A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 309 - 12/5/07

Rocky loses his top Alpaugh teacher works summers for the BLM Harbor seal at the California coast California Desert Advisory Council member Richard Rudnick Volunteer guides in period costume at Piedras Blancas

- Funny.bytes: "Rocky, the lonely lighthouse"
- Volunteers: Piedras Blancas Lightstation
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Energy and public lands
- Outdoor recreation: Have fun, but be careful
- Headlines and highlights: BLM teacher, monument research, mercury, homeless camp, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- Department of the Interior: New business system

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Rocky loses his topFunny.bytes graphicFUNNY.BYTES: "Rocky, the lonely lighthouse"
Rocky has given years of faithful service guiding ships away from the hazardous coast in Central California. Now that modern equipment has replaced tradition, will he be forgotten? Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. NOTE: includes a sound track - you may want to check the volume setting on your computer. This link will work in browsers that have the Macromedia/Adobe "Flash" plug-in -- which should be most browsers.

RELATED: Volunteers

Volunteer guides in period costume at Piedras Blancas"Volunteers helping to restore Piedras Blancas Light Station" (News.bytes Extra)
An army of volunteers dedicates numerous hours and effort to help BLM restore and rebuild the Piedras Blancas Light Station. Volunteers are not only tour guides, they perform everything from gardening and maintenance to removing invasive ice plant and restoring native plant species.  They raise funds by selling cookbooks. Many spend hours doing historical research. 

Historic photo of Piedaras Blancas Lightstation and keeper's houseRELATED: "Piedras Blancas Lightstation" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Information including history of the lightstation, historic photos and drawings, information on tours and volunteering, and more.


Harbor seal at the California coast
Thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

How long can a Harbor Seal live in the wild?
(a.) up to 5 years
(b.) up to 10 years
(c.) up to 20 years
(d.) up to 30 years
(e.) until their parents find them and take them home

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


"Companies squeezing power from sun, deserts in Southern California" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/4/07)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which controls immense swaths of the desert, has received land-use requests for 34 solar plants, each of them capable of generating as much electricity as a traditional power plant burning natural gas. It's unlikely that all will get built, but if they were, they would generate enough power to light 18 million homes."

"El Paso plans massive natural gas pipeline" (Denver Business Journal, 12/3/07)
"El Paso [Corp.} said it's filed a right-of-way application with the Bureau of Land Management for the 'Ruby Pipeline' project -- a 680-mile, 42-inch pipeline to carry natural gas" from Wyoming to Oregon "near California's northern border." The proposed route would cross public lands in northwestern Nevada that are managed by BLM California's Surprise Field Office.

RELATED: "El Paso gets in line for gas pipe" (Denver Post, 12/3/07)
"The pipeline, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011, will make growing supplies of gas from the Rocky Mountain region available to users on the West Coast" including northern California.

"In energy debate, we have met the enemy and he is us" (Department of the Interior website)
"Perhaps the only thing clear about energy is that using it is a lot more popular than developing it." BLM Colorado State Director Sally Wisely asks state officials to work with the BLM on energy strategy, and asks the media for "more in-depth articles...as accurate and as complete as possible, covering all aspects of the complex energy issue....I also believe that it is all of us -- through vigorous discussion and debate at the local, state and national levels -- who will craft workable solutions that meet our energy needs while ensuring a healthy environment, economy, state and nation."

RELATED: "BLM head: State, feds should work together on energy" (Associated Press in Aspen Times, 11/29/07)
"The Bureau of Land Management and Colorado officials should work together to draft a coordinated plan for energy development across the state, the federal agency’s state director said Wednesday. Sally Wisely, the BLM’s Colorado state director for two years, said she has put the idea of a more coordinated approach to Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and hopes to meet with him to discuss the idea."

"Feds take second look at power line corridor" (North County Times, 12/4/07)
"In a temporary victory for environmentalists and community activists and a slight setback for a local utility, federal officials said Tuesday they will review their October decision to designate almost all of Southern California as a national electric corridor. This double take could have big implications for the Sunrise Powerlink, a $1.3 billion, 500-kilovolt power line that San Diego Gas & Electric Co. wants to build across the North County backcountry."

RELATED: "What price to pay for undergrounding power lines?" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/2/07)
"After electrical power lines were found to have caused several of the recent wildfires, countless area residents came to the same conclusion: Bury the backcountry lines to prevent future blazes.... But the utility industry says most ratepayers balk at burying lines when confronted with the actual costs....The debate over undergrounding in this region is being further stoked by SDG&E's proposal to build a new overhead power line through the backcountry, the 150-mile long Sunrise Powerlink...through a number of North County communities that were burned by the recent fires."


