A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 313 - 1/9/08

An elephant seal pup partially covered in sand at Piedras Blancas. Prescribed burn BLM California Desert Advisory Council member Ronald Vernon Johnston An elephant seal faces down a Fish and Game officer at Piedras Blancas Mohave tui chub

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - More wildlife: Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas
- Energy: Sunrise Powerlink
- More energy on and across public lands
- Santa Clarita/Cemex gravel mining issue
- Wild horses and burros: Western States Challenge, upcoming adoption
- Wildfire and prevention: Lessons from 2007, hiring for 2008
- Headlines and highlights: Prescribed aspen burn, Area 51, preserve plan, jobs, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: NEPA procedures, sustainable mineral nominations


Mohave tui chub
Mohave tui chub - thumbnail from a photo by UCDavis Genomic Variation Laboratory

Mohave tui chub are the only fish native to the Mojave River drainage. However, this led to their downfall because:
(a.) They were not prepared to compete for food with non-native species that were later introduced to the area
(b.) They were less prepared to compete with other fish, for habitat
(c.) They were not adaptable enough to adjust to changes in water flow
(d.) Their small population led to inbreeding and less genetic diversity
(e.) All of the above
(f.) By excluding non-natives, they did not benefit from the rich multicultural contributions of other fish populations such as the famed Provençal bouillabaisse.

------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes -- along with a story about how you can get a glimpse of this rare fish.

MORE WILDLIFE: Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas
A large colony of elephant seals gathers on the beaches near Piedras Blancas Light Station and Hearst Castle during the winter, and many give birth in January.

An elephant seal faces down a Fish and Game officer at Piedras Blancas"Elephant seal refuses to go back to his beach, hanging out at Hearst Ranch" (KSBY-TV San Luis Obispo, 1/8/08)
"Wildlife experts say they have dealt with seals on the highway before, but they don't believe they have ever had a case quite like this one....No one knows for sure why the seal crossed the road, but experts do have a good idea why he's not going back."

An elephant seal pup partially covered in sand at Piedras Blancas."Photo: It’s that time of year again for elephant seal pups on the North Coast" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 1/9/08)
"Life is hard when you are an elephant seal pup about 2 weeks old and mom likes to flip sand onto your back -- lots of sand."

"Birthing season begins as first pups are born at elephant seal site north of San Simeon" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 12/21/07)
At the Piedras Blancas elephant seal viewing site north of San Simeon: "From now through January, visitors may see a seal giving birth. Right now, most of the action takes place among mothers and pups....Pups may get separated from their mothers, and human visitors can become emotionally involved in the little dramas going on on the beach. The viewing site is a unique opportunity to observe wildlife closely, in the natural habitat, where the animals are doing what they would be doing whether human visitors were there or not."

"Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. The point is named for a white rock out cropping located just off the end of the point. In the early 1870's, this location was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Sur.


"BLM, CPUC release draft EIS/EIR for proposed Sunrise Powerlink Project" (BLM California news release, 1/3/08)
Portions of the proposed project and alternatives could cross up to 35 miles of federal lands managed by the BLM within Imperial County, and about one mile in San Diego County.  Depending on the alternative selected, the project could require an amendment to BLM’s land use plans because the alignments deviate from designated utility corridors. The remainder of the proposed project involves lands owned by various entities, including the state of California, local governments, and private parties. (The news release includes link to the draft EIS/EIR and information on upcoming workshops.)

"Analysts criticize Sunrise project" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/4/08)
"A voluminous draft report, produced by the California Public Utilities Commission, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, found that Sunrise would have 'numerous direct impacts' within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park . . . degradation of views and recreational opportunities and impacts on traditional cultural properties,' as well as 'severe visual effects in Santa Ysabel Valley.' The report found that five alternative proposals would do less damage to the environment than Sunrise, a 150-mile transmission line that would cross through Anza-Borrego, the Cleveland National Forest and a number of North County communities."

"Report: Alternatives would harm environment less than power line" (North County Times, 1/3/08)
"New power plants in metro San Diego or a new power line in western Riverside County could meet San Diego County's growing demand for electricity with far less damage to the environment than the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, according to a report released Thursday. More than 7,000 pages long, the long-awaited environmental impact report for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s proposed $1.3 billion power line said that it would also be better for the environment if an alternative route was selected to the south along Interstate 8."

"Report says there are better alternatives to Sunrise Powerlink" (KPBS San Diego, 1/3/08)
"San Diego Gas and Electric says the Sunrise Powerlink is needed to ensure energy reliability in the region. The utility's preferred route crosses through the Anza-Borrego State Park. But the California Public Utilities Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management environmental study identifies several alternatives that the regulators say are 'environmentally superior' to the proposed project. The study also considers a range of non-transmission alternatives to the line."

