A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 308 - 11/28/07

Family of off-roaders at the Imperial Sand Dunes A desert tortoise in the wild Mustang Hail Yeah with trainer Ray Ariss Desert Managers Group members tour a desert cavern Profile: Russ Scofield, BLM employee and staff member of Desert Managers Group

- Focus: Imperial Sand Dunes season opener, continued
- Other off-roading
- More on the desert:
      - Spotlight on Partners: Desert Managers Group
      - Employee Profile
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week: Desert tortoise
      - Test your knowledge quiz
- Wildfire and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Land management issues, planning, jobs, more
- Selected upcoming events

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

FOCUS: Imperial Sand Dunes season opener, continued
Thanksgiving weekend marks the traditional opening of peak season for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, a destination for off-roaders from around the country.

Family of off-roaders at the Imperial Sand Dunes"Families flock to sand for Thanksgiving Day" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/22/07)
"Despite thousands of off-road enthusiasts whizzing by on motorized conveyors, looking and sounding like giant insects, the Imperial Sand Dunes seems sufficiently big and beautiful enough to provide a sense of tranquil leisure for Shauna Price. The mental worry and emotional strain that often plague Thanksgiving family gatherings is oddly absent at Price’s camp, where 50 of her family members and friends arrived in a 20-car caravan Monday....Enthusiasts come from all over the nation to what BLM officials agree is the international mecca for the off-road sport."
(Site may require free registration.)

"Jump into good fun at the Imperial Dunes" (Bakersfield Californian, 11/23/07)
"A little more than 300 miles from Bakersfield, in the southeast corner of California, lies a mecca for off-road enthusiasts....The Imperial Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes open to off-highway vehicle use in the United States....The sheer size and magnitude of Imperial Sand Dunes make them the ultimate in riding." Includes several photos.
(Site may require free registration.)

"Off to a good start" (News.bytes Extra)
Photo of an off-road enthusiast at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area over the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The recreation area saw 165,000 visitors enjoy what Dunes officials called a very smooth weekend with no major law enforcement or medical incidents to report.

"Our opinion: Make holidays in the dunes safe" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/19/07)
Editorial: "Since Halloween weekend, the first weekend where activities at the Imperial Sand Dunes begin to ramp up, we’ve had several fatalities involving off-roading or off-roading-related accidents....For those who spend their winters hitting the dunes, all of you need to show the same attention to detail and safety that you do when you’re driving down the street in your neighborhood or on the way to the grocery market. Your lives will be better for it, and the lives of others will be, too."
(Site may require free registration.)

"Imperial Sand Dunes recreational area" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/25/07)
"Bureau of Land Management officials were breathing a little easier after watching over an estimated 150,000 off-road enthusiasts here during the Thanksgiving weekend with no fatalities reported by press time Sunday." Includes several photos, plus video.
(Site may require free registration.)

"Sand dunes bring millions to local economy" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/26/07)
$45 million: "That’s how much the United Desert Gateway estimated was spent in the Imperial Valley this Thanksgiving weekend by the some 150,000 folks who frequented the dunes."
(Site may require free registration.)

"Thanksgiving generally quiet in the dunes" (Yuma Sun, 11/26/07)
"The four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend was an unusually quiet time in the Imperial Dunes" with about 150,000 visitors, "a low number compared to previous years."

"Duners seek some Thanksgiving peace on Ogilby Road" Yuma Sun, 11/22/07)
"Chris Bader wants everyone to stay far away from Ogilby Road. 'You can tell everybody that it's filled with drugs, illegal aliens and aliens from outer space.' Bader said, as he and his friends set up camp off Ogilby on Thanksgiving day. In reality, of course, there are no space invaders on Ogilby, off Interstate 8 near the Imperial Sand Dunes. In fact, it is one of the few peaceful spots left in that part of the dunes."

"Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
For more information.