"Hiking from desert floor to mountaintop" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/30/07)
"The 12-mile trail climbs 8,000 feet from the parking lot through cactus, chaparral, manzanita, and oak and pine trees to the Palm Springs Tramway. It's considered one of the most difficult and dangerous hikes in Southern California because of the elevation gain and lack of shade and water....At elevations below 5,000 feet, the trail passes through federal, Palm Springs and Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian land and is officially recognized, said Jim Foote, manager of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains rise abruptly from the desert floor, reaching an elevation of 10,834 feet at the summit of Mount San Jacinto. Providing a picturesque backdrop to local communities, the National Monument significantly contributes to the Coachella Valley's lure as a popular resort and retirement community.

RELATED: "National Monument hike" (BLM California upcoming events online calendar)
"Easy to moderate" one- to two-hour hikes into the Santa Rosa Mountains are planned for Thursdays until April. Destinations vary based on participants’ interests and abilities. Participants should wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and bring plenty of water.

"Are warnings enough to prevent dunes tragedies?" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/2/07)
"Bureau of Land Management public information officer Steven Razo said while numerous signs have been posted in the area, some off-road enthusiasts do not abide by laws that prohibit the operation of recreational vehicles on public roadways." A 15-year-old "tried crossing the railroad tracks at Highway 78...by pulling around a lowered crossing guard arm, California Highway Patrol authorities reported," but "apparently did not see another train coming from the opposite direction."

"Imperial Sand Dunes - Information" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)

Warning sign at the North Jetty"Storm-driven waves sweep three people off North Jetty" (The Eureka Reporter, 12/3/07)
"Monday morning, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Hamilton stopped by the North Jetty to caution visitors about the danger of getting too close to the water during storms. While Hamilton was there, several people yelled to alert him to the fact that some people had been swept off the jetty and into the water...." In this case, all three were able to get to safety, but as the sheriff's office and the BLM warn, "Underestimating the size of waves or power of the ocean can lead to tragic consequences....Please be safety-minded when enjoying the beauty of the North Coast."


BLM California state director Mike Pool presents an award to Bighorn Institute"BLM recognizes Bighorn Institute" (News.bytes Extra)
This past Saturday, BLM California State Director Mike Pool recognized the Bighorn Institute and its Director, Jim DeForge, for 25 years of outstanding service to the research and recovery of the Peninsular bighorn sheep. A Board of Director’s meeting for the Bighorn Institute, located at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains in Palm Desert, California, provided the setting for this special occasion.

"CSUB researcher peers into past" (Bakersfield Californian, 12/1/07)
"In 130 feet of dirt, Rob Negrini hopes to extract 200,000 years worth of data. The Cal State Bakersfield geology professor is using a soil core from Soda Lake on the Carrizo Plain National Monument to determine historical precipitation and climate records for coastal Central California....From the Soda Lake core, Negrini expects he will be able to draw conclusions about temperature change in 100-year intervals -- the equivalent of roughly one inch of core."
(May require free registration.)

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
"The Carrizo Plain, 100 airline miles north of Los Angeles, California is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by mountains."

Alpaugh teacher works summers for the BLM"Science teachers hard to find" (Fresno Bee, 12/3/07)
Superintendent Robert Hudson "had to get creative in recruiting teachers to rural Alpaugh, so he sought the help of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in finding a science teacher....a recent graduate of California State University, Chico, was hired to teach the high school's science courses and do research for the federal government during the summer....The partnership between the school district and a federal agency is unique...."
(May require free registration.)


"Elk River Road offers quiet solitude, scenic views of yesteryear" (Eureka Times-Standard, 12/2/07)
"[T]he Elk River Valley might just as well be on another planet, or at least in another state. Bright blue skies and deep green pastures with cattle and horses grazing seem to put one squarely in the middle of a scene from 'The Bridges of Madison County' -- complete with covered bridges." One stop on a tour of the valley is the Headwaters Forest Reserve, managed by the BLM.

RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM California, Arcata Field Office)
The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,474 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka. The reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.

"BLM citizen advisory council meets Dec. 5-6 in Little River" (BLM California news release, 11/30/07)
A variety of natural resource conservation topics will be discussed when the Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council meets Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 5 and 6, in Little River, on the Mendocino County coast.

