A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 336 - 6/18/08
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Geothermal energy:
- Funny.bytes: Geothermal George
- Geothermal leasing EIS
- Other energy on public lands: Solar, wind, oil and gas, power lines
- Alabama Hills: Local award, movies, "Iron Man"
- Not for educators only:
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Outdoor education
- Recreation on public lands: Hiking, off-highway, camping
- Wildlife and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Inspection tour, wild horses, taxes. wilderness bill
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
FUNNY.BYTES: Geothermal George
George is just a little geothermal plant -- can he help his neighbors in an emergency?
Funny.bytes is an occasionally look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: this Flash animation includes a soundtrack -- you may wish to adjust the volume of your computer.
"Plan for promoting efficient responsible geothermal energy development on federal lands open for comment" (BLM national news release, 6/13/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service have initiated a public comment period on a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for leasing geothermal resources in the Western States and Alaska. The BLM administers geothermal leasing on the public lands it manages and on lands in the National Forest System, where the Forest Service is the surface management agency. Public meetings have been scheduled for 13 cities.
"Geothermal Resources Leasing Programmatic EIS" (BLM national office)
Much more information.
OTHER ENERGY ON PUBLIC LANDS
"Preservation, opportunity vie for priority at meeting on solar power" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/16/08)
"Environmentalists on Monday asked two federal agencies assessing the impacts of solar energy proposals across six Western states to make sure they protect the plants, animals and wilderness areas that are already there. Companies seeking permission to build those plants asked for flexibility."
RELATED: "Solar plant builders decry freeze" (Las Vegas Sun, 6/18/08)
"The federal government will do a sweeping study of the environmental effects of solar power plant development on public land in the Southwest, in part to speed up approval of solar projects. But for developers, the study may be a fast track to the slow lane. While the Bureau of Land Management ... completes a lengthy study, the agency will impose a moratorium on new applications to put solar panels on federal land. Developers will have to wait at least 22 months ... for the results of the study. The BLM says the moratorium is needed because it has a backlog of pending applications and many of the requests are highly complicated. Solar developers say the lag of nearly two years will hurt."
RELATED: "Hearings to debate impact of solar farms on threatened species" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/14/08)
"State and federal agencies have their hands full with an onslaught of applications from companies eyeing the Southern California desert for its solar power potential. The federal government is holding hearings beginning Monday in Riverside to get public input on the environmental impacts of solar farms, while state agencies are seeking to balance Gov. Schwarzenegger's push for solar energy with the need to protect endangered species that live on the sun-drenched landscape."
"BLM schedules public meetings for West Fry wind energy project" (BLM-California news release, 6/11/08)
The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled public scoping meetings for the West Fry wind energy generation facility project, which proposes to install approximately 34 wind turbines and ancillary electric facilities on approximately 3,100 acres of public lands in the West Fry Mountains, within the Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle area northeast of Lucerne Valley, in San Bernardino County, California. Scoping meetings will be held June 30 and July 1.
"BLM oil and gas lease auction tops $300,000" (BLM-California news release, 6/18/08)
Thirty-six oil and gas lease parcels in Fresno, Monterey and San Benito counties were auctioned for a total of $347,042 in revenues, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management’s California State Office June 11.
"Politician, city and green groups sway L.A. agency" (San Bernardino County Sun, 6/13/08)
"After much urging by elected officials and environmental groups, the agency behind the Green Path North project said Friday it has entered discussions to place the high-tension corridor along an existing power route rather than across undeveloped desert lands. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has received increasing pressure in recent months to use an existing transmission route along the 10 Freeway that is controlled by Southern California Edison."
RELATED: "Walking on a wire" (High Country News, 6/9/08)
Long article on Green Path North: "Los Angeles needs green power. Does it have to tear up the desert to get it?"
"Utility finds foes to renewable energy line plan" (Associated Press on Google News, 6/15/08)
Sunrise Powerlink: "It seems like an idea any environmentalist would embrace: Build one of the world's largest solar power operations in the Southern California desert and surround it with plants that run on wind and underground heat. Yet San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and its potential partners face fierce opposition because the plan also calls for a 150-mile, high-voltage transmission line that would cut through pristine parkland to reach the nation's eighth-largest city."
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.
"Hometown honors for Alabama Hills Stewardship Group" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group held a hometown awards ceremony last week following their earlier trip to Washington, D.C. The group received the Department of Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award in Washington earlier this spring. BLM-California State Director Mike Pool presented signed certificates from the Secretary of Interior to members of the group in Lone Pine.
