A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 329 - 4/30/08

Gena Wasley with Feather, the mustang she is training  Close-up of Japanese knotweed shows reddish branches with red-tinged leaves male sage grouse "displays" to attract potential mates Portrait of Diane Fairchild Beck A mustang checks out another mustang and rider at the San Jose adoption event

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Weed of the week
- Mustang Challenge 2008
- Wild horse and burro adoption events
- BLM at the California coast
- Cemex/Soledad Canyon gravel mine
- Headlines and highlights: New overlook site, Fort Ord Dog Days, outdoor learning, Area 51, jobs, Headwaters, much more
- Wildfire and prevention
- Sunrise Powerlink
- Other rights-of-way on public lands
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: New environmental review handbook, proposed park and refuge firearm regulations, gas and oil impacts

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


male sage grouse "displays" to attract potential mates
Male sage grouse "displays" to attract potential mates

The sage grouse -- subject of our issue 324 wildlife trivia question of the week -- is in the news. Why is the "sage" grouse an appropriate name for this bird?
(a.) When alarmed, it emits an odor like that of the aromatic seasoning.
(b.) It depends heavily on sagebrush for its existence.
(c.) A pattern of feathers on its back are the general color and shape of sage leaves.
(d.) Its distinctive call sounds like a disapproving cluck, thus earning the term "grouse."
(e.) Its mating song sounds eerily like a disgruntled version of the Simon and Garfunkel tune from the 1970s.*

------> See answer -- and recent news stories about sage grouse -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

Weed of the weekClose-up of Japanese knotweed shows reddish branches with red-tinged leavesWEED OF THE WEEK: Japanese knotweed...
... is a riparian species that spreads quickly to form dense, tall thickets that shade out other species. In the winter, when knotweed canes die back, bare ground along river banks are exposed, which dramatically increases erosion. Its dense patches shade and displace other plant life and reduce wildlife habitat.


"Public land agencies battle Japanese knotweed" (The Humboldt State University Lumberjack, Arcata, 4/23/08)
Jennifer Wheeler of the Bureau of Land Management's Arcata Field Office "is part of the workforce that carries out a relentless hunt for weeds. In 2004, Wheeler said she noticed an odd, white-flowering shrub alongside a road near the Mattole River..." It was Japanese knotweed, which can grow and spread from "a particle of its roots smaller than a gram."

"Troublemaker 1: Bohemian knotweed" (The Juneau Empire, 4/9/08)
Not just California: "One of the most visible invasive plants in the Juneau area is Bohemian knotweed, aka, Japanese knotweed, Japanese or Mexican bamboo."

"Test your knowledge"
Take the interactive quiz about weeds on BLM-California's web homepage:

The Bureau of Land Management and Mustang Heritage Foundation are bringing the Western States Mustang Challenge to the Western States Horse Expo for the first time June 6-8, 2008, at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Thirty-two top trainers have 100 days to gentle and train mustangs -- then will compete for $7500 in prizes at the Horse Expo.

Gena Wasley with Feather, the mustang she is training"Trainer coaxes mustang back from the wild" (Sacramento Bee, 4/25/08)
"Her name is Feather. She's a mahogany-hued beauty who once roamed a high, wild corner of Nevada. The 3-year-old mustang mare spent most of her life without humans. But in the last five weeks, a woman with an easy touch and a soothing voice is just about the only thing she knows. Gena Wasley, 35, trains horses for a living, and she's taken on a challenge unlike any before ... The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the federal manager of the wild mustang herds on public land, along with the Texas-based Mustang Heritage Foundation, will offer the first competition of its kind on the West Coast in June."


A mustang checks out another mustang and rider at the San Jose adoption event"Horse associations help spread the word at wild horse and burro adoption event in San Jose" (News.bytes Extra)
"Glorious spring weather and about 200 horse and burro enthusiasts greeted the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption event last Saturday in San Jose. By day’s end, 28 animals went home with new owners and dozens of visitors left with new information about wild horse and burro adoption opportunities. Several planned to attend the next adoption event May 3, in Santa Rosa."

"BLM to offer horses and burros 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 U. S. Bureau of Land Management will offer 30 mustangs and 10 wild burros during the event that runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone interested can get a preview look at the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds Friday, May 2, at about 2 p.m.

"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption in Bakersfield " (BLM-California news release, 4/30/08)
Mustangs fresh from the range will be on display May 10 in Bakersfield. The BLM will offer 40 horses ranging in age from under 1 to about 5, along with 10 burros at an adoption at the Kern County Fairgrounds.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone interested can preview the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds at about 2 p.m. May 9. 

