A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 324 - 3/26/08

Desert lily in early bloom - from a photo courtesy of desert visitor Linda Dunger A "before" photo of a trainee in the mustang Challenge Using binoculars to look for leks Four border patrol agents astride their mustangs Employee Profile: Beth Wenstrom

- Mustang Challenge 2008
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - More wildlife news: bighorn sheep, wolverines
- Wildflowers, continued
- Off-road vehicles: lots of news from the desert
- More recreation on public lands: hike, campground
- Planning efforts:
      - Seeking monument advisory nominees
      - Still seeking resource advisory nominees
      - BLM partners on coastal monument planning
- Headlines and highlights: Flash to Vegas, stop blazes
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Species Act, NLCS, California water, Forest Service to Interior?

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Watch for more information and photos in upcoming weeks.

Stacey Spangler of Red Bluff with her mustang challenge mustang"Red Bluff woman to ride in Challenge" (Red Bluff Daily News, 3/24/08)
"Stacey Spangler of Red Bluff has been selected by the Mustang Heritage Foundation to compete in the Western States Horse Expo Mustang Challenge June 6-9 in Sacramento" which will feature trainers from across the country. "The Mustang Heritage Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, created the Mustang Challenge event to highlight the recognized value of mustangs through a national training competition."

A "before" photo of a trainee in the mustang ChallengeRELATED: "Mustang Challenge 2008" (BLM-California website)
Thirty-three top trainers received 33 wild mustangs this month in Sacramento. They have 100 days to gentle and train the mustangs -- then will compete for $7500 in prizes at the Horse Expo. Trainers will be evaluated on the body condition of the horse, their ability to handle the horse "in-hand" through a series of maneuvers and obstacles, and a mounted "horse course" of obstacles and requirements to demonstrate the level of competency the horse has accomplished. At the end of the competition, the horses will be available for adoption to the public in a competitive bidding process.

Four border patrol agents astride their mustangs"Mustang patrol wins U.S. Customs and Border Protection award" (News.bytes Extra)
Team "Noble Mustang" has been presented a  U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ambassador Award, for its work patrolling the U.S.-Canadian border with mustangs adopted from the BLM.

"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.


Using binoculars to look for leks
Using binoculars to look for leks...

What is a lek?
(a.) a place where male sage grouse compete in mating displays
(b.) a burrow where female kangaroo rats gather to birth and nurse their young
(c.) a hiding place where pocket mice store seeds and nuts to eat during the winter
(d.) an abandoned tunnel that alligator lizards take over to live in themselves
(e.) slightly more than a "krush" but definitely less than a "luv"

------> See answer -- and "the rest of the story"-- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


Bighorn sheep in southern California - see the photo at San Diego Union-Tribune"Bighorns facing smaller habitat"(San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/23/08)
Peninsular bighorn sheep were listed as endangered in 1998, "ravaged so much by disease, harmed by development and preyed on by mountain lions that only 280 remained.....Today, about 800 bighorns roam the arid backcountry from the U.S.-Mexico border to the San Jacinto Mountains." But advocates "are concerned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed trimming protected sheep habitat by more than 50 percent, from 844,897 acres to 384,410."

RELATED: "Secretary Kempthorne announces $57.9 million in grants to support land acquisition and conservation planning for endangered species" (Department of the Interior news release, 3/20/08)
The grants include $466,613 for the Santa Rosa Mountains area. "The grant will assist in the acquisition of up to 2,869 acres of land to further the recovery of the Peninsular bighorn sheep by reducing development threats to species in the Santa Rosa Mountains. Lands proposed for acquisition are within the currently occupied, core habitat that supports one of the largest concentrations of the species within California."

RELATED: "Project descriptions arranged by state" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Includes the above project description, plus others in California and other states. (Note: the alphabetic list of states re-starts several times for various types of grants.)
PDF file, 12 pages:

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument: biological resources"
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains provide important habitat for the Peninsular Ranges bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis cremnobates).

Black and white photo of wolverine caught on remote camera"It's true: wolverine is thriving near Tahoe" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/25/08)
"Two more photographs of a wolverine lurking in the Tahoe National Forest were released Monday, extinguishing all doubt that the elusive predator exists in the wilds of California. The wolverine pictures, taken from remote digital cameras by U.S. Forest Service researchers, mean the muscular carnivore with the almond-colored stripe has either avoided detection for three-quarters of a century or returned to the state after an epic journey."

