A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 328 - 4/23/08

Purple loosestrife looks "pretty" in a close-up BLM firefighter waves on the big screen at Petco Park Riders and mustangs silhouetted against the skyline Striped skunk close-up - from a photo by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences Jeff Tunnell makes a point with a map

- Wild horses and burros:
      - 2008 Challenge, adoptions
      - Name that mustang!
      - Mojave Trail ride
      - Upcoming adoption events
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - More wildlife: Nightlife, Mojave Max, desert tortoises
      - Weed of the week: Pretty menacing
- Energy: Alternative energy, Sunrise Powerlink
- Recreation on public lands:
      - Abusing the land
      - Best in California?
- Wildfire and prevention: Appreciation, permits, costs
- Headlines and highlights: National Monument expansion in bill, Multiple use planning, Cooperative Conservation awards, base expansion
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Thirty-three top trainers received 33 wild mustangs last month. They have 100 days to gentle and train the mustangs -- then will compete for $7500 in prizes at the Horse Expo in Sacramento. We plan to follow some of these mustangs and trainers in the coming weeks.
Some Mustang Challenge trainers have been kind enough to send photos depicting their progress with their Mustang Challenge horses.

Trainer Matt Replogle with the mayor of Las Vegas and his name-awaiting mustangTrainer Matt Replogle writes:"We have temporarily named our horse B.A.M., for Beautiful American Mustang" -- but elementary school children in the Las Vegas area can enter a contest to provide a "real" name.

RELATED: "Name the Mustang 2008" (namethemustang.com)
Trainer Matt Replogle started a contest go have Clark County, Nevada schoolchildren name the mustang he is training for the Mustang Challenge in Sacramento this June.


Riders and mustangs silhouetted against the skyline"BLM people and mustangs join 140-mile Mojave Trail Ride" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 50 riders took part with the Norco Mounted Posse in their 23rd Annual Mojave Trail Ride earlier this month. The group rode 140 miles in six days through the Mojave National Preserve and public lands managed by BLM-California.

"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption in San Jose" (BLM-California news release, 4/7/08)
Mustangs fresh from the range will be on display April 26 in San Jose when the Bureau of Land Management offers wild horses and burros for adoption. The BLM will offer 30 horses ranging in age from under 1 to about 5, along with 10 burros at an adoption. Anyone interested can preview the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds at about 4 p.m. April 25. 

"BLM to offer wild horses and burros available for adoption in Santa Rosa" (BLM-California news release, 4/15/08)
Direct from the public ranges of northeast California and northwest Nevada, wild horses and burros are headed for the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, where they will be offered for public adoption Saturday, May 3. The BLM will offer 30 mustangs and 10 wild burros during the event that runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be an hour of silent bidding beginning at 9 a.m.

"High Desert Spring Festival opens Thursday" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 4/2/08)
"A variety of entertainment is scheduled to entice the whole family....The Bureau of Land Management will host a wild horse and burro display...."

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California website)


Striped skunk close-up - from a photo by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences
From a photo by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences

Striped skunks will often spray without warning.
(a.) False - they usually bare their teeth first, and try to bite an intruder with their sharp incisors
(b.) True - a person rarely sees it coming, as the skunk is careful not to alert potential victims until they are too close to escape being sprayed
(c.) False - the skunk will first warn an adversary by chattering their teeth and stomping their feet
(d.) True - this is how skunks "train" other animals not to bother them
(e.) False - the skunk will first conduct a small "test spray" of their immediate area to gauge distance and prime their scent glands
(f.) True - they seem to be entertained by the little "dance" that humans often do when they are sprayed, and often seem to spray for their own amusement. They will then gather around and watch for a short while before scampering off into the underbrush.

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


BLM-US Forest Service display "From starry skys to the murky depths - Diverse night life that you never knew""Earth Day 2008 exhibit"
Speaking of skunks (and other wildlife): BLM-California's Eagle Lake Field Office and the Lassen National Forest will again jointly sponsor an exhibit at the Susanville Indian Rancheria community's Earth Day celebration this Friday and Saturday. The display focuses on "night life" on the public lands and forest -- fun things like skunks, mountain lions and bats.

Note: several readers emailed us to ask what happened to the "Wildlife Trivia of the Week and "Not for Educators Only" features in last week's News.bytes. Fear not -- we plan to continue these features -- as you can see above. With our regular editor out last week, we just ran out of time to prepare them.

