A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 317 - 2/6/08

See the photo of these two burros at the Montery County Herald website Pygmy rabbit - from a photo by BLM Utah Gary Schoolcraft hits the snow on the Bizz Johnson Trail Elephant seal pup at Piedras Two male elephant seals competing

- Outdoor recreation:
      - Cross-country skiing great on the Bizz
      - Internet killing outdoor recreation?
- Not for educators only: Wildlife
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Desert Wildlife Unlimited award
      - Elephant seals thwarting safety fence
      - Sage grouse
      - Online quiz
- Wild horses and burros:
      - Adoption event
      - Photo slideshow
      - National meeting
Alternative energy:
      - Wind power for Los Angeles
      - Geothermal: Truckhaven
      - Solar panels at visitor center
- Headlines and highlights: Special Agent of the Year, Black History Month, Furnace Creek, jobs, more
- Meet your advisory council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Budget

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


Gary Schoolcraft hits the snow on the Bizz Johnson TrailThe Susan River winds through a course of snow-covered boulders along the Bizz Johnson Trail"Outstanding cross-country skiing conditions on the Bizz Johnson Trail" (News.bytes Extra)
It's been snowing almost every day for a month in northeastern California. Homeowners are tired of shoveling and drivers are weary of sliding. Winter sports lovers, however, are ecstatic! The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail now has snow up to five feet deep, and offers superb, uncrowded skiing with opportunities for skiers of every ability. There are no fees.

"Americans spending less time in nature" (KPBS radio online, 2/6/08)
National Public Radio's Morning Edition: "Anyone who has ever tried to book a room near Yellowstone National Park in August knows that natural places can get very crowded. But biologist Oliver Pergams says those crowds can hide an important trend: Every year, a smaller percentage of Americans are fishing, camping or engaging in other nature-based activities." In print, and link to listen to radio report.

"Internet killing park visits, raising conservation worries" (ars technica, the art of technology, 2/5/08)
"The global decline in outdoor interest is raising concerns that future generations will be indifferent to environmental issues." This new study was meant to answer criticisms of earlier data. "For one, it incorporates data from the Spanish and Japanese national park systems to get a greater sense of global trends. It also includes data from many of the National Park alternatives: state parks, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management areas. Finally, general use of the outdoors is tracked by industry data on camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, and backpacking."


"BLM offers horses, burros for adoption at Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals" (BLM-California news release, 1/30/08)
Wild horses and burros, healthy and ready to train, will be offered for public adoption Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Bureau of Land Management’s Ridgecrest  Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals. The BLM will offer 40 weanling colts and fillies, mares and geldings between 2 and 5 years old, plus 10 burros -- five jennies and five jacks.  Free delivery within 200 miles of the facility is offered during this adoption. This is a special fee wild horse adoption.  Mares will be $25 each and weanlings, $75 each, or $50 each for two or more.

Two yearling saddlehorses"Wild horse and burro adoption at the Ridgecrest Corrals - February 23, 2008" (Repeated from last week's News.bytes)
Hear about the adoption here. (Follow the link, then "mouse over" the thumbnail photo of the horse once, to start the sound -- click on it to stop).

See the photo of these two burros at the Montery County Herald website"Wild mustang adoption in King City" (Monterey County Herald, 2/3/08)
Photo slideshow featuring mustangs and burros from last weekend's adoption event and taped comments of an adopter from Buellton.
BLM-California wild horse and burro adoption schedule:

"BLM sets meeting of national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for February 25 in Tucson" (BLM national news release, 2/1/08)
"The advisory board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The law mandates the protection, management, and control of these free-roaming animals in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.  The BLM manages about 29,000 wild horses and burros that roam BLM-managed rangelands in 10 western states."


Pygmy rabbit - from a photo by BLM Utah
Pygmy rabbit - from a photo by BLM Utah

Pygmy rabbits are a unique member of the Leporidae family. What plant are they extremely dependent upon?
(a.) cacti
(b.) sagebrush
(c.) tamarisk
(d.) juniper and chaparral
(e.) wild pampas grass
(f.) Pygmy Carrots

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


"BLM presents award to Lesicka, DWU" (News.bytes Extra)
About 475 people were present in Brawley, to see BLM-California State Director Mike Pool honor Leon Lesicka and Desert Wildlife Unlimited for their many long-term contributions to the California Desert.