"Some rural residents of Yuma call for ATV safety restrictions" (Yuma Sun, 11/25/07)
"The rural atmosphere of Mesa Dunes and other areas southeast of Yuma attracts a number of homeowners for the peace and quiet. But the dunes are popular with riders of all-terrain vehicles, prompting appeals by some residents to law enforcement officers for greater safety." One resident said some all-terrain vehicle riders "they prefer to ride in the Mesa Dunes and nearby areas because they do not want to travel to the Imperial Sand Dunes."


An off-road cycle rider looks tiny against the Dumont Dunes"Desert comes alive" (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 11/24/07)
"Don't bother looking in any directory for the city of Dumont. It doesn't exist. In fact, by Monday night, it will be mostly given back to the gritty wind and what few creatures inhabit its 16,000 sandy acres. But for this Thanksgiving week, a vast community has appeared there, thousands of campers and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts following a tradition stretching back for decades." Includes link to gallery with 16 photos.

RELATED: "Dumont Dunes Off-highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office)
Most visitors ride motorcycles or ATVs, sand rails, or tour the area in vehicles with four-wheel-drive. The area off Dumont Road is used extensively for OHV and sand rail staging and play. There are many opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, rockhounding, and bird- and wildlife-watching in the hills away from the dunes.

"Enforcement increased at Kern County off-road parks" (KBAK-TV, Bakersfield, 11/25/07)
"Thousands of off road enthusiasts have descended upon Kern County's off road parks this holiday weekend. In response, authorities headed to the dirt to make sure people are playing by the rules. Eyewitness News...shows us how they keep thrill seeker's safe while enjoying the dusty terrain....the Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management and the Kern County Sheriffs Department have teamed up to patrol the area all weekend long." Includes video.

"Injuries, arrests over holiday weekend" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 11/27/07)
"Turkey, football, and Off-Highway Vehicles. Enthusiasts were out in full force over the Thanksgiving weekend, resulting in several injuries and citations, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Department....the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Off-Highway Vehicle Team, Kern County Parks and Recreation Department, and the Bureau of Land Management worked in partnership together over the weekend in the Off-Highway Vehicle areas of Eastern Kern County."

"Colton police step up patrols to deter illegal ATV riding" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/21/07)
"Word of mouth in Colton's La Loma hills used to be that anyone with an all-terrain vehicle could tear up sand with little repercussion....Most of the 'No Trespassing' signs had been torn down.... But since June, when a teen was killed and his friend paralyzed in an ATV crash along the Santa Ana River trail through the hills, things have changed." The story refers readers to information on places they can ride legally, including BLM-managed OHV sites.
(Site requires free registration.)

RELATED: "Off-highway vehicle areas" (BLM California website)

"Death raises concerns over marking of off-road race courses" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 11/15/07)
"Despite officials claiming race courses in the desert are well-marked to keep recreational riders off, riders with the Santa Ana man who died last weekend said did not know they were on the track....the recreation branch chief with the Bureau of Land Management’s Barstow Field Office, said the final reports on the collision has not been finished and did not know if the course was properly marked." Race promoters said the course was well-marked.

"Off-roading plan still unresolved" (Victorville Daily Press, 11/15/07)
"The fate of the Bureau of Land Management’s West Mojave Plan has been in question for over a year now, ever since a coalition of environmental groups filed suit against the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of the Interior in August 2006. The lawsuit seeks to stop the West Mojave Plan and what plaintiffs consider excessive off-roading routes."

"OHV use barred at Yuba Goldfields" (Nevada City Union, 11/16/07)
"The Bureau of Land Management issued an emergency order banning off-highway vehicle use on 160 acres of public land known as the Yuba Goldfields to protect habitat of spawning Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead. The order comes after the federal agency received reports and photos of people riding quads into the river where threatened fish spawn."

Desert Managers Group members tour a desert cavernSPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: Desert Managers Group
The California deserts are vast, encompassing over 25 million acres -- of which 80% is publicly owned. An alphabet soup of government agencies manages the California deserts for uses that vary from wilderness and parklands to military training and energy development. Each of these agencies shares a vision of working together to conserve and enhance the California deserts for current and future generations -- and working together is what the Desert Managers Group is about. 