"The Alabama Hills" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
On May 24, 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine, CA, as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. Management plans are being considered. The full intent of the BLM management plan is to preserve the hills in as close to a natural state as possible, for the enjoyment of future generations of Americans. http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bishop/scenic_byways/alabamas.html
"Movie Road self-guided tour" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
Take a drive through the Alabama Hills and visit historical movie locations. This 13-page online booklet -- with photos and locators maps -- spotlights scenes from movies such as "How the West Was Won," "Rawhide" and "Gunga Din." Follow the link from this field office recreation page.
Note: the link from the recreation page will take you to a PDF file, 3.2 megabytes:
"Iron Man trailer" (Yahoo! movies)
This is the latest feature movie filmed in the area. That's the Alabama Hills in the background as star Robert Downey, Jr. addresses the troops. The movies include scenes filmed on BLM-managed lands in the Alabama Hills and in the Cerro Gordo area.
Note: The top link labeled "'Iron Man' theatrical trailer" includes the scene in the thumbnail photo to the left.
Alternate link for "Iron Man" trailer (Paramount Pictures)
Note: you will need to select "Iron Man" from a rotating group of films on this page -- then click on the left side of the box to play the trailer.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
Western rattlesnakes are active during mild and warm weather -- which is now, in most places in California. What do western rattlesnakes do during the hotter summer months?
------> See answer -- and current news stories about the start of rattlesnake season -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.
"BLM helps kids "Take It Outside" (News.bytes Extra)
As part of the 100 sites for national Get Outdoors Day, Wonderful Outdoor World (WOW) Los Angeles held a camp-out at Eagle Rock Recreation Center for 44 urban youth. The BLM California Desert District Office and the Angeles National Forest provided outdoor education to urban youth ages 8-12 during the overnight campout.
"Local kids celebrate the outdoors this weekend" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/12/08)
Another Get Outdoors Day event last weekend: "Some local children have never gone hiking in the desert, been on a camping trip, or stepped foot in a national park. Some ... decide to stay in and play video games. To encourage kids to go outside and be active in area public parks, Barstow’s Desert Discovery Center [held] an outdoor celebration for the first national Get Outdoors Day ... Rose Beardshear, volunteer coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management, said the Desert Discovery Center is well suited to host the event because it is located on eight acres of open land in easy walking distance of residential areas."
RELATED: "Desert Discovery Center"
"The Desert Discovery Center (DDC) is comprised of a unique partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Barstow Unified School District, Barstow Community College, Mojave River Valley Museum, City of Barstow, and Discovery Trails non-profit organization. The mission of the DDC is to develop and implement a comprehensive formal and informal education center with programs focusing on the natural, cultural, and historic resources associated with the Mojave Desert."
RELATED: "Helping hands: National Get Outdoors Day" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/9/08)
"America’s youth tell us that we are not reaching them with invitations to be active outdoors because we are not using the communications channels they utilize most: social networking sites including You Tube and MySpace and text messaging and photo sharing from phone to phone. They tell us they are interested in the outdoors but need 'triggers,' and National Get Outdoors Day intends to be a trigger."
| RECREATION ON PUBLIC LANDS
"Hiking? Don't forget a map" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/16/08)
"Hikers and nature fans finally have a comprehensive map to lead them through the rugged Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. The Friends of the Desert Mountains has unveiled a new map that pinpoints more than 75 trails in the National Monument area, 13 miles wide by 60 miles long from sea level on the valley floor to the top of Mt. San Jacinto at 10,804 feet." Contributors to the map include BLM-California.
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."
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument interactive brochure"
Information and photos, plus an interactive map for locating sites within the monument.
"Easement donation will benefit riders" (News.bytes Extra)
Bill Kuntz, an outdoor recreation planner for the BLM's Redding Field Office, recently presented an appreciation award to Redding area resident Dave Frase to thank him for an important easement donation in the Chappie-Shasta Off Highway Vehicle Area northwest of Redding.
RELATED: "Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Redding Field Office)
Just 10 miles northwest of Redding, the Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway area offers 200 miles of roads and trails over 52,000 acres for off-road enthusiasts. The southeastern portions offer rocky and challenging terrain, while the more remote northwestern portions offer scenic views of Mt. Shasta, Lake Shasta, and the Trinity Alps.
"Off-highway vehicle management on public lands" (BLM national website)
Statement of Henri Bisson, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Note: clicking the link on this page will open the testimony in a Microsoft Word document.