"BLM to offer horses and burros for adoption in Yreka" (BLM-California news release, 4/28/08)
The BLM will offer 30 mustangs and 10 wild burros during the event that runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone interested can get a preview look at the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds Friday, May 16, at about 2 p.m.


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


"A coastal gem, unveiled" (Coastal Living, May 2008)
"The newest public jewel on California’s northern coast is a 2-mile stretch of cliffs overlooking exploding waves, dramatic peninsulas, caves, and, oddly enough, rows of English peas. For almost a century, this Mendocino County land has been enjoyed almost exclusively by the Stornettas, one of the region’s oldest farming families."

A waterfall crashes down into the ocean at Stornetta public landsRELATED: "Stornetta public lands" (BLM-California, Ukiah Field Office)
The 1,132-acre Stornetta Public Lands are located along the Mendocino County coastline just north of the town of Point Arena. They include over 2 miles of coastline, the estuary of the Garcia River and adjacent beach, and a small island accessible during low tide.

"BLM, Coastwalk enter Coastal Monument partnership" (BLM-California news release, 4/29/08)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management and Coastwalk, a non-profit coastal access and conservation organization, have signed a partnership agreement focusing on the preservation and stewardship of the California Coastal National Monument and the California Coastal Trail. Building public awareness of coastal and ocean resources and responsible public use are key elements.

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.

"Piedras Blancas light station may receive special designation" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 4/30/08)
"On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps to preserve the light station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Senate approved the legislation April 10; Capps expects President Bush to sign the bill into law soon."

RELATED: Piedras Blancas Lightstation (BLM Website)
Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. The point is named for a white rock out cropping located just off the end of the point. In the early 1870's, this location was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Sur.


"An end in sight for Cemex in Soledad Canyon?" (Santa Clarita Signal, 4/26/08)
"An agreement announced Friday by U.S. Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon could halt a nearly decade-long battle between the city of Santa Clarita and global mining company Cemex, Inc. over a planned large-scale mine in Soledad Canyon ... Through H.R. 5887, Cemex would be given thousands of acres land in Victorville equivalent to the value of the contracts. Cemex would then sell the land to the city of Victorville and other private buyers for purposes other than mining."

"McKeon proposed mine solution" (Los Angeles Daily News, 4/25/08)
Proposal is a "complex land swap deal aimed at buying the mining company out of its contract ... In exchange for canceling those contracts, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would give Cemex about 5,000 acres of land near the city of Victorville. Cemex would then sell the land to the city of Victorville, which has economic development plans for the property. Officials from Santa Clarita, Victorville and the mining company lauded the Soledad Canyon Mine Act at a press conference alongside McKeon."

"Issue Update: Cemex-Soledad Canyon sand and gravel project" (BLM-California website)
"In 1990, BLM awarded CEMEX (through its predecessor in interest, Transit-Mixed) a competitive contract to mine 56 million tons of sand and gravel over a 20-year period on split estate lands near Los Angeles..."


BLM person points out sights at the new Little Lake overlook"Earth Day dedication for Little Lake Overlook site" (News.bytes Extra)
On Earth Day, BLM-California's Ridgecrest Field Office held a dedication ceremony for its new interpretive site at Little Lake Overlook. About 25 people listened to speakers, then enjoyed cake and cookies as they gazed out at the expansive views of Little Lake and the majestic Sierra Range.

"Local land stewards feted in D.C." (Inyo Register, 4/26/08)
"Rebutting the axiom that 'no good deed goes unpunished,' a contingent of Eastern Sierra residents just returned from the nation’s capital with a coveted award for all the good that they have done. The efforts of the Alabama Hills Community Stewardship Group to preserve and enhance that picturesque Owens Valley landscape were honored during a special ceremony on April 21 in Washington, D.C."

"Bureau of Land Management announces 'Dog Day' at Fort Ord" (BLM-California news release, 4/30/08)
The fourth annual “Dog Day” event is scheduled for May 10 at the Fort Ord public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  The event begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. "Dog Day is a chance to celebrate the great outdoors with your canine companion in a beautiful setting at Fort Ord."

"Watershed forum holds 'Discovery Day'"(Woodland Daily Democrat, 4/25/08)
"The Cache Creek Watershed Forum ... will host a one-day outdoor learning event, Cache Creek Discovery Day, on May 10 ... at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve. May is California's official Watershed Awareness Month, designated by a proclamation by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to promote the importance of watershed education and stewardship activities at the local community level. " BLM is one of the day's many sponsors.

