A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 319 - 2/21/08

Wildflowers near Amboy Crater Volunteers pick up trash during the Calico cleanup A tule elk A Mongolian visitor hikes past a rock in the Carrizo Plain National Monument BLM RAc member William Vanherweg

- Wildflowers in Southern California
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Elephant seals
- Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area:
      - Milk-vetch decision
      - Visitors and law enforcement
- Wild horse and burro adoption
- Alternative energy/power lines
- Volunteers clean up near Calico
- Headlines and highlights:
      - Mongolian planners visit Carrizo
      - Law enforcement of off-highway violations
      - Alabama Hills
      - Mount Konocti
      - Jobs with BLM-California
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Mining law reform, geospatial resources
- Bonus wildlife story: Giant pythons coming?


"Wildflowers focus of Palm Desert nature walk" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/17/08)
"More than 1,000 residents were guided Saturday on nature walks, viewed desert landscaping workshops and learned nature photography at the Friends of the Desert Mountains Organization annual Wildflower Celebration in Palm Desert....'We had an insane blockbuster turnout,' said Scott Segal, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument program director. 'This is the initial celebration of the upcoming wildflower season.'"

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

Wildflowers near Amboy Crater"Wildflower reports for 2008" (DesertUSA)
As of early this week: "The hot spots for wildflower sightings are Southern California between 29 Palms and Amboy, CA and the southern part of Joshua Tree [National Park]. The sand verbena is showing shades of purple in the Palm Desert and Palm Spring regions."

RELATED: "Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark" (BLM-California, Needles Field Office)
Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973, Amboy Crater was recognized for its visual and geological significance. Although Amboy Crater is not unique, it is an excellent example of a very symmetrical volcanic cinder cone. If the rainfall has been adequate, the spring months from March to May can bring desert wildflowers! Blankets of desert primrose and sand verbena provide an excellent area for photography.

"Enthusiasts anticipate wildflower season" (Yuma Sun, 2/19/08)
Continuing across the California border: "The Arizona State Parks encourages visitors to call ahead to check on which parks have wildflowers blooming. The agency also has added a 'Ranger Cam' to its Web site so people can see where the most stunning displays are before they travel."


A tule elk

How do tule elk treat their newborn?
(a.) The mother abandons all but the strongest calves; this helps ensure a stronger overall herd
(b.) The mother and an adult "protector" male move into a relatively secure thicket, where they take turns feeding and watching their young
(c.) The oldest male attacks and drives off the strongest newborn males, who are most likely to grow up and challenge him as leader of the herd
(d.) Their mother leaves the herd and lives alone with her calf until it is strong enough to run with the herd

(e.) The mother chews up grass, shrubs and other vegetation, and regurgitates them to feed her young
(f.) The new mother, who has endured painful heartburn throughout her pregnancy, leaves the newborn calf with another female as she seeks out the nearest mineral springs for a soothing drink of "elka-seltzer."

------> See answer, more information -- and a feature story on spotting wild elk -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


"Elephant seal vista may get friendlier to walkers" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 2/15/08)
"Following the success of the public boardwalk along the southern end of the Piedras Blancas elephant seal viewing area, three state agencies want to put a similar walkway on the northern end....The goal is to connect the parking lot at the primary viewing area with another that’s midway between the rookery and the Piedras Blancas Light Station to the north."

"Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)

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


"Court ruling reduces milk-vetch habitat in the dunes" (Yuma Sun, 2/16/08)
"Federal wildlife officials have released their final ruling that reduces the number of acres set aside as critical habitat at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area for the federally-protected Peirson’s milk-vetch plant....However, the areas will remain off-limits to riders until a new management plan goes into effect."

RELATED: "Economics trumps plant in decision to reduce critical habitat" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/14/08)
"Federal wildlife officials on Thursday reduced habitat protections for a threatened plant that grows on the desert's most popular off-roading dunes, saying the economic impact from barring recreationists from the area outweighs the need to protect the plant."

RELATED: "Habitat reduced for milk vetch" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/14/08)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday approved reducing the critical habitat for the milk vetch by more than 9,700 acres in the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County. The original critical habitat was designated in 2004 at 21,863 acres, but was reduced Thursday to 12,105 acres." (Note: pages on this news site may open with a video advertisement in the page, including audio.)

RELATED: "BLM announces intent to revise Imperial Sand Dunes management plan" (BLM-California news release, 2/14/08)
The Bureau of Land Management, based on today’s publication by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of its final rule on critical habitat for the threatened Peirson’s milk-vetch, announced it will now begin revision of its Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan.

