A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 323 - 3/20/08

A wild pincushion on the Carrizo Plain Extending a welcoming hand to a new horse trainee Western rattlesnake A reporter learns how to deploy a fire shelter A bighorn sheep in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

- More wildflowers coming
- Mustang Makeover
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Off-roading in the desert
- Energy
- National Landscape Conservation System
- Wildfire and prevention
- Conservation and restoration
- Mining
- Headlines and highlights: Planning, monitoring, environmental award, more
- Selected upcoming events

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"County about to go 'wild'" (Salinas Californian, 3/18/08)
"Spring is in the air in Monterey County -- and on the ground. The region’s boldest native wildflowers have emerged like advance scouts for their annual bloom: purple-and-yellow shooting stars, yellow footsteps of spring and those rakish orange California poppies. The abundant rain that fell on the county during the last months plus showers expected this week will mean a spectacular spring for flower viewing, said Eric Morgan, manager of Fort Ord Public Lands. The blooming season will peak in mid-April."

RELATED: "BLM offers wildflower tour at Fort Ord, volunteer event a Laguna Creek" (BLM California news release, 3/13/08)
The Bureau of Land Management will offer a tour to see wildflowers at their peak on April 12 and a volunteer service opportunity on April 26-27.

RELATED: "Fort Ord Public Lands" (BLM-California, Hollister Field Office)

"Hillsides blooming with color" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/14/08)
"Thanks to an abundance of rainfall, interspersed with warm days of seed-germinating sunshine, this spring may produce one of the most abundant wildflower blooms to be seen in several years....'From all different regions in Southern California, everybody's expecting a lot of color and variety,' said Lili Singer, coordinator of the Theodore Payne Foundation's Wildflower Hotline. 'And because of (last year's) fires, some regions are going to see things come up that wouldn't have come up without the fire.'" (Includes link to photos.)

A wild pincushion on the Carrizo Plain"Carrizo Plain National Monument: Wildflowers and sightseeing" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
March 14, 2007 Portions of the Carrizo Plain valley floor are beginning to fill in with carpets of flowers. The first blooms of the season tend to be yellow and this year is no exception.

"Wildflowers blooming this year after rains" (Victorville Daily Dispatch, 3/14/08)
"Visitors to the sand dunes and desert lands around Barstow can see something they haven't seen for years: blossoming flowers. Area national parks are seeing wildflower blossoms that they haven't experienced since 2005....Anthony Chavez, a rangeland management specialist with the Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management, however, predicts a typical year for wildflowers in the region. 'You have wildflower blooms, but I wouldn't consider this a spectacular year by any means,' he said. 'But anything's better than last year.'"

"Wildflower hotline" (Theodore Payne Foundation)
Latest online update was Friday, March 14.

"Wildflower reports for Southern California parks 2008" (Desert USA)
Includes reader reports on public lands, also.

Watch for more information and photos in upcoming weeks.

Extending a welcoming hand to a new horse trainee"Training wild mustang is a 'dance' for horse and trainer" (Sacramento Bee, 3/14/08)
"As a child, Gena Wasley swept stalls and scooped manure in exchange for the knowledge that brought her here, to a small paddock in Orangevale. Wasley, 35, trains horses for a living – gentles them, if you will. But this is a new challenge for her: a 3-year-old wild mustang mare never molded by voice commands or human hands. An animal with legendary roots in the Old West. A horse she must transform into a gentle riding companion in 90 days as part of a unique federal competition set for June."

"National wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California website)
Upcoming California adoption events include April 19-20 in Lake Perris and April 26 in San Jose.


Western rattlesnake
Western rattlesnake

Which of these is true about Western Rattlesnake young?
a. they are never the same color as either parent
b. they practice biting insects, until they are old enough to bite large animals
c. they are venomous straight out of the shell
d. they are born live and not from eggs
e. like most babies, they are fascinated by rattles

------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes. PLUS information on avoiding snakebites -- now that rattlesnakes are out and about in some areas.


"BLM to revise Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Management Plan" (BLM-California news release, 3/18/08)
A revised recreation management plan is needed to replace the existing management plan which has been in place since 1987 and has become outdated as a result of the federal listing of and designation of critical habitat for Peirson's milk-vetch as a threatened species and substantial changes in visitor use.