Elephant seal pup at PiedrasTwo male elephant seals competing"Where blubber meets the road" (Los Angeles Times, 2/4/08)
"This time each year, hundreds of croaking, roaring, shrieking elephant seals gather to breed and give birth on the rocky shoreline below Hearst Castle....But this year, the traffic jams near the Piedras Blancas birthing grounds aren't being caused just by curious motorists. Some of the seals are sneaking past barbed-wire fences designed to protect them, then flopping on blubbery bellies right across California 1. Their dangerous behavior has police and seal-lovers worried." (Includes link to narrated slide show.)
(Site requires free registration.)

RELATED: "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.

Previous stories on elephant seals appeared in News.bytes issues 313 through 316:


"Funds to help restore sage grouse habitat" (Sacramento Bee, 2/5/08)
"The Sierra Nevada Conservancy has awarded $98,500 to the federal Bureau of Land Management for on-the-ground projects to restore sage grouse habitat in the high desert areas of northeastern California."

"Conservancy awards grant funds for sage grouse conservation" (BLM California news release, 1/31/08)
Efforts to conserve sage-grouse habitat in northeastern California got a financial boost recently....Natural resource agencies including the BLM and the California Department of Fish and Game provide special management attention to sage-grouse because of declining populations and shrinking habitat.  Northeast California public lands support one of the largest populations of the birds in California."

How many species are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act within the Headwaters Forest Reserve? Take the interactive quiz on the BLM California homepage:


"Los Angeles breaks ground on wind farm to power 56,000 homes" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 1/31/08)
"The 8,000-acre Pine Tree Wind Project in the Tehachapi Mountains about 100 miles north of Los Angeles will more than double the portion of energy the nation's second-largest city gets from wind...." The BLM-California's Ridgecrest Field Office is involved in rights-of-way permitting and for power lines and access roads across public lands for this project, and was the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) lead.

RELATED: "L.A.'s wind farm to generate enough energy for 56,000 homes" (Los Angeles Daily News, 2/1/08)
"The 8,000-acre Pine Tree Wind Project, about 14 miles north of the High Desert community of Mojave, will have 80 wind turbine generators, each 400 feet tall, and be the largest city-owned wind farm in the nation when completed in about a year's time."

RELATED: "Wind energy" (BLM California website)

"New solar panels dedicated" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/2/08)
"By the time they were dedicated Friday, the new solar panels on the National Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert had saved enough energy to take three houses off the power grid and seven average-sized cars off the road. The solar panels on the center's roof -- and a digital display inside showing how much energy they are generating and saving -- are the centerpiece of a $250,000 grant to the Friends of the Desert Mountain from Southern California Edison."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)

"BLM releases final EIS for Truckhaven proposed geothermal project" (BLM-California news release, 2/1/08)
The Final Environmental Impact Statement analyzes the proposed leasing of approximately 14,731 acres of BLM-managed public lands for geothermal exploration and development in the Truckhaven area in western Imperial County. According to El Centro Field Manager Vicki Wood, the main issues addressed in the Final EIS are geothermal resource leasing, recreation, and special status species.


"BLM 'Special Agent of the Year' honored in San Diego" (News.bytes Extra)
Laurel Pistel of BLM-California's Arcata Field Office was honored as BLM’s “Special Agent of the Year” in a ceremony last week in San Diego attended by high-level Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management leadership. Pistel, a 15-year BLM law enforcement officer, was presented her award by Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Steve Allred, who joined BLM Director Jim Caswell, State Director Mike Pool and BLM law enforcement officers from across the country.

"BLM to review proposed plan amendment on Furnace Creek" (BLM-California news release, 2/1/08)
The BLM has withdrawn for revision its pending proposal regarding long-term management of a 3.75 mile-long portion of the Furnace Creek Road leading up to the Inyo National Forest boundary in Mono County. The road segment has been closed since 2003 to provide interim protection of sensitive resources.

"BLM issues emergency closure of Hawes facility site to protect public health and safety" (BLM-California news release, 2/1/08)
The emergency closure includes 800 acres of public lands in eastern San Bernardino County, including the Hawes communication site and surrounding lands. BLM Barstow Field Manager Roxie Trost said this site is currently under lease to Edwards Air Force Base, and Edwards is developing a long-term safety plan.  In the interim, the site will remain closed to the public.