RELATED: "Critical habitat revised for Peirson's milk-vetch" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release, 2/14/08)
"This revised final rule will become effective on March 17, 2008, and supercedes the 2004 critical habitat designation for Peirson's milk-vetch. Copies of the revised final critical habitat rule, economic analysis and other information about Peirson's milk-vetch are available on the Internet...."

"One fatality in dunes over weekend" (Yuma Sun, 2/18/08)
"A Yuma man died in an accident in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area over Presidents Day weekend that saw crowds of over 100,000 people, Bureau of Land Management officials said."

"Crowds down slightly at Imperial Sand Dunes" (Yuma Sun, 2/16/08)
"Wind and stormy weather in California may have kept the crowds down a little at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area this year, but the big holiday weekend still started off with thousands of duners, a lot of fun and a few minor accidents."


"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 this weekend (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.

RELATED: "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).

"BLM sets meeting on National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for February 25 in Tucson" (BLM national news release, 2/1/08)
(Repeated from earlier issues of News.bytes) The one-day meeting next Monday will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time. The advisory board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. 


"Geothermal energy gaining steam, but its future is up for debate" (San Jose Mercury News, 2/17/08)
"Here in The Geysers, the world's foremost geothermal energy zone, steam is a precious resource - and never more so than right now....Part-owner of the recently reopened Bottle Rock Power Plant, which is one of nearly two dozen facilities turning steam into electricity in Lake and Sonoma counties says, 'Geothermal is really nothing (other) than mining...We mine heat out of the rock. The water is just the media that carries the heat from depth up to the surface.'" Note: The newspaper site requires free registration.

RELATED: "Geothermal energy" (BLM-California)
Much of the geothermal energy at the Geysers is produced under BLM leases.

"Four wind-energy projects could hinder residents’ views" (Victorville Daily Press, 2/17/08)
"'The California Bureau of Land Management has had over 100 applications in the desert, many of them in the 1st District,' said Apple Valley Town Councilman Scott Nassif, who found out about the projects through concerned residents. 'My fear that there was a proliferation of these projects has come to fruition.'"

"Energy: Reid continues power push" (Las Vegas, NV Review-Journal)
"During a speech to about 500 renewable energy professionals attending the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo North America," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. advocates "several things that governments could do to help build the renewable-energy industry." Among them, "to set aside tracts of federal land that could be used for renewable-energy production."

"Powerlink opponents prepare for hearing in Ramona" (North County Times, 2/18/08)
"Opponents of San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s controversial $1.3 billion proposal to build high-power lines across the county met Monday to prepare for the state's public utilities commission hearing in Ramona next week."

RELATED: "Cutting carbon: State refining strategy for slashing power plant emissions" (North County Times, 2/16/08)
"California's top energy regulator wants utilities to be required to rely more heavily on energy efficiency programs and green power next decade to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity." Said a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.: "Without the Sunrise Powerlink, there is a lot of potential energy development that will die out there (in the Imperial Valley) without having a mechanism for delivering it....To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have to have a way to bring in more renewables."

RELATED: "Sunrise public participation hearings" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
"The CPUC and BLM are preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR, under CEQA) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS, under NEPA), which will be published as a single joint document, an EIR/EIS." Public participation hearings are being held early next week in several locations, as listed on the following webpage:


Volunteers pick up trash during the Calico cleanup"Volunteers descend on Calico for clean up" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 2/17/08)
Photo from last weekend, as "volunteers from the So Cal Big Dogs 4X4 Club, maneuver a discarded truck cab full of trash into a dumpster on Saturday as part of the annual Calico Clean Up, held at Mule Canyon, three miles east of Calico. Hundreds of off-road enthusiasts participated in the event."

RELATED: "Over 1,000 expected for Calico clean up" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 2/15/08)
Before the event: "Mark Watkins was camping with some friends enjoying the scenery of Mule Canyon three miles east of Calico when he saw a unnatural sight: kitchen appliances....Watkins, a member of the Los Angeles Toyota Land Cruiser Association, coordinated a volunteer effort last year among fellow off-roaders, the Discovery Trails organization and the Bureau of Land Management to clear the canyon of trash. Now they’re doing it again."