"A fun outing starts with bringing all the right stuff" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/15/08)
"Below is a list of the 10 essential items for a successful camping trip, according to Mike Odle, spokesman for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Jeff Fontana, spokesman for the Redding office of the Bureau of Land Management; Shanda Ochs, park ranger for Lassen Volcanic National Park, as well as advice from Redding outdoor sports shops...."
WILDFIRE AND PREVENTION
"Crews clear brush to protect neighbors of El Dorado County rare-plant preserve" (Sacramento Bee, 6/12/08)
"This is no ordinary fuel break. The land is in the Pine Hill Preserve ... part of about 30,000 acres of gabbro soils in the Rescue and Cameron Park areas of western El Dorado County that are home to eight rare plant species. Four of them ... exist no place else on Earth. [Brian] Mulhollen, previously a member of a U.S. Forest Service hotshot firefighting crew, said creating fuel breaks in areas where the preserve borders homes is a balancing act.
RELATED: "Advisory Council sees challenges of population growth near public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Central California Resource Advisory Council got a first-hand look at the challenges facing the Bureau of Land Management due to population growth in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The council toured the Pine Hill Preserve in western El Dorado County, home to a collection of eight rare plant species. Council members viewed plant recovery in an area burned last summer and firebreaks being created to protect homes.
RELATED: "Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
The Preserve is operated under a cooperative management agreement among several agencies and organizations, including the BLM.
"More defensible space in Brooktrails" (Willits News, 6/13/08)
"Before the remediation, the area was heavily laden with small trees and volatile shrubs, which might have accelerated any fire while also restricting emergency access ... The conservation camp crews have now moved to the well-populated area near the airport, paid for by a $166,852 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The crews will concentrate on areas of greenbelt near homes and other structures, especially areas surrounded by private property."
"BLM fire prevention closure on July 4 at Crowley Lake North Landing" (BLM-California news release, 6/17/08)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office will temporarily close approximately 2,500 acres of public lands near the Crowley Lake North Shore/North Landing for the entire day of July 4 and a portion of July 5. This closure is a preventative measure to minimize the risk of fire, enhance public safety and protect sensitive habitat on July 4 and 5 when many people go to Crowley for the fireworks display.
"Kempthorne: Interior reduced wildfire threat on 10 million acres, prepared for 2008 fire season" (Department of the Interior news release, 6/12/08)
"The major factors in determining the severity of this season are hazardous fuel conditions, persistent drought, and the proximity of hazardous fuels to Wildland-Urban Interface areas," Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said in a national news teleconference. "While we cannot influence the drought, we have been very active in reducing fuels that feed wildfires, especially near homes, communities, and resources to slow or stop these fires from threatening these high-value areas."
"National fire news" (National Interagency fire center)
Several new fires were threatening homes in California today. This site is updated daily during fire season.
HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Advisory Council tours projects benefiting forests and streams of northern California" (News.bytes Extra)
Starting out with a hike in boots and jeans to tour a forestry project, members of BLM's Northwestern California Resource Advisory Council switched to shorts and sandals for a raft tour on the Trinity River.
"BLM seeks bids for one or more new pasture facilities to care for and maintain wild horses" (BLM-California news release, 6/17/0)
As part of its responsibility to manage, protect, and control wild horses and burros, the Bureau of Land Management is soliciting bids for one or more new pasture facilities located anywhere in the continental United States. Each pasture facility must be able to provide humane care for and maintain at least 500 wild horses -- up to as many as 2,500 -- over a one-year period, with an option under BLM contract for an additional four, one-year extensions. The BLM needs additional space for wild horses placed in long-term holding facilities, all of which are currently located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
"County gets $1.8M for federal lands in lieu of taxes" (Imperial Valley Press, 6./16/08)
"Even with an allocation of more than $1.8 million in payment in lieu of taxes from the Department of the Interior on Monday, Imperial County could still use more funding, county officials said ... The PILT funding is a federal allocation that's distributed annually to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within local boundaries. Locally, there are more than 1.2 million acres of land considered nontaxable" including lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and some by the U.S. Navy.
RELATED: "$228 million paid to county governments as compensation for lost taxes on federal lands" (BLM national news release, 6/12/08)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that local governments with tax-exempt federal land in their jurisdictions will receive $228.5 million this year in compensation for forgone tax revenue. Under the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program, the money is distributed to about 1,850 county and other local governments around the nation to help pay for essential services, such as firefighting and emergency response and to help improve school, road and water systems.