"Here's a new way to think about Black History Month" (High Country News, 2/5/08)
"Every February, the contributions of black Americans are recognized during Black History Month. Since I'm black and work for the Bureau of Land Management, a mostly white federal agency, I appreciate that. But I also have a complaint: Why has its observance become so predictable?" The writer is an employee of BLM-Colorado.

"BLM asks for oil industry expressions of interest" (BLM California news release, 2/6/08)
An expression of interest is a letter or a form listing the legal description of lands an individual or company is interested in seeing offered for lease. Expressions of interest must be received by March 7, 2008, to be considered for inclusion in the Sept. 10, 2008, oil and gas lease sale.

"BLM studies Rand arsenic" (Ridgecrest News-Review, 1/30/08)
"Today, while most mining activity in the Rand area has ceased, the federal government is requiring BLM to come up with data on the cumulative environmental impacts, from abandoned mine shafts to waste piles to areas showing elevated arsenic concentrations. The goal is to determine whether a threat exists and what options are available for remediation. The Jan. 22 event was part of several open-house forums to be held in our area, with the next one set for May."

"New power supplies key to plant's demise" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/5/08)
"Chula Vista wants the South Bay Power Plant shut down so the land can be used to redevelop the bayfront, but state utility regulators have told the city that can't happen until more power supplies come on line....at least two of three proposed power-generating projects must be completed for the 48-year-old Chula Vista plant to close. Of the three projects, two are under way but the biggest one -- Sunrise Powerlink -- is seeking a permit after several delays because of questions about its effect on the environment."

RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
Background and more information. The BLM and the California Public Utilities Commission prepared a joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed power line.

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

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

February 7-8 - Northeast California Resource Advisory Council meeting

February 7 - Imperial Sand Dunes Technical Review Team meeting
El Centro

February 16 - National monument wildflower celebration
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

...and more!


"President proposes budget for BLM in F2009 to protect resources and manage use of public lands" (BLM national news release, 2/4/08)
"With a focus on the protection and sustainable development of public land resources, the administration today requested a $1.002 billion gross budget for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in fiscal year 2009. The FY 2009 budget proposal includes a $10 million increase for the BLM’s role in implementing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne’s Healthy Lands Initiative, which supports landscape-level restoration work in key areas across eight western states."

"Kempthorne: Southwest borderlands initiative to restore safe environment for people and wildlife" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/4/08)
"Once pristine landscapes on the U.S. Southwest border have become dangerous corridors for drug smuggling operations and other illegal activities that threaten Indian communities, public land stewards and recreational visitors as well as cause significant environmental damage....the Department of the Interior’s 2009 budget proposes an $8 million increase...to strengthen law enforcement in the area, improve radio communications and remediate the environmental impacts of these illegal activities."

"$10.7 billion Interior budget sustains core conservation, stewardship programs; focuses on emerging challenges" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/4/08)

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) sagebrush

SOURCE: "Pygmy Rabbit - Brachylagus idahoensis" (BLM California wildlife database)
"They are extremely dependent on sagebrush, and cannot survive in areas without it. Unfortunately, the range of this animal has been narrowed due to destruction of sagebrush habitat, mainly as a result of fire. Some sagebrush areas have also been converted to rangeland, agricultural land, or urban areas."

"Pygmy rabbits try to hold on" (Idaho Mountain Express, 2/1/08)
"Lost in the immensity of the sagebrush steppe is the diminutive Brachylagus idahoensis, more commonly known as the pygmy rabbit, North America's smallest species of rabbit. Not much is known about these cuddly little creatures, which is why state and federal agencies are working to document both the health and range of the species."

"Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy Rabbit" (Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)
Information on geographic range, habitat, description and more, on this "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

"Brachylagus idahoensis" (U.S. Forest Service)
Biological data, habitat requirements, fire effects and more, including a list of about 25 references.

"Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy Rabbit" (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)
Information summary, copyrighted photo.

"Pygmy rabbit may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act" (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service news release, 1/9/08)
"The finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to list the pygmy rabbit," said a spokesman. "The 90-day finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available. We are encouraging the public to submit any relevant information about the pygmy rabbit and its habitat to us for consideration in the comprehensive review."

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