A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 315 - 1/23/08

An elephant seal shares a pasture with cattle near Piedras Blancas Lucky the elephant seal about to cross the road Volunteers clean up Glamis Dunes Brian Mulhollen after igniting a prescribed burn Trainer with her wild mustang from the BLM

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Lucky the elephant seal: Revisited - again
- Law enforcement:
      - Border agent killed
      - Abandoned bunker murder
- Energy issues on public lands:
      - Sunrise Powerlink
      - West-wide Energy Corridor
- Recreation on public lands:
      - Imperial Sand Dunes volunteer cleanup, fees
      - Pine Hill Preserve tours
      - Ford Ord treasure cache policy
      - Eastern Sierra: new site
      - Dumont Dunes
- Wild horses and burros:
      - Training
      - Adoption coming up
Pasture sought
- Headlines and highlights: Headwaters, Biodiversity Council, oil spill, writer's strike, jobs, more
- Employee Profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Testimony on mining law reform


Wildlife Trivia question mark

"Pale" and "Dark" -- these are the only two species found naturally in North America -- of which of these animals?
(a.) Banded gecko
(b.) Garter snake
(c.) Kangaroo mouse
(d.) Speckled rattlesnake
(e.) California ground squirrel
(f.) Spotted frog
(g.) Gray whale
(h.) Pallid bat
(i.) Black salamander
(j.) Striped skunk
(k.) Alewife

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

In the past two issues of News.bytes, we have checked in on "the elephant seal that crossed the road" from the beach at Piedras Blancas. Wildlife officials wanted to get him back to the beach before he created a danger to himself and drivers, during the busy Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. BLM manages part of the Piedras Blancas area where Lucky came from.

An elephant seal shares a pasture with cattle near Piedras Blancas"Wayward elephant seal shooed from ranch; heads back to the ocean" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/18/07)
"A prodigal elephant seal that spent nearly two weeks mingling with cattle on the Hearst Ranch east of Highway 1 wandered back into the ocean Friday, with a little help from some trained human friends." Story include photos.

Lucky the elephant seal about to cross the road"Lucky is back on the beach with his pals, leaving Hearst Ranch behind" (KSBY-TV San Luis Obispo, 1/18/08)
"It took a little bit of coaxing, a tarp and a few patient rangers. But together, they were able to get Lucky to cross the road. Now he is back on the beach where he belongs." Includes "photos taken by Debby Boutros of Cambria who says she was in the right place at the right time." Includes link to video from TV news.

"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.

READER RESPONSE to last week's Wildlife Trivia Question

From our News.bytes email box:
"Your quiz identifying migration distance is correct for Swainson’s Hawks outside of California, but our Central Valley population, the ones that nest at places like the Cosumnes River Preserve, have a different migration path, verified by the Swainson’s Hawk Technical Advisory Committee in 1998. Central Valley California Swainson’s Hawks generally migrate to Mexico and Central America, with a few going as far as northern South America. This is discussed at our web site. I hope you will be able to print a correction."
Thank you,
Jude Lamare, President
Friends of Swainson's Hawk

Editor's note: Thank you for the information! It's good to see that knowledgeable people are checking our information. I have added a link from our wildlife database entry on the Swainson's Hawk, to the webpage that has more details on this research:

"Who is the Swainson's Hawk?"(Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk)
Details on the above information, plus links to maps, video, and more details on research.

The question appeared in last week's News.bytes (issue 314):


"Hummer found burned; Officials not sure if used in BP killing" (Yuma Sun, 1/21/08)
"Baja California police have recovered the burned remains of a Hummer and a Ford pickup suspected of being used in a smuggling attempt that led to the death of a Yuma Border Patrol agent last weekend....Yuma Sector Border Patrol Senior Agent Luis Aguilar was struck by a Hummer and killed Saturday morning. He had been laying down spike strips in an effort to stop the vehicle in the Buttercup Recreation Area, a popular campground for Imperial Sand Dunes enthusiasts on the south side of the interstate." The BLM manages the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, and BLM emergency medical technicians and law enforcement personnel assisted at the scene and continue to cooperate with the investigation.