"Off-roaders taking on the Marines" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/14/08)
"California's off-road riders have launched an aggressive campaign to oppose any move by the Marines to annex Johnson Valley, a nationally acclaimed high-desert recreation area on the perimeter of an important military base at Twentynine Palms. The potential expansion of the battlefield training ground for troops being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan has sparked a conflict between the traditionally conservative off-road community and the military."

RELATED: "Off-road groups fight combat center growth" (Marine Corps Times, 3/17/08)
"Southern California off-road enthusiasts took to the Internet on Wednesday for a 'virtual rally' to oppose the potential loss of recreational lands to an expansion of the Marine Corps’ desert training base. Web organizers wanted to draw attention to plans to expand the 598,000-acre Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center with a combination of federal, state and private lands. Among the land parcels eyed for potential study is the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle, 180,000 acres of Mojave Desert lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)
Most visitors tour the area in four-wheel drive vehicles. The area near Anderson and Soggy Dry Lakes is used extensively for competitive racing events and OHV free play. There are numerous opportunities for hiking, rock hounding, and wildlife watching.  The eastern boundary is shared with the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Air-Ground Combat Center. DO NOT enter this area.

"Environmentalists intend to sue over Fort Irwin's tortoise-relocation plan" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/17/08)
" Environmental groups on Monday put three federal agencies on notice that they intend to sue over a plan to move nearly 800 desert tortoises from land where the Army is expanding its tank-training center near Barstow." The groups say "the new land is lower-quality habitat, has pockets of diseased tortoises, mines, and illegal dumping and off-roading."
(This news site may require free registration to view stories.)

RELATED: "Center eyeing lawsuit" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/17/08)
"The Center for Biological Diversity announced Monday it plans to file a lawsuit against three government agencies over an expansion project at Fort Irwin involving the relocation of nearly 800 desert tortoises." A spokesman for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin said that "the military has gone to great lengths to protect the tortoise and ensure its numbers do not continue to decline as a result of the relocation....Those measures include installing a fence along Fort Irwin Road, at a cost of $900,000, to prevent tortoises from getting run over."

"House panel told public lands overrun by ORVs" (Deseret Morning News, 3/16/08)
"Administration officials explained how they attempt to balance recreational use of all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and other devices on trails while, at the same time, preserving natural resources. But environmentalists, former rangers and other witnesses claimed their use is out of control and ruining otherwise protected areas, endangering children and creating noise and air pollution." A Utah congressman said "(off-highway vehicle users) are the first to offer solutions" and "also said there is no excuse for riders who cross into private property that borders BLM land." A California witness "discussed how riders cross onto her property all the time, and her neighbors have been threatened by them."

RELATED: "Off-road fans, critics face off" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/17/08)
"Use of off-road vehicles has increased by four times in the last decade, and funding cuts have diminished the ability to take action against rowdy riders, officials said Thursday at a congressional hearing." The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service "hope clearly marked trails will help keep riders from blazing their own paths." An OHV user said "The explosion of reckless riding in our area over the past decade is damaging our way of life and creating a backlash against responsible motorized users." The president of an OHV group said "most off-roaders drive responsibly, on trails and roads or in legally open areas, but the '5 percent' that do not are ruining it for the rest."


"Agreement to influence energy projects"(Victorville Daily Press, 3/15/08)
"The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will consider a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Bureau of Land Management that will create more oversight on proposed alternative energy projects. There are already four wind-energy projects slated for the mountains between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley that include dozens of wind turbines."

RELATED: "BLM, San Bernardino County agree to joint review of solar, wind energy projects" (BLM-California news release, 3/19/08)
The Bureau of Land Management has developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with San Bernardino County that ensures the county and BLM will work hand-in-hand in environmental reviews and public participation on renewable energy projects in the county.

"BLM oil and gas lease auction tops $700,000" (BLM California news release, 3/12/08)
Eight oil and gas lease parcels in Fresno and Kern counties were auctioned for a total of $759,272.75, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management’s Bakersfield Field Office Wednesday.

"BLM announces intent to prepare joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for Calnev pipeline project" (BLM California news release, 3/14/08)
Calnev Pipe Line, LLC has applied for a right-of-way on public lands to expand and reconstruct 233 miles of pipeline in California and Nevada. The pipeline transports jet fuel from the North Colton terminal in Colton, California to Bracken Junction in Las Vegas, Nevada. Projected increases in commercial air traffic in and out of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas will require significant increases in jet fuel supplies over the next 20 years.