"Report on seabird monitoring at Gualala Point Island released" (BLM-California news release, 3/25/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released results of a monitoring study conducted last July at Gualala Point Island. A second monitoring study will be conducted in June and July 2008. The island, located off Sonoma County, is part of the California Coastal National Monument administered by BLM.

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.

WILDFLOWERS, continued...

Desert lily in early bloom - from a photo courtesy of desert visitor Linda Dunger"Desert lilies bloom" (News.bytes Extra)
The beautiful desert lily is blooming now in the California Desert near Desert Center in Riverside County. The photo at left was taken recently along Interstate 10 near the Desert Lily Sanctuary. BLM administers the popular Desert Lily Sanctuary, officially designated by Congress in 1994 as part of the Desert Protection Act, which reinforced BLM’s administrative protection of the area dating back to 1968.

"Winter rains bring springtime wildflowers" (Victorville Daily Press, 3/21/08)
"Visitors to the sand dunes and desert lands around Barstow can see something they haven’t seen for years: blossoming flowers."

"Carrizo Plain National Monument: Wildflowers and sightseeing" (BLM California, Bakersfield Field Office)
March 23: "The carpets of goldfields have been developing from Traver Ranch north to Soda Lake. Phacelia are blooming across Soda Lake Road from the Education Center." Other flowers mentioned in this update include: hillside daisies, tidy tips, poppies, fiddleneck, golden bush, bush lupine and blazing stars.

"The season's first wildflowers are putting on a show in the Sacramento area" (Sacramento Bee, 3/23/08)
"You've probably experienced some oohs and aahs just driving down the road this month: The wildflower season is upon us, and it's shaping up to be one of the best in years. Already, yellow streaks of field mustard are splashed across the velvet-green hills of the Coast Range, while daffodils by the dozens of dozens are blooming at perennial haunts like Daffodil Hill."

RELATED: "BLM offers spring tours at Pine Hill Reserve" (BLM-California news release, 1/24/08)
BLM's Folsom Field Office has scheduled six springtime guided field trips to view wildflowers and other features at the Pine Hill Preserve in western El Dorado County. The field trips will be on several Saturdays between April 26 and June 7. Participants must pre-register with the BLM. As of early this week, there were still spaces available.

RELATED: "Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
Among the sites listed in above story, this is managed cooperatively among the BLM and other agencies and organizations.

"Wildflower hotline" (Theodore Payne Foundation)
Latest online update was Friday, March 21.

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


"Alternative to SDG&E line gains support" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/21/08)
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday approved financial incentives for a proposed high-voltage transmission line that could be an alternative to SDG&E's controversial Sunrise Powerlink. The alternative proposed by the Nevada Hydro Co. calls for building a 500-kilovolt transmission line in Riverside and Orange counties to link San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s power grid with Southern California Edison's."

RELATED: "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.

"Solar panels could come to Lucerne Valley" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/25/08)
With "an application to develop 21 square miles of the valley, rows of glossy solar panels could redefine the area. The Cannon Power Corp. in Rancho Santa Fe submitted an application last month to the Bureau of Land Management to construct photovoltaic panels in the Lucerne Valley Dry Lake bed...."


"Off-road enthusiasts air concerns to Rep. Hunter" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/22/08)
"The Alpine Republican invited off-roaders to share their concerns with him and Mike Pool, the California director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The agency manages many popular off-road areas in the California desert and elsewhere. The group of about 150 didn't hold back, taking the meeting at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon well past the two-hour block for which it was scheduled."

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)

"Off-road vehicle enforcement gets a boost with grant funds" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 3/20/08)
San Bernardino County "is making OHV enforcement a priority...for reasons ranging from environmental impacts to noise concerns and issues with off-roaders trespassing on private property." Observers highlighted the difference between responsible and irresponsible use of OHVs, and some users said it can be difficult to tell where public lands end and private property begins. The county includes BLM-managed OHV areas at Dumont Dunes and Johnson Valley.

RELATED: Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)

"El Mirage image" (Victorville Daily Press, 3/21/08)
"On March 12, I attended the ground breaking ceremony of the El Mirage Recreation Area Visitor Center. Wow! That name is a mouthful, but the design, time and effort of the facility will be worth it."

RELATED: "El Mirage Dry Lake Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)


"BLM offers free guided hike at Sacramento River Natural Area" (BLM-California news release, 3/24/08)
A free guided hike on Sunday, April 6, just north of Red Bluff will highlight vistas of the Sacramento River and surrounding volcanic landscapes. A BLM natural resource specialist will lead the four-mile trek to the Iron Canyon Rim, a rugged area that is little changed since explorer Jedediah Smith traversed the region in April of 1828. Learn about natural resources and the history of the region. Reservations are required because the hike is limited to 20 participants.

