A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 321 - 3/6/08

A field of poppies and other flowers, with a mountain backdrop A BLM-California firefighter from the Eagle Lake Field Office adjusts his snowshoes Pallid bat - from a photo by Arizona Department of Game and Fish Close-up of Shirley Laos, of BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council Julie Sardella with two of her mustangs

- Wildflowers
- Wild mustangs and burros: Adoption this weekend
- Wildfire prevention
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Our readers write
- Land management issues
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Energy and alternative energy
- Sunrise Powerlink
- Headlines and highlights: --
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: 159th anniversary cake

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"Wildflowers about to put on a show" (Bakersfield Californian, 2/29/08)
"Kern’s green landscape is about to see a brilliant burst of color. This year’s wildflower blooms are expected to be markedly better than last year’s thanks to a healthy dose of winter rain."

A purple wildflower called a shooting star, photo from the Carrizo PlainRELATED: "Carrizo Plain: Wildflowers and sightseeing" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Includes links to four new web pages, with more than three dozen wildflower photos. "A hike across the valley and into the foothills at this time would reveal many tiny plants that want very badly to turn into wildflowers. Weather conditions will determine what becomes of them. Some of the early wildflowers that visitors can expect are: popcorn flower, goldfields, baby blue-eyes, filaree, biscuit root, bush lupine and golden bush...."

A field of poppies and other flowers, with a mountain backdrop"Wildflowers" (BLM-California website)
The wildflower season generally starts with an early spring in the desert regions of southern California, and works its way northward. When the wildflower seasons occur, and how lush they are, depends on the weather and can vary widely from year to year.

"Deserts in bloom" (Wall Street Journal, 3/1/08)
"Late-winter rains in California and the Southwest have nature-lovers and sightseers holding their breath. This could be the best spring in years for seeing wildflowers." One wildflower fan, "calls the Mojave Desert, which extends from Southern California into Nevada, southwest Utah and northwest Arizona, one of the most impressive flower zones in the world." Includes a slideshow of desert wildflowers - most from lands managed by BLM-Nevada.
(This news site may require free registration.)


"Desert wildflowers" (Palm Springs Desert Sun)
Gallery of photos.


"Wild horses and burros available for adoption in Brawley" (BLM-California news release, 3/4/08)
There are 50 young animals available for adoption, 40 wild horses, and 10 burros.  They were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Animals arrive at noon on Friday March 7, and potential adopters may view the mustangs and burros from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  BLM staff will approve adoption applications from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

"Media advisory: Trainers pick up mustangs in Sacramento for training competition" (BLM-California news release, 3/4/08)
Friday and Saturday in Sacramento, 34 trainers from around California will pick up mustangs, fresh off the range, to begin the Western States Horse Expo Mustang Challenge. Trainers will have 90 days to gentle and train their assigned mustangs in the competition. They will be judged at the 10th Annual Western States Horse Expo being held at Cal Expo in Sacramento on June 6-8, competing for $7,500 in prize money. 

Julie Sardella with two of her mustangs"Mustangs call Sardella Ranch home" (Sonora Union-Democrat, 2/28/08)
"The 600-acre Sardella Ranch in Sonora is home to Julie and Mike Sardella, a rescue cat named Tank, rescue dogs Snickers, Sassy and Lexi, as well as three...mustangs, Wrangler, Dude and her latest adoption, Journey."


A BLM-California firefighter from the Eagle Lake Field Office adjusts his snowshoes"Fire and Ice" (News.bytes Extra)
Snowshoes and Nomex seem like an unlikely combination of tools for a firefighter, but that's exactly what well-equipped crew members are wearing these days in the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office. The snow cover is allowing them to burn piles left from last summer's fuel reduction projects.

"Residents seek grant to reduce fire danger" (Grass Valley-Nevada City Union, 2/27/08
"Chimneys, or chutes, filled with too-dense manzanita, dry weeds, dead cottonwoods and other fire fuel...would help funnel a wildfire uphill toward" neighborhoods including Nevada City and Rough and Ready, said one area resident. But some residents have been working with fire officials and others "to write a grant seeking funding from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management." Their goal: to create a fire break for firefighters "battling a potentially disastrous blaze" -- while preserving common space for wildlife and trails.

