Saturday, as the profile of Cedar Hill appeared and then faded in the shifting smoke from forest fires. But the group gathered in Lee Vining knew it was there....

"City approves MOU for Carrizo Plain" (Taft Midway Driller, 9/12/07)
The Taft City Council "approved an agreement to participate with the Taft District Chamber of Commerce and Bureau of Land Management in promoting Taft as a gateway to the Carrizo Plains National Monument....The agreement calls for the three parties to work together on projects publicizing Taft as the eastern gateway to the national monument 'where Taft deems it appropriate and beneficial to the city of Taft.' It specifically states the city has no financial obligation."


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

Employee Profile: Greg Comella, BLM California State OFficeEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Greg Comella...
...is a human resources assistant with BLM California's state office. After moving from the the coast to the "oven-like" temperatures of the central California valley while experiencing several jobs, a friend convinced him he should use his human resources management degree for its intended purpose. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

September 13 - Listening session for cooperative conservation

September 15, 16 and other dates - Guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve

September 153 - Wild horse and burro adoption event
Camp Pendleton

September 20 - Guided hike
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor center

September 22 - Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Santa Margarita


"GAO faults agencies over global warming" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 9/6/07)
"The [Government Accounting Office] said the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce departments have failed to give their resource managers the guidance and tools they need -- computer models, temperature and precipitation data, climate projects and detailed inventories of plant and animal species -- to cope with all the biological and physical effects from the warming....James Cason, an assistant interior secretary, told the GAO that an agency task force with nearly 100 people began meeting in April to study climate change, and the U.S. Geological Survey will spend $27 million for climate research in 2008. He said Interior 'routinely takes actions to mitigate impacts of climate change'."

"Free range" (High Country News, 9/7/07)
"Livestock foraging on 160 million acres of public lands could roam more freely than ever, thanks to a recent policy change at the Bureau of Land Management. On Aug. 14, the BLM granted eight new “categorical exclusions,” designed to speed up the approval process for a slew of activities on public lands, including grazing, logging, oil and gas drilling and recreational use. Among the major changes is a paring down of the renewal process for the roughly 18,000 grazing permits the agency administers."

"ACHP announces expanded eligibility for 2008 Preserve America Presidential Awards" (Department of the Interior news release, 9/7/07)
Nominations will be accepted through November 1, 2007, for the 2008 Preserve America Presidential Awards -- now open to "all exemplary historic preservation and heritage tourism efforts meeting award program criteria. Formerly, preservation projects had to be primarily privately funded to qualify for the awards program." Now, "publicly funded preservation projects may also be considered" including those "funded by private, federal, state, city, county, or tribal means, or any combination of funding sources."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answers and related items
All answers from (a.) to (H.) are correct:
(a.) fish
(b.) small mammals
(c.) honey
(d.) bees and bee larvae
(e.) fruits and nuts
(f.) roots and leaves
(g.) bugs
(h.) the soft wood beneath bark that they strip off

SOURCE: "Black Bear - Ursus americanus" (BLM California wildlife database)
"In some areas bears have become a problem. As they find food in urban areas they lose their fear of humans and could become quite aggressive. For this reason, people who live in areas where bears are present should make their garbage cans bear-proof and keep their land clean. When camping, food should be stored in lockers that are specially designed to keep bears out."

"Nuisance bear calls eating up Tahoe wildlife budget" (KXRI-TV Reno, 9/9/07)
"The fund is supposed to compensate one seasonal biologist, Carl Lackey, to work with all wildlife, not just bears. But the increase in bears has made everything else basically obsolete, [said an official with the Nevada Department of Wildlife]. '(Lackey) should be looking at elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, antelope. But instead, he spent 75 to 80 percent of his time in July -- 100 percent in August -- on bear calls'," the official said.
Includes links to related black bear stories.

"Black bears growing nuisance in West" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 9/9/07)
"The bears' search for food, intensifying as they bulk up for hibernation, has driven the animals into towns to forage in garbage bins, bird feeders and even inside homes like Grenda's, where they've hauled off peaches and a 10-pound bag of sugar. Dozens of the intruders have been hit by cars -- or killed by wildlife officers."

"Help keep the fall bear buffet to a natural diet" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/6/07)
"There have been 319 incidents that have caused about $60,000 in damage this year in Yosemite....Bears hoping to find food are making the rounds each night at White Wolf, Yosemite Creek and Porcupine campgrounds. Rangers will ticket any camper not storing all food in metal bear-proof food boxes."

"Group calls for food drops to help bears at Tahoe" (KXRI-TV Reno, 9/2/07)
"A sharp increase in bear-human conflicts this summer is prompting a bear advocacy group to consider backcountry food drops for the animals at Lake Tahoe...to lure bears away from developed areas. A lack of precipitation has led to a shortage of natural food, forcing bruins into towns in search of human food." Said the executive director of the group: "It's just a bad situation, but people should keep doing the usual things, like proper food and garbage storage, securing their homes, having pets with you."

"Living with wildlife: Black bears" (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)
"Most importantly, black bears should never be allowed access to human food or garbage; it habituates them to people and increases the chance of conflict. Once habituated to finding food near homes or campgrounds, bears can become a threat to human safety and must often be destroyed." Includes photos and link to a bear-safety checklist for homeowners, campers and hikers, and anglers and hunters.

On a happier note, a story of a bear who found a new home, after becoming too habituated to humans::
Nuisance bear finds a new home at Bakersfield zoo"Bear in new digs" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/23/07)
"The California Living Museum's newest bear had his coming out party Thursday at the popular zoo in northeast Bakersfield. And almost immediately children and adults alike began concocting colorful names for the 1-year-old, 150-pound black bear." The bear was captured along the coast, where he had started looking for leftover fish near fisherman's huts. "State Fish and Game officials were concerned the young bear would get too comfortable being around humans and could pose a safety risk to himself and people." Includes photos and video.
(May require free registration.)

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