"Congress moves closer to preserving western beauty" (Christian Science Monitor, 3/14/08)
The House Natural Resources Committee voted "the National Landscape Conservation System Act out of committee. The bill can now be scheduled for a vote by the full House. The Senate, meanwhile, is ready to vote on a similar bill....These disparate 860 units of land total some 26 million acres and already have some protection....The NLCS includes 15 national monuments, 13 national conservation areas, and historic trails."

"Technicality may cut California desert areas from federally protected status" (Los Angeles Times, 3/13/08)
"In a system that would rival the national parks and forests, the National Landscape Conservation Act would unify the management and funding for areas such as the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail [and more]....But more than half of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area, which stretches from the Mexican border to Mono Lake, has been dropped on technical grounds. Because the word 'national' isn't in its title, the conservation area doesn't qualify, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management attorneys."
(Note: this newspaper site may require free registration to view stories.)

"Some desert areas left out of protection plan" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/17/08)
"Nearly 7 million acres of California desert would not receive federal protection under a proposal to protect 26 million acres of national monuments, historic trails and wilderness areas that dot the West. The unprotected land constitutes about two-thirds of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation area, which runs from the Mexican border to Mono Lake up north. Although the entire swath is now considered part of the National Landscape Conservation System, a large chunk would no longer receive that designation under the bill."


"Fire burns 1,200 acres near bluffs" (Inyo Register, 3/19/08)
"An act of human carelessness, dry vegetation conditions and fierce, unpredictable winds sparked, fueled and fanned a wildfire on Sunday north of Bishop that hundreds of firefighters were still fighting to contain on Monday." Firefighters from 10 agencies including the BLM were fighting the blaze.

"Bureau of Land Management to burn piles at Iowa Hill" (BLM-California news release, 3/13/08)
The Folsom Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management plans to burn brush piles at Iowa Hill by mid-May, weather permitting.  The exact dates the piles will be burned depends on weather conditions. This project is a key portion of a shaded fuel break that protects the community of Iowa Hill.

A reporter learns how to deploy a fire shelter"Media learns how to properly face, report on wildfires"(Mammoth Times, 3/12/08)
"'If the embers are flying in your face then you are at the wrong end of the fire," U.S. Forest Service Fire Prevention Specialist Andrew Kong said during a "Media Fire Safety Orientation." The training was held at the U.S. Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management Offices in Bishop earlier this month.


"Landmark conservation plan would conjoin SoCal wildlands" (KPBS, 3/18/08)
"The South Coast Missing Linkages project is intended to maintain Southern California's wildlife now and in the future. The group says without linking parks, forests, and other lands, many native species will disappear entirely. That's because the animals need room to roam to find food, mates and escape other threats such as fires and floods." One map shows several "connections" to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

RELATED: "Preserving wildlife routes" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/19/08)
(This new site may require free registration to view stories.)


A bighorn sheep in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National MonumentRELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument was established by an Act of Congress on October 24, 2000 “in order to preserve the nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational, and scientific values found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and to secure now and for future generations the opportunity to experience and enjoy the magnificent vistas, wildlife, land forms, and natural and cultural resources in these mountains and to recreate therein”

"Quest to buy a mountaintop" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/20/08)
"The county has been given first right of refusal on about 1,500 acres of a property valued at an estimated $3.8 million. But a part of the mountain property package may no longer be for sale.The county has two years to buy the land before it is offered on the open market. It will be working with state and federal agencies and trusts to find the rest of the funding for the land purchase" and has said it would like to include the BLM in those discussions.

"Full stream ahead for Lower Owens" (Los Angeles Times, 3/11/08)
The Lower Owens River "mostly disappeared when the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened in 1913, but a recent man-made flood "should flush the recently revived river of a century's worth of cattle waste and debris, add topsoil to its flood plain and spur an awakening of riparian rhythms without harming fish populations. Eventually, a canopy forest will grow along the 62-mile river, and Inyo County officials hope the waterway will support a thriving recreation industry. But...." (Includes photo gallery, video and map.) BLM is not directly involved in the historic Owens River restoration agreement involving the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Inyo County, but public lands border parts of the river corridor, and some related LADWP infrastructure is on BLM-managed lands.
Note: This news site may require free registration to view the story.