"Swasey set for smokejumpers" (Redding Record-Searchlight, 2/29/08)
"Smokejumpers preparing for the coming fire season could be dropping into the Swasey Drive Recreation Area as early as next week. The U.S. Forest Service's Region 5 Smokejumpers, whose base is in Redding, will be using parts of the 1,200-acre area managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for training through the summer...." Includes links to this newspaper's earlier stories/slideshows on smokejumpers.

"County's wildfire protection plan still under development" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 3/1/08)
"Most people wouldn't leave an open bucket of gasoline next to their fireplace, but many often don't think about having a pile of fuel next to their home in the form of vegetation. Calli-Jane Burch, executive director of the Butte County Fire Safe Council, is working to get together with residents to explain the importance of building defensible space around their home....the Fire Safe Council has become partners with Cal Fire-Butte County, Butte County, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and PG&E, to get the word out."

"BLM plans spring prescribed burn projects" (BLM-California news release, 3/4/08)
The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office is planning several prescribed fire projects for habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction. The projects are located near Conway Summit, Rancheria Gulch, Trench Canyon, and Fish Slough. 


From a photo by Bruce Taubert, Arizona Game and Fish Department

What is unusual about the way that the Pallid Bat feeds?
(a.) it feeds mostly off carrion, competing with vultures
(b.) it feeds mostly on the ground
(c.) it feeds off of nectar instead of insects
(d.) it feeds off of fruit instead of insects
(e.) it grinds up food in its stomach with pebbles it has swallowed
(f.) it places its utensils on the left, while most bats place them on the right
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

"I question this week's trivia answer and feel based upon my readings and having owned these fascinating critters for many years that the correct answer is (d). If you go to the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee website there are newsletters, and one in the past year or so had an article based on detailed observations of their eating habits which concluded that they'll try anything they find and can catch. Certainly there are primarily herbivores, but not exclusively."
- Rich, Newport Beach

From the editor:
Thank you for your comments. From a limited survey of the literature, it does seem that at least in captivity, desert tortoise will try to eat many thing -- including things harmful to them.

"California desert tortoise / Texas tortoise care sheet" (San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society)
The page for "recommended desert tortoise diet" states, "Do not feed any animal protein to tortoises." Note: It is now illegal to remove desert tortoises from their habitat. But it is also illegal to release them back into the wild, as they may no longer be able to fend for themselves, and can spread disease.

"Commonly asked questions about the desert tortoise" (Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee)
"What do tortoises eat in the wild? Tortoises are selective in choice of foods. Food preferences depend on locality and availability of food items. In general, tortoises in California feed on annual wildflowers....They also eat annual and perennial grasses and fresh pads and buds of some species of cactus."

Readers who wish to explore past issues of the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee's newsletter -- "Tortoise Tracks" -- can find them online at:

You can see the wildlife trivia question and answer our reader refers to, in last week's News.bytes (issue 320) online:


"BLM reminds beach visitors about snowy plover protection measures" (BLM California news release, 3/4/08)
The spring and summer use season is underway at the South Spit Cooperative Management Area, and the Bureau of Land Management is reminding visitors about the special rules in place to protect nesting snowy plovers. Plovers, which are sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebirds, lay their eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand, making them vulnerable to dogs and vehicles.  The rules were designed to protect nests of the threatened bird.


"Bureau of Land Management: so much area to cover, so little time" (Mammoth Times, 2/28/08)
"BLM battles bullets, trail cutting,  motorcycles, cherry bombs to stop 'trashing of America'....Things were going about how they usually do on a holiday weekend in winter at the Chalk Bluffs, as I climbed up onto the big petroglyph panel called Sky Rock. I heard some motorcycles in the distance and didn't think too much of it, since there are roads out there. The next thing I knew, four guys on motorcycles were illegally going cross-country across the fragile high desert land."