"Report: San Diego has better options than Powerlink" (Voice of San Diego, 1/4/08)
"The joint California Public Utilities Commission and federal Bureau of Land Management study, technically called an environmental impact report, appears to contradict SDG&E's long-held position that the only cost-effective way to access renewable energy sources in Imperial County would be through Anza-Borrego....The report is not binding and doesn't recommend whether the Sunrise Powerlink should be approved or not. It solely evaluates the project against other options."

SDG&E's proposed Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Project" (California Public Utilities Commission)
More information, including link to the draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement.


"BLM sees energized solar applicants" (Mohave Daily News, 1/5/08)
"The Needles Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has been dealing with an explosion of applications to generate solar electricity on public lands it administers....The BLM has 26 projects that are currently involved in the application process in San Bernardino County. So far, none of them have been approved due to the lengthy process."

"Public invited to comment on draft proposal for energy corridors on federal lands"
(BLM News Release)
The Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will host a public hearing this Thursday, January 10 in Ontario, California to gather comments on the draft programmatic environmental impact statement proposing to designate energy corridors on federal lands in the West.

RELATED: "Speakers pillory government pipeline project at Ore. hearing" (Associated Press in Seattle Press-Intelligencer, 1/8/08)
"A draft government designation of more than 6,000 miles of energy transportation corridors through 11 Western states found a crescendo of criticism and no support at a hearing on a multi-agency preliminary environmental impact statement....The options presented at Tuesday's hearing, one of 16 scheduled across the West by the Feb. 14 deadline for public comment, were presented as acceptance or no action."

RELATED: "West-wide Energy Corridor Programmatic EIS Information Center" (Cooperative web site)
Includes links to much more information. For public meeting locations, click on the link under public participation for "Getting Involved" and then "public meetings."


"Santa Clarita City Council rejects Feinstein's Cemex proposal" (KHTS radio Santa Clarita, 1/9/08)
"Cemex, an international mining company, has been in a long standing battle with the City of Santa Clarita over their plans to facilitate a massive sand and gravel mine on the edge of the City. Cemex had won two consecutive 10 year mining contracts from the Bureau of Land Management."

"Council mulls over Cemex issues"
(Santa Clarita Signal, 1/9/08)
"The Santa Clarita City Council rejected Sen. Dianne Feinstein's two proposals Tuesday night that the senator put forth to resolve the city's eight-year long battle over a proposed mine in Soledad Canyon."


"Feinstein offers Cemex resolution" (Santa Clarita Signal, 1/5/08)
"The suggestions, which follow an October visit of the Democratic senator to Santa Clarita, call for the city to reconsider its support of the current historic levels of mining - about 300,000 tons per year - and instead accept 1.5 million tons per year of mining. If that doesn't suit, Feinstein says the city should consider issuing voter-approved general obligation bonds of $110 million to $170 million to buy out the mining firm's contracts with the Bureau of Land Management."


"Western States Challenge" (Mustang Heritage Foundation)
The Western States Mustang Challenge will be held during the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, June 6-8. The Challenge begins March 7th and 8th when 30 selected trainers take their wild mustangs home from BLM facilities in California. After working with them for only 90 days, it ends at the Expo in front of over 50,000 spectators. Trainers will compete for $7500 in cash and prizes and the chance to prove they "have what it takes to tame a wild American Legend." This page includes links to the application and to the rules and regulations.

"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption in King City" (BLM California news release, 1/8/08)
The BLM will offer 30 horses ranging in age from under 1-year old to about 5-years, along with 20 burros at an adoption in the indoor arena at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds. The event runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  February 2. The horses and burros were gathered from herds in Nevada and California.


"2007 fire season in review - an era of change" (People, Land and Water, Department of the Interior)
"This season turned out to be one of the busiest since 1960, reinforcing the belief of many experts that wildland fire is in an era of change....hotter and longer fire seasons, biomass accumulation, and homes built in the fringes of wildlands are converging and changing the conventional thinking of fire managers across the spectrum."

"BLM announces openings for summer firefighting jobs" (BLM California news release, 1/7/08)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management is accepting applications for summer seasonal fire fighting jobs on Northern California fire engine crews, a helicopter-borne fire crew and the Diamond Mountain Interagency Hotshots. Also available are positions in the agency’s hazardous fuels reduction program which focuses on projects to reduce wildfire danger. To receive early consideration, applications must be filed over the Internet by Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008.


Prescribed burn"Dog Creek and Dunderberg Peak aspen prescribed burns" (News.bytes Extra)
Between mid-November and early December the Bishop Field Office Mono Basin and Topaz  Fire Crews, and Inyo and Toiyabe National Forest fire personnel completed 40 acres of prescribed fires within select aspen and meadow communities. The project, designed by wildlife biologist Steve Nelson, aims to improve aspen and meadow habitat by increasing the vigor, coverage, and number of aspen, and manage upland shrub encroachment into the meadow components of these sites. 