"Mojave Max has emerged" (Mojave Max official website)
As reported in News.bytes issue 320, Mojave Max is a desert tortoise who lives about 20 miles west of Las Vegas, in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area managed by BLM-Nevada. Contest organizers are going through thousands of contest entries from schoolchildren in southern Nevada and southern California, to determine who guessed or came closest to the actual time and date that Mojave Max emerged from his burrow.

"Army's transfer of Mojave Desert tortoises tripped up by coyotes" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/16/08)
" Coyotes have killed at least 11 desert tortoises recently moved to make way for Army tank training exercises north of Barstow. The problem coyotes, thought to be attacking tortoises because the drought has left fewer rabbits in its wake, will be tracked and possibly killed by a federal agency to help protect the tortoises... The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees much of the land selected for relocating the displaces tortoises. BLM officials a few days ago discussed strategies with other federal and state agencies on how to solve the coyote problem...."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content.)

Weed of the weekWEED OF THE WEEK: "Pretty" menacing

Purple loosestrife's purple flowers from a distance"Purple loosestrife/Lythrum" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
Purple loosestrife is an introduced European ornamental. It has escaped to infest aquatic sites - streambanks, shorelines of shallow ponds and reservoirs, canals and ditches where it impedes water flow. Habitat for wildlife is greatly reduced. Many states have declared Purple loosestrife a noxious weed. The Nevada Division of Agriculture has requested nurseries stop selling it as an ornamental.

Purple loosestrife looks "pretty" in a close-upRELATED: "Flowering predator on the loose in a D.C. garden" (National Public Radio, 4/17/08)
NPR correspondent relaxes in her garden after work. "As a trial-and-error gardener, I've made some big and costly mistakes. I needed help." But her expert advisor warns her about a pet plant: "Not every weed is ugly ... And that's the problem … that purple loosestrife is something that is sold in garden centers because it's very attractive. And a lot of times, precisely the qualities that make it invasive are why people like to grow it -- because it makes it easier."


"Oversight hearing: Energy corridors and public lands" (BLM national news)
Statement of Luke Johnson, Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management and Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief, National Forest Systems, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture to the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources: testimony on establishing energy corridors in 11 western states. (Note: click the link on the following page to open the testimony as a Microsoft Word document.)

"Secretary Kempthorne names four members to wind turbine guidelines advisory committee" (Department of the Interior news release, 4/17/08)
The committee "recommends effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats from land-based wind energy facilities." Said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne: "Wind power could help meet up to 20 percent of the nation’s energy needs, but because wind turbines can cause bird and bat mortality and may have other ecological effects, improved site selection and turbine design, among other measures, need to be developed to tap this resource in an environmentally responsible manner." Appointees include Commissioner Karen Douglas of the California Energy Commission..

"Apple Valley opposed wind turbines" (Victorville Daily Press, 4/21/08)
"The Apple Valley Town Council is adamantly opposing the 27 wind turbines proposed for Granite Mountain. The council is scheduled to vote Monday night, and is expected to recommend the San Bernardino County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors deny the project....Since the majority of the project will be on Bureau of Land Management property, the county is currently processing an Environmental Impact Report."

"Irish developer backs desert solar farm" (North County Times, 4/17/08)
"An Irish developer of green energy announced Thursday that it is investing $100 million and taking controlling interest in Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems, which wants to build what would be the world's two largest solar farms in the Southern California desert....The solar farm along Interstate 8 would be fitted initially with 12,000 mirrored dishes, and ultimately 36,000 spread out over nearly 8 square miles of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land...."

"$100 million investment to help solar energy plan" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/18/08)
"A startup solar energy company with ambitious plans to generate electricity for San Diego said it has gained crucial financial backing for the project it has proposed in the Imperial Valley....The deal represents a needed boost in credibility for Stirling, which has come under fire from environmentalists who question Stirling's role in the 150-mile Sunrise Powerlink proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric Co."

"SDG&E needs permission to use park easement" (North County Times, 4/16/08)
"A San Diego Gas & Electric Co. official acknowledged Wednesday that the utility does not have permission to build its proposed power line within an existing electric right of way in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Lynn Trexel, a company land adviser, said during a San Francisco hearing on the Sunrise Powerlink project that the company has yet to secure permission from the owners of the right of way, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Imperial Irrigation District."