"City Council endorses bills introduced by McKeon" (Santa Clarita Signal, 6/16/08)
"Two pieces of federal legislation aimed at protecting nearly 14,000 acres of local wilderness and resolving the decades-long dispute between the city of Santa Clarita and Cemex were officially endorsed by the city council this week, bringing both bills one step closer to enactment." The wilderness bill includes some California areas managed by the BLM, and the Cemex dispute involves the companies permit from the BLM, for mining sand and gravel.
"Supes slam wilderness bill" (Inyo Register, 6/12/08)
"Elected officials from Inyo County responded to the controversial Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act by declaring that the newly introduced legislation does not, in fact, contain any notable compromise ... The board is also seeking to gather input from residents, and has scheduled two tentative public meetings with representatives of both Congressman Buck McKeon and Senator Barbara Boxer, the act’s sponsors, in attendance."
Current job openings BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include law enforcement ranger and engineering technician (petroleum).
SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
Unless otherwise noted, find more details -- and more events -- online at:
June 21-22 - Free guided hikes in to Headwaters Forest Reserve
Fortuna - call for reservations
June 28 - Carrizo Advisory Committee meeting
June 30 - National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting
WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) Estivate – Estivation is a state of lowered metabolism during hot seasons or drought.
(Note: Some readers may have chosen "motivate" -- since, indeed, rattlesnakes can seriously motivate people to quickly move away from them. However, they likely motivate people more extremely when they are actively out and about -- not estivating.)
SOURCE: "Western rattlesnake - Crotalis viridis" (BLM California wildlife database)
These snakes tend to be nocturnal, but they may be active whenever temperatures are mild to warm. They estivate during the hot weather and hibernate during the cold weather. During these times they seek shelter in rock crevices, under logs and bushes, or in abandoned mammal burrows.
CURRENT NEWS STORIES:
"Snake season coming" (Victorville Daily Press, 6/5/08)
"With snake season quickly approaching, more Mojave Green Rattlesnakes are expected to be roaming the Victor Valley this year. Last year there were very few bugs, lizards and rodents, said Joe Banashek, a Mojave field researcher from Adelanto. This year, he expects there to be a lot more of those, which will draw out a lot more snakes ... The Victor Valley includes the habitats of not only the Mojave Green, but also the Southern California Rattlesnake, both highly venomous."
"Snakebites becoming more toxic" (North County Times, 6/9/08)
"Rattlesnakes are packing more of a punch in California and two other states these days, and the more toxic bites may be connected with some deaths in Arizona. 'Our victims are showing symptoms of severe weakness, trouble breathing and low blood pressure this year,' said Dr. Richard Clark, director of the division of medical toxicology at UC San Diego." He says "this is the second straight year the center's toxicologist has reported extreme reactions and unusually powerful bites from Southern Pacific rattlesnakes."
"Rattlesnake bits on rise in San Diego County" (KPBS radio, San Diego, 6/11/08)
"This year the number of bites is up. Not only that, but some physicians believe that local rattlesnake venom has actually become more potent" Audio of Interview with a medical toxicologist and a herpetologist. (Click on the "listen" link to listen or download -- the audio report is about 27 minutes, and the mp3 file is 24 megabytes.)
"It's prime time for snakes" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/16/08)
"This is peak snake season, a time to be aware of things that slither and rattle. Most of the time, concerns about rattlesnakes are focused on the outdoor environment. But, as Alyssa Cuevas-Flores, of Lake Arrowhead, found out, even being inside your house is no guarantee of safety."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content.
"Rattler bites signal snake season" (San Bernardino County Sun, 6/17/08)
"A 3-year-old girl bitten by a baby rattlesnake last week while playing outside of her Lake Arrowhead home serves as a reminder that snake season is upon us. It typically begins in mid-March and begins to taper off in late October or in November, said Dr. Sean Bush, a venom and snake-bite specialist at Loma Linda University Medical Center. In that seven- to eight-month period, Bush treats between 50 and 70 snake-bite victims who are brought into the hospital's emergency room."
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT RATTLESNAKES:
"Crotalus viridis - western rattlesnake" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
More information including physical description, reproduction, behavior and more. "The Animal Diversity Web is an educational resource written largely by and for college students."
"Crotalus viridis - Western Rattlesnake" (San Diego Natural History Museum)
Information summary plus a photo.
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News.bytes published by
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