A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 314 - 1/16/08

Close-up of a Swainson's hawk A boy uses binoculars to spot birds at the Galt Winter Bird Festival Roger Mitchell of BLM's Central California Resource Advisory Council A boy examines a lit specimen through a microscope "Lucky" the elephant seal lounging near Piedras Blancas

- Not for educators only: Wildlife
      - Winter Bird Festival
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Follow-up: Errant elephant seal at Piedras
- Energy on and across public lands:
      - Solar power
      - Federal energy corridor
      - Sunrise Powerlink
- Headlines and highlights: Wild horse and burro adoption, heritage tourism, arsenic, more
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events


WILDLIFE: Galt Winter Bird Festival

A boy uses binoculars to spot birds at the Galt Winter Bird Festival"Galt Winter Bird Festival" (News.bytes Extra)
Ducks, geese and cranes, oh my. Those species and many others were the highlight of Galt’s first Winter Bird Festival Saturday. Harry McQuillen, BLM’s Cosumnes River Preserve manager, estimated around 240 people took bus tours of the preserve, with additional festival-goers participating in other events.

A boy examines a lit specimen through a microscope"Galt Winter Bird Festival billed a success" (Lodi News-Sentinel, 1/14/08)
"Galt resident David Yee, who gave visitors to Chabolla Community Center an overview about migratory birds in the Galt area and the nearby Cosumnes River Preserve [said], 'The organizers did a good job of getting local schools involved....A lot of stuff was geared toward children.'...there are many other types of birds and waterfowl in the Galt area. These include geese, ducks, swans, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks and the yellow-billed magpie...." Click "some favorites of bird watchers" for a pop-up selection of bird photos.

"Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM California, Folsom Field Office)
The Preserve is home to California's largest remaining valley oak riparian forest, and is one of the few protected wetland habitat areas in the state. The Cosumnes River is the only free-flowing river left in California's Central Valley. Only minutes from California's capital, this is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted on or near the Preserve.

"Cosumnes River Preserve" (Partner website)
More information and links.

Close-up of a Swainson's hawk

One of the bird species spotted at the Cosumnes River Preserve is the Swainson's hawk. How far do Swainson's hawks generally migrate?
(a.) Short distances, under 100 miles -- just to get to another seasonal wetlands when their usual spot dries up for the summer
(b.) Almost 1,000 miles – from northern Canada to southern California
(c.) About 2,500 miles – from California to New England

(d.) More than 10,000 miles – from the western U.S. to southern South America
(e.) They don't migrate – they stay year-round at the Cosumnes River Preserve and other places they are found.
(f.) Approximately 407.82 miles, from the Cosumnes River Preserve to Palm Springs -- for the warmer, drier winter weather and so they can hawk souvenirs on the area's many golf courses.

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

FOLLOWUP: Elephant seal at Piedras Blancas
Last week's issue of News.bytes included an item on "the elephant seal that crossed the road" at Piedras Blancas. A week later -- now named "Lucky" by local TV viewers -- he still had not crossed back to the beach:

"Lucky" the elephant seal lounging near Piedras Blancas"Central Coast's favorite elephant seal is loving life on the Hearst Ranch" (KSBY-TV Monterey, 1/15/08)
"The Central Coast's favorite elephant seal is loving life on the Hearst Ranch. More than a week ago, 'Lucky' ditched the beach and headed across Highway 1 for the rolling hills on the ranch. Since then there have been numerous attempts by marine mammal experts to lure the big guy back to the beach, all unsuccessful. Remember, 'Lucky' looks friendly, but he is a wild animal, and you are urged to keep a safe distance away from him." With photos, and a link to video.

"Why Lucky the elephant seal won't cross the road" KSBY-TV Monterey, 1/11/08)
An earlier report with more photos and link to video.

Elephant seal still lounging on Hearst Ranch across the highway from the beach" (KSBY-TV Monterey, 1/9/08)
"The seal has become a national celebrity in his own right, being shown on stations across the country and also on MSNBC."

"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 announces additional public scoping meetings for Ivanpah solar energy project" (BLM California news release, 1/9/08)
The Bureau of Land Management announces a second public scoping meeting and an extension to the formal scoping period to solicit comments on the impacts the proposed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. The BLM formal scoping process that began with publication of the Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on Nov. 6, 2007, has been extended to run through January 31, 2008.

"Environmental group sues over federal energy corridor plan" (Associated Press in Monterey Herald, 1/10/08),
"An environmental group sued the U.S. Department of Energy...for designating an energy corridor in Arizona and California that will bypass normal reviews for new high-voltage power lines....While the purpose was to ease rules for new power lines where they're most needed, critics say the designation would also give power companies blanket approval."