"Landowner closes trails: 'No trespassing ' signs posted in once-public 'Area 51'" (Redding Record Searchlight, 1/8/08)
"After years of controversy about the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's possible trade of Area 51 for 566 acres of timberland in the Trinity River watershed, the swap was completed last fall....The BLM process lagged because the agency had to receive approval from the Interior Board of Land Appeals. The process between [the former landowner] and the BLM started in 2004....Critics of the trade, who had hoped to keep Area 51 as public land, still have questions about the process that made it private and are weighing whether to pose them to the BLM in a federal courtroom...."

"Pine Hill Preserve environmental assessment available for review" (BLM California news release, 1/7/08)
An environmental assessment for the Pine Hill Preserve management plan draft is available for public review and comment through Feb. 11. The EA evaluates a proposal to implement management tasks at the 4,052-acre preserve in western El Dorado County.

"Montessori students learn about history" (Eureka Reporter, 1/7/08)
"Montessori students in Terri Vroman Little’s class at Grant Elementary School celebrated the 101st anniversary of the first Montessori school developed by Maria Montessori, which first opened in Italy in 1907....Vroman Little and her students dressed as a teacher and students would during the early 1900s....Julie Clark, a park ranger with the Bureau of Land Management, visited the class in character as Eliza Ricks, a woman who lived in Eureka at the same time Montessori opened her school in Italy."


"America The Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass" (U.S. Geological Survey website)
A story in last week's News.bytes was unavailable on the Internet soon after we released the issue. To find out more about the pass, and purchase it:

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

Desert Advisory Council member Ronald Vernon JohnstonMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Ronald Vernon Johnston...
...represents the public-at-large on BLM's California Desert Advisory Council. He is familiar with land management issues and challenges in southern California including water, land use, habitat preservation and species protection. Read more:

Unless otherwise linked below, find more details online at:

Jan. 10 - Modoc-Washoe Stewardship Steering Committee meeting

Jan. 10 and 19 - Hikes
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Jan. 10-12 - Volunteer work - remove invasive tamarisk
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Jan. 19 and 26 - Free, Guided Bald Eagle Hikes
Cache Creek Natural Area - reservations recommended

Jan. 19 - Nature hike
Palm Springs, Santa Rosa Mountains

Feb. 2 - Wild horses and burros offered for adoption
King City

NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ITEMS "Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 - Proposed rule; request for comments" (Federal Register Notice, 1/2/08)
"The Department of the Interior...proposes to amend its regulations by adding a new part to codify its NEPA procedures currently in the Departmental Manual (DM).....By converting the Departmental NEPA procedures from the DM to new regulations that are consistent with NEPA and the CEQ regulations, the Department intends to promote greater transparency in the NEPA process for the public and enhance cooperative conservation."
Under Federal Register Notices for Jan. 2, 2008, you can find links to text and PDF versions of this under "Interior Department/Proposed Rules:"

"BLM accepting nominations for reclamation and sustainable mineral development awards" (BLM national news release, 1/2/08)
These awards recognize solid mineral (non-coal) development operations that embody the principles of sustainable development or represent outstanding examples of reclamation or environmental stewardship. These four non-monetary awards highlight some of the finest examples of responsible mineral resource development. The awards program also helps to promote successful ideas and practices that may be implemented at various locations throughout the nation.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) All of the above. (Does having the choice "all of the above" make it too easy?)

NOTE: Even though named after the Mojave River, the name of the fish is usually spelled "Mohave."

SOURCE: "Mohave tui chub - Gila bicolor mohavensis" (BLM California wildlife database)
Mohave tui chub are the only native fish of the Mojave River drainage. Consequently, they were not prepared for the introduction of exotic species, the inbreeding, and competition for food and habitat that ensued. The hybridization of Mohave tui chub and arroyo chub (Gila orcutti) is the primary cause for the decline in genetically pure Mohave tui chub. However, habitat alteration has also contributed to population decline. The construction of headwater reservoirs altered natural flow regimes and provided favorable habitat for exotic species.

BLM volunteer and educator Bob Hilburn checks the water temperature of an aquarium of Mohave tui chub"Local fish species on the rebound" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 1/6/08)
"The Mohave tui chub is the only fish that is native to the Mojave River system, but it can’t be found there anymore. They were even one of the first animals protected when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. However, you can get a glimpse of the rare fish at the Desert Discovery Center on Barstow Road. While there you might even catch Bob Hilburn, a volunteer site steward and educator for the Bureau of Land Management, during a feeding."

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