"Greens like idea of renewable energy, balk at the reality" (Sacramento Bee, 4/23/08)
Columnist: "Merely generating energy from renewable, nonpolluting sources is one thing. Transmitting it from generation sites to where people live is another, and environmental groups that tout renewable energy often oppose transmission lines that would carry the power to homes and businesses, as a long-running battle over a project called 'Sunrise Powerlink' illustrates."

RELATED: "Governor Schwarzenegger’s Keynote Address at Yale Climate Change Conference" (State of California website)
Several of the renewable energy projects mentioned in the Governor's speech are proposed for public lands managed by BLM-California.

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.


"Patrolling Purdon" (Grass Valley-Nevada City Union, 4/19/08)
"Rangers will step up patrols at Purdon Crossing on the South Yuba River State Park this summer to enforce a ban on overnight parking and camping on state park property....The announcement comes after residents who live on Purdon Road complained of illegal fires, people defecating on rocks in the river and cars parked in front of emergency vehicle access roads....Each summer, hundreds of people camp legally at a primitive Bureau of Land Management campground adjacent to the park." The BLM has been working with agencies on addressing complaints.

RELATED: "South Yuba Trail and Campground" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)

"Bishop is best when it comes to California dreamin'" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/13/08)
"If you love the great outdoors, what is the best place to live in California? What would be your top towns? What if you asked the state's outdoors writers who have seen it all (or at least most of it) to rate them? The consensus is that Bishop in Inyo County, located in the Eastern Sierra, is the No. 1 place to live for outdoor recreation, in a poll of the members of the Outdoors Writers Association of California."

RELATED: "Recreation - Bishop Field Office" (BLM-California website)
Links to much information, including a "movie road" touring guide, motor touring in the Eastern Sierra, wildflower viewing, bouldering, camping and more.


BLM firefighter waves on the big screen at Petco Park"First Responders Appreciation Night at Petco Park" (News.bytes Extra)
During the 2007 October fires in San Diego County, many emergency agencies responded to provide support and emergency services to the entire county. To show their appreciation, the San Diego Padres baseball club invited 35 local first-responder agencies to a ceremony at the beginning of the Los Angeles Angels vs. San Diego Padres exhibition baseball game late last month.

"Burn permits required for northeast California" (BLM-California news release, 4/16/08)
Permits will be required for all outdoor burning projects beginning May 1 throughout California.  In Northeast California, Bureau of Land Management offices in Alturas, Cedarville and Susanville will issue permits during regular office hours, Monday through Friday.

"House bill would set aside $1 billion to fight wildfires" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 4/17/08)
"Lawmakers have long complained that the Forest Service and other agencies routinely submit budgets that are inadequate to pay for wildfires, since officials are confident that additional funding will be provided -- or spending in other areas curtailed -- if needed for firefighting." The chairman of the House natural resources panel, said "'This unnecessary and unfair diversion of funds has severely undermined the overall missions of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies,' affecting everything from trail maintenance to education and land acquisition."

"Up in FLAME" (High Country News, 4/16/08)
"Last year, over 6 million acres of wildlands burned in Western states. Since 2000, wildfires have burned larger and hotter than ever....That’s left officials trying to figure out how to make more money available to fight wildfires, and how best to use it." The FLAME Act was intended to address the problem. "Meanwhile, federal agencies are gearing up for another expensive fire season. Robyn Heffernan, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Land Management, says that though snowpack across the West this past winter was good, the increased moisture may actually contribute to more grasses at low elevations, upping the risk of fire."

"'Worst fire season ever' looms" (Los Angeles Daily News, 4/16/08)
"With summer approaching and a noticeable growth in potentially flammable brush, Los Angeles County fire officials in Rancho Palos Verdes and Catalina Island warn that this year's fire season could be one of the most severe on record....even worse than last year, when more than 500,000 acres burned and at least 1,500 homes were destroyed throughout Southern California."

"Can a math equation solve your disaster?" (Computerworld, 4/14/08)
Computer company "scientists have created specialized math algorithms to help model and manage disasters...The agencies in charge -- including the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- wanted help deciding where to position their resources, including personnel and equipment, without knowing in advance where the fires would be."