RELATED: "Border Patrol agent leaves behind family" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/21/08)
"Aguilar died when a fleeing suspected narcotics smuggler driving a brown Hummer ran over him as the six-year veteran attempted to deploy a tire deflation device at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area near Andrade at about 9:30 a.m., Border Patrol officials said. Officials are looking for the vehicle and a red Ford F-250 pickup that fled into Mexico in connection to the death."

RELATED: "Mexicans arrest man in border agent's death" (Associated Press on MSNBC, 1/23/08)
"Mexican authorities said Wednesday they have arrested a man in the weekend killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was run over by a suspected smuggler's vehicle."

"Death in a desert bunker" (Los Angeles Times, 1/18/08)
"For more than 20 years the bunker has stood alone in this remote stretch of desert....Over time the abandoned Air Force installation has become the haunt of bored teenagers, target shooters and outlaws." On Jan. 5, two high school students were shot to death there. The land involved is under withdrawal from the BLM to the U.S. Air Force. The BLM cooperates in law enforcement in the area. "The Air Force said this week that it expected to demolish the bunker by the end of the year and that Edwards Air Force Base was interested in acquiring the land."

RELATED: "Bunker may be destroyed" (Victorville Daily Press, 1/19/08)
"An effort is under way to destroy the abandoned military installation where two local teenagers were killed....San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt...said that code enforcement has inspected the bunkers and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has talked to the FBI about using explosives. Mitzelfelt also said that the Bureau of Land Management has been interested in the destruction of the bunker as well as the Air Force, which reportedly has already done environmental studies on the demolition."


"Hearings to shine spotlight on power line" (North County Times, 1/21/08)
"If you want to understand the case for and against the Sunrise Powerlink, partisans on both sides of the debate recommend you attend a series of public meetings next week and in February. The workshops will shine the spotlight on the effects San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s $1.3 billion Sunrise Powerlink transmission line could have on the environment and communities in its 150-mile path. Those impacts are discussed in great detail in a 7,000-page draft environment impact report released by the California Public Utilities Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Jan. 3."

RELATED: "Seminars on Sunrise Powerlink scheduled" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/21/08)
"Workshops will be held next week to help people understand what a recently released 7,500-page environmental study says about various routes the proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line might take. The environmental impact report also outlines other options that will be considered by the state before approving or denying the San Diego Gas & Electric power line project. The report and workshops are the work of the California Public Utilities Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
Background and more information.

"Busload of locals takes message to feds" (Hi-Desert Star, 1/19/08)
"Public officials in Ontario expressed surprise Jan. 10 when a large contingent of Morongo Basin residents arrived to comment on an environmental impact statement for proposed energy corridors on federal land in 11 western states. The public comments were heard by representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Energy and the National Forest Service. The Morongo Basin delegation included about 70 members of the California Desert Coalition, a group formed to derail the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plan to carve an 85-mile swath through the Morongo Basin in order to erect transmission towers up to 200 feet tall on public and private land."

RELATED: "Suit opposes energy corridor" (Associated Press in The Arizona Republic, 1/19/08)
"The idea behind an energy corridor through vast parts of Arizona and California was to keep electricity flowing in the region, a Department of Energy spokeswoman said. An environmental group challenged the plan last week in a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California." Potential powerline corridors would include lands managed by the BLM in California and elsewhere.

RELATED: "West-wide Energy Corridor programmatic EIS documents" (West-wide Energy Corridor Programmatic EIS Information Center)
More information, including "getting involved."


A volunteer cleans up in the desertVolunteers clean up Glamis Dunes"Thousands volunteer to clean up desert debris" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/20/08)
"Cathy Kennerson knows how to get her hands dirty, and she showed as much Saturday when she participated in and helped coordinate one of the year’s biggest cleanups in the dunes in eastern Imperial County. The chief executive officer of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce was one of some 4,000 who participated in the 11th annual Martin Luther King Weekend Cleanup organized by United Desert Gateway, the federal Bureau of Land Management and Take Pride in America."