"BLM Pit River Campground reopens April 21" (BLM-California news release, 3/24/08)
Just in time for the opening of California’s stream fishing season, the Bureau of Land Management’s Pit River Campground will re-open Monday, April 21. Fishing season begins Saturday, April 26. The recently redesigned campground features seven individual campsites, a group campsite, and a day use area ideal for fishing and picnicking.


"National Monument seeking advisory committee nominations" (BLM-California news release, 3/20/08)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is seeking nominations for appointment to the monument advisory committee. Nominations are being sought for both primary and alternate representatives of various interests and organizations to serve on the committee. Members of the committee provide advice to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service regarding implementation of the national monument management plan.

Nominations are also still open for BLM's...

...Central California Resource Advisory Council

...Northeast California Advisory Council

...Northwest California Advisory Council

"BLM, Mendocino Audubon sign coastal monument partnership pact" (BLM-California news release, 3/21/08)
In a memorandum of understanding, the BLM and the local Audubon Society chapter agree to coordinate in monitoring natural resources, particularly birds, and informing the public about the California Coastal National Monument and its resources. The organization will also work with the BLM and other partners in a group establishing and managing the Point Arena Gateway to the monument.

Planning efforts continue (as reported in previous issues of News.bytes):

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Management Plan (BLM-California news release, 3/18/08)

Caliente Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (BLM-California news release, 3/14/08)


Map and graphics of 2 electrically-power passenger train plans"Victorville to Las Vegas in a flash" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/20/08)
"A group of private investors is proposing to finance and build a $3.5 billion electrically powered passenger train called the Desert Xpress, running along Interstate 15 from Victorville to Las Vegas....Approvals are needed from the Surface Transportation Board, which has jurisdiction over railroads, and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where most of the project would be built."
(This news site may require free registration to view stories.)

"Repeat of Bluff Fire hoped to be avoided" (Inyo Register, 3/25/08)
"The devastating Bluff Fire began when a camp stove blew over during high winds last Sunday. The dry brush in the area caught fire, and the three campers were unable to extinguish the flames. In a matter of minutes the fire was out of control....firefighters across the state are reminding residents and visitors in the Owens Valley that the smallest spark can ignite a blaze."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current positions include firefighters, park rangers (river patrol), hydrologist and laborer.

Beth WenstromEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Beth Wenstrom...
...is BLM-California's section chief for the geographic coordinate data base and mapping sciences section in the branch of geographic services & cadastral survey.  More simply put, she is the supervisory cartographer for the state. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

March 28 - Friday wildflower walk
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

April 4, 11 and 18 - Eastern Sierra wildflower outings
Alabama Hills


"Since '01, guarding species is harder" (Washington Post, 3/23/08)
"Controversies have occasionally flared over Interior Department officials who regularly overruled rank-and-file agency scientists' recommendations to list new species, but internal documents also suggest that pervasive bureaucratic obstacles were erected to limit the number of species protected under one of the nation's best-known environmental laws."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view their stories.

"Monument's science chief to take D.C. post" (The Salt Lake Tribune, 3/24/08)
"The science administrator of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be taking over a similar post for the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), based in the nation's capital."

"Forest Service may move to Interior" (Washington Post, 3/25/08)
"Among some lawmakers who hold the purse strings, there is a belief that the U.S. Forest Service is out of place. The 103-year-old agency, which manages 193 million acres of forests and grasslands, is part of the Department of Agriculture. Its bureaucratic cousins -- the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, which manage 84 million acres, 96 million acres and 258 million acres of public land, respectively -- are in the Interior Department."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view their stories.

Secretary Kempthorne issues the 2008 annual operating plan for the Colorado River" (Department of the Interior news release, 3/14/08)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today issued the 2008 Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for the operation of Colorado River reservoirs and distribution of Colorado River water to Arizona, Nevada and California."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites

For the answer, see our News.bytes Extra:Looking at leks through binoculars
A male sage grouse in full self-display"Looking at leks" (News.bytes Extra)
An hour before sunrise, wildlife technician Blair Parrott heads out into northwest Nevada from Cedarville, California, in hopes of seeing activity at one of the 48 active leks found within lands managed by BLM-California's Surprise Field Office. Leks are busy before and during mating season, which is usually March through mid May, on a daily basis. Males and females meet at the same location every year for their elaborate "mating dance."

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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