"Bill seeks to add thousands of acres of wilderness, maintain fire protection" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/18/08)
"Congress is likely to consider" legislation that would designate wilderness areas in Riverside County -- but with compromises for wildfire fighting. "The bill would create four new wilderness areas across Riverside County in Joshua Tree National Park, the San Bernardino National Forest and open desert; increase the amount of land in six existing wilderness areas; add 31 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System; and expand the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument by about 8,000 acres."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content.)

RELATED: "S. 2109, California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act" (2008 Congressional testimonies, 4/15/08 - BLM national website)
Statement of Elena Daly, Director of the National Landscape Conservation System for the Bureau of Land Management, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.

RELATED: "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."

"Public wants multiple use in Caliente Resource plan revision" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the public want to see Bureau of Land Management lands used for multiple use -- from hiking, to grazing, to off-highway vehicle use -- while maintaining them for future generations. That is according to public comments to BLM-California's Bakersfield Field Office, as it begins revising the Caliente Resource Management Plan.

RELATED: "Bakersfield Field Office" (BLM-California website)
The Caliente Resource Management Plan guides the management of approximately 600,000 acres of public lands and another 450,000 acres of mineral estate within Kings, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, Ventura, and western Kern counties. These public lands are managed by BLM's Bakersfield Field Office.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne with a representative of winning Alabama Hills Stewardship Group"Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne presents top Cooperative Conservation Awards at start of Earth Day celebration" (Department of the Interior news release, 4/21/08)
At a ceremony in the nation’s capital, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group in California as one of 21 recipients nationwide of  the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award. The award recognizes the partnership’s outstanding contributions to California’s Owens Valley. The group works with BLM-California's Bishop Field Office and its Central California Resource Advisory Committee.

RELATED: Photos from the presentation:

RELATED: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
Photographers come from all over the country to photograph this area, and the Alabama Hills Arch is a bonus. Whether you are here for the Sierra views, identifying native plant life, or photography, this area offers a variety of activities. The Alabama Hills Nature Trail Walk was created in partnership with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group.

"Marines looking to expand base by 100,000 acres" (Victorville Daily Press, 4/17/08)
"Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Marine Corps officials confirmed that permits have been issued to look into expanding the facility at Twentynine Palms — possibly by as much as 100,000 acres into Johnson Valley. The land acquisition is part of an effort to become the nation’s premiere combat training facility....Permits were issued to conduct surveys of cultural and environmental impact...."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include fire lookout, other firefighting jobs and park ranger (river patrol).

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

April 24 - National Monument hike
Palm Desert

April 26 - Birding field trip - reservations required
Pine Hill Preserve

April 26 - BLM volunteer service trip
Laguna Creek and the Gorge, San Benito County

May 2 - Eastern Sierra wildflower outing
Big Pine Triangle Campground (Bishop Field Office's)

May 3 - Family excursion reptile hunt
Palm Desert

...and more!

Jeff Tunnell makes a point with a mapEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Jeff Tunnell...
...of BLM-California's Ukiah Field Office says, "I still believe we need to be out on the ground meeting the people and giving them a positive experience to take home." That's what he strives for in his day-to-day duties in fire prevention, community outreach and education and coordination with fire safe councils. Read more:

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) False - the skunk will first warn an adversary by chattering their teeth and stomping their feet

SOURCE: "Striped Skunk - Mephitis mephitis" (BLM California wildlife database)
These creatures are well-known throughout the country for the odor that they emit when threatened. However, these animals give ample warning before spraying. The skunks will first face the aggressor and chatter their teeth while stomping their front feet. If the aggressor doesn't head the warning, they will then spray one-fifth of a teaspoon of a yellowish musk -- this small amount can reach 10 to 15 feet and the smell can carry for over a mile.


Mephitis mephitis - striped skunk" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
More information about this skunk, plus several photos. The site "is an educational resource written largely by and for college students."

"Skunk management" (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
Tips on keeping skunks out of your yard.

"Creatures of habit" Broken Arrow, OK, Ledger, 4/21/08)
Animal control officers in this town issue residents a wire trap to relocate "critters" including raccoons, opossums and skunks. "A lot of people probably don't know a skunk will not spray in an enclosed area, but it's a fact," said the director of an animal shelter.

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