"State to clean up mercury from abandoned Upvalley mine" (Napa Valley Register, 12/2/07)
An abandoned mine between Calistoga and Middletown is set to be cleaned up to prevent mercury from polluting a creek that drains into Lake Berryessa, according to the Bureau of Land Management."

trash at the Sonora encampment"Officials plan cleanup of encampment on public land that was hazard to health and safety" (News.bytes Extra)
Torn tents, piles of mattresses, piles of human waste and bags of garbage litter the public land on a former homeless encampment southwest of Sonora. The BLM and Sonora County officials are working together to clean up the site.

RELATED: "Nonprofit formed to help homeless" (Sonora Union Democrat, 12/3/07)
"A new nonprofit organization seeking to start a shelter for the homeless is launching as winter sets in and a homeless camp on Stockton Road closes.... The housing offered at the church is no longer available....The church building doesn't meet the codes that would allow people to stay overnight.... In looking for properties, however, he has run into some road blocks. An ideal location has eluded the board thus far."

"New owners for Trona plant" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 11/28/07)
"The company owns some of its mineral reserves and has long-term leases with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which allows it to process the minerals from Searles Lake. Total mineral reserves are estimated to be in excess of 600 million tons -- enough to last for 300 to 400 years’ worth of production."

"Real people, real gripes" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/3/07)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management told homeowners they couldn't use federal money to clear brush in preserved areas unless they could be certain that the Quino checkerspot butterfly didn't live in the surrounding vegetation. The butterfly is in danger of extinction because frequent fires burn through its habitat...." Said a member of the Palo Verde Fire Safe Council, "Our (fire-safe council) has to go through several environmental hoops, and without help from our local ranger station, we'd still be waiting for approvals."

"Local group hopes to protect AV creek" (Victorville Daily Press, 11/29/07)
"[L]ocal conservation group Friends of Juniper Flats...restores illegal off-highway vehicle trails by using dead brush and trees to camouflage them....California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission...is still trying to work out which desert riparian areas, meaning rivers or streams, will be protected under a 2005 policy that prevents the commission from awarding grants that would establish or expand off-roading in these areas....Friends of Juniper Flats have submitted comments saying that the Bureau of Land Management is not adequately managing the area...."


"Bureaucratic Beat: Tooth-fairy budgets, laws of nature and letters" (Sierra Wave, 11/27/07)
"The other letter shows how a bureaucracy can provide a true service....Currently one of our largest and most cumbersome federal bureaucracies is setting a shining example for other agencies with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Committee. A group from BLM has been working all year with the community of Lone Pine to deal with a myriad of complex issues regarding the public and private uses of that unique resource."

RELATED: "The Alabama Hills dedication" (BLM California, Bishop Field Office)
"On May 24, 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. Management plans are being considered that will eventually include a scenic trail system that people may walk and enjoy this geologic phenomena at a leisurely pace."

RELATED: "Welcome to the Bishop Field Office" (BLM California website)

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

California Desert Advisory Council member Richard RudnickMEET YOUR ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Richard Rudnick...
...is a rancher and is a federal grazing permittee on public lands in southern California. He is a renewable resource representative on BLM's California Desert Advisory Council and represents grazing interests. Read more:

Find the calendar online at:


"interior expands financial and business management system" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/28/07)
"The Financial and Business Management System eventually will be delivered to nine bureaus and offices under the Department’s jurisdiction. FBMS will consolidate more than 80 legacy application systems into a single system that will manage the department’s financial and administrative business processing." The BLM is a bureau within the Department of the Interior.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) up to 30 years

SOURCE: "Harbor Seal - Phoca vitulina" (BLM California wildlife database)
"In the wild, harbor seals can live for more than 30 years."


"Harbor seals: The diminutive pinniped living large" (Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary)
"Although often seen resting on shore (e.g., on mudflats, isolated sandy beaches, and offshore rocks), these creatures are not easily approached and spend most of their time underwater, so much of their life has remained a mystery. Below some of the results of harbor seal studies conducted by researchers from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) are described."

"Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)" (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Links to several sources of related information.

"Watchable wildlife: Harbor seals" (California Department of Fish and Game)
"California's most common marine mammal, the harbor seal is often missed at first glance. Unlike their noisy relatives, the California and Steller's sea lions and northern elephant seals, harbor seals make little noise and their mottled fur allows them to practically disappear against the rocks and sand."

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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