"Bill aims to seal up old mines" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/13/08)
"The bill, titled 'The Abandoned Mine Reclamation Act of 2008,' would direct the secretary of the interior to develop an inventory of abandoned mines nationwide and establish priorities for where cleanup monies would be used initially. The funds would come from fees on mining companies. Feinstein's bill, which estimates that more than 500,000 abandoned mines pockmark the United States, including 47,000 in California, will go before a Senate committee."

RELATED: "Bill proposed to seal dangerous mines" (Victorville Daily Press, 3/13/08)
"A new bill recently introduced aims to close abandoned mine sites, including over 12,000 in San Bernardino County....Surveys estimate that there are more than 500,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the United States, including more than 47,000 in California alone."

RELATED: "Time for a mining law update" (Los Angeles Times, 3/14/08)
Editorial: "Astonishingly, this law has remained on the books for 136 years despite clear and widespread evidence of vast environmental harm and threats to public health. Hard-rock metals mining was the top source of toxic pollution in the United States in 2006, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mining is responsible for more Superfund sites than any other industry, leaving behind polluted water, deadly air and, in the case of uranium mining, radioactive waste."


"BLM RAC looks at Clear Creek OHV use, endangered plants, asbestos" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of BLM's Central California Resource Advisory Council got a first-hand view of the management challenges facing the Bureau of Land Management on a tour of the Clear Creek Management Area.

"Rangeland agreement to create better monitoring" (Inyo Register, 3/18/08)
"The impacts of grazing on soil, water and vegetation are regularly evaluated by the BLM on all of the land it leases to permittees....'Key to why we (BLM) think so highly about the cooperative monitoring program is that it really creates a much better dialogue with the permittee,” said [BLM-California Bishop Field Office Manager Bill] Dunkelberger. 'We get a better understanding of their needs and the information that we’re sharing is clearer to both sides. We learn from each other and it certainly improves the relationships with the ranchers.'"

"BLM's Jakl wins environmental award" (News.bytes Extra)
Tammy Jakl, interpretive ranger at Fort Ord, with BLM-California's Hollister Field Office, was recently awarded the National Outdoor Ethics "State Coordinator of the Year Award."

"BLM releases US Gypsum environmental impact report/statement" (BLM-California news release, 3/14/08)
The project entails expanded and upgraded facilities at the plant -- 18 miles west of El Centro -- to increase wallboard production capacity, with related increases in water supply. The public assisted Imperial County and BLM in identifying key issues in this area through a formal scoping process conducted in 2002.  The draft EIR/EIS was released in April, 2006 with over 550 public comments received by the comment deadline. Publication of the availability initiates the 30-day appeal period.

"BLM Bakersfield Field Office announces planning meetings" (BLM-California news release, 3/14/08)
The current Caliente Resource Management Plan guides the management of about 600,000 acres of public lands administered by BLM-California'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. The BLM will hold scoping meetings to gather comments on issues that should be addressed in the RMP and accompanying EIS. See the news release for six meeting dates in April.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include petroleum engineer, laborer, hydrologist, firefighting jobs, park rangers.

See them online at:

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
d. they are born live and not from eggs

SOURCE: "Western rattlesnake - Crotalis viridis" (BLM California wildlife database)
The young are born live (not hatched from eggs) in the fall. Females may have up to 25 young in a litter, but most litter sizes range between three and 12 young each.

"Springing into action" (Lake Havasu News-Herald)
At the California/Arizona border: "Along with the glorious spring weather, and temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s, the region’s rattlesnakes and poisonous lizards are waking up from their winter dormancy -- hungry and feeling frisky. 'We’ve been seeing snakes emerging in the last couple weeks,' said Chris Bates, resource manager with the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado River district. 'They come out, and they’re very hungry. They’re out looking for food, and they’re more aggressive. Also, you have the young out this time of year.'"

"Rattlesnakes in California" (California Department of Fish and Game)
"As springtime calls people and snakes alike to the outdoors, encounters with snakes become inevitable. California has a variety of snakes, most of which are benign. The exception is California’s only native venomous snake - the rattlesnake....Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles." Includes a list of "dos and don'ts in snake country."

"For goodness snakes! Treating and preventing poisonous bites" (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
A more detailed account including "treatment dilemmas" because some bites from even the same type of snake are less toxic than others. In any case, "seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a snakebite.' Also a section on "How NOT to treat a snakebite."

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