"Draft of Carrizo plan moving forward" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee gave a thumbs-up to the preliminary preferred alternative for the monument management plan.

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

"BLM Bakersfield Field Office announces new planning effort" (BLM-California news release, 3/4/08)
The current Caliente Resource Management Plan guides the management of about 600,000 acres of public lands administered by the agency’s Bakersfield Field Office. Public lands in Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kern, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Kings and Santa Barbara counties will be covered by this plan revision.


"BLM seeks nomination to Central California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM-California news release, 2/28/08)
There are four vacancies in three categories of membership. Nominations should be sent by April 14. Individuals may nominate themselves or others to serve on an advisory council. 

"BLM seeks members for the Northeast California Advisory Council" (BLM-California news release, 2/28/08)
There are several openings in three categories. Nominations and support letters must be sent by Monday, April 14, 2008. The United States secretary of the interior makes appointments to the 15-member council.

"BLM announces openings on Northwest California Advisory Council" (BLM-California news release, 2/28/08)
There are four openings in three categories of membership. The RAC works closely with BLM managers in Arcata, Redding and Ukiah, providing guidance on the full range of the BLM’s natural resource conservation responsibilities. 

Close-up of Shirley Laos, of BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory CouncilMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Shirley Laos...
...represents Native American interests on BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council. As the vice-chair for the Trinidad Rancheria, her duties cover cultural, educational, transportation and disaster management.   Read more:


"Oil exploration firm looks at nature preserve" (Sacramento Bee, 3/2/08)
"The fight over cattle grazing at Carrizo Plain National Monument is nearing an end. But controversy over oil and gas exploration on the 250,000-acre grasslands preserve is just beginning to raise new concerns about protecting its endangered species....'Because this is a national monument, there will be environmental concerns that will have to be strongly looked at," [BLM spokesman John] Dearing said. 'But they have a right to access.'"

"Oil exploration may shake up Carrizo" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/2/08)
"Just as managers of the Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County are moving toward agreement on the future of cattle grazing there, oil and gas exploration is emerging as a new battleground on the 250,000-acre grasslands preserve. Vintage Production, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, owns 30,000 acres of mineral rights in the heart of the monument’s valley floor and, with oil now topping $100 a barrel, it has notified the Bureau of Land Management that it wants to find out what’s there."

"A solar grand plan" (Scientific American, January 2008)
"A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050. A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours. Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well...."

"Energy plans raise concerns; Sierra Club seeks help from environmentalists" (San Bernardino County Sun, 2/29/08)
Sierra Club regional staff director Carl Zichella "said roughly 110 square miles of the Mojave Desert could be developed for renewable energy projects, according to applications submitted to the Bureau of Land Management. Zichella made the argument that environmental groups must work with major electricity generators and government and state agencies to get more renewable energy projects built in the western United States in order to reduce the amount of fossil fuels contributing to global warming."


"Panel: Sunrise Powerlink would clash with goals" (North County Times, 3/5/08)
"An advisory panel representing a cross section of politicians, industry representatives and green energy advocates has concluded that building a power line would clash with San Diego County's long-term energy strategy...in a symbolic 10-5 vote last week. The panel decided that if a transmission line is built to bring in power through either Imperial or Riverside counties, it would interfere with a goal of boosting the locally produced proportion of the region's electricity supply to 75 percent by 2020."

"Powerlink faces heavy opposition" (Ramona Sentinel, 3/5/08)
"One by one, a series of residents from around the county joined a number of Ramonans speaking in opposition to San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) proposed $1.3 billion Sunrise Powerlink project."

"All speakers oppose Powerlink at final public hearing" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/28/08)
"Three days of marathon public hearings on a controversial high-voltage power line to span the county have ended....If everything goes according to schedule, an administrative law judge will make a recommendation by June on whether San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise Powerlink should be built and, if so, where it should be constructed and how much should be built underground."