Profile: Russ Scofield, BLM employee and staff member of Desert Managers GroupEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Russ Scofield...
...works for the BLM's California Desert District, as Coordinator for the Desert Managers Group. With 25 million acres of the California Desert containing two national parks, a national preserve, six military bases, 72 wilderness areas, 14 state parks and extensive holdings by BLM, it was imperative for government agencies to come together to address the often conflicting demands on the desert lands. Read more:


A desert tortoise in the wild

What kind of homes do desert tortoises build?
(a.) they build burrows and nests in crumbly soil
(b.) they dig under the roots of large cacti for shelter
(c.) they stop wherever they are and burrow under the desert sand, whenever they need shelter
(d.) they search for overhanging rock ledges, usually in dry washes
(e.) they build only single-story ranch houses -- because it takes forever to climb those stairs

------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

How many acres are in the California Desert Conservation Area, managed by the BLM? Check your answer in our interactive quiz, on BLM California's homepage:


"Protecting our shared cultural heritage with Mexico" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM State Director Mike Pool recently traveled across the border to Mexicali to participate in a binational symposium on the joint preservation of heritage resources of California, sponsored by the Instituto Nacional De Anthropologia e Historia en Baja California, Society of California Archeologists, and BLM.
At the forum, BLM-California’s archeologist Ken Wilson was honored for his leadership.

Historic remains of Yankee Jim house"BLM recognizes Pit River Tribe's preservation work" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Pit River Tribe in Modoc County have been tremendously helpful to the Bureau of Land Management Alturas Field Office in work to survey and record cultural resource and historical sites, including a ranch site that will be nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. In a recent ceremony, the BLM recognized the tribe for their efforts.

"Preserve America Grants available to communities in all 50 states; Application deadline Dec. 12" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/16/07)
The U.S. Department of the Interior is inviting applications for the first round of FY 2008 federal Preserve America grants, with a deadline of Dec. 12. The Preserve America matching-grant program provides funding to support preservation efforts through heritage tourism, education and historic preservation planning.


Mustang Hail Yeah with trainer Ray Ariss"Norco-trained horse basks in spotlight" (Riverside Press-Enterprise)
"The rise of a horse called Hail Yeah from a herd of wild mustangs to mentions in national magazines and possible TV appearances is inspiring the kind of hope often pinned to underdogs. His quick turnaround from feral and skittish to gentle and obedient at the hands of trainer Ray Ariss, has turned him into a poster horse for wild-mustang adoptions, and for Norco, the horse-loving town where he now lives....His mother was rounded up as part of the federal Bureau of Land Management's program to prevent overpopulation by putting some wild horses up for adoption...."
(Site may require free registration.)

"Hail Yeah with trainer Ray Ariss" (News.bytes Extra)
Three more photos of the trainer and mustang working together.

Wild Horses and Burros are also available from these California facilities:

Litchfield, along U. S. Highway 395, about 21 miles northeast of Susanville:

Ridgecrest, four miles east of Ridgecrest. Adoptions are by appointment only, call (760) 384-5765 or 1-800-951-8720 for details or tours.

"Nominations open for wild horse and burro advisory board" (BLM national news release, 11/19/07)
The Bureau of Land Management is extending to December 7, 2007, the deadline for submitting public nominations to fill three vacancies on the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The categories to be filled are: Wild Horse and Burro Advocacy, Veterinarian Medicine, and General Public Interest.


"Agencies release BAER assessment reports" (InciWeb, 11/21/07)
"The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Department of Interior have released the first Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Assessment Reports designed to assist federal, state, and local officials in creating a comprehensive remediation plan and to guide restoration efforts for the October wildland fires in Southern California." Includes summary of recommended treatments, and links to reports from each agency.

RELATED: "Fire-ravaged forests approved for repair" (Santa Clarita Signal, 11/27/07)
"The Ranch Fire burned 58,401 acres total, with 14,000 acres burned in the Los Padres National Forest, 13,000 acres burned in the Angeles National Forest, 1,900 acres burned in the Hopper Mountain Wildlife Refuge, 1,400 acres burned on Bureau of Land Management land and 28,000 acres burned on private land...."