"Fee program changes upcoming for the Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California news release, 1/18/08)
First, BLM will soon be soliciting bids for administration of the fee program for the next season and beyond. The second change impacts recreation fees in the ISDRA. The BLM and ISDRA Technical Review Team (TRT) have developed a two tier plan to encourage permit pre-purchasing.

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM California, El Centro Field Office)
More information about the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

"BLM offers spring tours at Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM California news release, 1/24/08)
The Folsom Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, has scheduled six springtime guided field trips to view wildflowers and other features at the Pine Hill Preserve in western El Dorado County. The Pine Hill Preserve is managed under a cooperative agreement among nine federal, state, and county agencies and consists of 4,002 acres in five separate units to protect rare plants that grow in gabbro-associated soils.

RELATED: "Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM California, Folsom Field Office)
Three of the plant species that grow in the Pine Hill Preserve are endemic, which means they grow nowhere else in the world.

"BLM releases treasure cache policy covering Fort Ord public lands" (BLM
The Bureau of Land Management has issued a new policy that allows new treasure caches (i.e. geocaches and letterboxes) with prior approval on Fort Ord public lands. "The policy contains safeguards to ensure that containers are not placed in environmentally sensitive areas or military munitions sites, and that the containers themselves do not have the appearance of anything that could be confused with a military device missed during the Army’s site clean-up activities," said Eric Morgan, BLM’s Fort Ord manager.

RELATED: "Fort Ord public lands" (BLM California, Hollister Field Office)
These are some of the last undeveloped natural, public lands on the Monterey Peninsula, located on the former Fort Ord military base. Here the Bureau of Land Management protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals and their native coastal habitats. 

"BLM opens donated land near Granite Mountain" (BLM California news release, 1/18/08)
An 80-acre parcel in the eastern Sierra is open for public access following a donation to the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office. The parcel is located in the Granite Mountain Wilderness Study Area, east of Mono Lake. The Wilderness Land Trust recently acquired the land from a willing seller and donated it to the BLM to be managed as public lands. 

"Trip of the week: Dumont Dunes provide opportunities for desert recreation" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/20/08)
"Covering miles of desert south of Tecopa, Calif., the complex of Dumont Dunes and nearby Little Dumont remains one of a handful of dunes near Las Vegas open to use by off-road vehicles."

RELATED: "Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM California, Barstow Field Office)
Includes important information about Dumont Dunes passes.


Trainer with her wild mustang from the BLM"Wild at heart" (Centre Daily Times, 1/21/08)
"Myers is one of about 55 trainers who have been given 100 days to work with a wild mustang before participating with the horse in the Midwest Mustang Challenge, a show, competition and auction in Madison, Wis., in April. Bertram, Texas-based Mustang Heritage Foundation is holding the event and another in California in June in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

"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.

"BLM seeks bids for one or more new pasture facilities to care for and maintain wild horses" (BLM national news release, 1/23/08)
As part of its responsibility to manage, protect, and control wild horses and burros, the Bureau of Land Management is soliciting bids for one or more new pasture facilities located anywhere in the continental United States.  Each pasture facility must be able to provide humane care for and maintain at least 500 wild horses -- up to as many as 2,500 -- over a one-year period, with an option under BLM contract for an additional four, one-year extensions.


"Plan would divide forest for logging, preservation" (Inside Bay Area, 1/17/08)
"A coalition of environmentalists, Bank of America and others will propose setting aside old-growth trees and allowing sustainable logging on the rest of the world's largest privately owned redwood forest in Humboldt County...."

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, CA. 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.

California Biodiversity Council tackles environmental issues" (News.bytes Extra)
How can California preserve its varied environment in the face of forces such as climate change and population growth? The California Biodiversity Council is one of the organizations grappling with those issues. BLM California State Director Mike Pool and California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman are council co-chairs. The group met Tuesday in Davis.