"Sunrise Powerlink would bring green path of energy to Imperial County" (KPBS radio, 3/3/08)
Interview with supporters and opponents of Sunrise Powerlink.

"San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
The CPUC is the lead agency for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft EIR/EIS was released to the public on January 3, 2008.


"Smugglers hide in plain sight" (Los Angeles Times, 3/2/08)
"The dirt bikes and dune buggies swarm the sandy slopes by the thousands, turning these giant dunes at California's southeast border into anthills of frenetic activity. Smugglers in nearby Mexico can't resist trying to blend into the crowd....Their mingling with off-roaders spurs controversial calls to close part of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area."
(This newspaper site may require free registration.)

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area) (BLM-California, El Centro Field Office)

Shoveling up trash left at an encampment near Sonora"Volunteers help the BLM clean up Sonora encampment" (News.bytes Extra)
Soggy sleeping bags. Ripped tents. Piles of old mattresses. Dozens of empty propane bottles. BLM employees from the Folsom Field Office fill a 40-cubic-yard dumpster with trash from a homeless encampment on BLM land on the outskirts of Sonora.

"A world in green" (Grass Valley-Nevada City Union, 3/6/08)
South Yuba Trail: "The four-and-a-half mile section of trail is part of a 20-mile trail system that stretches along the river...The trail crosses Bureau of Land Management, state park and private properties. What makes the hike worthwhile? 'The views that you get of the river,' said Russ Andris, a retired BLM natural resource specialist for the area. 'If you do it the right time of the year, you see kayakers, you see wildflowers, rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions and coyote,' Andris said."

RELATED: "South Yuba Trail and campground" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
This 12-mile trail carries hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders through historic foothill river canyons. Expect to see evidence of California's rich Gold Rush history - you're in Gold Country now! Includes link to a map.

"Sheep are back to work on Fort Ord public lands" (BLM-California news release, 2/28/08)
More than 1,000 ewes and their lambs are back at work on the Bureau of Land Management’s  Fort Ord public lands in Monterey County.  The grazing program is part of a cooperative strategy to improve rangeland conditions in this ecologically unique area.

"BLM offers reward for information on Clear Creek vandalism" (BLM-California news release, 3/6/08)
The Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office is offering a $4,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of vandals who damaged fences and barriers at Clear Creek Management Area.

"Mercury's Gold Rush legacy may be worse than thought" (Stockton Record, 3/5/08)
"Many area residents know that the miners of the Gold Rush unleashed a toxic legacy on the region in the form of millions of pounds of mercury - mercury that has accumulated in soil, plants, fish and birds, many of which we eat. But a legislative hearing on the mercury problem Tuesday revealed some disturbing new facts about this relic of the Gold Rush, which was used to help extract tiny bits of gold and other metals from rock...."

RELATED: "The dark side of the Gold Rush legacy" (Grass Valley-Nevada City Union, 3/5/08)
"More agency collaboration and funding is needed to address the widespread pollution of public lands and waterways in California, state Assembly leaders concluded at a joint hearing held at the capitol Tuesday. But where the money will come from to pay the hefty cost to clean up mercury, arsenic and asbestos left behind by Gold Rush-era miners remains to be seen."

RELATED: "Abandoned mine lands" (BLM California)
Nearly 13,000 mine properties in California and northwest Nevada are listed in the Bureau of Mines Mineral Industries Location System database as on land managed by BLM-California. An estimated additional 5,000 sites not recorded in the database are likely on BLM land. Of these 18,000, an estimated 3,000 significant properties contain hazardous substances or physical features and/or have environmental problems.

RELATED: "Residents to speak at Capitol on mining" (Grass Valley Union, 3/3/08)
From before the event: "Representatives from the Tsi-Akim Maidu tribe, Friends of Deer Creek and the Sierra Fund will travel to the state Capitol on Tuesday to speak at a joint assembly, which will address Gold Rush-era mining contamination of California's land and water....Cleanup in the county has been slow because of soaring costs associated with it, but new technology and government grants hold out promise for cleaning up the contamination." Mentions upcoming BLM tests on mercury in a section of the South Yuba River.