"Group sues to shut down power corridor" (North County Times, 1/10/08)
"An environmental group sued Thursday to overturn the federal government's designation of Southern California and Arizona as an electricity corridor of 'national interest,' something with big implications for a power line proposed for San Diego County....Under energy legislation passed in 2005, proponents of power-line projects in national corridors have the option of asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to overrule state denials."

RELATED: "Critics hit energy corridor plans" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/11/08)
"A federal proposal to expand energy corridors throughout the Western United States could open the door to more development on public lands, critics charged at a hearing Thursday. The meeting, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy to hear comments on the proposed plan, attracted more than a dozen residents from desert communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties concerned about a proposal to build high-power transmission lines through the Morongo Basin."
(Site may require free registration.)

"Power line threatens bighorn sheep" (North County Times, 11/12/08)
"If San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line winds up going through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a recent report says, it may scare away the animal that graces the park's logo: The Peninsular bighorn sheep....The report released Jan. 3 was prepared by the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, agencies that must give permission before SDG&E can build the $1.3 billion project."

RELATED: "Report: Power line would boost fire threat" (North County Times, 1/10/08)
"The $1.3 billion project to string a high-voltage power line between San Diego and the Imperial Valley would significantly increase the chance of wildfires igniting in the North County backcountry, a new report says. But the Sunrise Powerlink itself isn't the main problem...but rather the things that would follow in its wake, such as maintenance roads that open up new areas for campers to smoke or light campfires. Strung from towering, sturdy steel poles, the project's big high-voltage wires would be much less likely than smaller lines to blow down or snap into trees in hurricane-force Santa Ana winds, the report concluded."

RELATED: "Fire threat a new snag in push for PowerLink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/15/08)
"The threat of wildfire has become the latest hurdle for San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise PowerLink, as state regulators try to determine whether the project would raise the risk of fire in the county's backcountry. Last week, an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission ordered SDG&E to provide information about what it will do and how much money it will spend to lessen the risk of wildfires along the proposed power line's route."


"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption" (BLM California news release, 1/8/08)
Mustangs fresh from the range will be on display February 2 in King City when the Bureau of Land Management offers wild horses and burros for adoption. 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.

"Elevated arsenic levels discovered at historic mine site in the Rosamond District, Kern County, California" (BLM California news release, 1/15/08)
The mill tailings site is within ¼ mile of residences and ½ mile from an elementary school, which poses a potential health hazard to residents and students. The Bureau of Land Management has initiated preliminary actions at the site to protect human health as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) evaluation process.

"Alabama Hills stewardship public meeting set" (BLM California news release, 1/9/08)
The community of Lone Pine and the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office will be holding a short public meeting on January 17, regarding management of the Alabama Hills. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss agreed upon upcoming stewardship actions for the Alabama Hills, said Chris Langley, Inyo County Film Commissioner.

"Cultural tourism takes hold" (Monterey County Herald, 1/11/08)
"Cultural and heritage tourism -- travel directed toward experiencing the traditional and contemporary culture, arts and special character of a place -- is among the fastest growing segments of the tourism market, said organizers of a three-day symposium on the subject in Monterey this week. More than 100 people...have gathered here for the past several days to share ideas and promote collaboration and new opportunities through forums and panel discussions, roundtables and networking sessions." BLM-California helped develop the symposium.

RELATED: "Designated Preserve America communities and neighborhoods" (PreserveAmerica.gov)
The symposium above "kicked off Wednesday with an exploration of the Preserve America program." The Department of the Interior provides matching grants to help fund preservation efforts.

"Five agencies join for car burglary arrests" (Eureka Times-Standard, 1/12/08)
The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office said two suspects " targeted areas where vehicles were parked and remained for a significant period of time, such as parking lots, beaches, churches, Park and Ride facilities and state parks...."

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

Roger Mitchell of BLM's Central California Resource Advisory CouncilMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Roger Mitchell...
...represents the public-at-large on BLM's Central California Advisory Council. He has lived all but 10 years of his life in Central California and has hiked, climbed, backpacked and explored most of the public lands in the region. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

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

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) More than 10,000 miles – from the western U.S. to southern South America

SOURCE: "Swainson’s Hawk - Buteo swainsoni" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Their annual round-trip migration between North America and Argentina covers approximately 12,500 miles."

"Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)" (BLM Idaho website)
More information including description, diet, habitat/range, behavior, migration and more, from the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Includes a link to a three-page illustrated, printable fact sheet on the Swainson's hawk.

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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(916) 978-4600

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