"Bureau of Land Management to burn piles at Fort Ord" (BLM California news release, 11/16/07)
The Hollister Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management is planning to burn 20 to 30 brush piles at Fort Ord beginning in mid-November and finishing by March, weather permitting. The exact date depends on weather conditions and the announcement of a "burn day" by local authorities. The piles are part of the fuel reduction program, designed to protect firefighters, help suppress wildland fires, and provide for public safety by reducing the threat of an uncontrolled fire in the area.

"BLM plans several prescribed burn projects this fall, winter and spring" (BLM California news release, 11/16/07)
The BLM Bishop Field Office is proposing several prescribed fire projects for habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction. Treatments will consist of broadcast and pile burning. The projects will be implemented this fall, winter and spring when vegetation moisture and weather conditions are within prescription to accomplish a safe burn and to meet project objectives.  

"Bureau of Land Management to conduct prescribed burn in Laguna Mountain area" (BLM California news release, 11/27/07)
The Laguna Mountain area is in southern San Benito County. Twenty to 100 acres will be burned in December and January, weather permitting. Certain weather conditions - temperature, humidity, precipitation and wind - must be met for the prescribed burn to take place and control smoke impacts.

"Seeds contain hope of healing Great Basin" (USA Today, 11/20/07)
"Months after huge rangeland wildfires scorched millions of acres of the interior West, the recovery of its vast sagebrush may depend on volunteers....Land agencies also reseed parts of the Mohave Desert in California and southern Nevada that burned in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In Southern California, emergency stabilization teams try to help nature restore itself where last month's fierce brushfires charred a half-million acres around San Diego and metropolitan Los Angeles."

"Secretary Kempthorne commends wildland firefighters, National Fire Center employees for their service to nation" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/23/07)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne...thanked federal wildland firefighters and employees at the National Interagency Fire Center for their selfless dedication and outstanding efforts in battling wildfires across the nation during the past year, the second-worst wildfire season on record since 1960."

"Marked progress?" (San Bernardino County Sun, 11/27/07)
"Local and county leaders, coupled with top fire officials...said they needed more firefighters, equipment and help from the military to fight a growing number of firestorms, such as the 20-plus blazes this fall that covered Southern California with smoke and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. But the direction of the testimony...slowly steered toward the need to better manage vegetation, educate the public to make their properties safer, and even to consider smarter construction with stronger zoning ordinances."


"County amends resource committee" (Mount Shasta News, 11/21/07)
Siskiyou County board of supervisors works on proposal for a "Natural Resource Advisory Committee made up of citizens that would advise the board on natural resource issues." Supervisors said the committee would provide "technical expertise" on "proposed state and federal legislation, federal, land management, and proposed land changes." Supervisors said a similar body in Modoc County has worked well with the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

"Poetry, prose readings by Pulitzer winner" (Grass Valley Union, 11/28/07)
"On Thursday, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder will make a rare local appearance to benefit the forests and watersheds that inspire his writing and surround his home on the San Juan Ridge....The Yuba Watershed Institute and the Bureau of Land Management now cooperatively manage 1,800 acres of public and private forested land by thinning brush and small trees to help 'speed up the process' of reaching an old growth forest. 'That's a different kind of relationship than most environmental groups. We're critical of agencies, but we don't demonize them,' Snyder said....The land became known as the 'Inimim Forest, paying tribute to the Native Americans who once lived there."

RELATED: "The 'Inimim Forest" (BLM California, Folsom Field Office)
It consists of ten parcels of public land totaling about 1,800 acres, each surrounded by private property." "What makes the area different from similar places is the way local citizens approach the inherent problems of living in a forest. The forest management plan for the 'Inimim is a grass roots product in every sense of the word. The local community produced it, and they must live with the consequences of its implementation."