"Proposal would eliminate grazing on Soda Mountain" (Siskiyou Daily News, 3/6/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management wants to turn part of a national monument that borders Siskiyou County into a wilderness area, which would eliminate cattle grazing in an area used by a fourth-generation rancher from Hornbrook."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include cartographer, human resources assistant, geographic information system specialist, firefighting jobs and park rangers.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

March 7 - Friday wildflower walks
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor center, Palm Desert

March 13 - Wildflower Quest hike
Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor center, Palm Desert

March 14-16 - Sixth annual Dumont Dunes Cleanup Weekend
Dumont Dunes

March 22 - Sacramento River Bend Area - Iron Canyon hike
Red Bluff area


Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne cuts a Dept. of the Interior 159th birthday cake with the Department's longest-serving and newest employees"Department of the Interior celebrates 159th anniversary" (Department of the Interior photo gallery)
On March 3, 2008, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Interior employees celebrated the 159th Anniversary of the Department of the Interior.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) it feeds mostly on the ground

SOURCE: "Pallid Bat - Antrozous pallidus" (BLM California wildlife database)
This is one of the few bat species that specializes in eating off the ground rather than in flight. As a result, their diet is quite different from other bats. They tend to eat non-flying beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and even lizards. They also eat some animals that have very painful defense mechanisms, such as scorpions and Jerusalem crickets.


Bats with white fungus around their noses, hand from a cave ceilng"Mysterious disease claims lives of more than 10,000 bats in New York area" (Science Daily, 2/29/08)
"Last year at four caves near Albany, N.Y., more than 10,000 bats died from a mysterious disease involving a white fungus growing on some bats’ noses, leading researchers to dub it “white-nose syndrome.” The mounting death toll stopped last year when spring arrived and the bats left the caves. But the deaths returned with a vengeance after the bats went into hibernation this winter."

"Bat disease taking its toll" (Philadelphia Intelligencer, 2/28/08)
"A mysterious disease killing tens of thousands of bats in the Northeast has not yet afflicted bats in Pennsylvania, but researchers say that doesn’t mean the state’s bat population is in the clear....The disease has been dubbed 'white nose syndrome' because afflicted bats end up with a white fungus around their noses. Scientists are working feverishly to try to figure out what is happening but are still at a loss."

"Mysterious bat disease confirmed in Dorset cave" (Burlington, VT Free Press, 2/18/08)
"A new mysterious and deadly illness of bats has struck New England’s largest bat cave, a cavern in a Dorset mountain where 23,000 bats spend the winter, a state wildlife biologist confirmed today. Scott Darling saw the signs as he approached Aeolus cave Thursday. Carcasses of the tiny creatures lay in the snow. More bats flitted around the mouth of the cave, unnatural behavior for a frigid February day."

"West Virginia bat experts accessing dangers of White Nose Syndrome" (Huntington, WV, Herald-Dispatch)
"The condition was first discovered in four caves in New York in 2007 but it has now been confirmed in 15 caves and mines, including sites in Vermont and Massachusetts as well as additional caves in New York....If this condition is introduced into West Virginia it could devastate populations of bats that reside in the state’s numerous caves.  Because all bats in the region feed solely on insects, the loss of significant numbers of bats would reduce the benefits these mammals provide in controlling insect populations...."

Bonus wildlife story:
"Visitors encouraged to protect the forests"
(San Francisco Chronicle, 2/29/08)
"Hundreds of species of wild animals and plants living in lush woods are barely surviving....Now, scientists say, people who visit forests should also play a part in preserving the fragile resource and the creatures that live there." Tips include vaccinating pets to help protect the Pacific fisher from parvo and distemper, and heeding the warning: " Feed a jay, kill a murrelet" -- jays, ravens and crows eat the elusive seabird's eggs and young.

RELATED: The Pacific fisher was featured in the Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week, News.bytes issue 316:

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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