RELATED: "Cache Creek Natural Area" (BLM-California, Ukiah Field Office)
This secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral is a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM managed lands and 4,700 acres of State and County lands. 

"From 51 to 86 to lawsuit" (Chico News & Review, 4/24/08)
Lawsuit over "what locals have jokingly dubbed 'Area 51,' after the famous mystery spot in Nevada. It’s a hard-to-find 216-acre parcel of Bureau of Land Management property that’s threaded by some five miles of biking and hiking trails and intersected by Salt Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River ... The BLM, in a controversial land swap in October 2007, traded the property ... for an isolated 566-acre parcel of timberland along the Trinity River in Trinity County.

"Calnev pipe safety is questioned" (San Bernardino County Sun, 4/29/08)
"A proposal to build a 233-mile pipeline to carry nearly 200,000 barrels of petroleum a day to Las Vegas has some local officials nervous." The pipeline "would carry petroleum products from Rialto to Las Vegas, serving a few military bases along the way ... Rialto officials are especially concerned ... because it would run through the city's two biggest development projects ... The county and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are reviewing the project and accepting public comments through May 17."

"Gap founders negotiating with Pacific Lumber" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/30/08)
"The saga of Pacific Lumber Co., which spans its takeover in the 1980s, a dramatic protest by tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill and the failure of a logging town, could conclude this week in a Texas Bankruptcy Court." The late 1990s "birthed the so-called Headwaters Agreement, in which state and federal agencies paid about $500 million to preserve more than 7,000 acres of old-growth forest as park land. The pact also regulated more stringently how and where the company could harvest timber on the remaining 210,000 acres."

RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The BLM is not a party to Palco's Habitat Conservation Plan, which is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of California, but one result of the negotiations was the acquisition in 1999 of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, managed by the BLM. The reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.

"Marijuana garden busted on Hopland Grade" (Lake County Record-Bee, 4/25/08)
"Officials eradicated an illegal marijuana garden after following an alleged suspect's footprints to the site in a gorge located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land about 1,000 yards below Highway 175 on the Hopland Grade, about a mile east of the Mendocino County line..."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)


A student wears a mask made out of natural materials"Masks and salmon on display at Whitethorn BLM" (Redwood Times, 4/23/08)
"The Mattole Restoration Council’s Ecological Education Program and the Bureau of Land Management’s 'Lost Coast Life Lab' after-school program invite the public to check out two art/science exhibits that will go up in May" at BLM-California's King Range Project Office in Whitethorn.

"County task force cracks down on illegal off-roading, 31 citations issued" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 4/23/08)

"Me-Wuk Land Transfer Act moves forward in Washington DC" (MyMotherLode.com News, 4/29/08)
"H.R. 3490 provides the transfer of three small parcels of land from the Bureau of Land Management to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in trust for the benefit of the Tuolumne Me-Wuk Tribe." The bill now moves to the Senate.


"Experts advise precautions to avert risk of fire" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 4/24/08)
"The much-needed rain over the winter provided beautiful wildflowers that attracted hundreds of visitors to the desert ... but it also produced fuel that could spawn a dangerous wildfire season ... much will still depend on the weather ... 'The potential is the same every year - wet or dry. Any day, there is the potential to have a devastating wildfire,' said Riverside County Fire Capt. Julie Hutchinson. Very little rain has fallen since February, causing much of the new vegetation to dry out along Coachella Valley hillsides, which could enable fires that do break out to spread very quickly."

"Fire prevention efforts receive $10 million" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/26/08)
"State and local organizations have been awarded nearly $10 million in federal grants this year to clear vegetation and safeguard buildings from wildfires in San Diego County, officials announced yesterday. Fire safe councils are receiving about $3.5 million ... Most of the grants were awarded by the U.S. Forest Service, with others coming from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "The Fire Safe Council"
The mission of the council is "mobilizing Californians to protect their homes, communities and environments from wildfire."


"Schwarzenegger pressing state regulators to allow power line proposed through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park" (Los Angeles Times, 4/27/08)
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing state regulators to sign off on a high-voltage power line that a San Diego utility wants to build through the middle of California's largest state park. Proposed for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the project puts Schwarzenegger again at odds with environmentalists -- and some state officials -- who believe he is allowing California's unrivaled collection of public preserves to be threatened."
(Note: this site may require free registration to view its content.)