"Vanishing hunters" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/28/07)
"The hunting tradition...is rubbing up against urban living, reflected in the dwindling number of hunters on the North Coast and a significant drop across California....Most hunting is on private land... but the federal government opens about 9,000 acres at Lake Sonoma during various seasons. Hunting also is allowed on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest Service land in Sonoma and Mendocino counties."

"National Monument Advisory Committee to meet in Palm Desert"
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Advisory Committee will meet Saturday, December 1. Public participation is encouraged.

"BLM schedules South Coast Resource Management Plan scoping meetings" (BLM California news release, 11/21/07)
The Bureau of Land Management Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office is proposing to revise its 1994 South Coast Resource Management Plan and prepare an associated environmental impact statement. Open house and public scoping meetings have been scheduled during December, to gather public comment regarding the proposed revision.

"Bill would help protect our desert paradise" (Palm Springs Desert Sun/MyDesert.com, 11/16/07)
Editorial: "What makes this desert paradise we live in unique is that it is a desert paradise and we should do all we can to protect the precious landscape and its creatures. The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act, H.R. 3682, would provide that protection."

RELATED: "2007 Congressional testimony" (BLM national website, 11/13/07)
Testimony to Congress on bills including H.R. 3682, California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act -- by Elena Daly, BLM's Director of the National Landscape Conservation System, to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. (Click on the link to open a Microsoft Word document with the testimony.)

"TC Should get land to grow" (Taft Midway Driller, 11/15/07)
Editorial: "The one thing Taft College lacks is room to grow. The small campus is crammed into a small parcel of land and doesn't have a lot of opportunity to expand....The Bureau of Land Management was supposed to take possession of eight large vacant lots - referred to as drill sites - in Ford City and indicated a willingness to pass them on to Taft College. It is an offer the BLM should follow through on and that Taft College should definitely follow up on."

"Concerns raised over proposed power lines in desert" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/20/07)
"The 500-kilovolt Green Path North project, proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, would scar desert vistas and cut through environmentally sensitive preserves, opponents told San Bernardino County supervisors....The project does not require approval from either county as the power lines are being proposed on federal land, requiring assent from the Bureau of Land Management."

"Pot busts way up in '07" (Sonora Union Democrat, 11/15/07)
"Area narcotics investigators destroyed a record number of marijuana plants this year -- as both law enforcement and drug growers honed their operations. The Tuolumne Narcotics Team...eradicated a total of 108,160 plants in 32 outdoor gardens. The county has developed a close working relationship with other agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Justice and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Pot farm cleanup complete" (The Inyo Register, 11/24/07)
"Crews have been busy removing the marijuana growers’...tents, trash, human waste...poisons, fertilizers, growing equipment and gardening tools and hundreds of yards of plastic hose used to tap into Shepherd Creek to irrigate the crop.....Law enforcement also formed the Sierra Unified Major Marijuana Investigation Team" including the BLM. "Hikers and recreators that may come in contact with any growing operation on public lands are advised to leave the area as quickly as possible, as grow sites have been known to be booby-trapped." Includes more cautions for visitors to national forest and public lands.

"Cops give notice to homeless" (Sonora Union Democrat, 11/26/07)
"The Sonora Police Department is clearing a well-known Stockton Road homeless camp....All the camp's remaining residents have been ordered to leave...said police Lt. Mark Stinson, whose department is acting on behalf of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's law enforcement unit....Police officers...extended the deadline to Nov. 28, because of a provision that allows people to camp on BLM land for up to 14 days."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include biological science technician (plants), maintenance worker, hydrologist, firefighters and more.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

November 29 and following Thursdays - National Monument hike
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor's center, Palm Desert

December 5-6 - Northwest California Resource Advisory Council meeting
Location to be determined

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) they build burrows and nests in crumbly soil

SOURCE: "Desert tortoise - Gopherus agassizii" (BLM California wildlife database)
They can live in almost any type of desert habitat, but they do require crumbly soils in order to build burrows and nests.
- For much more information, follow the links labeled "other sites."

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- Some publications remove news stories from the Web soon after publication. If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.

DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites, or of products or advertisements on those sites.

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Bureau of Land Management
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(916) 978-4600

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