"Conservancy buys 1,000 acres so state can expand park" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/17/08)
"The Nature Conservancy has bought more than 1,000 acres of desert in the southeastern corner of San Diego County, with plans to use the property to expand Anza-Borrego Desert State Park." A representative "said the property is a critical link between the state park, federal Bureau of Land Management property and land in Baja California. It will provide a habitat for endangered species including bighorn sheep and the Quino checkerspot butterfly...."

"Local businesses feel impact of writers strike" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 1/18/08)
"At the Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management, requests from television and film crews to shoot on BLM lands keep coming in, said Joan Patrovsky, a realty specialist at the Barstow office....The office issued 150 filming permits on its lands last year, the most of any BLM office in the country."

"BLM Bishop and Lone Tree Cattle Company sign rangeland monitoring agreement" (BLM California news release, 1/23/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and an Owens Valley rancher have signed an agreement to jointly monitor range conditions, the first for the BLM Bishop Office.

Handshake over the range monitoring agreementRELATED: Photo
BLM Bishop Field Office Manager Bill Dunkelberger and Ken Zimmerman of Lone Tree Cattle Company shake hands after signing the agreement.

"Figuring cost of oil spill will take years" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/23/08)
"It will probably take several years to establish a price tag and plan for restoring San Francisco Bay after the Cosco Busan oil spill, the coordinator of a multi-agency damage-assessment group said Tuesday....during a public meeting in Oakland about the complex challenge of assessing the amount of injury caused to the environment, wildlife and humans by 58,000 gallons of fuel oil that spilled Nov. 7 when the freighter Cosco Busan crashed into the Bay Bridge....In addition to the state Fish and Game Department and the federal NOAA, the assessment agencies are the state Lands Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "2 meetings on restoring oil-damaged S.F. Bay" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/21/08)
"The public will have a chance to brainstorm with state and federal authorities in the coming weeks about how to restore San Francisco Bay's ecological balance in the wake of the Cosco Busan oil spill. Trustees representing six government agencies are hosting [a second public meeting] next week in Mill Valley to gather ideas about restoring natural resources and compensating for the environmental havoc wrought after the Nov. 7 spill, which dumped 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay."

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California website)
Spanning the entire 1,100 mile length of the California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument is comprised of more than 20,000 BLM administered islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles. The Monument includes those public lands that are exposed above mean high tide, within the corridor extending 12 nautical miles from the shoreline between Mexico and Oregon.

"BLM offering reward in vandalism, theft near Ferndale" (BLM California news release, 1/16/08)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the theft of split rail fencing material from the Fleener Creek Overlook area west of Ferndale.

"Residents forming fire safe council in Valley Center" (North County Times, 1/20/08)
"Fires have made many communities acutely aware that firefighters are overextended during regional emergencies, and that there are preventive measures that protect residents and their property, said Christine Meyers, a coordinator for the non-profit Fire Safe Council of San Diego County." The BLM works with and helps fund Fire Safe Councils throughout California.

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

Brian Mulhollen after igniting a prescribed burnEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Brian Mulholland...
...says he's just "a dumb fire guy." A humble comment from someone who has been a public servant from a young age. Brian is now a fuels management specialist with BLM's Folsom Folsom Field Office. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

January 24, 31 - National Monument hike
Palm Desert

January 25 - Public scoping meeting for solar energy project
San Bernardino

January 26 and following weekends - Bald eagle guided hikes (reservations required)
Cache Creek Natural Area

Feb. 7-8 - BLM Northeast California Resource Advisory Council meeting


"Former Forest Service chief to advocate for mining law reform before Senate" (MineWeb, 1/22/08)
"Longtime mining law reform proponent Mike Dombeck, the former chief of both the U.S Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. [Forest Service], is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday. Dombeck is testifying on behalf of Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, organizations that claim to represent million of outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen and wildlife and fishery professionals."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Kangaroo mouse

SOURCE: "Dark Kangaroo Mouse - Microdipodops megacephalus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Dark kangaroo mice are one of only two species of kangaroo mice found in North America. The second species is the pale kangaroo mouse.

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Bureau of Land Management
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