"3 state commissioners set to attend SDG&E hearings" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/23/08)
"Back in February, when more than 1,000 people attended public hearings regarding San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise Powerlink, only one of the five state commissioners who will decide if the power line should be built listened. That will change May 12, when three of the five commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission will attend newly scheduled public participation hearings in Borrego Springs."

"'Renewables' a magic word to sell public on Powerlink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/27/08)
Columnist: "Two weeks before Christmas 2004, a handpicked group of 12 movers and shakers met ... to talk about San Diego Gas & Electric's plans to build a new power line. For several hours, the group -- which included two San Diego City Council members -- talked about how the public would react to the power line, as well as discussing the 'political cover' that elected officials would need to support it. In the end, the group decided the best argument SDG&E could make was to emphasize that the project would bring renewable energy to San Diego County as well as making the system more reliable."

"Many residents accept SDG&E will survey land" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/24/08)
"People who live in Boulder Creek generally do not want the proposed Sunrise Powerlink running near their properties, but many say they will not oppose project surveyors."

"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.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

April 26 - Pine Hill Preserve Spring tours
Cameron Park (birding)

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

May 2 - Eastern Sierra wildflower tours
Bishop Field Office's Big Pine Triangle Campground

May 3 - Family excursion reptile hunt
Palm Desert

...and more!

Portrait of Diane Fairchild BeckMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Diane Fairchild Beck...
...represents national and regional environmental interests on BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council.


"BLM announces revisions to handbook designed to make environmental reviews more efficient" (BLM national news release, 4/24/08)
The NEPA Handbook provides instructions, procedures, and examples for complying with the Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations and the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Manual guidance for implementing NEPA. The objectives of the NEPA Handbook are to establish systematic practices for integrating NEPA into the planning and decisionmaking processes used by the BLM, and to promote efficiency in the preparation and documentation of NEPA compliance. The NEPA Handbook was last revised in 1988.

"Interior Department opens public comment period on proposed park and refuge firearm regulations" (Department of the Interior news release, 4/30/08)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced the beginning of a 60-day public comment period on updates to regulations regarding the carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The proposed update to existing regulations would allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is permitted to carry a concealed weapon and is authorized to do so on similar state lands in the state in which the national park or refuge is located.

"Impact on hunters, anglers, ranchers and small businesses" (BLM legislative testimony, 4/17/08)
Statement of C. Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management for the U.S. Department of the Interior, before the House Small Business Committee -- on the impact of oil and gas development on public lands.
(Note: click the link for this on the following webpage to download or open a Microsoft Word document.)

"Merge, remake the Forest Service" (New West, 4/24/08)
Columnist: "Last month, the General Accountability Office announced it was studying a plan to take the Forest Service out of the Department of Agriculture and merge it into the Department of the Interior. Predictably, this news was met with a chorus of yawns because we’ve heard many grandiose plans for reorganizing federal land-managing agencies... But this one wasn’t a yawner for me because something like this really needs to happen ... Right now, FS might as well stand for Fire Service because that’s where most of the budget and emphasis goes ... you can say the same about the BLM..."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related information
(b.) It depends heavily on sagebrush for its existence.
(*The 1970s tune that sage grouse do not sound like: "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme")

SOURCE: "Sage Grouse - Centrocercus urophasianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
"It is almost completely reliant on sagebrush, using it for roosting cover and food during much of the year. These birds cannot survive in areas where sagebrush no longer exists."

"Protection weighed for bird in West's energy areas" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 4/26/08)
"The fate of basic industries across the Intermountain West -- grazing, mining, energy -- soon could be at least partially tied to that of a bird about the size of a chicken. The federal government is under a judge's order to reconsider an earlier decision against listing the sage grouse as endangered, and wildlife biologists are scouring the species' customary mating grounds to see how many are left. The species was seen as recently as 2004 over an area as large as California and Texas combined, but its habitat used to be close to twice that and research has shown that many types of human activity continue to harm it."

"Sage grouse fact sheet" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
More information about this species.
PDF file, 35 kilobytes, two pages:

"Feds take second look at sage grouse" (Baker City, OR Herald, 4/29/08)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it might actually undertake two sage grouse studies. First, the agency will decide whether the western sage grouse, the variety that lives in Baker County and elsewhere in Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, Northern California and possibly parts of Idaho, is a separate subspecies from the greater sage grouse. In 2003 the Fish and Wildlife Service said there was no 'genetic evidence to support a subspecies distinction...'"

"Looking at leks" (News.bytes Extra, issue 324)
In case you missed it.

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