A Mongolian visitor hikes past a rock  in the Carrizo Plain National Monument"Central Coast practices attract Mongolians" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 2/20/08)
"A delegation of seven Mongolians visited the Carrizo Plain National Monument on Monday and Tuesday to learn how land managers in America use cooperative techniques to preserve grasslands. The tour was sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, which is working on conservation issues in Mongolia. In addition to the Carrizo Plain, the group will visit several ranches in San Luis Obispo County and talk with conservationists in Big Sur." Includes photos from the visit.

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)

"Lawmen look for off-highway violations" (Bakersfield Californian, 2/20/08)
"Deputies from Ridgecrest, the Sheriff's Department Off Highway Vehicle Team, Kern County Parks and Recreation Law Enforcement Rangers and the Bureau of Land Management patrolled the desert areas of Eastern Kern County last weekend....About 50,000 people were recreating in the area, and lawmen stopped more than 1,500 off-road riders at checkpoints....Emergency workers responded to several medical aid calls including two motorcycle-related deaths."

"Park visitors to take a little piece of Lone Pine with them" (Inyo Register, 2/20/08)
The Lone Pine Chamber and Lone Pine Film History Museum join BLM-California as partners in Alabama Hills Stewardship effort. Partners held "a clean-up of designated areas of the Alabama Hills and then the Healthy Communities group worked on upgrading the path out to the arch, trying to get visitors to all use the same path."

RELATED: "Scenic and back-country byways: Alabama Hills" (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 would eventually include a scenic trail system that people may walk and enjoy this geologic phenomena at a leisurely pace.

"Lake County may buy top of Mount Konocti" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/19/08)
"Despite its prominence, Konocti's highest peaks have been off limits to the public since the government deeded the land to homesteaders a century ago. That may soon change. Lake County officials are hoping to buy more than 1,500 acres of the mountaintop from the Fowler family, which has owned the land since the 1940s....If the county can't buy the mountaintop, he said it could end up part of the state parks or Bureau of Land Management systems."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include several for law enforcement rangers and park ranger (river patrol), fire lookouts and firefighters, and a supervisory range technician (dispatch).

BLM RAc member William VanherwegMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: William Vanherweg...
...represents national/regional environmental issues on BLM's Central California Resource Advisory Council. He has lived and worked in Central California for more than 35 years.  He has fourteen years of experience as a wildlife biologist in the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

February 26 - Got Nature? National Monument hike
Palm Springs

March 7 and following - Friday wildflower walks
Palm Desert

March 12 - Oil and gas lease sale

... and more!


"Mining reform has one foot in the door" (High Country News, 2/14/08)
"For only the second time in 136 years, Congress is nearly unanimous in its call to update the 19th century law that still governs the country’s metal ore mining."

RELATED: "Oversight hearing: Mining Law reform" (BLM national newsroom)
Congressional testimony: Statement of Henri Bisson, Deputy Director of Operations, Bureau of Land Management, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, (1-24-08). Click on the links on this page to download or open a Microsoft Word document:

"Interior to integrate geospatial resources" (Government Computer News, 2/21/08)
"The Interior Department has embarked on a program to integrate and modernize its resources for managing map and geospecific data, said Jason Cason, associate deputy secretary of the department. Cason spoke at the ESRI Federal User Conference, being held this week in Washington."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) Their mother leaves the herd and lives alone with her calf until it is strong enough to run with the herd

SOURCE: "Tule elk - Cervus elaphus nannodes" (BLM California wildlife database)
"The cow leaves the herd at the time of birth and remains more or less solitary until the weak, helpless calf is strong enough to run with the herd. The calf rapidly gains strength, and within a few weeks it can run swiftly with some endurance."

"Stalking the might elk" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/21/08)
"Before I could pull my camera out, they sprinted off, out of sight, adios. When it comes to stalking big, wild animals, the slightest mistake is unforgiving....The best five places to see elk in Northern California are at Point Reyes National Seashore (two herds), Grizzly Island, Cache Creek Wildlife Area and Prairie Creek Redwoods Sate Park."

"Tule Elk State Reserve" (California Department of Parks and Recreation)
Historical and current information on elk herds in California.
PDF file, 220 kilobytes, five pages:

WILDLIFE BONUS: Giant pythons attack California?
"New threat to our way of life: giant pythons" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/21/08)
"In addition to everything else to worry about, now comes the Burmese python. The giant snakes are slithering from Florida toward the Bay Area, very slowly to be sure, but inexorably. And they can strangle and eat an entire alligator." A tongue-in-cheek article -- except for the serious problem of people releasing pets into the wild when they can no longer keep them: "The control of nonnative species is an increasing problem for local biologists...."

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